Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drawn Out

Brentford 1 Charlton Athletic 1

A third consecutive draw for Charlton, after a frustrating day at Griffin Park saw Nicky Bailey equalise from the penalty spot midway through the second half (left). The push for a winning goal failed to bring any reward, and the Addicks had to settle for a share of the spoils on a cold afternoon.

The Charlton fans packed into the away stand were hoping to see a return to winning ways, but though Phil Parkinson shuffled his pack once more - three changes for this match – the continuity seemed to suffer a little, and Charlton rarely looked like a top two side. With Deon Burton and Sam Sodje suspended, plus with Christian Dailly still ill, both first choice full backs (Frazer Richardson and Kelly Youga) out injured, as was striker Dave Mooney, it was a make-shift looking team on paper. From Saturdays game, Jonjo Shelvey was dropped to the bench, while Lloyd Sam, Scott Wagstaff, and Chris Dickson came into the team.

Dickson did look lively early in the game, but failed to capitalise on one good chance before the game had settled. With Jose Semedo playing in central defence, the virtually reserve Addicks rearguard played much better than it looked like it might on paper, but moving the Portu-geezer back did take something from the midfield. Matt Spring got somewhat stuck in the mud that made up most of the soft west London pitch. In attack, Akpo Sodje won plenty of aerial stuff, but seemed to play too far apart from Dickson to create much.

Brentford saw plenty of possession, especially through on-loan Spurs man John Bostock, but failed to get a decent shot on target until the 40th minute, when Rob Elliot was forced into a low save. By then, Lloyd Sam, to be fair, had come closest to opening the scoring when his rasping drive took a deflection and drew a good save from Price. As half time approached, Dickson broke free but his lob drifted wide of the goal with Price well out of position; it was an important miss.

One time ten-million pound man Carl Cort came on for the home team at the break, and he opened the scoring after a corner was turned goalwards by the dread-locked Bean. The Addicks rearguard looked very static as the ball was played in, and it was disappointing that Cort had so much time to pick his spot from six yards out.

The goal did serve to galvanise the Charlton side, and all of a sudden, Nicky Bailey became much more involved. Shelvey came on for the subdued Wagstaff, and he played a roving role just behind the forwards and looked to be available for a pass at every opportunity, linking play when he could. Lloyd Sam, to be fair, had a good shout for a penalty turned down after he was pushed to the ground as he burst inside the penalty area, but seconds later, a through ball found Dickson and his touch took him past Price. The goalkeepers momentum carried him into the Addicks forward (left) and this time a penalty was awarded. Bailey smashed it home, despite Price getting a solid hand to the ball, and you hoped the Addicks might go on to win.

The pitch became increasingly sticky, and some players struggled to keep their footing, notably Sodje and Spring. Whichever side had the ball seemed to keep it for quite long periods, and the game shifted with one side having prolonged attacks and then the other.

Brentford won a free kick in the edge of the Charlton box, and the shot smashed against the cross-bar and came out, but neither side made the goalies work too hard. Leon McKenzie tried hard when he came on for a tiring Dickson, but with Sodje also looking drained after his exertions at the weekend, Charlton offered little goal threat as the match came to the end.

The effort of the team cannot be faulted, but with so many reserves in the side, and with the tactics neccessarily being amended each match to suit those available, the team has become disjointed and lost some focus.

Hopefully some of the ill or injured players may be available this weekend, but at least we can welcome back top scorer Deon Burton, as his leadership of the front line is required as a fulcrum.

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