Monday, 24 November 2014

Charlton Athletic 0 v 0 Millwall

Saturday 22nd November 2014
Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 19,189 (3,215 away fans)
Match Rating: 3

At the conclusion of my earlier game at Brentford's training ground, I headed from west to east across London, via the Piccadilly and Bakerloo tube lines, and finally the train from London Bridge to Charlton, for the big south-east London derby.

Although matches against your local and biggest rivals are always the games a fan looks out for first in the fixture list, games against Millwall have also become something to fear somewhat in terms of local bragging rights. It's fair to say that Charlton do not have a great history in this fixture. The head-to-head record in this fixture reads 11 wins for Charlton, 33 wins for Millwall, and 24 draws, Charlton's last victory in the fixture was way back in 1996 - although 13 of those years did not feature a match between the two clubs. Millwall have won on their last two visits to The Valley, and Charlton haven't even managed to score a goal in the last five meetings. A little bit hope for Addicks fans could be found in the current season, with Charlton still up in eighth place, still unbeaten at home, and are just a point above the play-offs, with a solid point taken from a 2-2 draw at Leeds United, and an excellent 0-1 away win at Reading, since Charlton's last home game. After quite an impressive start to their season, Millwall have fallen away badly, going into this game in 18th place, winning four and drawing six of their 17 games, and have won just one of their eight away games so far. Team news for Charlton brought some relief in that star striker Igor Vetokele started, although that was tempered with youngster Nick Pope announced in goal, who had put in some reasonable displays in his three games earlier in the season, although he often looked nervous, let a shot go through his legs against Derby in the league - which did prove costly - and was penalised for holding the ball too long against Derby in the League Cup, and that time is was costly, as Derby scored the winning goal from the resultant indirect free kick.

As is often the case with derby games, this turned out to be a full-blooded affair, which always seemed to be waiting for the first goal to go in before really catching fire. Charlton had the better of the opening half hour, without really convincing that they were going to score, but they were dealt a blow when midfielder Yoni Buyens had to be replaced due to a hamstring injury. In a half of few clear goalscoring chances, Charlton could be happy with their superiority, whilst Millwall would be happy to go in on level terms.

The second half continued in a similar vein, perhaps with Charlton looking slightly more threatening, but as has so often happened at The Valley this season, the clearest goalscoring chances came as the game reached its conclusion. On 65 minutes, Charlton's Jordan Cousins saw his shot cleared off the line, whilst on 81 minutes, Millwall's Jermaine Easter saw his low cross shot well palmed away by Pope. Indeed, Millwall threatened to steal the points in the closing minutes, looking more threatening than they had all game, but it was Charlton who really should have claimed all three points. In the fifth and final minute of added on time, George Tucudean, who became a father earlier in the day, ran through on goal after Vetokele set him clear, chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper David Forde, but with not enough power and a covering defender just managed to scramble the ball clear before Tucudean could get a decisive touch. And so Charlton's long wait for the south-east London bragging rights continues, and a goalless draw was probably the right result. In truth, this game was something of a disappointment, never catching fire, probably because the first goal never came, and perhaps also as a result, the atmosphere amongst the crowd was rather subdued. Positives for Charlton to take from this game was an assured performance by the young keeper Nick Pope, who is showing the makings of being a very good keeper as he gains more experience, and Francis Coquelin, on-loan from Arsenal, who was outstanding in midfield, always looking creative whilst being prepared to get stuck in.

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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