Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Attendance: 16,613 (2,520 away fans)
Match Rating: 3
With this game brought forward to a 12.15 kick off for live television coverage, this was a bitter-sweet prospect. On the plus side, it opened up the possibility of watching a second game after this one, but on the other hand, Charlton have a truly dreadful record over the year when playing in front of the cameras. Indeed, they lost their unbeaten record in the league this season in their 14th game with a very disappointing 0-3 defeat at Fulham, who at the time were in the bottom three, in front of the cameras.
After last week's goalless stalemate at home to arch-rivals Millwall, Charlton came into this game in ninth place, still just two points adrift of the play-off positions, This would be another tough game for the Addicks though, with Ipswich flying high under the shrewd management of Mick McCarthy. They were in fourth place, and were in good form, winning three and drawing the most recent of their last four games, and beaten just once in their last fourteen games. Recent history in the fixture did not give much encouragement for Charlton, who had not kept a clean sheet in their last nine games against Ipswich, and had not won in the last three. Charlton team news was pretty much as expected, with Nick Pope keeping his place in goal, against the club that released him as a youngster, Yoni Buyens had to sit the game out, whilst Igor Vetokele was fit enough to start.
On a sunny early afternoon, and with Charlton kicking towards the away end in the first half - the first time in my visits to The Valley this season, this match was certainly played at a high tempo right from the start, with Danny Murphy placing a header just wide for the visitors in the opening minute, whilst shortly afterwards, Johann Gudmundsson hit a shot from just outside the area that went over the bar. The rest of the half saw Charlton always the stronger and carving out some good chances which drew some good saves from the visiting keeper, whilst Ipswich appeared happy to play a containing game, whilst still looking threatening on their occasional attacks.
The second half continued in much the same vein, but the longer it went on, the more it appeared destined that Charlton would have to settle for their second goalless draw at home within a week. They continued to create, and waste chances, and it looked like they would be made to pay for that in the last minute of normal time, when substitute Connor Sammon ran through on goal, before Andre Bikey got in a fabulously well-timed tackle in the box to deny the opportunity for a shot on goal. At the time, it seemed a crucial tackle to preserve the point for Charlton, which was the very least they deserved, but in the fifth minute of added on time at the end of the game, they were to be denied that point. Morgan Fox cleared the ball from the area, but only fell as far as David McGoldrick, whose pass was deflected into the path of Noel Hunt, who had only entered the game in the 83rd minute and had only arrived at the club on loan on Thursday, fired a low diagonal shot into the far corner. The away fans were sent into ecstasy, whilst the home fans were left to rue their side failing to convert any of their numerous chances in finally surrendering their unbeaten home record in their tenth home game of the season. Surprisingly, the biggest culprit was Igor Vetokele, who just didn't seem himself today, hopefully due to him not being completely fit rather than a dip in form after such an electric start to his Charlton career. Francis Coquelin had another great game, with his vision and range of passing a class above his peers.
Video highlights of this game can be found here