Monday, 2 February 2015

Charlton Athletic 1 v 1 Rotherham United

Saturday 31st January 2015
Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 14,447 (783 away)
Match Rating: 1

A lot has certainly happened since Charlton’s last home game three weeks ago, when a dire performance losing to Brighton signalled the end of Bob Peeters’ reign after just 25 league games and eight months in charge. Very predictably, his successor was sourced from Roland Duchatelet’s network, in the form of Guy Luzon – who Duchatelet sacked as manager of Standard Liege in October after a poor start to the season. It’s fair to say that the appointment did not fill most Charlton’s supporters with hope and cheer, more resignation that the club went for the cheap, most available option with apparently little interest in what was best for Charlton Athletic Football Club.

Luzon certainly has a task on his hand to arrest Charlton’s slide down the table after such a promising opening couple of months of the season. Still without a home win since October, and any kind of win since early November (a run of ten games), scoring goals has been Charlton’s main recent problem, failing to score in their last four league games, a run which included a 0-5 defeat at Watford and a goalless draw at Wolves since the home defeat against Brighton. So Charlton now found themselves in 17th place, still having drawn more than half of their games (14 draws in 27 games), and are eight points above the relegation zone. This would surely be a good game to try and break that run, at home against a club just above the relegation zone, in 21st place with 29 points from 27 games. When the two teams met earlier in the season – a game I went to – the game finished 1-1.

On a bright but very cold afternoon, this would unfortunately prove to be a very poor game of football, between two limited teams struggling for confidence. With play mostly confined to the middle third, attacking moves were at a premium, although both teams hit the woodwork in the first half, first Rotherham on 7 minutes, when Conor Newton saw his header from Ben Pringle’s cross loop over the keeper Marko Dmitrovic but come back off the inside of the post. On 14 minutes, Charlton’s Johann Gudmundsson chipped a shot on the turn over the keeper, but again the ball came back off the inside of the post. Charlton came close again on 38 minutes, when an overhead kick from Andre Bikey following a corner went just over the bar.

After a dull first half, the second continued with more of the same, and a goalless draw looked increasingly likely and a good reflection on proceedings. Rotherham were denied what looked a clear handball by Bikey in the penalty area, but nothing was given, whilst they also had a goal ruled out for offside – a let-off after some poor defending. Relatively out of nothing, Charlton took the lead with seven minutes remaining. Debutant Christophe Lepoint, who was only introduced three minutes previously, laid the ball off well in the area for Jordan Cousins, who drilled the ball first time low into the bottom right corner from 8 yards. It never felt like being the decisive blow though, particularly when Luzon invited pressure by taking off a striker for a defender, and indeed, in the first minute of added on time, Rotherham equalised. Adam Hammill launched a ball deep into the box, and a criminally unmarked Danny Ward slotted the ball past the keeper from close range. No denying that a point apiece was a fair result, as neither team deserved to win today. These really are worrying times for Charlton, with Vetokele yet again looking so far off the pace and lacking in confidence, and Tony Watt still not trusted to start games. There is currently precious little creativity in midfield, and the defence, which looked so strong early in the season, continues to look vulnerable. 

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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