Charlton fans who missed their side’s defeat on Tuesday got a wake-up call at The Valley yesterday. KEVIN NOLAN picks apart the Addicks’ second loss in a row.
After the reality check delivered by Lincoln City in midweek, a visit from upwardly mobile Bolton Wanderers was hardly the fixture many Charlton fans would have chosen to put things right.
There’s something unmistakeably Northern about the Trotters. By tradition they are physical, no-nonsense opponents who can also play a bit. Ian Evatt’s latest side lived up to expectations and it’s fair to say the Addicks had their collars felt by their streetwise visitors.
Buckling straight down to business, Bolton scored twice in just over twenty minutes and, organised by rock-solid captain Ricardo Santos, defended their early advantage with a mixture of ruthlessness and knowhow. In the second half, it was far from one-sided, with Charlton showing spirit and determination but the outcome was always inevitable.
Without turning on their heroes, The Valley accepted they had been beaten by the better side. But for the excellent Ashley Maynard-Brewer, the margin of defeat would have been doubled.
A fact-finding quarter-hour had elapsed, during which Michael Appleton’s home boys tenuously held their own, before the visitors struck. They had been denied by the brilliance of Maynard-Brewer, who saved alertly at Dion Charles’ feet before spreading himself to charge down Josh Dacres-Cogley’s attempt to convert the rebound. Undeterred, Wanderers came again and took the lead a minute later.
A short corner routine on the right made space for George Thomason to create a more promising angle for left wingback Randell Williams to close in and curl a perfect shot in off the far post. It was a shock and a setback from which Charlton never fully recovered. Just five minutes later, their clearly daunting task became all but impossible when the prolific Charles doubled his side’s lead with a goal which, while well taken, needed a helpful stroke of good fortune.
The sharp exchange of passes between Charles and Dacres-Cogley was exemplary but appeared to have foundered as Tyreece Campbell intervened with a timely tackle on the latter. Unhappily, the loose ball squirted to Charles, who wasted no time in firing it past the helpless Maynard-Brewer. Charles’ tenth oal of an already fruitful season threatened to start a rout but the Addicks steadied themselves and scrapped their way back into contention. Their efforts were aided by Maynard-Brewer’s point blank save from another of Charles’ blockbusters.
Before the interval, an imaginative left wing corner from Scott Fraser picked out Alfie May, loitering with clear intent on the edge of Bolton’s penalty area. Meeting the delivery on the volley, the irrepressible May’s firmly-hit shot passed somehow untouched as it fizzed to safety beyond the far post. The merest touch from either friend or foe would have reduced the deficit but suspicion hardened into certainty that this blustery day in October was not to be Charlton’s day. They could have used a break because they had their hands full with these inaptly nicknamed Trotters.
Charlton’s modest recovery continued after the break, with Fraser’s set-piece ingenuity again causing problems. His quick free-kick to George Dobson was crossed by the skipper, cleared a turbulent six-yard area and reached Tyreece Campbell wide of the far post. Startled to find himself unmarked and unnoticed, the winger headed tamely wide.
As the Addicks improved, both Campbell and Corey Blackett-Taylor came into the game. They had been previously subdued by defenders determined to deny them space to turn and take them on. But as the action became stretched, their fleet-footed threat offered hope – hope which admittedly seemed doomed to disappointment. Still, the Addicks gave as good as they got during a much more even second half.
They were in trouble again, however, as Charles exchanged incisive passes with Victor Adeboyejo and broke through Charlton’s outwitted rearguard. Seemingly certain to make it three, he was foiled again by Maynard-Brewer, who left his line bravely to save at his feet.
At the other end, meanwhile, Charlton had one more shot in their locker, with substitute Miles Leaburn laying off Campbell’s right wing cross to May’s willing feet. Confronted by an inviting target, May blasted the chance over the bar and Appleton’s first home defeat was confirmed.
As the aftermath of successive setbacks is digested, it’s painfully obvious that Charlton seem again on their way to mid-table anonymity. The recent unbeaten streak papered over some inconvenient cracks but flattered to deceive. Modest Lincoln could scarcely believe their luck after falling behind but battle-hardened Bolton were simply too good for them.
Their prospects at Wigan, an unpromising venue at the best of times, on Tuesday evening appear grim (you never know, of course) and before long the League One table will, as usual, feature the Addicks in its bottom half. Plus ça change, you might say.
Charlton: Maynard-Brewer, Tennai Watson, Jones, Hector, Thomas (Asiimwe 65), Dobson, Camara (Leaburn 65), Fraser (Louie Watson 58). Tyreece Campbell, Blackett-Taylor. Not used: Walker, Ness, Kirk, Tedic. Booked: Jones.
Bolton: Baxter, Jones, Thomason (Maghoma 74), Santos, Sheehan, Charles (Nlundulu 79), Dacres-Cogley, Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 71), Morley, Toal, Williams. Not used: Hutchinson, Iredale, Forrester, Jerome. Booked: Baxter.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.
• The Greenwich Wire‘s editor Darryl Chamberlain appeared on the Charlton Live podcast today to discuss the parking plans for streets around The Valley. Watch it below or listen on your normal podcast provider.