Luck has been a recurring theme this season. Quite simply, the Addicks have had none. Countless games could have easily had a different outcome with just the smallest ounce of luck. Today Charlton’s luck returned. You could argue lady luck has been on our side for the two fixtures prior to today, but, with Burnley creating numerous chances and going down to ten men, she was definitely waving her red and white scarf.
Danny Haynes’ header with 20 minutes to go gave the away side their third victory in as many games, meaning the Addicks are now looking up the table rather than over their shoulders. A ten point cushion from the relegation zone and just a five point gap between themselves and the play-offs is a world away from the boos and concerns of Middlesbrough just two weeks ago.
Charlton lined up with only one change from the win over Bristol City; Eggert Jonson came in for his debut, replacing the ill Dale Stephens. Scott Wagstaff, having returned from his loan from Leyton Orient, was among the substitutes. For Burnley, all eyes were on Europe’s top marksman Charlie Austin. The former bricklayer was awarded his Championship Player of the Month award before kick-off, symbolising just how much of a threat the striker would be the Addicks’ backline.
The game took a while to get going. The opening exchanges were scrappy at best and neither team could keep possession; epitomised by Ben Hamer kicking straight out to a Burnley shirt on the edge of the area, with the resulting effort way wide. Danny Haynes mustered the first shot on target ten minutes in, but Clarets keeper Lee Grant had no trouble with the tame effort from 25 yards. In their next meaningful attack, the Addicks were given the perfect opportunity to open the scoring and grab the game by the scruff of its neck.
Fantastic work by Pritchard, Hulse and Solly on the right flanks saw the later work his way into the box. Twisting and turning around the Burnley defence, the pocket-sized right back was given us his best Lionel Messi impression, but his shot was blocked on the line. A goalmouth scramble ensued and confusion reigned until referee Madely blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Penalty to the Addicks! Exciting right back Keiran Trippier had handled on the loan during the melee and was shown a straight red card leaving Burnley a man light to fight through the remaining 75 minutes. Skipper and resident penalty taker Johnnie Jackson stepped up on the back of missing his previous two spot kicks this season, only to make it three. His soft penalty, although saved well by Grant, lacked power and the score remained as it was.
With the home side down to ten men, the game was surely there for Charlton’s taking, and despite a sliced shot from Haynes not long after, it was Burnley who took control of the game. A Burnley corner was cleared, only to fall into the path of Brian Stock, whose rocket of an effort look destined for the back of the net but for an extraordinary save from Hamer stretching to his right and tipping the ball over the bar. Hamer was at it again from the resulting corner as his block stopped a goal bound effort from rippling the net.
Charlton had another chance, and arguably their best from open play, when Haynes was put through by serial assist maker Salim Kerkar, but Grant saved well. This move saw Charlton enjoy an encouraging final few moments of the half, with several corners causing problems. Leon Cort’s long range effort from a cleared corner failed to match Stock’s attempt for accuracy and power to any extent and the end of the first half followed. Even, but Burnley creating the better chances after the red card and penalty.
If one player had stood out in the first half, it was Eggert Jonson, and for all the wrong reasons. His passing was off target, the ball continuously skipped off his head when attempting to win aerial challenges and he was all too often outmuscled off the ball. At the start of the second, he slipped when collecting the ball from a throw which almost saw Burnley break away, and was then robbed of the ball when taking far too much time on it, giving Austin a free run on goal. You’d back the on form target man to score in a one-on-one situation 99 times out of 100; this was the one. Somehow he placed the ball wide of Hamer’s far post and the Addicks breathed a large sigh of relief. Jonson was subsequently replaced by Ricardo Fuller.
Burnley were looking the brighter of the two teams once again, and some dangerous crossing saw Austin and strike partner Martin Patterson make nuisances of themselves in the box but neither managing to create anything more than half chances. Charlton weren’t troubling Grant at all though. That was until the 69th minute. Jackson pinged a long range ball up to Hulse inside the box, who won his header, knocking it onto the head of Haynes who was given the opportunity to finish well. The small in numbers but loud in decibels away following went ballistic as their side took the lead. Just 20 minutes to hold on.
Despite Burnley being in charge of possession for the final stage, no real chances were created. The only real moment of panic saw a Burnley corner met be the head of Austin blocked, only for the ball to fall into his patch but the impressive Hamer collected the ball at his feet. Fuller brook free with Burnley pushing, but seemed reluctant to shoot despite being inside the area with no other support and ended up running sideways into a dead end as the last chance for Charlton was wasted. Powell threw on Dervite and Taylor to shaw up the defence for the closing stages, but with Cort and Morrison winning every header and Solly and Seaborne impassable, the Addicks didn’t look like letting this one slip. Three points gained three games in a row.
You could see how much it meant to the players. Haynes signalled with his fingers what the score was to the Burnley fans giving him abuse, before he joined his team mates and Powell, who celebrated in customary fashion.
Although it’s difficult to say Burnley didn’t deserve something from the game, possibly even all three points with the chances they created, the all-round team performance was fantastic. Hamer was showing his shot stopping ability at its best, the back four were truly outstanding, especially with the difficult front two of Austin and Patterson to deal with. Seaborne received criticism from Southampton fans upon his arrival on loan, but on the back of his performance today, that criticism is totally unfounded. Ignoring his penalty miss, Jackson played well again, as did Kerkar, whilst Pritchard didn’t stop running all game, and played extremely well to boot. Hulse and Haynes linked up well again, whilst Fuller put himself about. The only concern was the performance of Jonson, but with rumours rife of Emmanuel Frimpong joining on loan, he may not be needed. An excellent day to be an Addick.