Chris Powell's Flat Cap

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Monthly Archives: October 2014

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Charlton’s Treatment of Morrison Disappointing

Although there had been signings and contract renewals previously, tying Michael Morrison down to a new two-year deal at the start of the summer was arguably the first time Charlton’s current owners had shown a bit of backbone.

While Dorian Dervite, Ben Hamer and Diego Poyet had all departed, having been left frustrated by two separate ownerships failing to offer them contracts quickly enough, Morrison was kept in SE7 amidst rumours that Ipswich Town were attempting to pinch the 26-year-old.

And at a time when most Addicks were still incredibly uneasy with Roland Duchatelet et al, the vice-captain’s words encouraged supporters.

“It’s taken a long time but the club have always said they want to keep me and I really wanted to stay and go into a new era which I think is going to be successful,” said the centre back.

At the time, there was no question that keeping Morrison would be hugely important to any prospects of success, with the almost ever-present defender seen as part of a core of players from which Bob Peeters can build his side around.

In turn, Morrison expected, and was probably promised in order to convince him to stay at The Valley, to be one of the first names on Charlton’s teamsheet.

Such an expectance wasn’t arrogance or complacency, it was deserved. Morrison had been a loyal servant and a consistent performer over his three seasons as an Addick, and few Charlton fans weren’t placing him in their starting XIs as the season approached.

Alas, almost four months into the current campaign and things haven’t quite gone to plan for Morrison. Only two appearances have been made in the league, with Peeters persistently placing his faith in Andre Bikey and Tal Ben Haim.

It’s left the no longer clean shaven Morrison cutting a frustrated figure during pre-match warm ups. You can sense a real desire to prove his worth, and a constant disappointment that his efforts in training haven’t been enough to force his way into the side.

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In other words, Morrison’s unhappiness that has led to his loan move to Birmingham City isn’t simply a case of sulking, but that he would so desperately like to contribute to a team he clearly appreciates.

In some regards, that loan move is beneficial to all parties. Peeters gets an unhappy player off his hands, Morrison gets game time and the signing of Oguchi Onyewu means Charlton’s already small squad hasn’t lost a number.

In others, it highlights how poorly Morrison has been treated in the past few months. The unhappiness he feels has been forced upon by the club doing everything to keep him, and then not offer him a chance to play as much as he should do.

I’m not sure I would particularly go along with this thought, because at the time Morrison would have surely been a key player, but it’s almost as if the new contract was purely a way of appeasing fans who had seen a number of other cult favourites leave.

The performances of Bikey and Ben Haim have made it hard for Morrison to get a look in, but such have been the displays Morrison has put in for the Addicks over the past few years, he arguably had enough credit in the bank to be a starter from the off. While football doesn’t always work in such a way, I’d suggest Morrison should have been given the chance to prove his worth in the starting XI.

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At the very least, while I know this isn’t an opinion universally shared, Ben Haim has been very error prone in my eyes in recent weeks, and I would have liked to have seen Morrison come into the side.

Instead, we’re left with an unfit Joe Gomez, a player who couldn’t get a game in League Two in Harry Lennon, and Oneywu, who will need time to get some sharpness and fitness himself.

And the fact he has been so readily replaced Onyewu doesn’t sit right with me either.

Of course, from a purely practical sense, replacing Morrison with an international defender is excellent business.

But I feel Morrison deserves better than to be farmed out and immediately forgotten. It’s a difficult judgement to make, but I’d say Morrison is a better player than Onyewu, and that’s without considering the added factors of loyalty and such like, which are important considerations as much as some would like to suggest otherwise.

If Ben Haim or Bikey suffer injury or suspension, is Morrison recalled to then sit on the bench again?

I hope that isn’t the case, and I’m hopefully this is merely a stop gap measure to allow the Charlton stalwart some game time to come back a stronger player.

Having had a series of hopeless defenders before Morrison, I’ve thoroughly appreciated his efforts as an Addick, and if he has played his last game for the club, then I’ll remember him incredibly fondly. Both his excellent ability as a centre back and his always impassioned responses to a Charlton goal will be missed.

Unfortunately, with Peeters clearly not a fan, I do get the impression Morrison’s days are numbered. Incredibly odd considering how important renewing his contract was to the club.

Good business? Probably. Good news purely form an on-the-pitch side of things? Debatable, but there are benefits. The right way to go about things? Not particularly.

Michael Morrison is an excellent centre back first, a Charlton stalwart second and, above all, someone who has deserved better.

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Preview: Charlton Athletic Vs Sheffield Wednesday

It’s petty, tedious and effectively the equivalent of grown men boasting about the size of their appendages. The irrational hatred that has formed in recent years between fans of Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday isn’t something I particularly enjoy.

You can almost guarantee notorious forums on both sides are littered with the sort of chat that appears each time this clash is on the horizon.

Charlton are ‘tinpot’ for not bringing 6,000 humans and 56 dogs to every away game, Chris Powell’s title winning side didn’t deserve to be a title winning side and Wednesday, committing a crime more outrageous than anything the Addicks have done, are Northern.

But once a football match breaks out amidst the arguments, the previously unbearable disliking frequently becomes an extremely competitive contest.

In fact, it’s the competitive nature of this fixture that has sustained mutual feelings of loathing over the course of four seasons. Rarely has there been a game where both sides haven’t had a strong case that they deserved to win, a moment of controversy is almost always involved and Miguel Llera has often conspired to add further entertainment in his own unique way.

In other words, fixtures between those two always create plenty of ammunition for telling the other bunch they’re cheats and lucky debate.

And even without the uncoordinated feet of Llera, Saturday’s meeting at The Valley has the potential to be an absorbing one, if not necessarily an exhibition of fluent football.

For both Charlton and, more so, Sheffield Wednesday have seen excellent starts derailed in recent weeks. Given how crucial clashes between these two have proven to be in the past, the victor in this one stands a fair chance of getting their campaign back on track.

LAST MEETING – SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2-3 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 

Burnley’s chief scout was almost certainly at Hillsborough for Charlton’s incredible comeback victory over Wednesday in April, and didn’t see it fit to gain any more evidence about the ability of Marvin Sordell.

For Sordell, while often under-performing throughout the campaign, was sensational when it mattered most. His hat-trick of superbly taken strikes overturned a two goal deficit and effectively propelled the Addicks to safety.

And the importance of that Sordell performance cannot be undervalued.

The Addicks looked destined for the drop after goals from Atdhe Nuhiu and Chris Maguire had given  the Owls a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes, and may well have been 4-1 down before Sordell’s second drew Charlton level.

And Sordell, whose first had halved the deficit just after the opening ten minutes but not stopped Wednesday’s onslaught against a hopeless Charlton back four, made the most of the change in momentum he had inspired, slotting beyond Chris Kirkland with just over an hour played to record his first career hat-trick and give Jose Riga’s side a lead they never looked like losing.

The hat-trick hero walks away with his match ball.

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Sheffield Wednesday: DDLDDL

Having lost just one of their opening ten games of the season in all competitions, Wednesday fans travelled to the Etihad believing their side had some chance of causing an upset.

Instead, Wednesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Manchester City has seemingly upset Stuart Gray’s side.

The 7-0 defeat at the back end of September has been followed by six further games without victory, with Wednesday currently on a run of three games without scoring.

And while shots on goal have hardly been lacking, with 37 made in those three games, finishing chances has been.

And while a well valiant effort secured a point against high-flyers Norwich last weekend, you would think it’s one of those situations where a scrappy goal in a hard-fought victory would truly reignite a somewhat beleaguered Wednesday.

Charlton Athletic: LWLDWD

Having rode their luck for a number of weeks, Charlton’s frailties were finally exploited on Friday night.

Where previously mistakes have not been capitalised on, Fulham showed no mercy as they took advantage of a shambolic opening period for the Addicks.

Many had hoped the defeat by Bournemouth a fortnight ago would alert Bob Peeters’ side to their faults, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Again, a side who pressed the Addicks stopped them from playing and caused them problems. That orange and yellow kit doesn’t seem to help matters much, either.

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Nonetheless, a response of sorts followed after that loss on the South Coast, with a scrappy victory over Bolton.

Few would complain should a similar outcome occur on Saturday.

THE OPPOSITION

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood will face a late fitness test on a hip injury before Saturday’s trip to SE7.

The Wednesday camp is confident that Westwood, who pulled off a string of stunning saves in the goalless draw with Norwich, will be available, but one-time England stopper Kirkland is a more than adequate replacement should Gray be forced to make a change.

One man who definitely won’t be involved is Sam Hutchinson, whose knee injury means former Addick Jose Semedo will continue in the centre of midfield.

Hutchinson’s injury, however, has forced Gray to delve into the loan market. A new face may well be included in Wednesday’s squad, with the manager believing he has a ‘50/50’ chance of bringing a player into the club before Saturday.

But the Owls will welcome back Joe Mattock after suspension, while fellow defender Lewis Buxton has returned to training.

THE ADDICKS

Igor Vetokele will again be absent from Charlton’s starting XI, but the forward has some chance of being involved from the bench.

Charlton’s top scorer has missed the previous two games with a troubling Achilles problem, and his possible return is boost for the Addicks who have looked tame in attack in recent week.

But his inability to play from the off means that George Tucudean will again be called upon to lead Charlton’s forward line. The Romanian showed moments of class in the victory over Bolton, but followed it with a poor performance against Fulham, and having to rely on someone so inconsistent in Vetokele’s absence is growing frustrating.

Peeters may well call on youngster Karlan Ahearne-Grant, who tested Fulham’s back four in his brief period on the pitch on Friday night, but most Addicks would rather a loan forward was brought in.

Charlton will also be without Frederic Bulot, who suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to Fulham, while doubt remains over whether Rhoys Wiggins will recover from his foot injury in time for Saturday.

But Peeters’ small squad will be bolstered by the return of Yoni Buyens, who was suspended for the trip to Craven Cottage, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who is fit enough to start having made a substitute appearance in West London.

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KEY BATTLE – FORWARDS VS FORWARDS

Regardless of Wednesday’s 7-0 thumping in Manchester and Charlton’s 3-0 reverse in West London, both the Owls and the Addicks have fairly well organised back fours – Wednesday’s have made prevented their winless run from becoming a losing streak, while Charlton’s has been central to their early season success.

And with both sides somewhat goal shy, genuine chances are likely to be few and far between. A wasted opportunity could prove costly, while a chance taken may prove to be a match-winning moment.

In fact, it’s the two out of form forward lines that will decide this game.

Wednesday will field Nuhiu, a target man capable of dominating defences, and Stevie May, who scored three in quick succession after moving to Hillsborough but is without a goal in seven, while the Addicks are likely to operate with Franck Moussa, yet to live up to the billing following his move from Coventry City, just behind Tucudean, whose Charlton career has been somewhat indifferent.

If either side’s attacking force can provide one penetrating moment, you’re backing them to win the contest.

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PREDICITION

Like most games between these two sides, Saturday’s clash is unlikely to be one enjoyed by football purests. Even more so given the fact that both Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are in fairly desperate need of a victory, by whatever means.

The forum members may well have to be inventive after this one.

Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Finding Forward Options

As the umpteenth ball sent in the general direction of George Tucudean was won by a Fulham defender at Craven Cottage on Friday, the groans and grumbles in the away end grew louder.

On the night, those groans were directed at Tucudean and the general performance of the Addicks, but, on reflection, were more symptomatic of Charlton’s lack of forward options.

For while Bob Peeters’ previously unflappable back four has become a little flimsy in the past week or so, it’s up top where there’s a general call for more.

Without Igor Vetokele, Charlton have been forced to call on an inconsistent forward in Tucudean, a teenager in Karlan Ahearne-Grant and deploy the likes of Franck Moussa and Frederic Bulot in an unnatural position.

In fact, even with Vetokele, the Addicks are somewhat reliant on the Angolan. With only seven goals scored in the nine games since the start of September, some support for the currently injured forward would seemingly be vital.

Of course, all of Charlton’s problems in attack will be solved once Simon Church returns, but until then, it’s an issue that needs addressing.

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Make use of the senior forwards already available

If only for a few days, Tucudean’s performance against Bolton Wanderers convinced Charlton fans they were in no desperate need of additional forwards.

For Tucudean, after a less than impressive start to the game, was superb. His goal was well taken, his assist for Johnnie Jackson’s strike clever and unselfish, and his all-round play improved as the game progressed.

But the Romanian’s display at Craven Cottage on Friday night was a reminder that asking for him to consistently deliver his probably asking too much. In fact, only in two games for the Addicks, against Derby County and Bolton, has Tucudean looked competent.

And even when Vetokele does return, the evidence so far suggests the former Standard Liege man isn’t quite the ideal man to partner the Angolan. Although not for the want of trying, Tucudean’s ability in the air and hold up play isn’t quite good enough.

Nonetheless, supporting Tucudean may have its benefits; a run of games may be what he needs to find some confidence and a level of consistency.

It would also, of course, be the cheapest option, while the likes of Franck Moussa, Frederic Bulot and Johann Berg Gudmundsson can provide alternative options in attack if needed.

Bu having to rely on players that might perform and pushing wingers up top shouldn’t be the solution. Not making an addition to the forward line when it is so desperately needed would be somewhat naive.

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Throw Karlan Ahearne-Grant into the deep end

Amid the carnage at Fulham on Friday night, the performance of 17-year-old striker Ahearne-Grant offered a real positive to the disappointed Addicks.

A combination of pace, skill and an attitude that seemingly means Ahearne-Grant will always look to move directly towards goal meant the teenage forward was Charlton’s biggest threat in his short period on the Craven Cottage pitch.

However, at just 17, it’s unfair to put the pressure of scoring goals on his shoulders. For all the excellent qualities Ahearne-Grant showed, which were also on display at Bournemouth, he did appear a little uncomfortable when in front of goal and lacked a bit of composure.

He’s clearly an exciting talent, but it’s possibly a little too early in his development for him to lead Charlton’s forward line. Given his pace and tricky, he’s a luxury option to have from the bench for now, but too raw to be a regular starter.

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Sign a forward on loan 

While Peeters has made it clear delving into the loan market wouldn’t be his preferred choice, with the stance seemingly one shared by Roland Duchatelet, Charlton’s lack of potency without a fit and performing Vetokele suggests there would be some benefit in such a view being rethought.

Even with Vetokele fit, there’s still a need for at least one more body up top, and signing a striker on loan fills that gap until a better quality player can be brought into the club in January.

With Wolves (Yannick Sagbo), Huddersfield (Grant Holt), Sheffield Wednesday (Gary Taylor-Fletcher) and Brentford (Danny Graham) all acquiring respectable forwards in recent weeks, the idea that striking options who could perform a role in Charlton’s squad are not out there is a myth.

In fairness, I go along with Peeters’ idea that signing a loan player for the sake of it isn’t worth it, and utilising the club’s academy is the better option. But this isn’t simply a signing for the sake of a signing – an additional body is desperately needed, at least as a stop gap until January.

Wait until January and recruit a forward of genuine quality

The final weeks of the summer transfer window were filled with Charlton fans desperately begging for the club to sign a striker. Seemingly, the club put all their eggs into a basket containing an Alice band and a tear drop tattoo, meaning it was too late to find and secure the signatures of replacement targets.

Should a similar situation occur in January, in which the Addicks are unable to recruit a decent forward, the general health of several Charlton supporters will come into question, and I’ll probably go on a rant about what a stupid decision it was to sell Yann Kermorgant. No one wants that.

It’s therefore the case that, whether a forward is signed in the interim, a good quality target man and a respectable pacey forward absolutely must be signed in the January window. The target man with the view to being first choice, and the pacey forward an alternative should Vetokele suffer injury again.

Recall Joe Pigott and/or Piotr Parzyszek

After Pigott did this…

and Parzyszek did this…

it’s easy to see why there are calls for the loan pair to be brought back to SE7.

It’s a reasonable suggestion. Both Pigott and Parzyszek play in the role the Addicks require most, a target man, and will be full of confidence from their relatively successful loan spells at Newport County and Sint-Truden respectively.

However, it’s important to remember the level these goals have been scored at. Asking a player to step up from League Two to the Championship is a huge ask, while the quality that has arrived from Belgium’s top tier suggests scoring goals in the nation’s second tier counts for not a lot.

And while at Charlton, neither forward has shown a capability of playing in the Championship. Pigott’s struggles have been there for all to see, while Parzyszek’s performances for the U21s last season were less than impressive.

While it would fit Peeters’ mantra of giving youth a chance, recalling either of the pair is probably a gamble too far. Apart from in terms of numbers available, it’s hard to see how either would improve what the Addicks already have.

Stick Bob Peeters up top

Possibly the most logical suggestion. The one time Belgium forward is still in relatively decent shape, has the physical presence (just ask Uwe Rosler) the Addicks are lacking and would certainly give continuous determined displays.

However, goalscoring and match sharpness may be an issue for the 40-year-old, who retired six years ago. His nice suit would get ruined, too.

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Ruthless Fulham Find Charlton’s Faults

Such was the extent to which Charlton responded in the second half, a late Fulham third meant the score didn’t particularly reflect the overall margin between the two sides.

The effort shown by the Addicks after the break was commendable, delivering the energy 2,000 incredibly noisy supporters in Craven Cottage’s away end demanded and deserved. It was a huge improvement on an opening period that lacked fight, any sense of team structure and individual ability.

Bob Peeters’ depleted side went from incompetent to competitive.

But any suggestion that Charlton didn’t get what they deserved is wide of the mark.

For Fulham were ruthless when they needed to be ruthless; capitalising on an embarrassing effort from the Addicks in the opening 15 minutes.

The booed Scott Parker and the lively Hugo Rodallega were gifted goals to put the Cottagers two ahead early on, with Charlton’s normally resilient defensive quality being made to look like nothing more than a myth. Moments of calm defending from those in orange and yellow as numerous as praise from the away end for Parker.

By contrast, Charlton were tame.

In the first half, there was no way forward for the Addicks, who were prevented from playing out from the back by Fulham’s persistent pressing. In the second, the positive response was tempered by individual errors in promising positions and a composed effort from the hosts at the back.

In fact, the Cottagers had clearly opted to sit back, soak up Charlton’s forward moves and only attempt to add to their advantage if an opportunity to break forward arrived. Countless crosses and corners were dealt with with relative ease by Fulham’s dominant back four. Rarely were Kit Symons’ side not in control.

And when they did break forward, they did so with considerable threat. The ball flashing past the post on a number of occasions, and Stephen Henderson was not without work.

So while the Cottagers’ third, with Rodallega striking for a second time, was cruel on the determined Addicks, it was a fair reflection in the real gulf between the sides. At both ends of the pitch, where it really matters, Fulham were considerably more efficient than Charlton


Although few predicted such a scoreline, even fewer Addicks were confidently predicting victory as their depleted side took to the Craven Cottage pitch.

Already without the injured Igor Vetokele and the suspended Yoni Buyens, a foot injury meant Rhoys Wiggins was an unpredicted absentee, with youngster Morgan Fox starting in his place. The appearance of Johann Berg Gudmundsson, the lack of fit first team players possibly forcing the Iceland international back earlier than planned, on the bench at least offered some positive news.

By contrast, Fulham had rested a number of players in midweek, and the likes of Parker, Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz all returned to the starting XI.

But, despite the odds being stacked against them, it was Charlton, cheered on by an unrelenting visiting support, who started the brighter of the two sides.

Andre Bikey scuffed an early chance wide following a corner, while Franck Moussa, although failing to force Fulham stopper Marcus Bettinelli to so much as move, dragged an effort just beyond the far post.

But that was as good as it got for the Addicks, who saw the game taken away from them, or more accurately they gifted if to the opposition, in the space of six minutes.

First, a misplaced pass from Chris Solly allowed Parker, booed as he did so, to collect the ball and drive forward undeterred.

When on the edge of the box, the one-time England skipper fed through Ross McCormack, who unselfishly set the ball across goal, where Parker was on hand to thump the ball against the roof of the net and finish off the move he started. Some frustration was certainly displayed as Parker ran off to celebrate.

And before the visiting supporters had finished off their volleys of abuse towards the man whose departure from SE7 still upsets some, Fulham had doubled their lead.

Again, the hosts were invited to come forward as they pleased, resulting in a scuffed clearance from Tal Ben Haim only finding McCormack on the penalty spot.

Allowed to do his best impression of seal, the Scot took two touches of the ball with his head, before chesting it down and volleying towards goal, only for Henderson to parry the effort away.

But no Addick was alive to the loose ball, giving Rodallega the simplest of chances to increase his side’s advantage. The curse of appearing live on TV, the third kit and Fulham’s class could all be blamed for such a deficit after 12 minutes, but most supporters in the away end were ignoring all excuses and casting eyes on their side’s dreadful efforts.

An improvement was desperately needed, but Peeters’ side couldn’t provide it. There was seemingly little shape, possession was given up far too easily and the back four’s efforts to prevent further embarrassment were largely unconvincing. In fact, Charlton already looked beaten.

A skewed clearance from Tim Hoogland, sent back towards his goal, at least gave Bettinelli something to do, as did a desperately tame effort from Tucudean, but there was no sense the Addicks were to get back into the contest.

So much so that they really should have been 3-0 down just beyond the half hour.

Johnnie Jackson, impersonating Terry Butcher after a nasty cut had him leaking claret in concerning quantities, clattered into Parker on the edge of Charlton’s box, and the resulting free-kick saw Hoogland fire a free header narrowly wide. Again, the defensive efforts were questionable.

Whether it was the knock to the head or purely frustration at his side’s performance, Jackson was the one Addick showing as much fight as the still vocal Charlton supporters demanded.

Constantly attempting to motivate his troops, and occasionally letting them know in no uncertain terms than their performance was not good enough, the Skipper’s spirit at least offered some hope to his beleaguered fans.

In fact, Jackson was involved in Charlton’s best chance of the half, coming desperately close to making the sort of contact that would have turned Solly’s low cross beyond Bettinelli.

But it was far from a sign the Addicks were growing into the game. There was almost a reluctance to get forward, with Frederic Bulot and Lawrie Wilson lacking the confidence to run at Fulham’s defence, while a persistent struggle in holding onto the ball and constant panic as Fulham pressed made the visitors as vulnerable as ever.

The half ended with Rodallega, after more hesitant Charlton defending, looping a volley over Henderson’s bar. The following half-time whistle was met with rather strong boos from the visiting supporters, and it was hard to begrudge such a response. There have been few worse 45 minute performances from the Addicks in recent years.

While the Charlton Upbeats won a half-time penalty shoot-out, there were few Charlton supporters feeling upbeat about their side’s chances. Unless an early second half goal was scored, the game was certainly gone, but some degree of fight needed to be shown at the very least.

And there were encouraging signs in the early stages of the second period. Encouraging enough to reignite hope in the away end.

In fact, after Bulot, finally coming out of the shell he had been stuck in for the entirety of the first half, forced the first of nine second half corners for the Addicks, only the fully extended fingertips of Bettinelli prevented George Tucudean’s header from reducing the deficit.

But Fulham were unwilling to rollover in the face of an increased threat. While they were certainly sitting deeper and somewhat inviting it, Charlton’s attacks were all too often forced out wide, with the imperious Dan Burn dealing with anything that did find its way into the box.

Burn, a talented young centre back treated poorly by previous Fulham boss Felix Magath, was also a strong figure down the other end, heading over from Ruiz’s free-kick.

The former Birmingham loanee was involved again moments later as his pass was turned into the net by Hoogland, but the assistant’s flag denied the Cottagers and kept Charlton with some dignity intact.

Nonetheless, the Addicks were putting in a solid shift in their efforts to restore some pride. Moussa’s well struck effort skimmed marginally wide, before the Belgian was replaced by Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who immediately showed his class operating beyond Tucudean.

And with Charlton beginning to compete, there was now an end-to-end feel to the game.

But while more time was spent at Fulham’s end, the heads of the hosts surely sore after successfully defending Charlton’s umpteenth corner, the more noteworthy chances were occurring in front of Henderson’s goal. Ruiz must still be wondering how he failed to convert after being teed up by McCormack, while Rodallega followed up shortly after with a similarly impressive miss.

For Charlton, it was a case of forward moves breaking down at the final moment. After superb work from Solly saw the academy graduate beat two Fulham men at once before picking out Tucudean, the Romanian’s flick was just the wrong side of Gudmundsson, while fellow substitute Karlan Ahearne-Grant, on for the struggling Fox, threatened Fulham’s back four with his pace and trickery, but was left with a look of anguish on his face after his shot was blocked narrowly wide.

Still the Addicks endevoured to find a way back into the game. Jackson, putting in a sensational shift both covering at left-back and coming forward as a midfielder when the Addicks attacked, scuffed a volley and raised an effort well over the bar either side of Wilson’s driven strike wide, but with 15 minutes to go, Charlton’s very slim chances had effectively vanished.

In fact, with Bikey pushed forward and the defence weaker because of it, it was Fulham who looked most likely to score as full-time drew closer.

Lasse Vigen Christensen stabbed narrowly wide from Cauley Woodrow’s cross, before Henderson made himself big to deny Rodallega and latterly Woodrow himself, but there was little he could do as Fulham pushed forward one last time.

It was incredibly cruel on the Addicks, who had worked hard in the second period, and tough on the Charlton fans, who had stuck with their team throughout, but the third Fulham goal had been coming. Rodallega exploited the space available to him with Charlton bodies forward, and lashed an 89th minute into the corner of the net.

At the very least, the supporters behind the goal the Addicks were attacking deserved to celebrate a goal before the game was done, and only the inside of the post prevented Wilson from making that happen in stoppage time, but the fact it was the first time they had come realistically close to scoring told the story itself. A depleted side had been outclassed.


But, as the full-time whistle blew, there was a clear difference in response from the visiting supporters when compared to the first half. Disgruntled at half-time, Charlton fans were now more than happy to applaud their side for their commendable efforts in the second period.

Such a determined and spirited response to being two goals down and seemingly heading for further embarrassment was promising to see, and the way in which the Addicks moved forward in the final period means that the manner and margin of the defeat, to a Fulham side who were well organised and impressive in attack and defence, might not be quite so damaging as it appears on first viewing.

In fact, a dread to think how horrendous Magath actually was, because there was natural and genuine ability within Fulham’s side. Under a competent boss like Symons, they’ll compete with the division’s best.

Nonetheless, it’s very easy to overstate the second half performance. The Cottagers took a step back, content with their two goal lead, and gave the Addicks the opportunities to come forward, with very few leading to a reasonable shooting opportunity. In fact, while the first half exposed Charlton’s frailties at the back, the second showed how weak Peeters’ side are without Vetokele.

And that first half display was extremely worrying, not least for the fact that the Addicks have come unstuck against another side who press. There’s absolutely no way we can play out from the back against opposition who put pressure on our back four in possession, because they’re too slow in moving the ball on. It results in the situation that occurred in the opening 45; a panicked display in possession results in a panicked display when out of it. A Plan B is desperately, desperately needed.

It’s therefore the case that ignoring the first half and focusing on the semi-positives from the second is counter productive. There are clear issues with the side that, although not leaving Charlton in a desperate state of affairs, need to be addressed.

But, away from the effort shown and Jackson’s usual blood and guts performance, there was a rather large positive for the Addicks.

On the night where Charlton’s most successful academy graduate was somewhat unfairly booed and abused, Ahearne-Grant against displayed all the makings of an excellent footballer. He remains raw, and his nowhere near the finished product, but it’s apparent that he’s going to be a very serious player in years to come. In fact, he can do a decent job off the bench for the first team as a 17-year-old.

Ahearne-Grant’s energy, although failing to get the Addicks back into the game, pushed the visitors on in the final 25 minutes; he wasn’t afraid to take on his man and burst forward. It would be nice is such adventure could spread.

And Peeters now has eight days to rejuvenate his side. Take the effort shown in the second half for what it’s worth, and instill that in the side constantly, but don’t disregard how poor the first was, and what needs to be improved upon.

Preview: Fulham Vs Charlton Athletic

From Grant Basey’s broken leg at Bristol Rovers to broken Charlton hearts at Sheffield United, TV appearances over the past five seasons have rarely ended positively for the Addicks.

In fact, in Charlton’s 19 (yes, that many!) TV appearances since the start of the 2009/10 season, eleven defeats have been suffered and only six wins have been picked up, with two of those coming against lower league opposition and another the redundant Play-Off Semi-Final second leg victory over Swindon Town in 2010.

It’s therefore fair to say that the ‘TV curse’ is a little more than just a myth. For whatever reason, the Addicks struggle to perform in front of the cameras.

And with a depleted squad travelling to an in form Fulham on Friday night, Bob Peeters’ side will do well to avoid yet another defeat live on Sky.

Alas, Charlton managed to show a great deal of fight, although not quality, in their somewhat fortune victory over Bolton on Tuesday night.

A similar performance would surely result in a loss, but showing the same amount of determination would give the Addicks some chance of coming away from Craven Cottage with what be a very credible point or three.

LAST MEETING – FULHAM 4-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC  

It’s not often that you’ll have fond memories of a 4-0 cup defeat, but Charlton supporters who were at Craven Cottage in January 2012 still talk passionately about the day 7,000 Addicks stood and sung for 90 minutes.

In fact, the scoreline was a little harsh on the Addicks. The then League One side largely held their own against Premier League opposition, but Clint Dempsey, scorer of three of the four goals, was the quite substantial difference between the two sides.

Nonetheless, regular renditions of ‘the FA Cup, who gives a fuck, we’re Charlton Athletic and we’re going up’ and Dempsey’s hat-trick both play second fiddle to the performance given by Bradley Pritchard. Obviously.

FORM

Fulham: DWLWWW

Seemingly only heading in one direction under Penfold’s chief impersonator, caretaker boss Kit Symons has transformed the fortunes of the West London club.

Something of a Craven Cottage legend, there’s genuine joy on the face of Symons after every positive result, and that sort of mood appears to have spread around his squad after tales of unrest under Felix Magath’s bizarre regime. There’s nothing cheesy about Symons’ smile. (Sorry)

Not only has confidence and spirit increased, with a determined resulting in a point being stolen at the death at Rotherham on Tuesday, but previously shunned players have returned to the side; a vast improvement on the inexperienced youngsters Magath was recklessly throwing into the starting XI each week.

Wins over Birmingham, Bolton and, most impressively, Norwich have followed, and with Symons still extraordinarily motivated in his quest to secure the job on a full-time basis, this really isn’t the time to be playing Fulham.

Charlton: WLDWDD

Despite struggling to match their impressive early season displays, Peeters’ side continues to churn out points, if not in the most pleasing of fashions.

Many predicted Saturday’s defeat to Bournemouth would be the start of a poor run for the Addicks, but a dogged display against Bolton on Tuesday night saw the Reds bounce back to winning ways straight away.

And while there remains numerous issues to resolve, not least the lack of pressing in midfield, an inability to hold onto leads without causing several heart attacks and the near absence of the exciting forward play seen in August, Charlton’s ability to find ways to avoid defeat despite playing poorly is commendable.

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THE OPPOSITION

Fulham will be able to call on Huge Rodallega and Tim Hoogland, who have returned to full training after missing Tuesday’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Rotherham.

Rodallega, who has impressed under Symons with three goals and two assists, is likely to start up top with regular Charlton tormentor Ross McCormack, while Hoogland, scorer of four goals from full-back this season, could come in for Elsad Zverotic.

Also potentially returning to the Cottagers’ starting XI are Costa Rican international Bryan Ruiz and former Addick Scott Parker, who were both rested in midweek.

Parker, who upset Addicks with the manner of his £10m move to Chelsea in 2004, has arguably been the most successful of a long line of Charlton academy graduates, peaking with captaining his country against the Dutch in 2012.

Some may still hold bitter resentment against the 34-year-old, but he’s due a decent reception from the visiting Charlton fans.

THE ADDICKS

An already depleted squad has been dealt a further blow after Yoni Buyens picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Bolton on Tuesday.

The booking means Buyens, who impressed in midweek after a number of relatively poor performances, is suspended for the trip to Craven Cottage, leaving the Addicks desperately short of numbers.

But with Igor Vetokele, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Joe Gomez and Simon Church all absent, and Michael Morrison having to act as babysitter on the bench, there is some good news for Peeters.

Chris Solly, who was unavailable for selection in midweek, will return to Charlton’s starting XI, meaning Lawrie Wilson is free to push forward into midfield, allowing Jordan Cousins to replace Buyens in the centre.

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KEY BATTLE: FULHAM’S WIDE MEN VS CHARLTON’S FULL-BACKS

Normally the most consistent performers in the side, Charlton’s full-backs have struggled in recent weeks when up against wingers with considerable pace and skill.

Koby Arhur, Marc Pugh and Liam Feeney have all made life extremely difficult for Chris Solly, Rhoys Wiggins and Lawrie Wilson, with inconsistent final deliveries and finishing sparing the Addicks further embarrassment.

In fact, Charlton’s defeat to Bournemouth was largely the result of the threat offered by Pugh and Ritchie, while Bolton’s inability to capitalise on the excellent positions they got into out wide on Tuesday night saw them fail to get a point.

And while Fulham have often set-up with a narrower formation under Symons, with Bryan Ruiz operating ahead of three central midfielders and two forwards, that isn’t to say the Cottagers don’t have players capable of coming out wide and causing a threat down the channels.

The likes of Ruiz and Rodallega won’t be as forgiving as previous opponents if Charlton’s full-backs offer them the opportunity to cross.

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PREDICITION

A TV game, away at an in form side with the squad absent of several key men. It’s fair to say the stars haven’t aligned in Charlton’s favour.

Getting out of this one alive would be an achievement.

Fulham 2-1 Charlton Athletic

Addicks Tuc Into Hard-Fought Three Points

Bob Peeters’ side may have passed arguably their biggest test, but it was done so with more of a 2-2 than a 2-1.

In fact, Charlton’s 2-1 victory over Bolton could have so easily ended with both sides scoring two, something that didn’t look on the cards when the depleted hosts doubled their advantage at the start of the second-half.

Johnnie Jackson’s composed finish added to a well taken first-half goal from George Tucudean, stepping into the Vetokele-shaped hole superbly, to seemingly secure a first class response to Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth.

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But Dean Moxey’s sweetly struck strike, scored almost immediately after Charlton had pushed further ahead, set up an uncomfortable final half hour for the Addicks, who were forced to face considerable pressure from the opposition.

And that pressure wasn’t always dealt with in a composed manner. Neil Lennon’s rejuvenated side had a spark to their play, and the hosts looked frail. Clearances were scuffed, possession was minimal and there was no answer to Bolton’s pace in midfield.

A more potent side would have taken advantage, the Trotters lacking a penetrating final ball, but through good fortune and unrelenting effort, a combination that has served the Addicks well this season, a positive result was secured.

Ability may have been occasionally lacking, and the performance was not the dramatic response to defeat wanted by some, but there was to be no questioning the energy levels and determination of Peeters’ side – two things that had been lacking three days previously.

The collapsed Tal Ben Haim at full-time epitomised it all. A side missing key players had given everything they had for this win, and those who had supported from the stands needed a lie down after watching their side once again make hard work of defending a lead. A barely managed pass that, come the conclusion, felt as good as one with full-marks.


But before kick-off, there was no real feeling the Addicks were about to bounce back from defeat.

At a Valley emptier and quieter than normal, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Igor Vetokele and Chris Solly were all nowhere to be seen. Niggles and injuries keeping out the key trio, and decreasing Charlton’s chances of victory.

In came Lawrie Wilson, Franck Moussa and Frederic Bulot, while the much criticised Tucudean replaced youngster Karlan Ahearne-Grant in attack. A weaker side was hardly inspiring when facing a buoyant Bolton, still buzzing from the ‘new manager effect’.

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And it was apparent from the off that the Trotters had a greater quality than their league table position suggested.

Passing with pace and intent, one such forward move produced the game’s first opening, but Stephen Henderson just about did enough to deny the lively Chung Yong Lee, parrying his effort and pouncing quickly on the loose ball.

It’s fair to say the visitors were on top in the early stages, but the Addicks at least looked a little more impressive than they did on the South Coast. They may have constantly faltered in the final third, but there was a greater amount of composure in their both their defensive efforts and their passing.

But the Valley faithful were audibly frustrated, largely with Tucudean. The forward was intent on falling theatrically whenever a Bolton player made the smallest amount of contact, an act the referee refused to buy and the home supporters refused to endorse.

And when Tucudean wasn’t falling to the floor and handing possession to the opposition, former Addick Dorian Dervite was exuding class at the back for Lennon’s side. Every header was won by the Frenchman, and his balls out from the back began several Bolton attacks.

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There was, however, a lack of penetration in either side’s play. For all the away side’s possession, a Jermaine Beckford shot from range, comfortably held by Henderson, was the only real effort added to Lee’s early strike, while a block from Matthew Mills stopped Jackson’s goal bound shot at the other end.

In fact, it took until the 27th minute for a moment of real quality, and it belonged to the Addicks.

Stunning passing play, the like rarely seen since Charlton’s win over Derby in August, saw Moussa, Yoni Buyens and Wilson combine to set the latter free down the right flank. His deep cross picked out Jordan Cousins, who set the ball back to Jackson, but the skipper failed to connect after swivelling towards goal and Bolton cleared. A frustrating conclusion, but the move had Addicks believing their side had the quality to win this game.

It took just a minute for that belief to be rewarded.

On a night where owner Roland Duchatelet was in attendance, it was a goal created and finished by players the Belgian had moved to SE7 from Standard Liege. Buyens’ ball over the top was stunning, Tucudean’s touch equally pleasing, and the tight-angle finish that followed ruthless.

Although a yellow card was awarded, you could forgive the Romanian for jumping into the crowd in celebration. Those that had criticised the forward were more than happy to feel rather embarrassed as they celebrated his superb strike.

The goal was not only valuable for the lead it gave Charlton, but it made them considerably more confident. Previously looking fragile, there was now a sense they could control the game with a transformed Tucudean to the fore.

But the Reds couldn’t turn their new found composure into chances. Instead, it was Bolton who looked the most likely to score as the half came to an end.

The pace of Liam Feeney allowed him to go in behind Rhoys Wiggins, but the winger scuffed his shot, while the outstanding Dervite headed powerfully wide and Jay Spearing forced a good save out of Henderson on the stroke of half-time, but Charlton went in at the break ahead.

That was a lead despite having less possession, less shots and, in Dervite and Lee, Bolton having the two best performing players on the pitch. It was fair to say an improvement was needed in the second half if the Addicks were to gain three points.

In fact, given Charlton’s recent history of protecting leads, a second goal was desperately needed in the opening moments of the second period.

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So when clever play from Moussa sent Tucudean free, the hosts had the perfect opportunity to give themselves a seemingly unassailable lead.

Unselfishly, the goal scorer, instead of attempting to double his tally, passed across goal perfectly to Jackson, who finished with the coolness, and celebrated with the exuberance, you would expect from Charlton’s skipper. The wrongs of the weekend’s defeat made right; game over.

But such thoughts were wide of the mark. Realistically, a side managed by the passionate Lennon were never going to throw in the towel, and the Trotters casted doubt on a Charlton victory almost immediately.

Just as had been the case against Bournemouth and Birmingham, the Addicks failed to successfully clear a corner, and the man on the edge of the box was left unmarked with a clear sight of goal. Moxey’s subsequent finish was excellent, with the former Palace man rifling the ball into the far corner of Henderson’s goal, but it took little away from the sloppy nature of the goal from a Charlton perspective. Game on.

Game on indeed, with Bolton seemingly inspired by their goal. The Trotters quickly stamped their authority, completely dominating in midfield, with Charlton, and Charlton’s lead, now incredibly fragile.

Darren Pratley skewed an effort wide, while a series of attacks down the wing resulted in Beckford seeing a looping header headed off the line by Wiggins, redeeming himself after struggling against Lee, Feeney and Mark Davies, Feeney’s replacement, all night.

Rarely did Charlton venture into the opposition’s half, persistently having to find a way to stop Bolton’s increasingly threatening attacks, and they all too often did, if occasionally unconventionally. Wilson the only member of Charlton’s back line completely composed, if not faultless.

When there was no answer, an overhit cross, a misplaced pass or fortune Charlton’s performance scarcely deserved allowed the Addicks a moment to breathe, and the supporters a chance to vent their frustration/increase their vigilant encouragement.

But hearts stopped in the home ends with just over ten minutes to play as Henderson came steaming out of his goal to intercept a Bolton corner. The ball, however, was never there for the stopper to claim, with Mills rising highest and heading towards an open goal. By the narrowest of margins, his effort flew wide.

An equaliser for the Trotters would have been less painful than enduring the final passages of play desperately hoping the Addicks would cling on.

And in that final period of play, Charlton’s goal was peppered. But, thankfully, Bolton’s numerous efforts failed to test Henderson. Spearing and substitutes Max Clayton and Tim Ream were all left with looks of anguish on their face as they fired wide.

For all their excellent build up play, there just wasn’t enough in the final third for Bolton to claim a point their efforts deserved. Two overhit passes from Lee and Neil Danns in stoppage time, a period of five minutes that had began with Ben Haim blasting over during a rare Charlton break, summed up the visitors’ night, as did the frustrated response of Lennon as Henderson claimed the through balls.

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And for Charlton, the response of several summed up their night. For Ben Haim, it was exhaustion, his efforts matched by the rest of the side, while for Jackson, it was a look of relief. There will be better and more deserved victories, but few will be as important. A test of character just about passed.


After such a woeful display on the South Coast, and lacking key men, there was no expectation that this would be a completely enjoyable night for the Addicks.

And Bolton made sure it wasn’t going to be. While their supporters will no doubt be encouraged by such a performance against a Charlton side without defeat at home this season, it’s fair to say they didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

At they very least, the performances of Dervite and Lee were ones that shouldn’t have belonged to a side suffering defeat. Dervite was a one-man fortress on his return to SE7, and his composure on the ball started several promising Bolton attacks.

Most of those attacks were made more threatening by Lee’s pace and movement. The occasions where he skipped past Jackson or Buyens were numerous; Charlton’s midfield simply could not contain the South Korean. Thankfully, although not for the want of trying, a final ball often deserted him. Had it not, it’s hard to envisage Bolton not currently having at least an additional point to their name.

And had the spoils been shared, the Addicks could have had few complaints. Bolton were in control for almost the entirety of the game; Charlton dominant for just the period before and after their first goal.

How the hosts didn’t cave in against considerable pressure remains a mystery. Their efforts to hand Bolton a point or three were commendable, with the midfield failing to press, the back four seemingly not communicating and attempts to get forward almost immediately stamped out in the second half. A typical display when attempting to hold onto a lead.

Attack after attack followed, and good fortune played a larger part in Charlton clinging on than their own efforts. Bolton couldn’t capitalise where they should have done, especially down their right hand side with Wiggins, in addition to Bulot and Cousins who were ahead of him on separate occasions, struggling.

In fact, to say this was Wiggins’ worst game in Charlton red would not have been unfair, while Cousins’ form has dropped well below the standards he set for himself at the start of the season. Improvement is needed.

Alas, this was not just a case of the Addicks playing poorly and getting a very healthy slice of luck. There’s praise to give for their efforts going forward, and at the back.

However small it may have been, they made the most of their period of dominance, and came out after the break intent on doubling their advantage as appose to sitting back.

That was largely due to the efforts of Tucudean. Groans were audible when his selection was announced, and only grew louder in the opening moments of the fist half, but his superb finish and work for Jackson’s goal effectively won Charlton the game. There is, apparently, a player hiding away in the Romanian after all.

Praise is also due for Moussa, who I felt had his best game to date for the Addicks. We were promised a flair player when he arrived, but the diligent and hard working nature of his performance impressed me the most. He was one of a few who persistently pressed and chased after countless punts forwards from Charlton’s desperate defence.

And, despite the poor footballing nature at times of Charlton’s performance, such effort was seen in every Addick. Not least in Wilson, tireless in his efforts to deny Bolton.

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It’s therefore the case that while the performance was somewhat worrying, overcoming the negativity that defeat brings, an lengthy injury least and considerable Bolton threat suggests this side’s energy and hard work will continue to see them snatch points the footballing purist would suggest they don’t deserve.

In that sense, it’s a huge win, and a huge show of character in tough circumstances.

In another, the prospect of playing an in form Fulham side away from home is worrying, especially without the suspended Buyens, who picked up his fifth yellow of the season.

Fight and fortune were enough to get the Addicks through tonight, but an improved performance will be needed to take anything from Craven Cottage.

Preview: Charlton Athletic Vs Bolton Wanderers

Had this fixture occurred four or five weeks ago, even the most negative cautious of Charlton fans would be inclined to predict victory for their side.

For through August and September, the Addicks were seemingly incapable of suffering defeat. When at their best, mightily impressive victories were picked up. When at their worst, mightily impressive amounts of luck meant the opposition couldn’t capitalise on Charlton’s faults.

Comparatively, Dougie Freedman’s Bolton knew only how to lose. In fact, the Trotters suffered seven defeats from the opening ten games of the season, resulting in Freedman losing his job.

But the mood at the Macron-nee-Reebok Stadium has improved significantly in the past week.

While Neil Lennon, even without taking into account the length of his three-year contract, may be something of a risky appointment, the former Celtic boss’s arrival in Lancashire has produced the effect that so often occurs when a new manager takes charge of a club.

It may have been nothing more than a 1-0 win over lowly Birmingham City, but belief has returned to supporters of Bolton.

By contrast, Charlton fans, previously revelling in their side’s unbeaten run, have cause for concern.

Losing for the first time in 12 is not necessarily the issue for the Addicks, as disappointing as it was to see the unbeaten run end at Bournemouth, but that performances have often been poor for several weeks, peaking with Saturday’s unbelievably dreadful showing on the South Coast.

Of course, that’s not to say there has been a complete turnaround in fortunes for both sides. A solitary defeat for Charlton and win for Bolton is not nearly enough evidence to suggest that.

But it does mean Lennon’s side come into the contest with increased confidence, while Peeters has the difficult task of getting his side to respond from a disappointing defeat, and must do so without a handful of key players.

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LAST MEETING – Charlton Athletic 0-0 Bolton Wanderers

There have been more exciting afternoons at The Valley, it must be said.

The Sea of Red, with Charlton supporters largely adorning club colours, promised to produce a vocal atmosphere and subsequently inspire the Addicks to a much needed victory.

And while Jose Riga’s side rarely looked threatened by the Trotters, Charlton themselves faltered in front of goal. A dubiously rejected penalty appeal from Simon Church was the peak of the home side’s efforts.

FORM

Bolton: WLLLLL

Their form was beginning to the shape of a Welsh town, but Saturday’s win over Birmingham, their first in six, suggests Lennon might well be able to move Bolton up the table.

Of course, few of a Bolton persuasion will be getting carried away by a single victory, but to lift a side that were previously completely devoid of confidence immediately is a promising sign.

It’s certainly the case that Bolton have a squad that shouldn’t be battling to remain in the division, and Lennon’s arrival may be just what’s needed to get the best out of under-performing players such as Jermaine Beckford, Neil Danns and Lee Chung-Yong.

Charlton: LDWDDD

Eleven games unbeaten has quickly become one win in six for the Addicks, with Charlton’s early season attacking flair deserting them completely in recent weeks.

In fact, only four goals have been scored in those six games, with opponents beginning to press Peeters’ side and prevent them from playing out from the back at their own pace. With no alternative way of playing, the Addicks have struggled to find a way forward.

Frailties have also been shown defensively, epitomised by Bournemouth’s midfield having the freedom of the Goldsands’ pitch and simple long balls catching at the back four throughout Saturday’s defeat.

The need for a victory isn’t exactly desperate, but an improvement on recent performances is imperative.

THE OPPOSITION

Dorian Dervite will face his former club for the first time since leaving the Addicks in the summer.

The Frenchman, who played a vital role in Charlton’s Championship survival, has been one of Bolton’s better performers this season, and will start alongside Saturday’s goalscorer Matt Mills at centre-back.

Also returning to The Valley, although only in a coaching capacity, will be Andy Hughes, something of a cult hero in SE7 despite playing just a handful of games in Charlton red. His infections enthusiasm while an Addick means Hughes will join Dervite in receiving a deserved appreciative reception from the Covered End.   

Elsewhere, Lennon is likely to field the same side that got his Bolton career off to a winning start, but Mark Davies and Medo will be hoping to force their way into the Trotters’ five-man midfield.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton’s chances of responding positively to their first defeat of the season have been dealt a blow with the news that their most potent goal threat will be absent for the Bolton clash.

Igor Vetokele was substituted at half-time at the Goldsands with an Achilles complaint, and that injury means the Addicks are desperately short of options in attack. 17-year-old Karlan Ahearne-Grant and poorly-performing George Tucudean the only out-and-out forward options available to Peeters.

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Charlton are also likely to be without Chris Solly, whose knee problems make playing three times in a week difficult, and Joe Gomez, who remains injured, so Lawrie Wilson may be forced to start at right-back.

And with Johann Berg Gudmundsson withdrawn midway through the second-half on Saturday, there are doubts surrounding the fitness of the Icelandic winger.

Frederic Bulot’s return, having missed the trip to Bournemouth following his international exertions for Gabon, means the Addicks will be able to field something resembling a competent XI, but the bench will be more like a crèche.

KEY BATTLE – Charlton’s central midfield Vs Bolton’s central midfield

While the Addicks were poor all over the pitch at Bournemouth, a central part of Charlton’s failings was that they were incredibly weak in the centre.

Both Johnnie Jackson and Yoni Buyens struggled when out of possession, and weren’t much better with it, leaving the spine of team in a fragile state.

It meant Bournemouth’s Harry Arter and Andrew Surman were free to carry the ball forward and begin attacks as they pleased, while their pressing prevented Charlton from mounting anything serious forward moves of their own.

If Charlton are to bounce back from defeat, then Jackson and Buyens must become the pressers and the aggressors, preventing Bolton from playing like they couldn’t Bournemouth.

With Lennon likely to field three central midfielders, and with the Addicks lacking forward options, there is some value in playing a 4-5-1 formation with Jordan Cousins ahead of Jackson and Buyens.

In a way, such a formation is more likely to see Charlton take the game to Bolton than one with more than one forward.

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PREDICITION

A tough one to call. Charlton are by no means all of a sudden a poor side, nor have Bolton become world beaters overnight, but it’s difficult to confidently predict victory for the Addicks after Saturday’s performance and with a depleted squad.

You would, however, expect something of a response from Peeters’ side. While there is an element of the unknown about how this Charlton side react to a defeat, there’s nothing to say that Peeters wouldn’t be able to get them going again.

Regardless of the result, an improvement needs to be made on Saturday’s performance. I’ll be happy enough with a point with some promising passages of play.

Charlton Athletic 1-1 Bolton Wanderers