If Charlton Athletic’s first defeat of the season had been inflicted by a side who were simply better than them on day, then there would have been an element of acceptance.
For if the Addicks had been outplayed by Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, there would be a stronger desire to reflect on the start to the season and completely ignore the loss. Eight points gained from five sides likely to be in the top half, and only one able to overwhelm Guy Luzon’s side.
But there was a sense of frustration among those who had travelled to the midlands as they began their journey back down south. Their side not outplayed, but victims of their own mistakes.
In truth, neither side were able to gain a real advantage in a horribly scrappy affair. But Charlton matched their opponents for much of the afternoon, and offered strong defensive resilience in most of the moments that they didn’t.
The issue for the Addicks was that their attacking moves, hindered already by an injury to Simon Makienok, regularly broke down through miscommunication, indecisiveness and poor decision making.
Made more of annoyance by the fact their one truly fluent move of the afternoon resulted in Charlton taking the lead just after half-time. Zakarya Bergdich playing into Igor Vetokele,the Angolan feeding Johann Berg Gudmundsson, the makeshift forward finishing through Carl Ikeme.
It was, however, the faults on show at the back that ultimately proved disappointing. Stubborn, structured and disciplined at the start of this campaign, Luzon would have been equally disappointed to see his side concede two soft goals, with Wolves otherwise frustrated.
Both involved the dangerous Sheyi Ojo given space. The first coming from a quickly taken throw, with the Liverpool loanee driving forward and cutting back to James Henry. The Charlton target picked out an unmarked Dave Edwards, who finished at the second attempt.
The second saw a ball through to Ojo seemingly destroy the shape of Charlton’s back line. Chris Solly high up, Alou Diarra drawn across, and Adam Le Fondre unchallenged as he converted what would ultimately prove to be his side’s winner.
So while the Addicks can fairly claim defeat as a little harsh, and Wolves will struggle to prove they were dramatically the better side, Charlton only have themselves to blame that there unbeaten record has been lost prior to the international break.
The confidence held prior to kick-off, strengthened by the return of Solly and centurion Jordan Cousins moving back to midfield, makes the defeat even more difficult to accept. The absence of Tony Watt’s name from the teamsheet the only major blow.
But it was a name who might well feature in Charlton’s line-up beyond the end of this transfer window who had the game’s first chance. Benik Afobe holding the ball up well for Henry, for who Luzon continues to attempt to lure to SE7, with the winger curling narrowly wide.
And it was Wolves who started fractionally the better of the two sides at Molineux. The Addicks getting forward well down the wing, but unable to deliver. The lively Henry crossing to Edwards, who headed comfortably over Nick Pope’s goal, and Dicko, who could only skim the surface of the ball with his head.
The theme continued. Charlton not lacking in attacking intent, with Karlan Ahearne-Grant running the channels well, but cutting edge, and a Tony Watt-like presence, desperately lacking. Pope needing to get finger tips to an effort from Henry, before throwing his cap on a bizarrely weak Afobe drive from a free-kick.
Nonetheless, those in the away end were not nervy. The brilliance of Solly, Ahmed Kashi and Patrick Bauer meant there was a strong sense the Addicks were firmly in control of their own destiny. The vice-skipper relentless in his harassing of Henry, the Algerian full of energy and diligence in the middle, and the rather large German winning his duel with Afobe in comprehensive fashion.
In fact, so strong did Charlton appear at the back, the more pressing concern was the forced removal of Makienok. The Dane withdrawn through injury, and replaced by Vetokele, who himself looked in some troubled having taken a knock to the back of the head attempting to hold up the ball just minutes after coming on.
And while he continued, the Addicks were certainly less effective without a physical presence in attack. Luzon’s side needing a decent amount of time to change their game plan to accommodate for the lack of Makienok, and it did not change before Henry’s delivery skidded past a diving Edwards in the middle.
But, once Charlton settled down and found some sort of rhythm, they were able to end the half in relative strong fashion.
The rhythm, in truth, was mostly based around giving the ball to Gudmundsson and hoping the Icelander could create something, but that it isn’t to say it was a bad ploy. The winger typically cutting inside, and ambitiously firing over.
His sudden burst into life pushed Wolves’ defence back a little, giving Charlton’s midfield a touch more space. Cousins allowed to run forward, and curl an effort not too far over Ikeme’s crossbar.
And, as half-time approach, there was still one more opportunity for the Addicks. Ahearne-Grant crossing for Gudmundsson, whose downward header was well stopped.
So maybe the Icelandic winger’s influence in the half’s closing moments convinced Luzon to push him further forward. Ahearne-Grant, getting into decent positions with the ball at his feet but unable to deliver, withdrawn, and replaced by El Hadji-Ba to allow Gudmundsson to push further up.
In truth, it seemed something of an odd call. The balance of the side lost, with Cousins heading out wide, and Gudmundsson placed in a slightly unnatural position.
But, with almost everything Luzon touches turning to gold, his decision payed dividends ten minutes into the second half.
The otherwise ineffectual Bergdich was able to break forward, with Gudmundsson and Vetokele running off him. The better ball seemed to be to feed the Icelander, but Vetokele accepted the pass, and did superbly to feed his new strike partner.
And while Ikeme would have been disappointed to not save the strike, Gudmundsson’s effort was crisp and managed to sneak underneath the former Charlton goalkeeper. Not so much against the run of play, but a goal out of nothing in a match with few clear openings.
The hope was that Gudmundsson’s goal would open the game up a little, allowing the Addicks to build upon their lead and make a scrappy game a touch less difficult to watch. That hope increasing as Bergdich caught Matt Doherty in possession, and burst forward, but the Moroccan selfishly shot across the face of goal with Vetokele and Gudmundsson waiting with space in the middle.
With that chance flashing wide allowing Wolves to settle, and an unfortunate injury to Nouha Dicko stopping the game for some time, the goal did not have quite the impact Charlton supporters thought it might.
Kenny Jackett, however, opted to throw some new life into his side. Dicko stretchered off and replaced by Le Fondre, and Ojo brought on for Kevin McDonald.
And it was not long before Ojo, impressive so far in his loan spell at Molineux, made a telling contribution.
Having dealt with a Wolves corner, the Addicks didn’t respond quickly enough to a quickly taken throw, with Ojo beating Morgan Fox before cutting back to Henry. The winger’s driven ball into the box met by Edwards, also in too much space, whose slightly mishit effort bounced back off Diarra, allowing him to finish at the second attempt.
At least three opportunities missed for Charlton to defend the move, and, just ten minutes after going ahead, momentum had now firmly switched to the opposition.
There was a roar of expectation each time the home side moved forward; their confidence increasing with each move. Solly needed to make a superb tackle on the rampaging Ojo, and Afobe heading for Pope to save. Charlton crippled by indecisiveness each time they moved into Wolves’ half.
But it was Edwards, often a hard worker for Wolves but rarely a goal scorer, who was given a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead. A corner headed back across goal, with those in white and red static in the centre, which Edwards latched onto, but he could only skew his header wide at the far post from very close range. A big miss, and a reminder to the Addicks that they desperately needed to regroup and reorganise.
Or, they could get down the other end, retake the lead and kill of Wolves’ momentum. Lovely passing triangles between Bauer, Kashi and Ba, eventually resulted in the former latching onto Fox’s ball on the edge of the area. His shot, hit with venom, deflecting wide.
Nonetheless, Wolves continued to press with a sense of menace. Their threat growing as the Addicks began to look more and more unstructured at the back. Le Fondre finding space to volley over from Ojo’s cross.
The warning, however, was not heeded. With five minutes to place, the prolific poacher was able to do what he does best.
Solly had gone to the ball, allowing Ojo to be played in down the left. Diarra came to attempt to block off his cross, but he was merely left in the wilderness, and Le Fondre was able to move into the space the Frenchman’s absence created. Ojo’s delivery tucked in typical Le Fondre fashion.
A nice move from the hosts, undoubtedly, but another goal conceded which could have been much better defended.
And with that, the game was done. A disjoined Charlton attacking unit were never likely to find a way past Wolves’ defence in the game’s dying moments, irrespective of seven minutes being added on.
Even in stoppage time, the Addicks were too indecisive, passing tentatively when a shot or a cross was on. Gudmundsson blasting over a free-kick the only real opportunity as Charlton supporters were forced to exit a ground in a state of disappointment and frustration for the first time this season.
And it was frustration that was the greater of the two feelings, with a genuine belief that Charlton could have done more to get something from the game.
For it was the sort of performance where few individuals underperformed. Bergdich again struggled, physically and in his execution, but performances were of decent standard aside from him. Bauer and Solly superb, Kashi continuing to impress, and Vetokele and Gudmundsson working hard up top.
But, as a collective, it was a slow, sloppy and lethargic performance. One that suggested this was one game too far for the Addicks. No fluency to the attacking moves, and a previously unflappable defensive unit completely losing its shape and structure in the game’s final 20 minutes.
In truth, it was the sort of game where if Watt was available, Charlton would have had the advantage. His direct runs a contract to the stuttering moves forward made by those in white and red, and would have tested a Wolves defence that looked uncomfortable in the few moments where they genuinely had something to defence.
And that Wolves were rarely tested, despite matching them in the overall run of the game, is also a huge frustration. Their successful attacking moves greater in numbers, but Wolves also lacked a little bit of cohesion in a desperately sloppy affair.
But they were able to capitalise on Charlton’s sloppiness, while the Addicks could not on theirs. The introduction of Ojo and Le Fondre, the former’s pace and the latter’s movement, swinging the game Wolves’ way and allowing them to breakdown a normally stubborn backline. With injuries a hindrance, there was little Luzon could do to change the game in the way Jackett could.
Nonetheless, despite the frustration of defeat, it remains an unquestionably superb start to the season. The Addicks overachieving in these early season encounters.
But maybe the defeat offers a little reminder that, while this squad is a strong one, further reinforcements are required in order for it to be one that challenges for a top six place come May. The next few days if not decisive, then relatively crucial.
It was with very different emotions to those felt currently that Charlton last travelled to Molineux.
The actions of Roland Duchatelet, the words of Katrien Meire, and the performances from the players had seen apathy and disillusionment spread among supporters.
A bloke sacked by the owner at Standard Liege was set to take charge of his first game, having finally been granted a work permit. On numerous occasions were we informed in bizarrely chosen language to accept the decisions the club was making. A 10-game winless run showing no signs of coming to an end, and making following the Addicks both on and off-the-pitch a miserable chore.
So too, for those diligent enough to still care, was there a horrible fear of embarrassment. A pathetic 5-0 defeat to Watford had occurred the week before, and many were expecting similar against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The goalless draw that followed, although alleviating no long term doubts, rather surprising.
Since then, however, Guy Luzon has impressively shaken off the negative tags that were legitimately attached to him in the first month or so of his time as Charlton head coach. The only crisis during this campaign has involved a failure to dispatch season tickets. Performances have, in at least five of the club’s six competitive games, been mightily impressive.
As such, excitement has replaced apathy, and expectation has replaced fear. The Addicks not dreading their trip to Wolves on Saturday, nor worried by the quality a side with promotion ambitions pose.
In fact, the opposition, whether Wolverhampton or Rotherham, is hardly important at the moment. Confidence so high, and so dramatically different to seven months ago, that you feel Luzon’s side can win each and every game.
LAST MEETING – WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 0-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
We will one day tell our grandchildren of the afternoon when Andre Bikey and Tal Ben Haim, with Marko Dmitrovic behind them, kept a clean sheet having conceded five a week earlier.
For the Addicks, performing disgracefully, without organisation and without fight at Watford, set up to frustrate their opposition at Molineux, and did so successfully.
Despite dominating the game, Wolves were unable to break down stubborn resistance from the visiting side.
In fact, Charlton had a decent chance to win the game late on, with substitute Tony Watt breaking into the box and being denied one-on-one by Carl Ikeme.
But it what was a brief break from chaos and misery, before that returned in the following weeks.
While a youthful side progressed to the third round of the League Cup with a win over Barnet on Tuesday night, it has not prevented Wolves’ start to the campaign from being somewhat underwhelming.
For Kenny Jackett’s side, tipped by many to challenge for promotion, have suffered two disappointing defeats in their first four league games. A terrible capitulation, having gone two goals up, to lose at home to QPR, followed by a torrid performance in defeat to Cardiff City.
Nonetheless, there is unquestionable quality among Wolves’ squad. From the defensive resoluteness of Richard Stearman, the midfield tenacity of Conor Coady, and the lethal forward pairing of Nouha Dicko and Benik Afobe.
Jackett, too, will be intent on quickly addressing the early season faults in his side in order to get back to winning ways in the league.
Confidence at Charlton has not been this high since the last time a fresh side started a campaign in impressive fashion, which happened to be last year.
But this feels a bit different. The attitude and character of the players stronger, the quality of the side greater, and the head coach seemingly given a bit more freedom to do his job how he would like.
And if Saturday’s dramatic stoppage-time win over Hull didn’t send self-belief to a point where it could not grow any greater, then a side full of academy graduates impressively beating Peterborough in the League Cup on Tuesday has done the job.
As such, there is not a feeling that the Addicks will capitulate any time soon, or even that their unbeaten run is in any immediate trouble.
Kenny Jackett has an almost fully-fit squad to pick from for the visit of the Addicks on Saturday.
George Saville, given a chance to impress in the League Cup on Tuesday night, suffered a knock that will keep him out, but no other first time players are absent.
That could mean long-term Charlton target James Henry starting on the wing, as he has done in three of four Wolves league games so far this season.
But it was Rajiv van La Parra and Sheyi Ojo who started out wide against Cardiff, with Afobe in attack on his own. Jackett, however, is likely to revert back to two in attack on Saturday.
Charlton could welcome back Chris Solly after the vice-captain missed the games against Hull and Peterborough through injury.
Solly’s return will allow fellow academy Jordan Cousins to return to centre of midfield, forming a formidable pairing with Ahmed Kashi.
But the Addicks will remain without talismanic forward Watt, who is yet to recover from an injury of his own.
Karlan Ahearne Grant, impressive at Peterborough, will be pushing to start, especially with Igor Vetokele, irrespective of his return on Tuesday night, unlikely to be fit enough to cope with more than a few minutes off the bench at present.
Elsewhere, Stephen Henderson, Cristian Ceballos, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Franck Moussa and Johnnie Jackson are all expected to be out.
KEY BATTLE – PREVENTING AFOBE AND DICKO FROM DESTROYING THE FOUNDATIONS
While Charlton have controlled the tempo of their home league games so far this season, often to the point of dominating, defensive resolve has been required to prevent Derby County and Nottingham Forest from turning their control of the game into three points.
That, of course, isn’t to say the Addicks were negative or overawed at the iPro and the City Ground. Merely pragmatically responding to the opposition dictating play in the middle, and showing superb resilience to halt their attacking moves again and again.
Nor were Luzon’s attacking principles abandoned. A threat on the counter possessed right up until the game’s closing stages against the Rams, and his side creating the better chances against Forest.
As such, against a side who contain metronomic passers in midfield and a vibrant attacking threat, a similar reactive performance will be required. Let Wolves have all the possession they want in the middle, but remain tight and frustrate when they enter the final third.
And the key to that will be preventing Afobe and Dicko from doing what they do best – finding faults in defensive lines and scoring goals.
For if Patrick Bauer and Alou Diarra hold off the front two, then the Addicks will give themselves a base from which to cause a threat on the counter. Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s ability to carry the ball and beat opponents, and Simon Makienok’s threat in the air, meaning Charlton will always have a way of getting forward.
A genuinely tough one to call. Form suggests a Charlton win, but playing Wolves at Molineux is no easy challenge. It isn’t a fixture the confidence-filled Addicks will fear, but they may have to settle for a point. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Charlton Athletic
Chris Powell’s Flat Cap should be attending the game, but it’s not guaranteed at the moment. Supporting Northamptonshire at T20 Finals Day, then hoping to nip across to Wolves during the second semi-final and head back to Edgbaston for the final itself. As a result, if I am at Molineux, a report won’t be up until Sunday morning at the earliest. Sunday evening if Northants win…
While Joe Gomez spent the afternoon celebrating his call-up to the England U21 squad, those who he played alongside in Charlton’s esteemed academy were filled with pride of equal measure by the end of the evening.
For the majority of the seven homegrown players who contributed to their side’s League Cup second round win over Peterborough did so with success. The impressions they made as the Addicks romped to a 4-1 victory as promising as those Liverpool’s young full-back with Sparrows Lane blood running through his veins has given to a Premier League audience.
It began with debutant Mikhail Kennedy, a forward whose physique makes him appear just a boy, giving belief that he is a man in character. The 17-year-old pouncing on former Charlton goalkeeper Ben Alnwick’s spillage, and finishing emphatically just three minutes into his first senior appearance.
Jordan Cousins characteristically went box-to-box, Regan Charles-Cook battled with determination at right-back, and Harry Lennon engaged in a fiercely contested duel with Connor Washington. But it was not until the second half, after a period of Posh domination, and Callum Harriott frustration, at the end of the first, that the young Addicks showed this test was not too much for them.
Kennedy, with the appeals of a child hauled to the ground on a Sunday league pitch, won his side a penalty, which fellow 17-year-old Karlan Ahearne-Grant emphatically dispatched. The joy in his celebration infectious.
It was from there that the hosts crumbled at London Road. Intensity dropped, organisation non-existent and defensive diligence lacking.
The motivated young Addicks, however, were relentless. The pace and energy of their counter-attacking moves deserving further reward.
But the third Charlton goal was something not even the confident youngsters would have attempted. Substitute Ahmed Kashi spotting Alnwick off his line, and lobbing him with a delicious strike from all of 50 yards.
It was not long, however, before another academy graduate made a positive contribution. Debutant Oliver Muldoon crossing superbly for Igor Vetokele to score on his return from injury.
And while Jerome Anderson, beating Naby Sarr to a cross, headed a late consolation that Posh scarcely deserved, it took nothing at all away from a fantastic night for the Addicks, and for the club’s academy.
A night topped off with the third round draw, which Charlton were in for the first time since 2007, pairing them with Crystal Palace. We have been spoilt, in success, pride and excitement, in this season’s early weeks.
The optimism that already existed did not prevent nervousness before kick-off.
Granted, Patrick Bauer was still leading the backline, El Hadji-Ba and Cousins formed a formidable midfield partnership, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson was in reserve in case of disaster. Against a relatively inexperienced Peterborough side, that would surely be enough.
But Charlton’s League Cup record and the weight of youngsters in the side meant you could not help but feel at least a little uneasy.
The Addicks, however, settled any anxieties just three minutes into the context. The pace of Ahearne-Grant allowing him to get in behind, his driven cross fumbled by former Addick Alnwick, and Kennedy more than happy to accept the gift. The Northern Irishman lashing into a near-empty net to score his first professional goal on his first professional appearance, and give his side the lead.
It was not just the fact that they had a goal advantage that settled the nerves in the away end. Peterborough stunned by intensity of the Addicks, as they attacked with speed and energy in the game’s opening moments.
And that drive was led by Ahearne-Grant, whose movement with and without the ball continued to cause problems. The forward driving into space, before drilling a shot that Alnwick claimed at the second attempt.
In fact, it took the hosts until beyond the tenth minute until they felt brave enough to come forward. The Addicks guilty of standing off their opponents a little, as Marcus Maddison was fed on the left and drilled a strike just wide of Nick Pope’s post.
A sign, perhaps, that this Peterborough side, with it too benefiting from the exuberance of youth, were going to cause at least few concerns for Guy Luzon’s young side.
However, were it not for some characteristically poor decision making from Harriott, then Charlton’s lead would have been stretched to two.
Zakarya Bergdich’s cross only half cut out, and finding its way through to the transfer-listed winger, but Harriott opted to head at goal when he had the space to let the ball drop and volley in the simplest chances. Alnwick gleefully claiming the soft nod.
And while Connor Washington, with a Posh attacker again given far too much space by the Addicks, flashed an effort narrowly off-target, Harriott was soon prevented with another opportunity to double his side’s lead.
Cutting in from the right, the winger had a sea of red to aim for in the middle, but instead he attempted to curl into the far corner. Catching practice for Alnwick, despite his earlier error.
By this time, the visiting supporters were increasingly getting on the back of the underperforming Harriott, and Luzon’s side were growing increasingly sloppy. Neither situation helped when Harriott once more attempted to cut in from the right and spliced horribly wide, while Soulymane Coulibaly drove forward down the other end and lashed a strike over the bar.
And were it not for the body of Pope, then Peterborough would have grabbed the equaliser they had been pressing for. Washington’s low cross turned goalwards by Sarr, with the young goalkeeper, through a combination of positioning and good fortune, thankfully able to turn the ball behind.
With Charlton, lacking cohesion in their attacking moves and seemingly a little caught out by the pace among Peterborough’s side, on the back foot, half-time was desperately required. Paul Taylor’s run exposing the uncertainty in the visitors’ midfield and defence, before the former Ipswich man fired over.
But, as the half neared its conclusion, something resembling the potent Addicks attacking moves that had dominated the opening 15 minutes returned. The ball falling kindly to Bergdich inside the box, but his volley found the roof rather than the back of the net, and a superb passing move concluded with Cousins blasting over when he probably should have tested Alnwick.
Nonetheless, Charlton were able to go in at the break ahead. A lead, given their excellent start to the match, they had just about earned, but one they would only protect with improvement in the second period.
Removing the struggling Harriott would have probably helped, too. The academy graduate getting a first time strike all wrong after Bergdich had cut back to him inside the box at the start of the second period.
Six minutes into the half, however, and his misses were made meaningless. The tenacity of Kennedy earning his side as penalty, as Alex Davey stuck out a leg as the young forward attempted to round him. Ahearne-Grant dispatching the spot kick with all the composure and quality of a seasoned professional.
And although Posh responded almost immediately, with the lively Maddison collecting the ball on the edge of Charlton’s box and again driving just wide of the far post, there was a growing sense there chance had gone. As songs about Wembley emerged from the away end, the confidence that the hosts had started to play with towards the end of the first half quickly vanished.
It seemed as if Posh, who fielded as many young players as the Addicks, had lost both drive and determination. No longer were they driving into space, and the organisation of their midfield would have given Gary Neville a heart attack.
As such, Charlton, boosted by Harriott’s withdrawal and Vetokele’s introduction, were given incredible amounts of space to launch counter attack after counter attack. The ball carried through the centre with relative ease.
And two of those forward moves, mixing flowing passing and elegant drives forward, game desperately close to concluding with a third goal. Ahearne-Grant played through one-on-one with Alnwick, only for the one-time Addick to save, and substitute Kashi driving against the post from the edge of the area.
But it was not long before Kashi, immediately dominating midfield from the moment of his introduction, was scoring from distance. A much larger distance, in fact.
The Algerian displaying superb vision to spot Alnwick off his line, and calmly lobbing him from close to the half-way line, in a manner that made a difficult skill far, far too easy. His first Charlton goal coming in some style.
As you probably would expect in such circumstances, there was a slight drop in tempo from the Addicks thereafter. The need to exert no longer there to such an extent.
Consequently, an equally half-arsed Posh were able to look to regain some pride. Pope, however, had other ideas, racing off his line to deny Washington when clean through on goal.
In fact, their pride would be dented further before the full-time whistle, and Charlton’s night made even sweeter. Superb movement from Vetokele matching Muldoon’s superb cross, allowing the Angolan to turn in from close range for his first goal of the season.
The winning margin meant that the celebrations from the Posh fans who had not yet left London Road when Anderson headed rose above Sarr to head home in stoppage time were tinged with sarcasm and self-pity. Their side as lethargic and disappointing as the Addicks were energetic and excellent.
In fact, the only genuine disappointment from a Charlton perspective is that Harriott was unable to make the most of the opportunity he was given to impress. The winger evidently not the player he once promised to be, and in desperate need of a move away to get his career back on some of track.
And Harriott’s disappointing night probably acts as as much of a warning sign against getting carried away as Gomez inspires the belief that any player the academy produces will be of quality.
But those who were involved at London Road certainly stood up to the test offered.
For even those who were not always on top, Lennon particularly struggling against Washington, were unrelenting in their efforts. The centre-back, playing somewhat out of position at left-back, constantly battling with the winger despite standing little chance of winning the duel for pace.
Charles-Cook, excellent going forward and strong defensively after a tricky spell during the first-half period of sloppiness, and Kennedy, with a well taken goal and a general liveliness that meant he didn’t look out of place at all, were impressive, while Ahearne-Grant is growing in confidence and becoming more and more of a threat with each game. That Cousins captained them felt fitting.
You, of course, cannot ignore the contributions of the more senior players in the side. Pope composed, Bauer almost immaculate once again, and Kashi, goal and otherwise, sublime. Just Sarr, decent but dominant enough to suggest Alou Diarra’s place is in trouble, and Bergdich, though lively a little frustrating in both his decision making and execution of his final ball, anything less than superb.
Nor can you get away from just how poor Peterborough were in the second half, providing a platform from which Charlton’s youngsters could impress.
But, regardless, this feels like a night to celebrate the youngsters and the academy. By no means are these players who are the finished article, or who we should be reliant upon in the Championship yet, but they are group with a huge future.
Should they maintain their place for the Crystal Palace tie their efforts have been rewarded with?
Certainly not, but we’ve got every chance if they could inject their confidence, energy and drive into those who will represent the Addicks at Selhurst Park.
Not since Paddy McCarthy rose highest from a corner to head home a stoppage-time winner against Stockport County in 2007 have Charlton Athletic won a second round League Cup tie. Even then, with a 2-0 lead thrown away and needing to come from 3-2 behind to win, the Addicks did their absolute utmost to get knocked out.
In the seven seasons since then, lower league opposition have dumped Charlton out of the competition on four occasions. Teams from the same division inflicting misery the other three times.
While, on paper, playing against League One opponents who have had a poor start to the season offers an in form Charlton a fantastic chance to progress to the third round, suggesting that they’re already as good as through is incredibly naïve.
Not only does history suggest Guy Luzon’s side could potentially suffer an embarrassing defeat, but so too does the growing injury list the head coach has to contend with. Given that several players will be unavailable, and risking further knocks ahead of Saturday’s Championship game at Wolves would be unwise, a fully rotated side is likely.
So too will Peterborough, a side totally different to the one that shared a division with the Addicks as recently as 2012/13, want to prove themselves against Championship opposition. A number players will certainly be motivated for this tie.
Charlton, however, should still have enough to avoid slipping up. They must be weary, of course, of the threat Posh will pose, but simply avoiding complacency should see them through.
LAST MEETING – PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2-2 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
A promising Charlton performance, worthy of all three points, and a lively atmosphere in Peterborough’s fantastic away terrace made for an enjoyable night at London Road in March 2013.
Perhaps it is remembered most for the lengthy rendition of “Johnnie, oh Johnnie Jackson runs down the wing for me” after the skipper finished from Callum Harriott’s through ball after Danny Swanson had given Posh the lead.
And while Danny Haynes bundled the ball over the line following a goal mouth scramble to give the Addicks a deserved lead, Peterborough ultimately drew level. Michael Bostwick given the space to shoot from the edge of the box, and rifle an effort into the bottom corner of David Button’s goal.
Once a club too good for League One but not quite good enough to remain in the Championship, and one respected throughout the Football League for their talent identification and attacking football, Peterborough have regressed a little in recent seasons.
Not dramatically, with the club finishing ninth last season, but Dave Robertson’s young side are not expected to challenge for promotion during this campaign.
That belief supported by the start they have made to this season. Although unfortunate to suffer defeat at Burton Albion on Saturday, with the ten men of Posh denied what seemed like a legitimate late equaliser by a bizarre shirt pulling call, it was their third league defeat from the first four games of this season.
Peterborough progressed to the second round by beating Crawley 2-0, with goals from Connor Washington and Marcus Maddison.
The Addicks, in the first weeks of the new campaign, have laughed in the face of those who suggested they would face a relegation struggle this season.
So too have they exceeded the more realistic expectation that their start wouldn’t return too many points. Ten points gained from QPR, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Hull City is quite some return.
And while Posh suffered frustration late on at the weekend, Charlton’s confidence was boosted further by an incredible stoppage-time win against Hull.
Having conceded an equaliser in the final minute of normal time, and been saved by the assistant’s flag during eight minutes of additional time, Johann Berg Gudmundsson turned in Simon Makienok’s headed pass to secure victory in the 98th minute.
The Reds beat Dagenham & Redbridge 4-1 to reach this stage of the competition, with goals from Tony Watt, Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Zakarya Bergdich giving them a 3-0 lead at The Valley, before Christian Doige reduced the visitors’ deficit to two. But Reza Ghoochannejhad restored Charlton’s three goal advantage soon after.
Former Charlton goalkeeper Ben Alnwick will wear the captain’s armband on Tuesday night with regular Peterborough captain Zakuani suspended after the defender’s sending off at the weekend.
Shaun Brisley is expected to come in at centre-back but Jack Baldwin, having returned to training, could also be in contention to replace the skipper.
Elsewhere, full-backs Michael Smith and Kgosi Ntlhe are a doubt having missed Saturday’s defeat to Burton through injury, but Harry Beautyman and Jack Collison are expected to return.
Charlton could be without up to nine players for their trip to London Road on Tuesday.
Joining long-term absentees Stephen Henderson, Franck Moussa and Igor Vetokele are Tony Watt, Chris Solly, Johnnie Jackson and Reza Ghoochannejhad, who missed Saturday’s game against Hull, and Cristian Ceballos and El-Hadji Ba, who were forced off during the win.
It leaves the Addicks with just 17 players who have a squad number, many of who Luzon will want to rest or have minimal first team experience.
The situation could see the likes of Naby Sarr, Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Callum Harriott come into the starting XI, while Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Harry Lennon and Mikhail Kennedy may also be called upon.
KEY BATTLE – CHARLTON’S YOUNGSTERS STANDING UP TO THE TEST
Irrespective of Charlton’s injury crisis, Luzon should still be able to name a side of superior quality to the one that Robertson will select.
Nick Pope’s blunder on Saturday should not taint the fine work he has done otherwise, Patrick Bauer is likely to continue in defence, while the tireless Ahmed Kashi is available for selection in midfield.
So too are Saturday’s heroes Gudumundsson and Makienok in line to start, although Luzon will probably rest the pair.
But Peterborough will look to take advantage of the Addicks in the areas of the pitch that are likely to feature inexperienced youngsters.
Sarr, having signed from Sporting Lisbon, will make only his second appearance in English football should he start at centre-back at London Road, Charles-Cook, not totally convincing in his first league appearance on Saturday, will play either at right-back or in midfield, and the need to rest players could see Mikhail Kennedy make his first professional appearance.
So while the regular starters will simply need to avoid complacency, those who have rarely started a game before in their career will face a decent standard test from those of decent quality in Peterborough’s side. From the experienced Bostwick to promising summer addition Souleymane Coulibaly.
Should the youngsters stand up to the test, then you can’t look past a Charlton win.
Injuries could make it tougher than first anticipated when the draw was made, but we’re all going on a League Cup third round tour, a League Cup third round tour, a League Cup third round tour. Peterborough United 0-2 Charlton Athletic.
In an attempt to avoid getting carried away with Charlton’s start to this campaign, comparisons have been made with the last.
The results the same, the points the same, the performances similar. Sides tipped to be up the top come May outplayed in impressive fashion at The Valley, and teams of equal quality defied with resolute efforts away from home.
A fresh side, made up of individuals lacking experience in English football, defying the accepted belief that they require time to gel and adapt. A defender leading the defensive line superbly, a holding midfielder impressing, and a forward proving talismanic.
A head coach, through his charisma and the standard of football played, immediately earning the respect of those who support the Addicks. A dramatic reaction to a stoppage-time winner expressing their somewhat bonkers character.
A suggestion that Roland Duchetelet had learnt from the mistakes made in the previous the season, that now his ambitions matched those of the club’s supporters, and the club under his ownership would finally move forward, instead of swaying in and out of crisis.
It’s almost quite unnerving how similar the first four league games of this season are to the first four in 2014/15. Fears that the chaos that followed last season is impending in this.
But those comparisons are not the ones that should be being made with any seriousness. They’re quirky, and a little bit fun, but not anything that should be used as evidence to suggest we’re going to lose 5-0 at the side who will ultimately finish second in January.
For while we cannot predict that this side will continue this form throughout the season, it can confidently be said that this side is of greater quality than the one that represented the Addicks last season.
The type of player signed so very different. While I certainly had reservations about the lack of Championship experience among the new recruits, it is apparent at this early stage that their qualities are suited to this division and, more importantly, they want to be here.
The squad is not populated by network and aging players who have been moved here in lazy fashion and whose motivations are questionable. You would hope the current crop will not lack character in tough situations.
You cannot see Patrick Bauer, Ahmed Kashi and Simon Makienok falling away like Tal Ben Haim, Yoni Buyens and George Tucudean did. Possibly, given their desire to prove themselves in England and the fact that they are here purely by choice and not by convenience, the only way their individual performances can go is up.
So too is it hard to see Guy Luzon imploding in the same way Bob Peeters did. The flexibility shown in his system this season, pressing high and dominating QPR and sitting deep to frustrate Derby, suggests it is unlikely he’ll be ‘found out’. The relationship between head coach and squad also appears very, very strong.
And while it was naively suggested that Duchatelet’s ambitions had changed at the start of last season, and the players brought in primarily to better Charlton, I think it’s accurate to say there has been a very clear change in principles from the owner.
It has taken a lot longer than you would have liked, far too many periods of disillusionment have occurred, and the mistakes made in the past should not be simply forgotten. But the indications from the summer and the start of this season suggest Charlton are no longer a relatively meaningless cog existing in an experiment for the benefit of one individual, but a fully functioning football club who can share the ambitions of any club in this division.
Even if Duchatelet’s first thought is to gain financially, the players signed, and the players kept, suggest it will not be at the expense of the Addicks on the field.
The club, despite the similarities between the two periods, in a stronger position than it was 12 months ago. While I would suggest the fact there are several stronger teams in the division makes promotion tough, you can certainly have the belief that will be challenging for a top six place, even if it’s an ultimately failed bid, throughout the season.
But while drawing on similarities between this season and last should be done with tongue firmly in cheek, there are still lessons to be learned from the events that followed Charlton’s impressive start.
There were many faults that contributed to the implosion and subsequent crisis that occurred in the previous campaign, but the catalyst for them all was the failure to have enough numbers in the squad, and the failure to strengthen when the need was desperately there.
For some, a lack of genuine competition allowed compliance to slip in. Character possibly a contribution too, but it’s hard to imagine Ben Haim, Andre Bikey and Buyens would have performed so poorly without genuine challengers to their place in the starting line-up. Roger Johnson and Christophe Lepoint brought in too late, and not the answers to the problems anyway.
For others, their performances dropped as a result of tiredness and playing through injury. Igor Vetokele’s body broken, having been forced to play when evidently not fit enough.
And for Peeters, the resources available to him meant he was always going to struggle. His sacking less an indication that he had got it wrong, and a more showing of the club’s failure to support him adequately. The resources available to him not enough.
So, with no attempt to take anything away from one of the most brilliant days spent at The Valley in recent years, it was extremely worrying to see the state of the starting XI and the bench were left in after just a few injuries.
In very crude terms, the Addicks began with a centre-mid at right-back, a centre-mid at centre-back, a left-back on the left wing, and a winger as a striker. Thankfully, Jordan Cousins would do a job in goal if you asked him to, Alou Diarra has proved himself to be solid at the back, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson was soon moved to a more natural position. Only Zakarya Bergdich struggled.
The bench resembled the crèche it had done at times under Peeters. Callum Harriott and Regan Charles-Cook struggling somewhat after their forced introductions.
Of course, you can look at that positively. Charlton able to win with a weakened squad, the talent in the academy getting a chance, and performances will only get better once the likes of Stephen Henderson, Chris Solly and Tony Watt return.
But as we saw last season, injuries will always occur, and winning games with weakened squads doesn’t happen every week. In fact, it might not have happened yesterday with the Addicks genuinely struggling during the period before and just after Hull’s equaliser. A shared moment of quality from Makienok and Gudmundsson the difference.
As such, if we are to avoid the implosion of last season, then the steps that weren’t taken then must be taken as early as possible in this. Especially with Cristian Ceballos and El Hadji-Ba also picking up injuries yesterday.
The squad, for all the quality it contains, remains low on numbers for one with ambitions to challenge for a play-off spot. No second choice right-back, no fourth centre-back, and the alternative options out wide weak. So too would you like another forward.
And this squad appears particularly small for one that features a number of players who have not experienced the demands of football over the Christmas period. That was the time when the Addicks seriously struggled last season, and there will undoubtedly be a need to rotate.
For all Luzon’s ability as a boss, having to rotate a small squad, and call upon young players who aren’t quite ready, would be an incredibly tough ask. Even a capitulation in the winter half as dramatic as the one suffered last season would make a top six finish almost impossible.
As such, in this final week of the window, signings must be made. It seems almost greedy to demand more given the recruits made so far this summer, but you can certainly justify wanting further additions in the context of last season’s collapse.
So too must Duchatelet not ignore the loan window when it does open. The constant suggestion that there is not enough quality available in that period, while clubs of similar size in the Championship were making decent temporary signings and we had added Francis Coquelin, last October and November was incredibly frustrating. Waiting on an injury crisis to pass over, and not utilising the loan market, would once again be naïve.
A balance is still required. Packing the squad full of players who won’t get a game most weeks is not healthy for the togetherness of the group or the likelihood of getting a decent performance out of the player when he does finally play. Lawrie Wilson evidence of that.
But, at this moment in time, it is too far the other way. In truth, the squad is only three or four decent additions away from having serious strength in depth, but that was the situation throughout last season. So close, but never addressed.
To fill the ambitions that are now seemingly held by the club, the same mistake of hoping a slightly small squad will cope cannot be made. Given the mistakes Duchatelet has already seemingly learned from, you would expect that to happen.
This was no mere celebration. Not simply appreciation for a well-worked move. Not just delight that a goal had been scored. The release of emotion as Hull City’s net rippled made it much more than that.
For this was a victory that seemed impossible for Charlton to achieve prior to kick-off, before eight additional minutes were added, and deep into that period of stoppage-time.
In fact, even when there was genuine belief that this depleted side could achieve a win against superior opposition, it appeared to be snatched away in heart-breaking fashion.
With the Tigers often making laughable errors in the final third, it seemed as if Simon Makienok’s first goal for the Addicks was going to be enough for victory. Guy Luzon’s side not necessary in control, but neither were they being tested. The lead warranted.
So The Valley was forced into stunned silence when Nick Pope spilled Isaac Hayden’s strike, and Abel Hernandez bundled the ball over the line in the 89th minute. No points were anticipated, but now there was despair that only one would be gained.
With so much more time still to play, however, there was genuine worry that Hull could steal a largely undeserved win. There was no on mass “waahaay” as Hernandez turned away to see the assistant’s flag raised having headed beyond Pope, because most Addicks were busy pushing their hearts back down their throat.
The relief that followed the prematurely suffered pain almost was only temporary. With minutes still to play and Hull pressing, Charlton getting the ball into the opposition’s half was merely seen as a brief rest bite.
Makienok, however, was not challenged as he leapt to flick on Ahmed Kashi’s long ball, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson had stolen a yard on his man.
It sat up perfectly, but slowly enough to build anticipation. The roar already beginning long before the Iceland international turned in a low header.
The Covered End delirious, the bundling players even more so, and the head coach willing to be sent to the stands in order to enjoy a winning moment that came with 98 minutes played.
A win that, although impressive, was so gritty it would not earn a place in the very back of Charlton supporters’ minds had, in the space of 15 minutes, become one of the most dramatic victories celebrated in SE7. The desire to relieve the winning moment will not die for some time.
Even believing the Addicks could achieve the scrappiest, most undeserved, win seemed incredibly misguided as both teams took to The Valley’s turf prior to kick-off.
With both vice-captain Chris Solly and talismanic forward Tony Watt injured, the side Luzon was forced to name featured square pegs in round holes. El-Hadji Ba replaced Solly, with Jordan Cousins filling in at right-back, and Zakarya Bergdich came in for Watt, with Gudmundsson partnering Makienok in attack.
It left the bench resembling a crèche, particularly with captain Johnnie Jackson also absent. Mikhail Kennedy involved for the first time, and Callum Harriott involved for the first time this season.
But fears that a Hull side packed with players of Premier League quality would run riot in SE7 were quickly settled. The visitors were slow, lacking creativity, and unable to find a way past the impressive Ahmed Kashi and Patrick Bauer.
Such resilience at the back and in midfield, you can argue, should have provided the Addicks with a platform from which to test the opposition’s resolve. But so too did Luzon’s side lack creativeness and potency going forward.
Even when an opening was gifted to the hosts, with Moses Odubajo slipping to allow Bergdich to break down the left, the resulting final ball was poor. Not a start to the half that any neutral inside The Valley would have particularly enjoyed.
It was Bergdich, however, who had Charlton’s first meaningful effort on goal. The winger somewhat struggling, but able to create room for himself and win a corner after his strike was deflected into the side-netting. The delivery that followed from Gudmundsson testing, but no one in red was able to connect.
But still genuine attacking threat was lacking from both sides. The game slow, defences on top, and those in wide areas unable to make anything happen.
And Charlton’s chances of creating on a consistent basis were dealt a further blow when Cristian Ceballos, having desperately attempted to play on, was forced off having been on the end of crunching collision with David Meyler.
The introduction of Karlan Ahearne-Grant, however, provided the side with better balance and more natural attacking intent. The youngster’s pace proving useful, leaving Dawson for dead and firing an effort wide from distance, and Gudmundsson no longer lost in a central position.
In fact, Ahearne-Grant might well have put the Addicks in front with a touch more composure as the break approached. In a half low on quality, Ba’s ball over the top was one of the few to create a genuine opening, picking out the 17-year-old’s run superbly, but he could only volley over.
Regardless, the hosts received a solid round of applause as they headed in at half-time. While they had not been entertained, the supporters had seen a side show superb resilience at the back and more than match what was seemingly an impressive Hull side.
But if the Addicks were to be the side who broke the stalemate, or even become the first to show some genuine quality in attack, they required a lot more from Makienok. Once again, you could not question his effort of endeavour, but you could criticise his inability to make the most of the ball sent his way. Headers regularly not won, and flick-ons horribly misplaced.
The vast majority of supporters, however, were desperate for the 6’7 forward to finally get some reward for his efforts, and had not simply written him off. A superb chested pass into the path of Gudmundsson exciting The Valley crowd.
Excitement that only increased as the Icelandic winger drove down the line and gently lofted a ball to the near post, where Makienok had now run to. He met the delivery superbly, glancing a header beyond the stationary Alan McGregor and into the bottom corner to give the Addicks a 52nd minute lead. Cue pandemonium in the stands.
So too was there was genuine emotion in Makienok’s celebration, seemingly overwhelmed by the response from the Covered End and the goal itself. An injection of confidence to supporters about the player, as much as it was an injection of confidence to the player himself.
By contrast, any hopes that Hull had of developing a bit of self-belief and growing into the game were almost completely curtailed just a minute later.
Andrew Robertson slipped, allowing Gudmundsson to race through on goal, and bring the Covered End to its feet in anticipation. But the winger delayed striking the ball for a little too long, giving McGregor the opportunity to narrow his angle and pull off a fine save to prevent his side from going two down.
The reprieve, in theory, should have motivated Hull to finally find a touch of class and perform to the standards that they are capable of. But still they offered very little that was capable of breaking down Charlton’s resolute back four.
And when they did, the strike was tame. Chuba Akpom creating a little bit of space, but prodding straight at Pope.
There was still a feeling that the Hull rampage in search of an equaliser would surely come. The ineffective Arsenal loanee replaced by Hernandez, while injury to Ba, so important to the organised and resolute effort in the middle, meant he was replaced by Charles-Cook for his Championship debut.
Straight away there was a shift in the pattern of the game. The Addicks, boosted by their goal, had been in complete control up until that point. They the side setting the tempo, and so resilient when Hull were in possession that the visitors were forced to try impossible passes that merely ran out of play. Odubajo and Ahmed Elmohhamady not linking up well on the right-hand side.
But now the Reds sat deeper, and the Tigers were able to turn their meaningless possession in the middle into something a little more testing. Patience, however, lacking as Meyler and Aluko struck horribly off-target from distance either side of a run from impressive stand-in full-back Cousins that resulted in a tame shot being saved.
This wasn’t simply a desperate defensive effort from the Addicks. Hull not applying enough pressure for that to be the case. Charles-Cook possibly letting the moment get the better of him in shooting, and clearing the crossbar comfortably, while fellow substitute Callum Harriott danced into the box but couldn’t get any real power behind a strike.
It meant the home crowd was not any more anxious or nervous than they should have been. In fact, as Aluko was invited to shoot and sliced an effort narrowly wide, there was a growing feeling that the Addicks would have no issue in holding onto their lead.
That thought, however, was a little naïve. Hull, with nothing to lose, throwing men forward against a Charlton side that was losing its shape a little. The gap between the forwards and the midfield too big, and the space between the midfield and the defence too small.
And the space that Jelavic found in the middle with four minutes to play should not have been there. Substitute Isaac Hayden’s cross perfect for the unmarked Croatian, but he could only skew his header wide.
In many games like this, such a miss would have been the end. The attacking team losing confidence, and the defending side regaining focus that they may have momentarily lost.
Alas, the opposite was true. Charlton as undisciplined and unorganised as they had been at any point in the afternoon, and Hull as dangerous. A second reprieve as Hayden’s strike came back off the post.
But the ball fell straight to Sam Clucas, who relayed it back to Hayden. Charlton too slow in closing him down, and the Arsenal loanee able to fire another effort goalwards.
It was, however, straight at Pope, and the goalkeeper should have held on. Instead, he spilled the strike straight into the path of Hernandez, who squeezed the ball beyond Pope’s desperate attempts to reclaim the loose ball. 88 minutes of fantastic resilience seemingly being made meaningless by one moment of disappointment at the back.
The silence around the ground was interrupted by eight minutes of stoppage time being announced, mostly owing to Bauer needing a dislocated finger put back into place, and a roar of hope emerging from the home supporters.
It didn’t really seem convincing – the side with the momentum now were Hull, and therefore most likely to win. But that suggestion did not put the Addicks off coming forward. Harriott and Gudmundsson both finding pockets of space, but curling horribly over.
That commitment to coming forward, however, left the exposed at the back. A fantastic Hull break, possibly their best move of the match, exploiting space in Charlton’s midfield and concluding with Hernandez peeling off his man and heading Aluko’s delivery home. The assistant referee’s flag curtailing celebrations in the away end, and prevent further heartbreak among the home supporters.
The hosts were now desperate for this game to end, or at least those in the stands were. A point tough to take in the circumstances, but one that was unlikely before kick-off and still seemed a decent result.
But the Addicks were in no mood to abandon Luzon’s attacking principles. Kashi pumped the ball forward, Makienok bizarrely allowed a free header, and Gudmundsson able to steal a yard on his marker to head beyond McGregor.
The celebrations that followed releasing enough energy to make you feel like you had taken part in the game, as emotionally and physically drained as the players. A simply unforgettable Valley moment.
As the Addicks played out the final few minutes, with stoppage time extending into the 11th added minute, and the full-time whistle was blown, you first of all had to enjoy the moment. Arms all over the place in celebration on the pitch once again, and pure delight in the stands.
But then you had to ask how. How on earth has a Charlton side depleted by injuries, both before and during the game, that suffered the set back of conceding in a game they were seemingly in control of been able to overcome such hurdles to score such a dramatic late winner.
The first answer to that question, and one I will cover only briefly so as to take nothing away from the Addicks, is that Hull were poor. Until the final five minutes of normal time, their movement was non-existent, their passing was sideways and predictable, and there so many sloppy mistakes that you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Sunday League side, not one that had just been relegated from the top flight.
Hull, however, were made to look particularly ineffective in attack owing to Charlton’s resilient defending. Until that final five minutes or so of normal time, the continued holding of the shape in defence and in midfield was incredible. A group of young players perfectly fulfilling the instructions of their head coach.
And without the defensive brilliance of Bauer and Kashi, Hull would found more ways of testing Pope. Bauer, once again, winning everything and leading the defence despite his nasty looking dislocated finger, and Kashi simply stunning. With his constant endeavour, his unrelenting pressing and stunning tackles, I would be surprised if there is a better defensive performance seen this season.
His energy was shared throughout the entire side. A perfect display, given the absent key players, was not expected or demanded, but the determination and fight meant, while it was not always technically brilliant, the performance was stunning.
And finally, in the absence of Watt, Makienok and Gudmundsson provided the difference in attack do desperately needed while creativity and threat was otherwise lacking.
Makienok, having struggled in the first half, was a completely different player after his goal. More than just a big bloke working hard, and actually incredibly effective in holding the ball up and creating opportunities for others.
Gudmundsson, typically, was energetic and always finding space. Something that the poor Bergdich could not do and Ahearne-Grant attempted to do with relative success, but not to the standard that the Icelander managed. That he got the winner was fitting.
And then there is Luzon. The credit he deserves for getting his system to work irrespective of who plays within it deserves immense credit. But for that period before the goal, those in his side did exactly what was demanded of them, and his celebration showed the bond between coach and players. As this club has seen before, that is invaluable.
Of course, getting carried away would be naïve. Comparisons to last season is pointless, given the fact the quality in this side is of a much higher standard, but the lack of depth that was shown with today’s bench should be a warning.
If we are to challenge for promotion, then that will need to be addressed. Not every side will struggle as much as QPR and Hull will, and it will eventually hurt us in the winter period.
But it’s impossible not to at least feel enthusiastic about this brilliant group of Addicks. If you’re getting carried away, I’m not going to stop you.
It says something about Charlton’s run of fixtures at the start of this campaign that their trip to Nottingham on Tuesday night appeared the most winnable in the league throughout the entirety of August.
For after the relative calm of an injury-hit Forest comes a Hull City side that contains several players of quality beyond this division and is brimming with confidence. Their start to this season making a mockery of those relegated sides who begin slowly, both this season and in previous years.
As such, the similarities between the Tigers and Queens Park Rangers are few. Irrespective of the confidence the Addicks have gained during their unbeaten beginning to this campaign, it is unlikely to be enough to allow them to dominate a side as strong as Hull in the same way they did the R’s.
Should they attempt to press high and take the game to an opposition with pace and cutting edge in attack, there is a strong danger they will be heavily exploited. Injuries may mean they not even be able to attempt it.
In fact, despite Charlton being the hosts on Saturday, it may be wiser to view the threat their opposition will pose in the same way they did Derby’s at the iPro.
An organised and resilient defensive effort, showing character and fight in the face of persistent attacks from the opposition, desperately required,
LAST MEETING – HULL CITY 1-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
An error of judgement from Charlton goalkeeper Ben Hamer allowed promotion-chasing Hull to claim all three points at the KC Stadium in February 2013.
The then relatively clean-shaven stopper came racing off his line to claim a corner, but only succeeded in helping the ball on towards the back post. Egyptian forward Gedo able to bundle the ball over the line.
Against opposition who would ultimately finish in second place, the Addicks were not without chances to steal a point. Bradley Pritchard played through, but the Zimbabwean demi-god could only skew a glorious opening wide. Inches away from a pitch invasion.
Hull City: WDWW
While QPR and Burnley’s response to relegation from the Premier League has been unimpressive, Hull have provided the boost supporters needed following the disappointment of the previous season.
For they have started this season in relatively promising fashion. Huddersfield beaten by two, Accrington Stanley just about dispatched with on penalties in the League Cup, and a creditable draw away at Wolves that so easily could have been a victory were it not for a horrendous mistake by goalkeeper Alan McGregor.
And Steve Bruce’s side will come into Saturday’s game at The Valley with the confidence that a late winner provides. One-time Charlton target Sone Aluko scoring with four minutes to play against Fulham on Wednesday to secure a 2-1 victory.
So impressive has Charlton’s start to the season been that there was genuine disappointment that they were only able to come away from the City Ground on Tuesday night with a point.
For their performance was not of the standard of their dominant display against QPR and the resilient effort against Derby County. Attempting to take the game to Nottingham Forest, but so sloppy in possession that they ended up inviting as much pressure on themselves as the Rams provided. Patrick Bauer, thankfully, able to clear up the chaos on most occasions.
But so too did frustration exist owing to the fact that the Addicks were wasteful in front of goal. Had Simon Makienok taken one of three chances, and Dorus de Vries not been on hand to make two quite frankly ridiculous saves, a win would have been achieved irrespective of the somewhat incomplete performance.
That there is still enough attacking quality in this side to come close to victory despite a sluggish overall effort is extremely promising. Particularly for games like this one, with Hull arguably the stronger side on paper.
Despite returning to full training this week, the trip to SE7 will come too soon for midfielder Mohamed Diame.
The former West Ham man has spent several months out with a knee injury, and is expected to return in the next week or so.
But midfield pair Sam Clucas and Isaac Hayden are pushing to start after coming off the bench against Fulham having been doubts prior to the game.
Charlton have been dealt a major blow with vice-skipper Chris Solly and talismanic forward Tony Watt being ruled out for Saturday’s game.
Solly took a hefty blow late on in Tuesday’s draw with Forest, while Watt was substituted not long after half-time at the City Ground having been unusually quiet.
With no recognised cover at full-back and both Igor Vetokele and Reza Ghoochannejhad also injured, it leaves the Addicks incredibly weak at both right-back and in attack.
Youngster Regan Charles-Cook will come in for his league debut to replace Solly, while fellow academy graduate Karlan Ahearne-Grant will start up top for the Reds.
KEY BATTLE – THE GERMAN WALL V HULL’S FORWARDS
While we still attempt to work out if Simon Makienok is another George Tucudean or Yann Kermorgant’s replacement, Cristian Ceballos is strong enough to be a constant threat in this division, and Zakarya Bergdich will be able to provide something more than brief glimpses of quality in cameos, at least one of Charlton’s new signings has left supporters in no doubt about his quality.
Patrick Bauer has been so resolute that he could probably successfully hold off opposition attacks for 24 hours. His reading of the game constantly making you question whether he is actually just 22, his strength allowing him to dominate forwards, and his defensive skills have so far impressively stood up to any test.
Of course, he has had invaluable support. Chris Solly doing a fantastic impression of Chris Solly and Morgan Fox continuing to get better with every game. Alou Diarra a little uncoordinated at times, but marvellous in the air and capable of a highlight reel-worthy tackle. Ahmed Kashi’s passing sometimes erratic, but his defensive contribution excellent.
But without Bauer’s control and leadership at the back, Luzon’s system would crumble. His almost faultless protection of his own goal as important as Watt’s bombardment of the other.
And with Solly and Watt both absent for Saturday’s fixtures, Bauer’s contribution is likely to prove even greater.
Against opposition who appear impressive in attack, he will once again need to be impressive to frustrate Hull. His reading of the game will need to be spot on to prevent Nikica Jelavic’s moment from causing problems, and to halt the pacey Chuba Akpom and Abel Hernandez.
A tough test for the Addicks has become something of an impossible task given the absence of Solly and Watt. A Derby-like performance is needed for Charlton to have any chance of taking something from the game. Charlton Athletic 0-1 Hull City.