It an unavoidable truth that both the players and supporters of Charlton Athletic will arrive in SE7 on Tuesday night with the taste of disappointment lingering. Frustrated that their nine-game unbeaten run game to an end during the trip to Scunthorpe United’s Glanford Park on Saturday. A game that, with greater potency, could have been so very different.
But the defeat needn’t be crushing. It might well only be a small interruption as the Addicks attempt to make up ground on the division’s top two. Something they can do against Peterborough United, with it being their game in hand on Wigan Athletic and Shrewsbury Town.
And so it the response that is vital. Will all momentum and energy be drained from Robinson’s men, in the middle of a gruelling fixture schedule in addition to having to deal with the disappointment of their first defeat? Or will they express their quality, delivering the response this side is capable of?
If not confidently expecting, not you can certainly have faith in Karl Robinson’s side to deliver some degree of response. That despite the disappointment, and injuries making a number of players available. They have made a habit of winning in testing circumstances this season.
But so too is which Peterborough turn up important to the equation of whether the Addicks bounce back. Posh’s inconsistency summed up by their failure to win consecutive league games since August, and defeat at Rochdale on Saturday left boss Grant McCann fuming with his side’s tame performance. They do, however, remain just outside the play-offs and have shown quality at times this season.
And with no league game next weekend, in order to travel to AFC Wimbledon in The FA Cup, this fixture is an important one for the Addicks. To bounce back from the first disappointment of defeat since September. To remain in a positive position, in a positive mindset, during a brief break from League One fixtures.
LAST MEETING – PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC (01/04/2017)
Charlton suffered their sixth defeat in nine games and were left just four points above the relegation zone after a tame performance at London Road saw Peterborough inflict a two-goal defeat in April.
It was not, as was the case with many of the dire defeats for the Addicks in the final half of last season, a game that they simply couldn’t have won. Their performance sluggish and supporters growing increasingly frustrated throughout the afternoon, but Posh, the more fluent side, lacked a final ball to be considered genuinely threatening. The game’s overall quality not to be admired, but Robinson’s men might have taken advantage when Luke McGee saved from Lee Novak’s half-volley.
But the fact that Peterborough were more fluent meant they were never too far away from making Charlton goalkeeper Declan Rudd concerned. The stopper required to push Marcus Maddison’s snap shot away from goal, before needed to save at his near post after Jerome Binnon-Williams was given the space to run and shoot down the left.
And their better use of the ball was always likely to pay dividends. Woeful Charlton defending exposed as an unchallenged Maddison crossed to an unmarked Martin Samuelsen at the back post, and the West Ham loanee headed home. Frustration turning to fury in the away end, with defeat, despite 16 minutes still remaining, effectively confirmed given the weakness of this group of Addicks.
Though the extent of their fury was justified just nine minutes later, as the hosts doubled their advantaged. Maddison allowed to run forward from just inside the Charlton half and into the box, before finishing with an outrageous chip above the reach of Rudd. The goal to be admired; this group of Addicks to be shamed.
The anger made worse among the visiting supporters by Katrien Meire sitting just a few yards away from the away end, showing a general lack of interest in the dire events on the pitch and general discontent for her ‘customers’. She laughed and smiled away as they continued to watch crisis unfold.
It probably a reflection of Peterborough’s performance at Rochdale on Saturday that boss McCann saw it fit to make three substitutions at half-time.
Two goals in the space of three minutes just beyond the half-hour from Calvin Andrew and Callum Camps enough for Rochdale, but their margin of victory made much more comfortable by Posh’s tame efforts. McCann furious post-game, referring to it as one of the worst performances in his time in charge. And that coming after an impressive win against 7th-place Portsmouth last weekend.
It a summary of Peterborough’s season after an impressive start. Their first four games won, but only a further four in the 15 that have followed. Enough to keep them in a reasonable position, six points off the top six in eighth, but not enough to prevent supporters and McCann from growing frustrated.
No back-to-back wins since August, a defeat to Gillingham, but a victory over Shrewsbury. Inconsistency is a huge problem. And with the gap between those outside the top six and those within it already beginning to widen, it vitally important that they begin to find some consistency.
In what might have been their toughest game of the season so far, and possibly their most important, the Addicks were the better side for 45 minutes at Glanford Park on Saturday.
So much better, in fact, that they should have had the lead at the break. Mark Marshall one-on-one with goalkeeper Matt Gilks by firing comfortably for him to save, and Gilks getting a fingertip to tip Josh Magennis’ header onto the post. Chances not taken, and that would prove costly.
For Josh Morris would punish the Addicks in the second half. Two incredible strikes giving Scunthorpe the win, and leaving Charlton to once again rue their inability to finish. Frustration, too, that the Addicks offered very little after Morris’ 63rd-minute second.
But this defeat coming at the end of a nine-game unbeaten run. One that has put Robinson’s side as firm promotion contenders, despite what will hopefully be a temporary slip down to sixth. One that has shown both the quality and the determined stubbornness of this Charlton.
It’s a frustrating defeat, but not one that derails the promotion efforts of the Addicks.
Grant McCann has threatened to make wholesale changes to his side after their disappointing performance in defeat to Rochdale at the weekend.
Having made three changes at half-time on Saturday, the players McCann brought on will be pushing for starts. Midfielder Chris Forrester and forwards Idris Kanu and Ricky Miller couldn’t inspire a two-goal comeback, but McCann noted the improvement from his side. The places of Michael Doughty, Jermaine Anderson and Danny Lloyd under threat after they were withdrawn after just 45 minutes.
Another very likely change for McCann is to reintroduce Gwion Edwards to his starting XI. The utility man was suspended for Saturday’s trip to Rochdale having collected his fifth yellow card of the season during the victory over Portsmouth.
There could also be a start for defender Ryan Tafazolli, who was on the bench at Spotland after being a doubt for the game with a foot injury.
Charlton will remain without the injured Ben Revees despite hoping to have the midfielder back for Tuesday’s clash with Peterborough.
Reeves was withdrawn at half-time having pulled his hamstring during the victory over Rochdale last week, and missed the weekend defeat to Scunthorpe, but will now also sit out the game against Posh with Robinson unwilling to rush his summer signing back in case of aggravating the problem.
The Addicks also remain without Billy Clarke (calf) and Tariqe Fosu (quad), leaving Robinson incredibly short of available attacking options. Full-back Jay Dasilva playing on the left wing at Glanford Park, while Charlton’s boss was forced to call upon teenagers Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild in hope of changing the game.
Elsewhere, Jason Pearce (knee), Harry Lennon (groin) and Lewis Page (ankle) all remain unavailable, but all have returned to some form of training following their long-term injuries.
KEY BATTLE – CHARLTON AGAINST THEIR DEMONS IN FRONT OF GOAL
Against Plymouth Argyle, two first-half chances were wasted as Luke McCormick in the Argyle goal saved well from Josh Magennis. Plymouth won 2-0.
Against Bury, Magennis had a fantastic opportunity to grab Charlton an undeserved victory in a drab grab. But his later header was saved by Shakers goalkeeper Joe Murphy. The game ended 1-1.
Against Walsall, the Addicks were firmly in control of the game, creating chance after chance. They ultimately allowed the hosts back into the game, and had their momentum halted. The game, in dramatic fashion, ended 2-2.
Against Oxford, Robinson’s side were playing marvellous football, having gone a goal up at the Kassam Stadium. But they couldn’t make their dominance count, and the hosts ultimately equalised. In fact, despite the game ending 1-1, the U’s had numerous chances to win.
Against MK Dons, the officials took much of the blame for awarding the visitors a dubious stoppage-time penalty. But the game should have been out of sight before Milton Keynes equalised for the first time, with Mark Marshall in particularly wasting an opportunity to double Charlton’s lead. The game ending 2-2.
And against Scunthorpe this weekend, golden opportunities were missed to give the Addicks an advantage before the break. Magennis and Marshall really should have converted. Morris instead taking advantage in the second period.
Charlton’s inability to take their chances has now stretched from annoyance, to very serious issue. Not least for a side that can’t afford to be dropping points in order to make up the ground on League One’s top two.
Even when they’ve converted enough chances, and kept the opposition at bay, to win games, and there remains an inability to kill games off. As recently as last Tuesday night, having turned the game on its head, the Addicks couldn’t find the third goal to double their lead as they pushed forward against Rochdale. Karlan Ahearne-Grant in particular wasting a great chance.
Of course, you’re not going to take every single chance you get. Goalkeepers make great saves, and the one that stands between Charlton’s posts has made enough of those this season. But the trend has become an unavoidable, and harmful, one.
There needs to be ruthlessness in front of goal.
Trust in this side to immediately respond. Charlton Athletic 1-0 Peterborough United