Saturday 30 November 2019

Hard To Take, But Not Unfair

Tough result to take. On another day we could have won, if we’d taken the lead in the second half, or taken a point. But nobody would say we were robbed. We know the list of absentees and the gaps that were being filled; Addicks may have turned up with their dancing shoes on but if we’d brought boots we had a fair chance of getting a game. Even had the thought that Bowyer or Jackson might have been able to do a job for us even now (and just imagine the impact on the crowd!). As it was we tried to patch up, to make do, and to win the game. It was a good effort, but on the day not enough against a rather ordinary but ultimately efficient Sheffield Wednesday side.

Both halves – and the game – turned on key moments within a minute or so at either end. Having had much the better of the opening 15 mins, Wednesday had taken the lead, all too easily. From an earlier corner their guy had been free to head the ball into the net, only to be ruled offside, and when a pretty routine ball came in from the left their guy was first to it ahead of Sarr to head home. It was a goal that they didn’t have to work that hard to score.

That wasn’t the turning point. Instead about 10 minutes later Wednesday missed an absolute sitter. Another ball in was won by them and Philipps made a good save, only for the ball to run loose to their guy, a few yards out and with the goal at his mercy. There was one of ours on the line but he somehow he managed to put it over the bar. Some let-off. And pretty much from that we got the ball wide left and Doughty pushed it past his marker and won the race, squared it, and with the help of a deflection and the post Bonne managed to convert. Somehow from being a whisker away from two down we were level.

That was pretty much the first half. We did have a free kick just outside the area, with the lively Oztumer brought down. But what looked like a training ground routine ended with a rather lame shot wide. At the other end Wednesday had a one-on-one well blocked by Philipps and generally threatened without creating many chances.

At the break I remember thinking that if I was the Wednesday manager I’d be pretty furious with my team. They were stronger, more cohesive, had the better chances, but weren’t ahead. Charlton get some credit for that as there was no shortage of hard work, but aside from Oztumer the creativity to fashion opportunities seemed to be missing.

Perhaps they did get a rollocking during the break as Wednesday started the second half seemingly in determined fashion, making one substitution. Only a superb save from Philipps, leaping to his right to turn around a shot, kept us level. But we were still in the game, by now Vennings was on for Morgan, and there was cause for optimism as Leko seemed to have the beating of his man. As the clock ticked down you had the feeling that if we could nick one from somewhere, to have something to hold on to, we could win the game.

Wasn’t to be as we had the second and what proved decisive set of events in short succession. This time all eyes were on the referee. From a set piece Addicks were up in arms as Lockyer seemed to be wrestled to the ground. Looked like one of those that are sometimes given, sometimes not. This ref was unmoved. And shortly after he was called on again to make a decision as their guy went across the box and went to ground. A neutral might say he was tripped by Oztumer, quite frankly it was too far away to be confident whether it was a foul and whether it was inside the box. The referee took an age but eventually gave the penalty, which was dispatched.

A possibly tiring Oztumer was soon replaced by Davison but through the final 10 minutes or so we huffed and puffed but failed to make their keeper work. Wednesday were by now more intent on holding what they had, but did manage to rub salt into the wounds with a third well into stoppage time. To say we were stretched was an understatement and with numbers to spare it was crossed from the left and an unmarked guy headed home. It was their second goal that decided the game, that just gave a scoreline that flattered Wednesday.

We knew it was going to be tough, for obvious reasons. And we’ve lost another because we’ve again not kept a clean sheet. But there are no real conclusions to be drawn, the squad is too threadbare at the moment – learnt after the game that Purrington came down sick and Morgan was unwell - and nobody’s going to either complaining or worrying yet.

Player Ratings:

Philipps:  9/10. No chance with any of the goals and Wednesday would have been out of sight but for his saves.

Matthews:  7/10.  No complaints, didn’t see a lot going forward but it wasn’t the sort of game for anything cavalier.

Doughty:  7/10. Slotted in it seems as a late replacement for Purrington, his piece of invention was responsible for our goal.

Lockyer:  7/10. Effective, calm. Only downside is that we’re not keeping clean sheets.

Sarr:  6/10. Perhaps harsh but he was beaten too easily to the ball for their first goal.

Oshilaja:  6/10. Put in a shift but can’t remember him doing much of note, aside from a decent shot over the bar.

Pratley:  7/10.  Not an easy game for him as we were lacking drive in a decimated midfield.

Morgan:  6/10.  Can’t remember moments of note but seems he wasn’t 100% and substituted early in the second half.

Oztumer:  8/10. Everything positive from us came through him. Sure, he’ll get knocked off the ball and not everything comes off. But he looks to make things happen, obliging Wednesday to take him out too often.

Leko:  7/10. Especially in the second half seemed to have the potential to win the game for us. Just didn’t quite happen.

Bonne:  7/10. Took his goal well enough and on another day that would be enough. But found it tough in the physical contest against their centre-backs.

Subs:  Vennings (6/10 – looked lively at times, not an easy game to get into); Davison (6/10 – only on for the last 10 minutes or so).

Friday 29 November 2019

Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Ticket for tomorrow's game bought. Everybody wear dancing shoes. Enough said.