There were conflicting views on the merits (or otherwise) of this afternoon’s contest among fellow Addicks in the post-match zoom call. For me, perhaps influenced by having got up at the equivalent of 3am to get a train from Lyon to London to begin a 14-day self-isolation, it felt like a game we just to get out of the way before a two-week break and the opportunity to fill in some pretty obvious gaps. And we should be grateful for the point, earnt courtesy of a fabulous Amos save and a dreadful Sunderland miss, given that we didn’t have an effort on target, despite playing against 10 men for the final 20 minutes or so. When they come to detail the great Charlton v Sunderland contests, this one will be quietly papered over.
Given the abundance of resources in midfield but few defenders and only one outright forward available, it wasn’t surprising that Bowyer tinkered with the formation, starting off with what might have been called a 3-6-1, or a 3-4-3, depending on which way you looked at it. Basically in front of Amos we had Pratley, Famewo and Purrington as a back three with Oshilaja and Doughty as wingbacks. Watson started alongside Levitt and debutant Vennings, with Oztumer having a sort of free role in support of Washington up front.
Plan A clearly didn’t prove to be a success. After a scrappy start Sunderland started to get joy down their right/our left, working space with perhaps Doughty guilty of not tracking back well enough. One ball in was overhit but then they did the same again, then a third time, with this time a block from Amos. After about 25 minutes we changed the formation, back to a back four with Purrington going to left-back. That meant even more of an overload of bodies in midfield and if anything less cohesion and a more open defence.
From a corner routine that caused us problems Sunderland worked a free header, Amos diving to his right to turn it around the post. We gave the ball away from our own throw and ended up throwing bodies in the way of shots inside the box, then with half-time looming yet another break of theirs down our left produced a cross and a guy running onto it, only for him to blaze it over the bar. For the record we had a shot from Oztumer blocked by one of our own.
You’ve got to love the commentary team at the break when one of the guys was criticising Sunderland’s passing before acknowledging that they had “probably” the best two chances of the half. They had created all the chances of the half, one of which produced a superb save and another which was harder to miss than score.
At the break Oztumer gave way for Williams. Oztumer I thought had played well against Lincoln and was probably the only player going forward in the first half looking to make things happen. Just wasn’t working for him though, poor choices on the ball. Perhaps Bowyer felt he wanted to give Oztumer and Williams a half each to see if either or both might grab the chance before Maddison gets fit, Gilbey returns from injury, and we have more forwards in.
This meant a sort of Plan C as Williams and Doughty formed a sort of front three with Washington, although it still amounted to Washington on his own. And for a while the game went through a sort of lull, yellow cards were handed out, there were shots but no real chances, although a throw-in from Williams which was picked up by their guy caused some confusion.
The game did, however, change on 70 minutes as we brought on Aneke for Vennings (which amounted I guess to Plan D), who had acquitted himself well enough in a congested midfield. Almost immediately a long ball was flicked on by him and Washington got to it just before their guy. Looked like he was just beaten to the ball but he was the last man and the card was red. Now, 20 minutes to go, two forwards on, against 10 men. We had the opportunity to go on and win the game.
We didn’t take it. With about 10 minutes left Maddison made his appearance from the bench, for Levitt. And we might have nicked it when a ball into the box found Aneke in a bit of space, but he failed to either control it or get a strike on goal. And in the end it was Sunderland who almost got the winner at the death, with another dangerous ball into the box and a dramatic header clear from Maddison.
In time we may see the positives from this game. A point was secured, however undeserved, another two players made their debuts, some were able to get minutes into their legs. But we were disjointed, lacked coordination and cohesion, and didn’t do the basics nearly well enough. If it wasn’t for the fact that we have a new owner and we expect much-needed additions to the squad we would be looking very warily at our prospects for the season. As it is, we can just forget this game and get on with the team rebuilding.
Amos – 8/10. Deserves to be man of the match for a decent block and then an excellent save. That won us a point.
Doughty – 5/10. Not an impressive performance, whether at wing-back, winger, third forward etc. Saw enough of the ball but failed to make a meaningful contribution today.
Purrington – 5/10. Did nothing wrong as a third centre-back but we were as weak on our left side when he moved to full-back as we were before the change.
Pratley – 6/10. Put in another shift in a position that is clearly not natural for him.
Famewo – 7/10. Decent enough game, covered well in a back five and a back four.
Oshilaja – 6/10. Didn’t really get the chance to see how he would have shaped up as a wing-back as we changed formation.
Watson – 5/10. OK but nothing more, did the work in front of the defence, picked up another yellow card.
Levitt – 5/10. Not an easy game for him as we seldom had good options in front of him when he was looking to play a killer pass.
Vennings – 6/10. Tidy first performance. Nothing dramatic but fitted in well enough.
Oztumer – 5/10. Was involved in what we did create in the first half, but not much worked for him today, looked frustrated.
Washington – 6/10. Hard to give a mark for a guy who for most of the game was barely involved as he outnumbered.
Subs – Williams (5/10, similar to Oztumer in that things didn’t really come off for him); Aneka (7/10, made a real difference when he came on, just a pity he made a hash of the half-chance that came his way); Maddison (6/10 – not on for long but was able to give an indication of why Bowyer wanted him in).