Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hard fought draw offers little hope

Charlton gained a creditable point in a 2-2 draw at Reading tonight. It means that they are unbeaten by promotion hopefuls Reading this year, but it will do little for their struggle against relegation. A harsh penalty against Charlton immediately after half time, and a failure to given one at the other end just afterwards, probably denied the Addicks all three points.

Zheng Zhi starts for Charlton in tonight's match against Reading. Whether this latest throw of the dice by under fire manager Phil Parkinson will succeed remains to be seen, writes Philippa Nicholson. Although undoubtedly talented and much missed this season, the Chinese captain is far from match fit. Soares was also in the line up with Sam dropped and Burton on the bench.

Youga made a very disappointing pass which was easily picked up by Reading, but the match got off to a relatively quiet start. Bailey tried a shot from distance but it went well over the crossbar to ironic cheers from the resident Royals.

Reading broke in a threatening attack and there was an absence of any effective challenge from the Charlton defence. Racon put a poor ball into the area. The Addicks did start to put one or two moves together, but to little real effect. Youga won a free kick for Charlton. Some tactical time wasting by Elliot upset the home support.

Reading launched an attack down the left, but the ball went into the side netting and in any case the flag was raised. Spring made a poor pass when went straight to Little. Zheng Zhi started to get involved, but did not produce anything special.

Charlton took the lead through Nicky Bailey on 16 minutes after a good cross by Racon, stunning the home support who were expecting to coast to three easy points. Could Charlton hold on to the lead? Reading had an almost instant chance to equalise, but found the post rather than the net.

The ball came off the post again for Reading after a defensive effort by Ward. The home side started to resort to the long ball in the hope of outwitting the Addicks defence. Ward chested down well in defence.

Reading won a free kick in a dangerous position, but Charlton were able to clear at the expense of a throw in. Youga defended to prevent Reading winning a corner. Reading won a free kick just outside the area as the half hour mark approached. Doyle's effort came off the crossbar for a goal kick.

Zheng Zhi displayed his skill when he controlled a Youga throw in well. Reading threatened again and Youga's clearance failed to do what was required. Bailey headed the ball away, but Reading won another free kick in a promising position, animating the home support. Following the free kick, a shot came in from distance giving Reading the first corner of the evening. Charlton were able to clear.

Reading won a second corner. Eventually Racon was able to clear. Charlton took their time over the resultant throw in, enraging the home support. Racon and Zheng Zhi combined well. As the minutes ticked down to half time, Charlton did enough to deny Reading any opportunities, despite their resort to the long ball.

Two minutes of time were added on, but the stoppage time ended with a free kick taken by Elliot for a foul on Kandol. The half time whistle followed and there was some booing from home fans annoyed that the script was not being followed.

Half time: Royals 0, Addicks 1

Fifteen seconds into the second half the referee awarded a penalty to Reading, Long going to ground in the area under a challenge from Ward. It was a harsh decision, but Elliot was sent the wrong way by Long to dash Charlton's hopes.

Bailey was brought down at the other end, but referee Taylor failed to give the penalty. Clearly a 'homer'. The home crowd had come to life again. Charlton won their first corner of the game, but it was cleared by Long.

After some good build up play, Bailey made a good run but his effort from a tight angle went straight at Federici in the Reading goal. Spring put in a decent free kick but it was cleared. Federici was able to gather from a second Spring free kick after Bailey had been fouled.

Bailey played a good ball to Youga, he put in an excellent cross to the back post, but Racon's shot went straight at Federici. Zheng Zhi put in a super ball to the unmarked Spring. Youga went down injured, the referee did not stop play, but then Long went down as well. Hunt was taken off and was replaced by Tabb.

Duberry blatantly pushed Zheng Zhi and the referee blew for a free kick after a delay as the game entered the last half hour. Charlton had a shout for a hand ball on the edge of the area. The home support had become subdued again.

Zheng Zhi was pushed in the back right in front of the referee, but no action was taken. Spring created danger by giving away possession twice. A Reading free kick led to a corner. Reading took the lead from a header by Long on 66 minutes. Charlton did not defend the corner well. The home crowd found their voice.

Tabb picked up what looked like quite a head injury and required some quite lengthy treatment. Spring was taken off and replaced by Dickson. Kandol made a late challenge on Rosenior, leading to a Reading free kick.

Rosenior threatened, but the referee ruled that Elliot had been fouled. Long was given a yellow for dissent. Charlton hearts beat faster as Ambrose came on to replace Soares for the last fourteen minutes

Bailey made an excellent challenge, but the referee awarded a free kick. Duberry climbed all over Dickson, but no free kick was given. However, when Zheng Zhi went to ground, a free kick was awarded to boos from the home crowd. There were about three or four hundred Addickted in a crowd of under 18,000.

Charlton had not given up and forged forward regularly. However, Pearce was defending well, cutting out successive Charlton attacks. Reading took off local hero Glen Little, not that he had sparkled that much, and was replaced by Steve Harper.

Charlton won a free kick on the edge of the area. Bailey took it very well and Hudson put a towering header into the back of the net to make it 2-2. It was a reward for their determination and inventive play.

The Royals went for the winner and appealed for a penalty, but the referee decided not to give them another chance to go ahead. Zheng Zhi was taken off and replaced by Holland, while Cisse was replaced by Hunt for Reading.

Elliot was under pressure but gathered at the second attempt. Hudson went down in the box and had to go off for treatment. A small group of Addicks started a conga in the away end. To be fair to Reading, they sportingly gave the ball back.

Five minutes were added on. Charlton made a break, but Ambrose's effort was straight at Federici. Reading counter attacked, but Butterfield defended well. Bailey made a sliced clearance. Elliot gathered the ball bravely at the feet of Long.

Doyle won a free kick in a dangerous position. The Charlton wall lined up on the edge of the penalty area. The ball went straight out for a goal kick as the home fans streamed for the exits.

Poor defending by Youga gave Reading a corner, but the referee blew the final whistle as the boos rang out.

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