Given Sheffield Wednesday's record as away draw specialists, I expected this match to be a draw and gave a forecast of 1-1 in my preview. Admittedly, I rarely get these forecasts right, but I thought it would be hard for Charlton to beat the Owls at home. When I heard that Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins (his wife was apparently having a baby) were not playing, I thought that 1-2 could be the outcome and we came perilously close to that. But this is our third match unbeaten, Wednesday have been denied two points, and Millwall remain below us.
The first half was as dull a period as I have seen at The Valley this season. I took very few notes because there were so few incidents. I was much more entertained at the non-league game I went to yesterday.
The game livened up immediately after half time when Dale Stephens scored an unexpected but well-taken goal. However, it was going to be difficult for Charlton to hold on to their lead with the visitors threatening down the right and so it proved. In the last ten minutes we were under constant pressure, although Church missed a golden opportunity to score the winning goal in a counter attack.
What was striking was what a bad state the pitch was in and this undoubtedly affected the quality of the play. There were very few highlights in the first half. Yann Kermorgant made a good run down the right. Stephen McPhaIl got a yellow card for a foul. Sheffield Wednesday won a couple of corners, but it was 37 minutes before we won one. Alnwick was called on to make a save towards the end of the half.
Half time: Addicks 0, Owls 0
An early effort by Yann Kermorgant was well wide. Then Lawrie Wilson put in a long throw to Stephens who evaded his marker and made it 1-0 on 46 minutes. A Wednesday corner led to a worrying spell of play, but the ball went over the bar eventually. Wednesday made a double substitution, but whether this made them more of a threat is difficult to say.
On 57 minutes Wednesday foraged down the right and Connor Wickham had a relatively straightforward scoring opportunity to make it 1-1. Liam Palmer got a yellow card for throwing the ball away: why do players do this even if they are frustrated?
Charlton made their double substitution and a Charlton free kick led to an unproductive corner. Morrison rather clumsily conceded a corner and the ball had to be cleared off the line. Church won Charlton a corner. It was rather weakly taken by Green, but Semedo conceded a second which was unproductive. Evina got a justified yellow card. Charlton were under a lot of pressure and had difficulty clearing their lines.
In the four minutes added on Church blasted over when he was one on one, he should have passed the ball. The referee got fed up with Green and gave him a yellow card.
Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Wood who was stalwart and skilled in defence. Ben Alnwick was not at fault for the goal and he is prepared to come out and claim the ball with more confidence than Hamer. However, his kicking out needs improvement. No particular complaints about Morrison although I didn't see his positioning for the goal. Evina was a disappointment. It shows how much the runs forward of Wiggins contribute. Wilson is better in a more advanced position than as right back. The programme assured us that the stats show that the team does better when Jackson is playing. No discussion of the difference between correlation and cause and effect. The problem is that he lacks pace which was shown more than once day. Cousins was busy and effective and one of the better players on the day. Stewart ran about quite a lot, but generally to no great effect. We saw the best and the worst of Stephens: a good goal and some purposeful play, but also surrendering possession needlessly and trying to regain it through a foul which led to a potentially dangerous free kick. Kermorgant Put in some skilled passes, but never came close to scoring. Church tries hard, but he lacks the qualities needed in a striker at this level. One of the problems is that he plays too close to Kermorgant. Green tried hard, but made no noticeable difference when he came on. I wasn't quite sure why Dervitte was brought on, but in any event he did not contribute much.
Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to the rather irascible referee, Frederick Graham, whose decision-making was suspect.