As I’ve tried
to emphasise on numerous previous posts, it is lazy to pay too much attention
to results and not enough to performances.
football is inherently a low-scoring game, the former are riddled with ‘randomness’.
however ultimately will drive overall season performance, and is in turn driven
by much less volatile factors like payroll, transfer budget, managerial prowess
this blog will know that I was very critical of our performance against
Leicester (despite winning the game), and was very impressed by the quality of
the visitors that night.
to me at least, since that balmy late-summer evening Charlton have picked up 5
points from 7, whilst Leicester have picked up 15 points from 7.
this context, how does one assess last night’s performance against Watford?
Given that it
was clearly a true ‘game of two halves’ (with the highly impressive Forestieri
sent off on the stroke of half-time), then one must assess it in two parts.
half was fairly even with Watford playing the neater football but without much
Chelsea loanee and England
U-19 starlet Nathaniel Chalobah was particularly impressive, varying the pace
of the game in a way that I can only wish a Charlton central midfielder could.
was the result of some rare sloppy defending, a low driven corner wasn’t
intercepted before Tommie Hoban’s header ended up in the back of the net via at
least one deflection.
bounced back however with the type of goal which almost frustrates as much as
it excites, because it proves that we can create some high-quality chances
through the central midfield (we just do it so rarely).
work from Kerkar saw the ball fed to Stephens in space, and his early pass
picked out Fuller’s run to perfection – the Jamaican’s finish was controlled
and impressive, as indeed was his play for most of the evening.
Kermogant brings a greater aerial threat, Fuller’s ability to take the ball and
face the opposition goal makes him a considerably more potent player than the
The goal had
been Charlton’s only chance of the first-half so whilst the game was 11 against
11, one could hardly claim that we had dominated the game up until that point.
Powell given the luxury of a half-time teamtalk knowing his side would emerge
against 10 men, my expectations for the second half performance were ratcheted
up to a large extent.
actual result, did we fulfil these expectations? No, not really.
When teams go
to a 4-4-1 in this situation, from an attacking point of view not much has
changed. You are still facing two banks
of four infront of the keeper.
importantly the depleted side have no realistic chance of holding the ball up
in attack, and thus those aforementioned banks of four never get any
patient approach which emphasises maintaining possession, probing and waiting
for space to emerge around a tiring side would seem the best approach,
particularly with 45 minutes to play.
For the first
15 minutes or so this seemed to be the plan and there were some promising
signs. Wright-Phillips twice went close,
the first effort self-made and impressive; the second brilliantly created by
Fuller and rather wasted, albeit under pressure.
meanwhile carved out a good chance of his own, a superb first touch opening up
a yard of space in the box, his angled drive well blocked by Watford’s Ben
Hamer-lookalike, Manuel Almunia.
But then it
just seemed to go awry – there’s no doubting we continued to dominate
possession (but then so we should), but we seemed to be trying too hard,
bombing forward with heads down and pumping balls into the box long before the
clock might have demanded it.
back four defended manfully, winning most first headers and putting bodies in
the way of speculative shots, most notably from Stephens.
In the 70th
minute with Watford having shown precious little sign of threatening to take
all three points, a silly free-kick conceded by Cort was immaculately fired
home by Swiss international Almen Abdi.
There was no
need for panic with 20 minutes plus injury time left, but clearly some change
was required with Charlton’s momentum having already stalled by the hour
only did it take an inexplicable seven minutes for some much-needed
substitutions (if only for the benefit of fresh legs against tired ones), but
the ‘Plan B’ was even less imaginative than the ‘Plan A’ had become.
We ended the
game with a unique 2-4-4 formation with Cort joining Hulse, Fuller and
Wright-Phillips in a forward quartet.
For a Watford side that had dealt comfortably with everything thrown
high into the box, it must have been a welcome sight.
Whilst a draw
would have been a fairer result, Charlton’s lack of imagination in possession
certainly did not warrant what would have been a vital three points.
The extent of
second half possession should have been a given when playing 11 against 10 at
home – it’s what you do with that possession that dictates whether we did
indeed ‘batter’ the Hornets as some oddly rose-tinted supporters suggested on
familiar refrain and with trips to Leeds, Blackpool and Wolves to come before
October is over, it quickly needs to change.
Hamer 5: had
little to do, but spilled an early shot and inexplicably handled a late back
pass that could have put the game beyond reach
Solly 6 – he is
compromised going forward because he can’t whip a cross in with his left foot;
solid defensively as always
Wilson 6 –
seemed to enjoy the extra freedom that playing 10 men gave him, and ended the
game in midfield; improving
Cort 5 – did
not seem to enjoy facing the muscular presence of Troy Deeney; late foul was
Morrison 6 – he
will have tougher evenings than this; the deficiencies lay further forward
Green 4 –
oddly anonymous after Saturday’s man-of-the-match performance; correctly
Kerkar 6 –
never seems to have the ball fully under control, but his workrate is
Hollands 3 –
patently not good enough for this level; runs like a middle-aged marathon
runner looking to go sub-5 hours
Stephens 7 –
sublime pass for Fuller’s goal and comfortably the best midfielder, but didn’t
really ‘step up to the plate’ in the 2nd half when needed; late
chance could have salvaged a point
Fuller 8 –
different class at this level even if his legs are beginning to go; first touch
shows what it takes to be a Premiership player
6 – 1 goal in 11 now; no faulting his attitude but a non-scoring striker is a
passenger in an already struggling side
Pritchard 5 –
not on for long, but like Hollands he patently doesn’t have the class for this
Hulse 4 – a succession
of lost headers was the story of the team’s whole night