Monday, 12 January 2015

Charlton Athletic 0 v 1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Saturday 10th January 2015
Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 17,865 (3,123 away fans)

Today would be one of those awkward days of slightly divided loyalties. With Brighton being a club that has shared the pain of a nomadic existence after being forced out of their spiritual home,  shares a common strong rivalry with Crystal Palace, and Sussex's only Football League club, it's a club I've always had a significant soft spot for. A diplomatic draw always seems the ideal outcome on days like this.

Charlton's great start to the season, when they were unbeaten in their first 13 league games until late October really is now seeming like a very distant memory now, having not won a game since, a run stretching 11 games. Since their last home game on Boxing Day, Charlton lost 0-3 at Ipswich, who thereby completed the league double, and went out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, losing 1-2 at home to Blackburn. Charlton went into this game in 13th place, with 31 points from 24 games. The club were given a boost in midweek, with the signing of Tony Watt, inevitably from Standard Liege. After a disastrous first half of the season under Sami Hyppia, hopes are high that the shrewd appointment of Chris Hughton will bring about an upturn in fortuned for the Seagulls, and he started with a 0-2 win at Brentford in the FA Cup to set up a glamour home tie against Arsenal. They came into this game in 21st place, only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference. When the two sides met at the Amex in late August, the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

With strong gusty winds making conditions feel extremely cold, the first half was a very forgettable affair, Brighton having more of the possession as they looked to press high up the field, but it was Charlton who had the better chances to score. Charlton should have been given a penalty when Lewis Dunk handled a cross by Johann Gudmundsson, but the referee waved play on.

The second half saw slightly more attacking intent by both teams, and within a couple of minutes, Brighton's Sam Baldock received a pass inside the area, took a touch and his powerful strike on goal was well saved by Charlton keeper Neil Etheridge. Soon after, Watt came off the bench, and on the hour mark he set up a great chance for Charlton to take the lead, passing the ball to Chris Solly who struck a fabulous shot from 25 yards but saw the ball come back out off the underside of the bar. That misfortune was compounded within a couple of minutes when the visitors took the lead. Solly March fired a free kick from the right wing to the far post, over the keeper, and Rowan Ince headed the ball into the net. Although Charlton had the odd shot on goal in the remaining half hour, Brighton held on fairly comfortably to the delight of the packed away end and rise to 19th place in the table and three points clear of the relegation zone following Millwall's defeat. Charlton dropped to fourteenth, with play-off aspirations seeming like a very distant memory now. Indeed, now they are closer to the relegation zone (8 points) than a playoff berth (10 points). Following another on the whole flat performance with very little goal scoring threat, the first calls for Bob Peeters to be sacked have begun to surface, however in truth, the current struggles were fairly predictable with a squad which looked very thin and has been further decimated by injuries and suspensions to key players. Surprisingly, it was announced on Sunday evening that Peeters had been relieved of his duties, which seems a very hasty decision after just 25 games - time will tell if it turns out to be the correct one....

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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