Sunday, 22 March 2015

Charlton Athletic 3 v 2 Reading

Saturday 21st February 2015
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 15,007
Match Rating: 3

Today I headed to The Valley for the second consecutive Saturday - before three Saturdays with Charlton not playing at home - hoping for an altogether better performance than last week's drab, somewhat lazy one.

Charlton won their midweek fixture against rock-bottom (and cast adrift) Blackpool 0-3, a result that could have been expected, but was the kind of fixture, far away in the north-west on a cold Tuesday evening, that could have tested the team's motivation, particularly after last week's performance, with realistically nothing left to play for this season. Charlton went into this game in 11th position, with 51 points from 38 games, 14 points adrift of the play-offs with eight games remaining. Despite reachng the FA Cup semi-finals, Reading have had a very average season in the league, and went into this game in 18th place, with 44 points from 37 games, ten points clear of the relegation zone. Their recent form has not been good, winning just once and drawing one of their last five league games. Charlton would be looking to complete a rare double this afternoon, having won at the Madejski Stadium 0-1 in early November with something of a smash and grab victory.

On a dry but very chilly afternoon, the first half was a very tepid affair, with very goalscoring chances and the game being played at a very leisurely pace. Reading took the lead on 39 minutes, when Pavel Progrebnyak received a pass from Jordan Obita deep inside the area, took a touch and fired the ball home from fairly close range.

A faint chorus of boos from the home fans greeted the half time whistle, however Charlton were certainly transformed in the second half, showing much more urgency - another sign perhaps that manager Guy Luzon has the ability to transform a poor performance - and they were duly rewarded. After Tony Watt sidefooted the ball wide when he should have scored, and Yoni Buyens had his goalbound shot well blocked by a defender, Charlton were awarded a penalty on 57 minutes, when Michael Hector handled the ball. Yoni Buyens stepped up to smash the ball into the top right hand corner, for his seventh consecutive penalty conversion. Charlton continued to create good chances, the pick of which saw an unmarked Chris Eagles somehow head over the bar when perfectly placed, but they did take the lead on 69 minutes. 17 year old defender Joe Gomez curled the ball in from the right, and Buyens maaged to turn the ball in with a flick of his body. Still Charlton continued to press forward, substitute Simon Church was denied by an excellent block by the Reading keeper Adam Federici, Charlton did score a seemingly match winning third on 79 minutes though, when Tony Watt drove to the byline, beating a couple of defenders before crossing the ball along the goal, allowing Church an easy tap in from a yard or two to score against his former club. The result really did seem all but confirmed five minutes from time when an exchange between Watt and Reading's Daniel Williams resulted in yellow cards for both players, a second yellow for Williams meaning a red card for him. Deep into injury time, Reading pulled a goal back, when Progrebnyak poked the ball home after Charlton couldn't cut out a low cross into the box, but that was in the fourth of five added on minutes and Charlton claimed the victory they deserved for their second half performance. After the doom and gloom engulfing the club at the turn of the year, things really are looking up for Charlton now. Guy Luzon, who was greeted with considerable apathy if not bad feeling, with the feeling amongst Charlton fans that he was just a puppet of the Belgian owner, who was the cheap, most available option rather than a positive one. As time has gone on, he has proved a refreshing approach with an attacking philosophy, with the ability to change a game when things are not going well. It's just a shame that the incredibly poor run of form between November and February put paid to any realistic play-off chances.

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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