BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlton Athletic could not end 2019 on a positive note – as they failed to take advantage of Krystian Bielik’s early red card at Pride Park.
Jason Knight’s double had Derby in the comfort zone before a late Lyle Taylor penalty gave hope of an unlikely comeback by the visitors, who were desperately short of confidence and quality.
The Rams were already in front by the time that Bielik, who impressed at Charlton on a season-long loan from Arsenal last season, was shown a straight red card for a reckless and late challenge on Conor Gallagher.
And the Chelsea youngster seemed to be a target for Derby. Another challenge by Andre Wisdom saw him leave the field at the break with blood on strapping around his right ankle.
Charlton had been poor in possession and it was no surprise to see Taylor introduced at the start of the second half. But it was another injury setback for Lee Bowyer as Macauley Bonne – the man replaced – appeared to have suffered a hamstring injury. The former Leyton Orient striker kept feeling the back of his left leg after initially pulling up chasing a ball down the wing.
When Bowyer looked at his bench, there weren’t exactly loads of other attacking options. He brought on teenage striker Josh Davison and Ben Dempsey. But the fact remains that the Addicks badly need the likes of Jonny Williams back – the Wales international having that turn of pace to trouble opposition defences.
It was too easy for Phillip Cocu’s side, especially considering they were at a numerical disadvantage. The fact that Charlton still had their full quota of 11 out there certainly didn’t translate into any real dominance for the SE7 outfit.
Derby looked more likely to add to their lead as they attacked with far more potency in the second period and Knight was left unmarked to finish from close range.
The Addicks cut the deficit on 83 minutes as Gallagher was brought down in the box by Curtis Davies. Taylor produced his trademark measured slow run up and beat Ben Hamer from the spot.
But Hamer, part of the Charlton side which won the League One title under Chris Powell, was only really called into one really serious save – late on plunging to his left to push away Dempsey’s shot.
Dillon Phillips, who has played every minute in the league for the Addicks in 2019, had far more to do. Inside 25 seconds he had to race from his line to frustrate Martyn Waghorn, Charlton cut through with way too much ease.
Hamer went route one with a 50th minute kick which Jack Marriott lobbed wide of the goal. The Derby striker was also denied by Phillips shortly afterwards.
Taylor’s seventh goal of the campaign brought the away side back into the contest but late pressure came to nothing.
Bowyer needs more of his first-teamers back – there are still plenty of them not available yet for selection – or the East Street Investments takeover to happen. Preferably both.
Charlton have not won an away fixture since the end of August, and a season which started with such genuine promise is turning into a real challenge. This reverse sees them slip to 19th in the table – still a seven-point cushion over the bottom three.
PICTURES BY SEAN GOSLING
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