Charlton are now winless in four league games following the 1-0 defeat away to Port Vale – and Ben Garner’s post-match comments caused quite a stir. Here are Louis Mendez’s takeaways from the trip to Staffordshire.
At times in the first-half, it felt like someone had invented a human version of chess that was somehow more boring that the original. The contest was quite open for the first 15 minutes or so but soon after the home side dropped into their shape and set the Addicks the futile task of trying to break them down.
Charlton fed the ball from side to side whilst Vale sat in their own final-third, comfortably dealing with any feeble forays forward from an Addicks side who hadn’t had too much trouble finding the net recently. The South Londoners could not outmanoeuvre their opponents.
Their threat was completely blunted before the hosts took advantage of some more generous defending at the start of the second period to grab the matchwinner through Danny Butterworth.
Ben Garner, watching on from the directors’ box whilst serving the first of a two-game touchline ban, threw on his joker Chuks Aneke shortly after the deadlock was broken. The Addicks carved out two half-chances, one from Aneke and one from fellow sub Jack Payne. But both flew over the bar as Charlton’s winless run continued.
They’ve won five league games out of 19. How many they’ve lost is irrelevant. You can’t top up such a disappointing win percentage with enough draws to challenge for the play-offs. The Addicks sit 14th in League One. A position fitting for a bang average mid-table League One outfit.
The manager’s frustration was visible during our post-match interview – and he didn’t hold back on what he had to say as well. The most telling comments related to the expectations that he arrived in SE7 with not being met.
He said: “I expected a different set of circumstances when I came in. I haven’t been able to recruit as I would have liked to. We’ve been limited with that. I’ve only had a limited amount of the budget available to me. That makes it an uphill task. This isn’t a team that was flying last season and finished high up the division. It’s a team and a club that struggled last season. We’re trying to improve that.”
He’s not the first manager to have, publicly or privately, expressed concerns that circumstances at the club have been mis sold since Thomas Sandgaard took the reins. Plenty of fans are now realising that the club is likely to tread water in League One for the foreseeable future.
Garner appealed for investment in the upcoming January window. Whether that will be forthcoming remains to be seen. But the new mantra of breakeven at The Valley certainly suggests the Addicks boss may be left feeling short-changed once more.
LACK OF PENETRATION AGAINST SO-CALLED ANTI-FOOTBALL
Garner also bemoaned Port Vale’s so-called ‘anti-football’. The hosts did hold their shape and, as the Addicks manager admitted, Charlton were unable to break them down.
Vale and Garner have previous following last year’s play-off semi-final between Darrell Clarke’s side and Garner’s former Swindon outfit. He was certainly emotional after yesterday’s game. But irrespective of the opposition, Charlton have not been well-equipped to carve defensive units open this season.
They can score goals for fun in open contests but draws with the likes of Cambridge, Forest Green Rovers, Lincoln and Fleetwood show how hard they find it against sides who dabble in the dark art of knowing how to organise.
The Addicks have to up the tempo and take more risks in games like this. Playing it slow and simple doesn’t pose these sides a threat. And there’s plenty of teams in League One who can play like that and do it well.
DEFENDING FOR GOAL
Charlton don’t defend well enough. They haven’t done for a while. Butterworth’s goal was the result of a catalogue of errors.
A weakness in George Dobson’s game, and there aren’t too many of them, has been highlighted over the last eight days. He was outjumped by Burton Albion’s Deji Oshilaja during the 3-3 draw at the Pirelli last weekend and was unable to deal with a ball in the air at Vale Park yesterday either.
This allowed Butterworth to take over but he still should have had plenty to do before getting a shot off. Both Sam Lavelle and Ryan Inniss allowed the Blackburn loanee to run parallel with the edge of the area before angling his drive back across Ashley Maynard-Brewer’s goal and in. Once again, Charlton didn’t close down on the edge of their own area and it’s costing them goal after goal at the moment.
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS
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