Charlton fell to a first away defeat of 2023 as Derby ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at Pride Park on Saturday.
Here are Louis Mendez’s four takeaways from the clash in Derbyshire.
The writing was on the wall within 10 minutes. Derby had the lead thanks to David McGoldrick’s early penalty. The decision came after the Addicks were unable to clear their area and Conor Hourihane’s shot was leant into by full debutant Michael Hector.
Derby, who are now 10 unbeaten at Pride Park in League One, always felt like they carried a threat even if they weren’t at their best. A good chance for Jes Rak-Sakyi was thwarted by Joe Wildsmith but also felt well out of place in a tough first period for the Addicks.
The South Londoners had more of a foothold after the restart but were sloppy in and around the Derby box – still feeling pretty blunt, even after Chuks Aneke replaced Macauley Bonne.
They were finished off by Eiran Cashin’s header 20 minutes from time. A comfortable afternoon’s work for the Rams.
A DISTANCE OFF THE TOP SIX
Yesterday, coupled with the defeat at home to Bolton three weeks ago, served to slap any Charlton fan who thought they may have challenged for the top six this season in the face with big, ugly dose of reality. County barely got out of second gear but possessed much more of an edge than the South Londoners.
The Addicks did enjoy a spell of possession and territory but were sloppy in the final third. They didn’t create the number or quality of chances that Derby were able to. Paul Warne’s side were clearly the better footballing outfit. The fact that the Addicks are 16 points outside the play-off places with just 15 games to play is no unfortunate coincidence. They’re just not good enough to compete with the big boys.
Charlton need to see more from Macauley Bonne – and that’s not all his own fault. The returning forward only mustered five touches of the ball in the first period at Pride Park. It’s felt like a constant battle this season to get Charlton’s frontman involved when the Addicks have gone with a 4-3-3. The same fate befell Jayden Stockley at the start of the campaign.
But the lack of service does probably overshadow the fact that he looks low on confidence already. Even boss Holden admitted afterwards that “a goal would help him”. Bonne has failed to impose himself upon games since his return to SE7. It’s over a calendar year since he scored a goal for anyone. But so far, he’s offered precious little else either.
NOTHING TO PLAY FOR
Charlton aren’t going down. They most certainly aren’t going up. It’s the second season in a row where the Addicks have naff all to play for from about February onwards. It’s not something that the Valley faithful are that used to over the last few years.
Until last year, the Addicks had been involved in either a promotion, play-off hunt or a relegation battle in each of the four previous campaigns.
It’s odd being stuck in this footballing purgatory. As per normal, the off-field manoeuvring is likely to be the big story for the next few months.
PICTURES: KYLE ANDREWS
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