Charlton Athletic head coach Michael Appleton praised the way his team refused to “go under” as they earned a 2-2 draw at League One leaders Portsmouth.
Abu Kamara’s 31st-minute goal was cancelled out by Alfie May in the second period. The striker, who has just won the divisional October Player of the Month, scored his 12th of the campaign with a low finish which squeezed past Pompey keeper Will Norris.
The hosts went back in front shortly afterwards with Colby Bishop converting from the penalty spot after Ashley Maynard-Brewer, who had made some excellent saves, brought down Paddy Lane.
But Addicks substitute Conor McGrandles equalised in the third minute of 10 added on to the regulation 90. Tayo Edun’s cross was met by the head of the Scottish midfielder – his first goal for the South Londoners.
Appleton said: “We lived through a lot of things today, didn’t we? They came out of the blocks really quickly in the first five minutes and we dealt with it and had the better moments in the first half.
“We should have done better with some of the opportunities we had. Let’s face it – we had to defend really well for 25 minutes of the second half. They put us under the cosh.
“The really, really pleasing thing for me is that the players didn’t go under. It’s so easy to go under in those moments when you come to a side that is top of the league and hasn’t been beaten for god knows how many games and hasn’t lost a game here since March, or whenever it is.
“It is so easy to go under. Yes, you need your goalkeeper to make some saves. Absolutely, of course you do. He made some brilliant saves. But it was more the stuff going on in front of him that pleased me. We had to get blocks. They are very, very dangerous from set-plays and we knew that before the game. Their record from set-pieces is superb.
“There were a lot of things I’ve probably not seen as much in the first two to three months of being at the football club. I’ve seen a lot of great attacking play and good finishing – I’ve given a lot of credit to the players for them type of things. But tonight we did the other side really well.”
McGrandles has had an injury-hit start to his Charlton career and spent the second half of last season loaned out to Cambridge United.
Today was only his third outing of the season and first in the league since October 25 last year.
“I just had a joke with him that I don’t know how many headers he has scored – but it’s not many,” said Appleton.
“Conor did pitch in with a few goals when we worked together at Lincoln but what he does do is give you honesty. He’ll arrive in the opposition’s box and he’ll arrive in our box making tackles.
“Yes, there are probably times when I want a little bit more from him, from a quality point of view, but that comes when you get minutes on the pitch. He’s not had the minutes. He is behind from that point of view but he’ll look to get as many minutes as possible between now and the turn of the year.”
Maynard-Brewer tipped over a Bishop header early in the second half. The Australian keeper also touched a Kamara effort on to the woodwork after that with Bishop denied by the crossbar on the rebound.
“Typical Ash – he is gutted in the dressing room because he has given the penalty away,” said Appleton. “You have to remind him sometimes, he made three excellent saves before that – almost at point-blank range. We’re thankful for that and it’s why he is in the place he is in and gets called up by Australia every time there is internationals.
“We know the quality he has got and what he’s capable of. I’m just glad he was right at it today.”
PICTURE: KYLE ANDREWS
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