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‘Absolutely justified’ – Charlton boss Ben Garner on half-time boos for his team in 1-1 Oxford United draw

Ben Garner admitted he struggled to find any positives from Charlton Athletic’s first-half display as their winless run extended to seven League One matches.

The Addicks are well off the promotion chase with Jayden Stockley’s second goal of the campaign maintaining their unbeaten record at The Valley.

But the home team were booed off at the break and Garner switched from a 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 at the start of the second half.

Charlie Kirk, introduced along with Miles Leaburn, claimed the assist with a fine ball across which Stockley headed home from close range in the 55th minute.

Asked about the reaction of the supporters after referee Robert Madley blew his whistle at half-time, Garner said: “Absolutely justified. Fortunately we did react. I’m working a lot harder at half time then I would like. We’re having to inject things and ask for things – I want them to be givens. That’s what we want as a baseline at this football club – that their is energy, intensity and passion in our game. Then we can work from there.

“The less said about the first half the better. I’m struggling to find positives with that in any phase of the game.

“It was a much better second half, a positive reaction.

“We have a fantastic chance late on to win it. We’ve had a few of them in games, 90-minutes plus, we could’ve won two or three games this season. That shows that the fitness levels and spirit is good.

Charlton Athletic v Oxford United SkyBet League One, The Valley, 01 October 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

“We’re trying to find a balance between being able to attack and have the purpose we want and not being open and teams being able to go through us.

“I’d much rather play how we did second half and have a go – be on the front foot and be attacking. If it means we give up one or two opportunities then I’d much rather that than being passive, as we were first half. We didn’t show enough aggression or purpose. That just doesn’t sit well – it’s not how I am as a coach. I never want to be that way.

“Charlie had a really good impact. Jes [Rak-Sakyi] has moments of just sheer quality. For a young player he has done ever so well. Miles Leaburn, coming on, had a really good impact. A huge, huge bonus was Richard Chin coming on at his young age and did fantastically well. As a young lad to pick up the pace of the game and defend as he did – give us that energy and enthusiasm going forward – that’s testament to how he looks after himself and trains on a daily basis.

“He [Stockley] did really well second half with Miles. They had defensive responsibilities as a two but we wanted more of a threat. That was a brilliant ball, it really is, on Charlie’s weaker foot. Jayden is in the right place at the right time, which is what we want from him.”

Even Oxford boss Karl Robinson admitted they should have conceded a penalty for a handball on a Rak-Sakyi shot.

“Yeah, it hit his hand – it’s handball,” said Garner. “The more worrying for me is that I’m so thankful Mandela Egbo didn’t break his leg today. That tackle is over the top of the ball, it’s disgusting. It really is. It is pre-meditated – he has gone over the top of the ball and he’s looked like he’s trying to hurt him there.”


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