Charlton limped out of the FA Cup after an abject performance at Gillingham. Here’s Louis Mendez’s four takeaways from the 2-0 loss at Priestfield.
A wretched display. The Addicks looked uncomfortable in possession from the off and were outbattled by a Gillingham side who thoroughly deserved their place in the 3rd round draw.
Stephen Clemence’s side were slicker from the off – former Dulwich Hamlet man Jayden Clarke saw a lot of the ball and had an early chance deflected wide. Alfie May had Charlton’s only opening saved by Jake Turner 10 minutes in – and they wouldn’t force another shot on target all afternoon.
Both goals came in a quickfire three-minute spell shortly before the half-hour mark. Jonny Williams’ chip tempted Ashley Maynard-Brewer into no man’s land. Clarke held the ball up before squaring for Macauley Bonne to strike via the inside of the post.
The second came as George Dobson was unable to win the ball in the middle of the park, with another former Charlton man George Lapslie threading it through for Timothee Dieng to finish emphatically.
The visitors barely improved after the break – enjoying a smidgen more possession and territory but with almost nothing to show for it. Gills still carried a threat, albeit often because the Addicks found new and inventive ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
It’s the second season in a row that the Addicks have succumbed to League Two opposition in round two of the cup. They’re going to have to stop referring to results like this as upsets soon.
Michael Appleton’s comments after the game were telling. He was clearly frustrated with the performance from his side but highlighted that he has had to bite his tongue to an extent because he doesn’t want to destroy the confidence of a number of players he will rely on over the next few weeks.
It’s only a third defeat after 17 league and cup games under the Addicks boss but it played out under the shadow of unsuccessful personnel changes and injuries further blighting the squad that will hamper the side.
The Charlton head coach said that his side bounced back from the back-to-back defeats they suffered at the hands of Lincoln and Bolton in October. He’ll have to go some to ensure the levels seen at Priestfield aren’t replicated anytime soon or the Addicks will be well adrift of the play-off places by January if that display is recreated in the league.
CHANGES AT THE BACK
Appleton made five changes for the jaunt into Kent. Just as he found out when he made wholesale switches for the first-round clash with Cray Valley Paper Mills at The Valley, scratch below the surface of this Charlton squad and there’s plenty to be concerned about.
Saturday highlighted again the lack of quality in depth – particularly at the back where Charlton have been poor all season.
Lucas Ness was given the nod ahead of Michael Hector to partner Lloyd Jones at centre back. The 21-year-old has struggled whenever he has been called upon this season and looked a bag of nerves at Priestfield. He went to ground to try and challenge George Lapslie in the build-up to the second goal – selling himself way too easily.
His woefully misjudged backward header nearly let Gills in for a third but luckily it was fed into the path of Macauley Bonne who was unable to beat Maynard-Brewer for a second time.
Charlton’s defence is the most concerning part of the side but there’s no plan B available for Appleton.
CONCERNS UP FRONT
With the news that Miles Leaburn is now set for up to five months out with his hamstring injury, Slobodan Tedic is going to have to step up the plate.
But he didn’t. The Manchester City loanee was anonymous at Priestfield. He and Ness weren’t the only players that bad games but the pressure that will now be on Tedic highlighted just how uninvolved he was.
The Serbian has scored just once in 14 appearances for Charlton but, just as worryingly, doesn’t seems unable to provide a physical presence or any hold up play for his teammates. Leaburn’s absence will be keenly felt as Appleton is forced to continue to rely on Alfie May as his main source of goals.
Tyreece Campbell did little to open up the Gills either. May huffed and puffed but missed his early chance and was off-target with one in the second half too. Corey Blackett-Taylor wasn’t his usual self.
Scoring goals hasn’t been a major issue for the Addicks this term but they weren’t at it at all yesterday.
PHOTOS: PAUL EDWARDS
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