Charlton AthleticSport

Karl Robinson has to be allowed to land striker transfer targets in January – Charlton’s promotion hopes rest on it



Magennis 47 og 


Saturday was a chance to celebrate the fan-power which worked tirelessly to keep Charlton where they felt it belonged. But it was a lack of firepower which cost them sending a large section of the 16,361 crowd home with an extra sense of satisfaction.

The Covered End – where the most significant noise is generated at The Valley – has a couple of poignant messages in the upper tier. Walsh 3:07 5/12/92 reads one of them. Another simply states ‘eight grounds – one home’. There have been other stadiums, but The Valley is the one which is intrinsically linked to Charlton Athletic.

Photo: Paul Edwards

The amazing battle to get back is never going to be forgotten.

But Saturday’s 25th anniversary game did not go to plan, at least on the pitch. Portsmouth were also the opposition in 1992 when Colin Walsh’s goal was the icing on a delicious homecoming return. But Kenny Jackett’s 2017 Pompey side are beginning to crank up their play-off push and were determined not to let sentiment get in their way.

Photo: Paul Edwards

It still wasn’t a massive turnout in the home areas when you consider that Portsmouth made up 4,000 of the gate, their noisy travelling allocation also eating into a strip of the Jimmy Seed Stand.

The Addicks’ battle a quarter of a century ago was one to retain their identity. There are those who stay away – even on special occasions such as this – who feel that sense of belonging will not return until owner Roland Duchatelet sells up. That is always a question of when, not if. But those close to the situation do not see the Belgian sticking around for a massively longer period. We will get an indication of Duchatelet’s intent in about three weeks time. That is when the January transfer window opens.

Will he free up funds for the two strikers that Robinson has already publicly stated he wants?

Photo: Paul Edwards

The Addicks boss had to put together a case for signing Leon Best on a short-term deal last month.

The former Newcastle and Coventry man’s financial package was not extravagent – anything but in fact – yet it still needed some persuasion. But there really needs to be no such reluctance about bringing in more centre-forward options as quickly as possible in 2018. Charlton’s grip on a top-six space has loosened slightly in recent weeks.

Any expenditure is more to pep up their prospects rather than strengthen a squad that look sure-fire for the automatic spots.

Josh Magennis has scored one goal for the Addicks since September 23. Joe Dodoo has picked up a salary while on loan from Rangers, but little else. Best – who forced Portsmouth’s Luke McGee into a late save – is still trying to get up to speed. And that’s been part of the problem for Charlton this season, players not being at their optimum fitness levels. It applies to Mark Marshall and Ben Reeves, although there have been some mitigating circumstances. And they also never seem to escape a spate of injuries – Jason Pearce, Tariqe Fosu, Billy Clarke, Patrick Bauer and Ahmed Kashi all spending time on the sidelines. It was the same in the Championship, when the paucity of depth was badly exposed.

Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth, SkyBet League 1 , The Valley, 9 December 2017.
Image by Keith Gillard

Charlton probably just edged the opening 45 minutes at the weekend. Joe Aribo was unlucky to see his header clip off the far post from a Ricky Holmes corner. But Portsmouth came out full of intent once the action resumed and quickly went in front. Gareth Evans fizzed in a free-kick and Magennis could not avoid the delivery as it deflected into his own net.

The South Coast side were keen to strike again while so clearly in the ascendancy. Brett Pitman went close to a second before the well-travelled frontman had his shirt pulled in the box by Chris Solly. He stepped up to take the spot-kick himself and Ben Amos made an excellent plunging save to his left to only concede a corner.

Those kind of heroics can be turning points. But not this time.

Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth, SkyBet League 1 , The Valley, 9 December 2017.
Image by Keith Gillard

It took until the 89th minute for Best to get an effort on target for Charlton with Holmes’ frustration summed up when he clipped McGee late on and collecting a booking.

Robinson has the best win ratio of any permanent boss under Duchatelet. But turning that into tangible success is going to need him being backed when the window opens.

And we all know that strikers – which will be top of the shopping list – do not come cheap.

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