Charlton should be proud of August and must be relishing the challenges ahead

Bowyer and his men should deservedly be enjoying the international break as they completed the first block of games with a 2-0 victory over Reading. They head into September second in the league having amassed an impressive 14 points from the first 6 games.

Not many would have predicted such a return from the relegation favourites before the season but the impressive work of the management and the playing staff have set a high standard for the games to come.

Charlton Athletic aren’t here just to make up the numbers.

Johnnie Jackson and Lee Bowyer
Photo by Kyle Andrews

The break has come at a good time for the Addicks as they look to get arrivals such as Kayal and new signing Adam Matthews fully up to speed and recover any injury niggles picked up during a frantic start to the campaign.

Yet, as a fan, most are itching to carry on the momentum and will feel as though the next game, against Birmingham, can’t come soon enough. The boys in red have simply been a joy to watch in the opening stages of the season.

They’ve answered every question posed of them so far, from the excellent attacking display against Stoke to the dogged and warrior triumph over west-London neighbours Brentford. As it stands, this team has proved they can match anyone in the league and simply refuse to be beaten.

The only thing left to be seen is how the boys in SE7 will react to a defeat or two, which will inevitably happen sooner or later. Despite this, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this side can only improve.

Charlton fans at Reading
Photo by Kyle Andrews

Players, most notably Connor Gallagher who has shown a good eye for goal, have hit the ground running. Yet, there are others still to come into the fray as match sharpness is built up and players continue to gel together.

Fans haven’t seen Kayal yet, a player who Bowyer speaks highly of. Chuks Aneke has made good contributions when he’s played, Sam Field and Oztumer are getting up to speed. You could go on and on and on and on. There’s so much more depth in the squad than any supporter has seen for a number of years.

It’s important Bowyer’s men continue the good form, whilst the opening fixtures looked tough and demanding, the next run of 6 games will surely pose even more challenging questions of Bowyer and his side.

There are no easy games in the Championship but looking at the upcoming fixtures, picking up points against Birmingham and Wigan will be especially important as Charlton look to establish themselves in their new division.

Charlton play Leeds, Swansea, Fulham and Derby after Wigan and these are all sides who will be looking to be in and around the top six come the end of the season. A tough task.

Until target 50 points is met, staying in the division must remain the focal aim but it will be interesting to see how the table shapes up should Charlton be able to rise up against the more challenging opposition on paper.

It’s only six games, there are plenty of twists and turns to come, there are still problems at the club. But right now every single Charlton fan, player and member of staff should be enjoying the journey.

I know I am.

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Charlton show their grit to hold on to Brentford victory

It was a performance in stark contrast to the sizzling display on Wednesday put on by the Addicks on Wednesday night but Bowyer’s boys showed an important side to their game as they hung on for a 1-0 victory over Brentford.

A Connor Gallagher strike was enough for the home side as they showed steel and battled against the odds to seal a huge victory over a Brentford aside who will undoubtedly be lamenting their complete lack of cutting edge upfront.

Gallagher celebrates his third goal for the club
Photo by Kyle Andrews

The visitors, who saw big bids for star striker Lyle Taylor turned down on deadline day, started the brighter and created numerous chances to take the lead. How they never put any of them away I doubt they know themselves.

Sergi Canos was one of those guilty of spurning chances for the visitors. Connor Gallagher initially lost out after being robbed but the Bee’s striker could only head over harmlessly after a good cross in found him free at the far post.

Despite all the pressure and missed chances from the Bee’s, huge credit must go to Charlton’s defensive display. Tom Lockyer initially got himself into trouble after losing out to Marcondes in the 21st minute but recovered and put in an outrageous last ditch challenge to clear the danger. It wasn’t the last time the Welsh international would be called into action.

Charlton weathered the Brentford pressure as Lapslie came on to replace the injured Oshilaja. The Addicks academy graduate started off shakey in his make-shift right back position but soon settled and was excellent there after. The performance from the 21 year old sums up Bowyers men, gritty, dogged and determined.

Cullen blocks away a strike
Photo by Kyle Andrews

Despite Brentford having the lions share of the possession, it was the home side who took the lead in the dying stages of the first half. Jonny Williams, not really known for his tackling, put in a crunching challenge on Marcondes and played in Gallagher through the middle with a killer ball. The Chelsea loanee drove forward and finished well into the back of night, giving himself his third goal of the season and Jonny his fourth assist.

Half time came and Tomer Hemed, eventually confirmed after an EFL delay over his deadline day signing from Brighton, was subbed on for Johnathan Leko.

The Addicks started well and nearly doubled their advantage early in the second half. Ben Purrington sent in a delicious cross that Lyle Taylor wasn’t quite able to apply the finishing touch to.

Taylor just misses out on Purrington’s cross
Photo by Kyle Andrews

Brentford continued to have all the possession without really creating many clearcut chances, until towards the end of the game that is and Charlton’s defensive heroics really came to life.

In the 84th minute Phillips did really well to get down low to keep out a strike from Jensen while the steel curtain of Lockyer and Pearce put their bodies on the line and made clearance after clearance.

Brentford looked destined to level the tie and return to West London with a share of the spoils but the Addicks rearguard had other ideas. Brentford flooded the box and Mbuemo put in a cross to the back post that Hemed beat his man to block away. The ball fell to Marcondes who saw his shot blocked, he had another go, blocked again, they had another go. Blocked.

Charlton throw their bodies on the line to keep the lead
Photo by Kyle Andrews

Fantastic.

It certainly wasn’t the best performance and more clinical opposition could have caused us some real nightmares but Bowyer’s men showed a different side of their game today with great spirit.

Charlton snatch late 2-2 draw at Oakwell

Charlton Athletic returned to South East London with a share of the spoils with Barnsley thanks to a late Lyle Taylor strike from the penalty spot. The goal gave Taylor his third goal in as many games and keeps the Addick’s unbeaten start intact.

Connor Gallagher had pulled the away side level shortly after a Cauley Woodrow stunner. The home side again went ahead thanks to a strike from Chaplin before the scores were made even for the final time by Taylor.

Taylor celebrates his penalty.
Photo by Kyle Andrews

The home side got the better of Charlton last season, finishing just above them in the League One table, and are now unbeaten for 29 league games at Oakwell. It was always going to be a tougher game than what some would have perhaps imagined.

Despite the challenge, it was the visitors who started brighter and it didn’t take them long to carve out the best chance of the opening exchanged. Ben Purrington had a golden opportunity to replicate his goals at Wembley and Ewood park after a superb Taylor cross put him in at the back post but the left back put his effort wide across goal.

The two sides put on an entertaining battle in the midfield and Barnsley created chances of their own. Ben Williams for the Tykes played in Wilks but the dangerous forward saw his shot go over the bar in the 8th minute.

Chris Solly made his 300th start for the Addicks but unfortunately saw his afternoon end prematurely following a clash of heads. The Charlton physio team took no chances and the club captain was, much to the disappointment of Solly, subbed off in place of Deji Oshilaja in the 20th minute.

Barnsley grew into the game and began to apply more pressure with Charlton unable to create many clear chances. Despite the growing threat from the home side, it was Charlton who nearly gifted them the lead.

A corner from the left side was swung in and Pratley got his clearance all wrong and nearly sent a bullet header into his own net. He was saved his blushes as the ball cannoned off the face of Lyle Taylor and eventually away from danger.

It wasn’t long before Barnsley were ahead though. After some good play in the middle, the home side crossed into the box and Ben Purrington couldn’t clear his lines properly. Barnsley’s following shot deflected off Deji into the air and Woodrow took a touch and slammed the ball past Phillips on the volley from 25 yards with a screamer.

Woodrow puts a screamer past the Addicks
Photo by Kyle Andrews

The goal put Charlton behind for the first time this season, it was a new test for Bowyers men and it didn’t take them long to calm their nerves, a quality Bowyer and his management team deserve huge credit for.

They had a few scares of their own though. Talisman striker Lyle Taylor looked to have twisted his ankle and was in real pain but managed to shake the injury off and continue to play, had the Montserrat international been forced off the field it would have been a huge blow.

Not long after, Chelsea loanee Gallagher hauled the away side level. Cullen did well to put the ball over the top of the defence to play in Jonny Williams. The Welshman controlled well, a drove past his man to the byline before cutting the ball back into the on-rushing Gallagher who took a touch and made no mistake from inside the box.

Connor Gallagher makes the tie 1-1
Photo by Kyle Andrews

After half time, it didn’t take Barnsley long to restore their advantage. The home side won the battle in midfield and broke in numbers. Connor Chaplin was played in and did well to cut across the defence and then slide the ball past the Charlton defence and in at the near post.

For a long time, it looked like Barnsley would hold out for their lead. Charlton brought on Aneke, who looked lively but struggled to carve out any chances initially, for Leko in the 76th minute.

The Addicks continued to apply some pressure and ended up with all of their available strikers on the pitch as Bonne replaced Pratley in the 84th minute. Eventually they got their reward.

Aneke and Deji linked up on the right hand side and forced a throw-in in the attacking third. Deji wasted no time and quickly threw the ball over the defender to play in Aneke who broke into the box. The former MK Dons man passed to Gallagher who was taken out by Diaby as he skipped to go past him.

That left Taylor with the simple job of walking, as slowly as humanly possible, up to the penalty spot and to send the Barnsley keeper the wrong way to grab a point for the travelling Addicks.

Confident Charlton have no fear

Charlton secured their first win at home against Stoke City to make it two victories from two as they set out the prove they’re not here to just make up the numbers in the Championship.

Goals from Taylor, Aneke and Gallagher gave Bowyers men an important three points with a 3-1 triumph over a Potters side who will be looking to be much further up the table come the end of season.

While it’s important for the Addicks to keep their feet on the ground, the game could have been very different had Stoke been more efficient in front of goal, it’s hard not to get carried away after a stellar performance like that.

Stoke started the contest the stronger side and attacked Bowyer’s men from the off. Similar to last weekend, the opposition had more of the ball but the Addicks settled and the game became a tighter, end to end affair.

If there were any doubts about the mentality of Lyle Taylor following the approaches from Brentford toward the end of the transfer window, they were quickly put to bed as the clubs top scorer put the home side ahead.

The Montserrat international picked up the ball outside the box, cut inside and struck the ball into the bottom corner to send the hosts 1-0 up with his second goal in as many games.

A spell of Addicks pressure followed as they had their tails up after the goal and gained more confidence in their new league. Stoke didn’t roll over and still fashioned chances of their own as they went in search of an equaliser.

Tom Ince attempted to break into the Charlton box in the 31st minute and went over painfully easily as he looked for a free-kick in a dangerous position. Shortly after, Charlton launched an attack of their own and should have been awarded a free-kick as Connor Gallagher was caught by a late tackle as he skipped past his man but nothing was given.

New arrival for Stoke should have done better for Nathan Jone’s men as the ball fell to him inside the box but he saw his strike bounce off the crossbar and then cleared away from danger.

The visitors pulled level shortly after. A long goal kick from Butland was sent up field in the 35th minute and Tom Ince showed good skills to bring the ball down and strike past Dillion Phillips as the Addicks were too slow to get men back to defend.

Stoke ended the half on top as Charlton struggled to regain a foothold following the equaliser. The Potters again hit the woodwork as Ince found himself some space in the box and unleashed his effort. The danger was eventually cleared and the two sides went in level at the break.

Stoke started the second half slightly stronger and had chances to take the lead. Clucas broke into the box and fed Lee Gregory but the former Millwall striker fired up and over the crossbar.

Charlton stepped up a gear and seemed much more of a threat with a switch to the diamond formation. West Brom loanee Leko, who caused the visitors lots of problems in the first half, was unlucky not to grab his first Charlton goal as a deflection from Taylors ball in was enough to enable Butland to smother the ball and keep the scores level.

The game continued in an entertaining end to end fashion but it was Charlton who went ahead in the 75th minute. Chuks Aneke, who replaced Leko not long before, grabbed his first goal for the Addicks on his league debut. Cullen had the ball out wide and drilled in a low cross, the ball was half cleared and fell to the former MK Dons man who made no mistake from 12 yards.

Stoke didn’t give up and gave the hosts a reminder that they needed to stay on their toes. Verlinden replaced Gregory and was in action straight away. He found himself wide inside the Charlton box and unleashed an effort that hit the side netting.

Charlton fans might have thought they were in for nervy finish but Chelsea boy Connor Gallagher had other ideas. An excellent corner routine in the 83rd minute put Bowyers men in front. Cullen put in a low cross to Taylor who flicked the ball into the danger zone which allowed Gallagher, completely unmarked, to drift into the middle and fire past Jack Butland who couldn’t keep out Gallagher’s effort despite getting a hand to it.

From there on it was plain sailing and the Addicks went on to collect the 3 points and claim their first win on home soil. The result will give Bowyer and his team immense confidence.

There’s still a long way to go but as this side continue to get to know each other, more debuts still to be made and the possible arrival of Tomer Hemed, who’s transfer from Brighton is being assessed by the FA, you get the feeling that there’s even more to come from Charlton this season.

As Bowyer said, we’re on a journey and we’re going to surprise teams.

The Purrfect start

Lee Bowyer’s Charlton side got off to the best possible start to life back in the Championship as they snatched 3 vital points away at Ewood Park. An unfortunate Dillion Phillips own goal was sandwiched between strikes from Purrington and Taylor, thus sealing a 2-1 victory to send the Addicks faithful back to South East London with a smile on their faces.

It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing for Charlton who had to endure a difficult opening half hour against a dangerous looking Blackburn side. Despite never really carving out too many clear cut chances, Rovers were well and truly on top as they dominated the midfield and were allowed far too much time on the ball in their own half.

Mowbray’s men had a few chances to take the lead, Sam Gallagher had a good opportunity in the 8th minute to put the hosts in front. A cross from the left evaded Jason Pearce’s attempt to clear but the striker was unable to get a connection and the ball went out of danger for a goal kick.

The next notable chance for the home side came in the 24th minute as a ball in from Armstrong fell to the feet of Downing inside the box but the former Middlesborough winger couldn’t get the final touch.

And so, with their first real attacking move of the game, it was the away side who struck first through Wembley hero Ben Purrington with a goal that was reminiscent of his equaliser in the play-off final. Jonny William’s dinked ball into the box floated over the head of Taylor and his man in the box then fell at the back post for Purrington to bundle home.

Their tails up, Charlton had an opportunity to double their lead as some good work gave Taylor some space just outside the box but his shot didn’t have enough power to really trouble Walton in the Blackburn goal.

The away side went in 1-0 up at the break but it was Blackburn who again resumed to apply the pressure in the second half and it wasn’t long before the scores were level.

Dijksteel headed a goal bound effort off the line but the clearance hit the back of Dillion Phillips, falling into the back of the net and levelling up the tie. Blackburn continued to apply the pressure but it was the Addick’s who would come out on top eventually.

After a barrage of Blackburn corners and pressure, the Addick’s managed to break free and got a corner following good work from new loanee arrival Sam Gallagher. In the the follow up after the set-piece, Pearce headed towards goal and the faintest of touches from a Lyle Taylor flick was enough to beat Walton and once again send Charlton in front.

It probably felt more nervy than what it actually was after that and the missed opportunity from Jake Forster-Caskey didn’t help. Charlton pounced on a loose pass in the Blackburn half and Albie Morgan found himself breaking on goal, Rover defenders got back to cover but the young academy product cut back and slipped Forster-Caskey through but Charlton’s number 8 couldn’t find a way past Walton from a relatively tight angle.

If missing a late chance to kill the game didn’t give Bowyer some chills, then the 6 minutes of added time surely did. Blackburn pressed forward but seemed to become desperate and lost some of their earlier edge and the Addick’s were able to hold out for their first win back in the Championship after a three year absence.

It was a shame that Forster-Caskey couldn’t finish that chance, looking at the replay it was a tighter than I first though and the defenders were rushing back. It would have done him the world of good to have such a confidence boost after a torrid time with his injury last season.

The midfielder had a fairly solid game after a slow start much like the rest of the team, although getting game time under his belt can only be a good thing. We’ll have to be a little patient with the former Brighton man but I’m confident he’ll get up to speed.

Elsewhere, the need for reinforcements in the middle of the park is still clear to see despite a battling performance. Lapsile in particular put his body on the line for the whole time he was on the pitch. Albie Morgan also showed some excellent touches and I would be a little disappointed to see him leave on loan. Gallagher looked good in his time on, nearly scoring with his first touch of the game. Hopefully he can help to add some quality that was lacking in the opening stages of the game.

All in all, an excellent start for the boys in red given we’re still 4/5 players away from where we need to be. Hopefully new arrivals can come in before the deadline and then we have a real chance of pushing on and putting any relegation talk to bed.

A long way to go yet.

Charlton sign off pre-season with defeat in Solly testimonial

It was far from the ideal result for Chris Solly as Charlton fell to a 4-1 defeat to Premier League new boys Aston Villa. As disappointing as the result may be, let’s not let that take away from what an excellent servant the academy full back has been to the club.

Despite some troublesome injuries throughout his career, our club captain has made nearly 300 appearances for the Addicks and been a reliable and much loved addition to the side. Who can forget that outstanding strike against Blackpool and the Shearer style celebrations that followed?

It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch Solly play for us, my particular highlight has to be in the League One champions season. I can’t remember who we were playing, but I do remember Solly snatching the ball off a winger, chipping it over his head, bringing it back down and then nutmegging the following midfielder.

Nowadays, that’s probably not so much what you associate with him, however, Chris has always continued to be a solid and trustworthy defender. With the emergence of Dijksteel, his chances of featuring may be reduced but having his experience around to pass on to the young Dutchman can only be a good thing. I hope there’s many more appearances for Solly to come.

Unfortunately, he found himself on the receiving end of a resounding 4-1 defeat today, despite not doing much wrong himself. Ahead of the new Championship season, just a week away, it’s clear the Lee Bowyer’s men need some new additions and fast.

This was my first chance to get a glimpse of Charlton this pre-season as I tuned into ValleyPass from Hanoi. While we hung in there for the first half, the gap in quality, especially in midfield, was clear to see. The new signing for Aston Villa, Trezuguet, particularly stood out and seemed to be all over the pitch. Jack Grealish seemed a bit subdued, that is until the second half when Trezeguet went off and then he really seemed to stand out and was all over the park.

The Addicks fell a goal down after a neat ball from Grealish slipped through El Ghazi who made an intelligent run in behind the defence and made no mistake from close range as he slotted past Dillion Phillips.

The scoreline wasn’t too bad for Bowyer’s men but they were definitely on the backfoot and rarely troubled former goalkeeper Jed Steer.

It was the second half where the visitors really applied the pressure. A formation change to three at the back in an attempt nullify the Villa threat made little difference as the Addicks were under the cosh. Every clearance seemed to fall to a man in claret and they flooded the box again and again.

It wasn’t long before they notched their second of the afternoon. Some poor defending allowed Andre Green through on goal and he cooly slid in the ball in past the on-rushing Ben Amos, who replaced Phillips at the break.

McGinn then made it 3-0 as he was awarded far too much space in front of goal and drilled in a good effort from outside the box to make it comfortable for the away side.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Charlton, they managed grab a consolation goal thanks to Lyle Taylor with a signature slow, cool run up to smash past Jed Steer from the penalty spot after former Charlton defender Ezri Konsa bought down Taylor in the box.

The game seemed to settle a bit with Charlton showing a little more threat but Aston Villa were once again able to demonstrate their quality as McGinn once again popped up to make it 4-1 and that was pretty much that.

There were some more concerns for Charlton fans as Chuks Aneke, who had a pretty solid game, was forced off by injury in the second half. The attacker appeared to breaking through with the ball but then pulled up with, what I think was, a hamstring injury. Hopefully it isn’t too serious and we see him back soon, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

In what was ultimately a disappointing afternoon, it’s important to also consider the positives. This is a premier league side who did very well in the Championship last season and we’re not going to have to contend with that every week. Jonny Williams was also a highlight, he seemed to be everywhere today and will be a big player for us in the season to come. The Welshman was at the back putting in tackles, picking the ball up in midfield and taking on players.

It’s clear we’re desperate for some more quality in the middle to work with Williams, we’re have to trust that Bowyer and his team are working hard to bring in what we need and I’m sure they are.

Nevertheless, the schedule is unforgiving and a trip to Ewood Park awaits Charlton as they travel to Blackburn Rovers in what is a tricky start the campaign. It doesn’t get much easier as they then welcome Stoke City to the Valley.

As it stands it’s going to be a struggle, it’s a huge week ahead of us now before the season starts and Bowyer will know what he wants and needs.

Whether he gets it or not is another question.

What a year

It’s been a hell of journey for everyone in SE7 since the beginning of the season in August. Lee Bowyer, his backroom staff and the players deserve every ounce of praise they get.

As the season came to a close last weekend, the Addicks’ put Rochdale to the sword with an emphatic 4-0 victory, leaping into 3rd place for the first time this season, and now head into the play-offs with confidence sky high.

With play-off rivals Sunderland and Portsmouth both dropping points Charlton were able to leapfrog them both and secure an unlikely 3rd place, thanks to Kystian Bieliks goal which put Charlton ahead of Portsmouth on goal difference, to face 6th placed Doncaster Rovers.

The final league position means Bowyer, Jackson, Gallen and the rest of the backroom staff deserve huge credit. Despite the outstanding form of Charlton, unbeaten at The Valley for 7 months and having only lost twice in 2019, it is important to remember the obstacles the management staff faced at the start of the season.

Not a penny spent on transfers in the summer, an unheard of injury crisis, a bizarre and uninterested owner and only being able to name five substitutes against Sunderland on the opening day of the season. All of these restraints, and more, have been overcome by Lee Bowyer and he should be incredibly proud.

Then there’s the sale of Karlan Grant, the then top scorer was sold and no like for like replacement materialised. The timing coincided with Lyle Taylor serving a 3 match suspension and seemed to leave the Addicks short upfront. The partnership of unmatch fit Igor Vetokele and new arrival Josh Parker couldn’t match the levels of the former duo who had scored the majority of Charlton’s goals.

Since then, Taylor has returned and looked at his best, Igor is returning to the level we know he can be and Parker is working hard albeit with no reward as of yet. Whether the former Gillingham man can step up when needed is yet to be seen.

Despite all the constraints, Bowyers’ mantra of togetherness has undoubtedly bore sweet success. The bond between those on the pitch and those in the stands is the strongest it’s been since Chris Powell’s title winning side back in 2012. There are countless examples of this but surely none symbolise this more than Naby Sarr.

It’s fair to say Sarr didn’t have the best of times when he first arrived and he quickly became something of a poster boy for the poor signings sanctioned by Katrien, Roland and the twitter boy. It wasn’t long before the young centre half was loaned out to Red Star Belgrade.

His return under Karl Robinson raised a few eyebrows, the Charlton boss described him as one of the best finishers in training and hinted he may have more involvement at the club when many thought his time was over.

It is under Bowyer that Naby has truly flourished. He had to be patient at the beginning of the season with captain Jason Pearce and Bauer the preferred rearguards. Once Sarr got his chance, thanks to an injury to Pearce, he took it and has never looked back and become a cult hero amongst the Charlton faithful.

Before, he looked error prone every time he had the ball. Now, he picks the ball up, takes his time and picks out beautiful passes. He even slams home the odd free-kick these days. Huge credit to Bowyer but also to the player himself. It would have been very easy to throw in the towel and move on, Naby has done the exact opposite and came runner up in the clubs player of the year award. He gives Bowyer a welcome selection headache.

Moving on up the pitch, the midfield have generally been a joy to behold this year. Cullen, Aribo, Bielik have been the backbone in the middle of the park. Whilst others have all made excellent contributions.

Youngsters Albie Morgan and George Lapslie will have fans excited for the future. There’s also Williams and Reeves to remember who have chipped in with good performances throughout the season. Even long term injury victim Forster-Caskey adds to the wealth of quality this Charlton midfield, arguably the best I’ve seen, possesses.

Despite all the praise it all comes down to the next two games. Form and momentum is fantastic to have but ultimately mean nothing in the coming games.

Still, no other supporter of the play-off rivals will be relishing a game against Charlton with their form. Fan backing also looks to be the best it’s been for years. Sales for both legs against Doncaster have been fantastic with nearly 3800 fans travelling to the Keepmoat and the home end close to full capacity already.

It’s time for the Addicks to take all the hard work and endeavour and claim the final reward they’ve been working so hard for.

They’ll believe all the way.