Charlton were unable to maintain the momentum of their first half performance and drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday at The Valley last night. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a superb goal for the Addicks in the third minute, but they were unable to capitalise on the extent to which they were running the match in the first half. A second goal then would have killed the game off.
After the break Sheffield Wednesday stepped up a gear while Charlton's midfield seemed to lose their control of the game. The equaliser came from a corner and in the last quarter of an hour the game fizzled out in front of a crowd of just over 14,000, perhaps to be expected on a Monday night when the game was on Sky.
One surprise in the opening line up was the absence of Nicky Weaver in the Owls goal, presumably injured. We were also missing Danny Green suffering from a virus so the bench was a bit lacking in substance.
We made a vigorous start and were rewarded with the early goal from Wright-Phillips. Wiggins was brought down, but no action was taken by the referee. Wright-Phillips advanced down the left wing and put in a good cross, but no one was able to connect. Charlton won a corner which was taken short, which rarely works in my view, but we were able to keep up the pressure.
Wright-Phillips played the ball in well, but Jackson's effort went just over. After just 21 minutes Gary Megson, who was in arm waving mode, decided to take off Sidgwick and bring on new signing Ryan Lowe.
A Sheffield Wednesday free kick was taken in the wrong position (all evening Wednesday were advancing at throw ins, but the referee took action only once whilst being strict on our throw ins). Before the free kick could be taken there was a fracas and Morrison and Rob Jones for Wednesday received the first yellow cards of the evening, the referee having developed a decisive flourish for the cameras.
Hayes shirt was pulled as he advanced. No action was taken, but a trip on Wright-Phillips earned a yellow card for Lines. Charlton won a corner. The Owls managed to break, but I thought that we defended the counter attack well. A Wednesday corner was eventually cleared.
Half time: Addicks 1, Owls 0
Taylor and Lowe had a clash of heads, leaving the latter rather groggy. The ball went off, but the visually challenged East Stand lino failed to flag. Wright-Phillips advanced down the wing and put a good ball in. Lowe went down and was replaced by Clinton Morrison. The popular player was greeted by a chorus of boos.
Wednesday's goal started with a throw in that was taken well down the pitch from where it should have been. They then won a corner which was tight with the goal line and headed in at the far post by the substitute Morrison.
Semedo went down on his haunches and the referee advised him to move to the touchline. Clinton Morrison took exception to this and received a yellow card for the benefit of his opinions.
Wright-Phillips won a Charlton corner. There was a goalmouth scramble with the ball played in several times but O'Donnell in the Wednesday goal was eventually able to win control.
Semedo was taken off and received a round of applause and a chorus of the Semedo song from the North Stand who had been booing him every time he got the ball (Megson was frantically instructing him to acknowledge the Wednesday support). The explanation for this that I heard was that his contribution was acknowledged at the beginning of the game and when he went off, but that while he was on the pitch he was playing against us. In any event he showed what he did for us: an ability to win the ball and play some sideways passes, but not to move the game forward.
The last quarter of an hour saw no real chances for either side, although Wright-Phillips continued to display real skill. I would have taken a chance and brought Bradley Pritchard on because I think his creativity and determination could have made a difference. If anyone scored it was likely to be Wednesday, a fact that the Bloke Behind Me repeatedly pointed out amid his torrent of moaning. At least we have kept our unbeaten record. But it was a bitter pill to see hero of the hour and charm merchant Clinton Morrison being interviewed by Sky, although whether the microphones picked up the North Stand chant claiming that he was a self-abuser is an interesting point (it's possible the chant was directed at the narcisstic referee Mr Deadman who is clearly proud of his tan).
The Silver Bone has been awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Bradley Wright-Phillips not just for his goal but for some creative play throughout the match, especially on the wing. Hamer claimed that he was fouled for the goal. He wasn't tested that much but he seemed to be authoritative, although he sometimes he takes too long to kick the ball out when it is played back to him. I noted good defensive work by both Taylor and Morrison and they must take some credit for our unbeaten record. Wiggins was competent enough, alhough sometimes he needs to display more pace to intercept balls. Solly linked up well with Wagstaff, especially in the first half. Wagstaff was outstanding in the first half and a real menace to the Owls defence, but faded in the second which perhaps says something about the game. Hollands was effective at times, but could have been more involved. Jackson was active and creative as ever. Stephens had a mare of a game, including missing a chance to score. Hayes is already becoming a target for some moaners, but I thought that he had put in a decent shift and was the subject of some blatant shirt pulling that was ignored by the officials. Euell did not really change the game when he came on.
The Hiss of the Match has been given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand linesman. I don't know whether there is a 24-hour Specsavers in London but he should have been sent there after the game for remedial action to deal with his inability to observe and act on what was going on in front of him.