Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town (24/11/2012)

November 25, 2012 by  

Charlton 1 (Hulse 60) Huddersfield 1 (Clayton 88, pen).

Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.

Once Charlton get the hang of winning on their own manor, their still shaky position in the Championship might start to look a little more secure. They could even find themselves looking up rather than down at the situation above and below them.

The Addicks’ failure to protect the 60th minute lead given them by Rob Hulse sent another excellent crowd home, struggling to understand their inability to see off 10-man Huddersfield. Beating numerically disadvantaged opposition is not always a formality, of course, and it won’t have escaped the frustrated fans’ notice that these talented, dogged Terriers were well worth their point. Doesn’t change the fact, though, that another golden opportunity was missed.

Before Keith Southern’s debatable dismissal, the visitors had already justified their impressive 10th position in the table. In a lively start, Charlton were relieved that Johnnie Jackson was perfectly placed to clear off the line after Adam Clayton drove Oliver Norwood’s poorly cleared corner goalward from 15 yards, with the inviting rebound awkwardly shovelled over the bar by Peter Clarke. By the time Simon Church ran on to Alex Smithies’ huge punt to test Ben Hamer and Leon Cort heroically blocked Lee Novak’s close range blast, Town had already shown their attacking teeth.

Making his debut in central midfield, meanwhile, loanee Emmanuel Frimpong settled down quickly to show his class. Strong and perceptive, his Arsenal pedigree was unmistakable until a lack of match practice caught up with him shortly after the hour mark. Already deprived of in-form striker Danny Haynes and stopgap left back Dan Seaborne, Chris Powell is by now well versed in the art of make do-and-mend. Much will be justifiably made of the Terriers’ grit in responding to adversity in this entertaining game. Not so much attention is focused on the disastrous luck with injuries and illness that have beset Charlton’s careworn manager. He’s doing fine under trying circumstances. So are Charlton.

On 34 minutes, shortly after Ricardo Fuller had burst clear to shoot narrowly wide and Lee Novak had replied with a low drive that had Hamer diving to save with Church closing on the rebound, referee Lee Collins’ contentious decision to send off Southern appeared to have tipped the balance in the Addicks’ favour.
As Michael Morrison carried the ball untypically over the halfway line, his momentary loss of control lured Southern into hefty 50-50 collision in the centre circle. From the bleachers, his challenge seemed fair but, no more than six yards from the action, Collins disagreed. For the second successive week, Charlton had been handed either a one-man advantage or an unsought liability, depending entirely on your point of view.

Far from daunted by the setback, Huddersfield opened the second half brightly, with Clayton’s drive deflected dangerously off target and a Danny Ward snapshot safely gathered by Hamer. At the other end, Chris Solly’s deceptive feint-and-acceleration set up Hulse to head over the bar. The Addicks were inching closer and a minute later a cleverly crafted goal put them ahead.

Picking up an innocuous ball, Jackson found Fuller, who astutely played Bradley Pritchard in behind left back Paul Dixon; from the right byline, the midfield workaholic cut back a measured pass for Hulse to sidefoot efficiently past Smithies. Simple. Effective. But not conclusive.

After Fuller had gone agonisingly close to applying a late coup-de-grace, the Addicks visibly lost confidence. Jackson’s key interception earned them the temporary respite of a right wing corner, swung in by Adam Hammill at the second attempt. Previously impeccable in his handling of high deliveries, Hamer flailed wildly, Clarke prepared to pounce at the far post but was flattened by Solly’s desperate intervention. The inevitable penalty was calmly converted by Clayton to earn the Yorkshiremen the point their pluck had earned them.

Charlton weren’t quite finished. In a final flourish, substitute Green crossed deliciously, Hulse headed firmly but Smithies saved brilliantly to his left. There was also a scare for the hosts but Solly whisked Church’s last gasp cross off Alan Lee’s toe.

So was this a point gained? Or two lost? Again, it depends entirely on how you look at it. But the pressure to straighten out this indifferent home form is mounting. We re-convene at The Valley on Tuesday evening for another stab at it. Bring along your half-full glasses.

Kevin Nolan’s Match Report is brought to you in association with Maybridge – the CIS Tax Refund Specialists, 294 Burnt Ash Hill, London, SE12 0QD.

Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Cort, Morrison, Kerkar, Pritchard, Stephens, Frimpong (Green 66), Jackson, Fuller (Kermorgant 84), Hulse. Not used: Button, Taylor, Wright-Phillips, Jonsson, Dervite. Booked: Pritchard.

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Clarke, Lynch, Dixon, Norwood (Arfield 71), Clayton, Southern (sent off 34), Ward (Hammill 84), Church, Novak (Lee 77). Not used: Bennett, Woods, Gerrard, Robinson. Booked: Dixon, Clayton.

Referee: Lee Collins. Att: 20,012.

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