Charlton 0 Nottingham Forest 2 (Majewski 53, Lansbury 60).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
An explanation of Charlton's miserable home form continues to elude management, fans and, no doubt players who consistently distinguish themselves on the road. Four wins from seventeen Valley games makes miserable reading and may yet drag the Addicks down among the relegation strugglers.
This engagement with Nottingham Forest (don't mention Notts Forest; I did earlier this season but I think I got away with it), seemed to offer the ideal platform for a reversal of form. Another bumper crowd showed up despite the arctic conditions; the morning snow helpfully failed to settle; groundsman Colin Powell gamely battled climate change to prepare a balding but perfectly playable pitch; stentorian ringside announcer Dave Lockwood nonchalantly shrugged off scurrilous rumours that he's been lip-synching recently and called the faithful to prayer. But then it all began to go wrong. As too often it does at The Valley.
Arriving on the crest of a wave after demolishing Huddersfield Town on Tuesday, Forest simply took up where they had left off and drove their outplayed hosts to distraction. Orchestrated by midfield schemer Andy Reid, a sylph-like version of the stout little chap who all too briefly trod the boards in S.E 7, the visitors hogged the ball, passing it between them accurately and patiently. Though they lacked an end product in the early going, their air of menace suggested that they were moving through smooth gears and would kick on eventually. They certainly didn't need the advantage handed them by midweek goal hero Yann Kermorgant eight minutes before the break.
Taking exception to Greg Halford's muscular ball-shielding on the left touchline, a peeved Kermorgant kicked out irresponsibly at Forest's lofty centre back who, needless to say, made the most of the moment. Unsure of himself, referee Madley polled linesmen Cooper and Hicks before donning his black cap and consigning the rebellious Frenchman to the tumbrils. Kermorgant will now be unavailable to Chris Powell until the cataclysmic visit of Millwall on March 16th. Reduced to an experienced pair of regular hamstring-twanging strikers in Danny Haynes and Ricardo Fuller -and with Bradley Wright-Phillips turning out for Brentford - Powell could have done without the aggravation. Kermorgant let his manager down; he let his teammates down; he let a mainly adoring crowd down; but, most of all, of course, he let himself down. It was right let-down all round. For with his departure went Charlton realistic chances of weathering the growing storm.
Having bashed six past Huddersfield, Forest made hard work of making their superiority tell. The bulk of their first half chances fell to Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski, scorer of a hat-trick against Town. An early drive cleared the bar, a better opportunity was tamely rolled with the outside of his right foot straight at Ben Hamer. Reid's contribution, apart from his characteristically metronomic passing, was a comically miscued volley, which briefly endangered life and limb in the north Stand Upper Tier. There was even faint hope that Forest's fire would burn itself out but Kermorgant's ill-discipline put paid to that notion, not that it ever looked likely to materialise. Eight minutes after the interval, they grabbed a lead they were unlikely to relinquish.
It was Majewski, almost inevitably, who made the overdue breakthrough. His quicksilver burst into the penalty area from the left flank seemed doomed to disappointment amid a posse of red-shirted defenders but momentary hesitation by Scott Wagstaff allowed him to poke a low shot beyond Hamer into the right corner. Charlton were all but beaten already by a side which had dominated them without the need of a gratuitous imbalance.
Still reeling from the setback, the Addicks were easy prey to the second goal, the responsibility for which rests squarely with Hamer. There was a reasonable case for a foul by Darius Henderson on Dorian Dervite in the build up but Hamer should have made short work of dealing with Simon Cox's tame shot. Instead he spilled it to Henri Lansbury, who scored easily from two yards. Following his game-deciding error at Hull recently, Hamer's starting place is far from secure, with David Button waiting eagerly for his chance.
Between the goals, Elliott Ward had crashed Reid's superbly flighted cross against an upright. The chunky Irishman was running riot now and Henderson almost made it three when he hit the same post from another of Reid's terrific deliveries. In response to the onslaught, Charlton managed a grand total of two off-target efforts. Bradley Pritchard blazed over when Michael Morrison headed Chris Solly's first half free kick down to him; Johnnie Jackson went closer with a last minute free kick, after Halford was booked for scything down substitute Ricardo Fuller. Forest keeper Karl Darlow was untroubled by anything remotely on target. He could have stayed at home and fished in the Trent. If Reid had joined him, the Addicks might have had half a chance. Nah, probably not!
Kevin Nolan’s Match Report is brought to you in association with , 294 Burnt Ash Hill, London, SE12 0QD.
Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Cort, Morrison, Wiggins, Dervite, Wagstaff (Haynes 59), Stephens (Fuller 46), Pritchard (Obika 90), Jackson, Kermorgant. Not used: Button, Evina, Taylor, Wilson. Sent off: Kermorgant.
Notnum Forest: Darlow, Reyes, Halford, Ward, Cohen, Guedioura, Lansbury (McGugan 76), Majewski, Reid (Greening 85), Cox (Sharp 80), Henderson. Not used: Evtimov, Collins, Moussi, Blackstock. Booked: Halford.
Referee: A. Madley. Att: 18,697.