Swindon Town 2 (Jaiysemi 26, Pitman 90) Charlton 2 (Bogle 37, Aneke 61)
Kevin Nolan moderates his language to report Charlton's latest added time fiasco.
Charlton's tiresome inability to withstand late pressure and protect a slender lead to the bitter end returned to haunt them at the County Ground. Their confused defending of a last gasp setpiece proved, not for the first time, to be the Achilles heel into which a poor Swindon side fired a point-saving arrow.
John Sheridan's struggling Robins were beavering away gamely but optimistically when Chris Gunter was forced to concede a left wing corner. As both teams crowded into a heaving penalty area, Matt Smith swung in the flagkick, which veteran substitute Bret Pitman, finding space in the maelstrom, looped over Ben Amos and into the net off the underside of the bar. Pitman, it might be worth noting, was a relative pygmy among the giants surrounding him.
That familiar feeling of gut-wrenching disbelief radiated through countless Southland living rooms as TVs and laptops were abruptly switched off in disgust. The behaviour in one Grove Park house was nothing short of disgraceful but you can push some people only so far. "Oi vey iz mir!" was the most imaginative of the salty comments uttered. Others among us relied on tried and tested Anglo-Saxon epithets. You can always turn to the tried and tested. Especially when you feel tried and tested.
And so another late goal continued a trend which has accelerated Charlton's recent fall from grace. The chronically bad habit did much to relegate them last season. It promises to keep them where they are this time around and happens too often to be dismissed as coincidental. Admittedly the absence of centre backs Akin Famewo and Ryan Innis removed, at two ill-timed strokes, the rock-like partnership responsible for the sequence of early-season clean sheets but a corporate lack of grit or bottle - call it what you will -has more to do with it. Scarcely one fan expected them to hang on against Swindon as they dropped deeper, gave the ball away regularly and launched panicky clearances, which were picked up and returned with interest. And the groan which greeted the fateful corner was born of bitter experience.
A rare unchanged side, which named Omar Bogle over Chuks Aneke and preferred a largely anonymous Ryan Gilbey to in-form Jonny Williams had made heavy weather of putting Swindon in their place - a place which, even after this useful draw, still leaves Town in the relegation basement. On the back of the previous weekend's demolition of AFC Wimbledon, the visitors were expected to overwhelm the Westcountrymen but their diffident approach to an apparently uncomplicated task allowed their hosts to gain a foothold. After nearly a half hour of shapeless sparring, Swindon moved into a surprising lead with a goal out of context with its scruffy surroundings.
Adding vision to his diligent midfield industry, Dion Conroy made progress on the left before picking out Diallang Jaiysemi to the right of Charlton's goal. Showing impressive control, the persistent wide man's acute turn inside sent marker Ian Maatsen sprawling and gained him space to blast an unstoppable drive past Amos. Jaiysemi remained Swindon's main threat although Maatsen stuck to the task of containing him with commendable zeal.
Swindon's lead stood up for only ten minutes before Bogle equalised. Played in behind the home defence by Maatsen, he brushed aside a weak effort to stop him and was in the act of rounding Matej Kovar when the keeper clipped his heels. A penalty was obvious but Kovar's intervention supplied a stumbling Bogle with the impetus he needed to almost comically prod the ball into a vacant net. Mere minutes later, Marcus Maddison's pass gave him an even clearer chance to score again but an ugly mess was made of finishing from two yards out.
Replaced as usual by Aneke, this time during the interval, Bogle had at least answered his critics by scoring. And as long as Aneke is considered incapable of completing 90 minutes, their either-or relationship seems set to continue. Just past the hour, big Chuks made his point by putting Charlton ahead after Conor Washington drew Kovar from his line and unselfishly squared for him to tap home from two yards.
With a half hour separating them from three priceless points, the Addicks should have blown their lowly opposition out of the water. A re-run of the second half exuberance which lit up The Valley a week previously would have done the trick but caution ruled and instead poor choices in possession and inability to look after the ball turned the game into an unsightly mishmash which allowed one of League One's feebler sides hope of salvation. They were never "comfortable" as Lee Bowyer claimed post-game and were desperately hanging on by the time Pitman equalised. That's the way it looked, at least from the Lord Melchett-like position of immunity adopted by this witness.
The discouraging result threw a wet blanket over the cheerful, positive vibe spread about him by Thomas Sangaard - or Thomas Standguard as he could be appropriately renamed. He seems like a regular bloke but why should he be spared the frequent disappointment, bordering on despair, which goes with the territory of following Charlton? It's part of the deal, Thomas? Merry Christmas anyway and the same to all of you. But if only somebody had got his head on that bloody corner, it might have been whole lot merrier...
Swindon: Kovar, Odimayo, Bauldry, Friars, Grounds, Grant (Hunt 85), Conroy, Tom Smith (Pitman 62), Jaiysemi, Matt Smith, Jonny Smith (Payne 48). Booked: Odimayo, Pitman.
Charlton: Amos, Gunter, Pratley, Pearce, Maatsen, Watson, Forster-Caskey (Purrington 66), Gilbey, Maddison (Matthews 72), Bogle (Aneke 46), Washington. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Oshilaja, Levitt, Williams. Booked: Forster-Caskey.