Hull City 2 (Adelakun 18, Docherty 75) Charlton 0.
By Kevin Nolan, mercifully placed well south of DW Stadium.
Having dropped four valuable points in recent 2-2 draws with mediocre opponents Shrewsbury Town and Plymouth Argyle, Charlton were handed an inviting opportunity to get back on track against depleted Hull City. Unsettled and distracted by Covid-19 worries, Grant McCann's hopefully rusty Tigers seemed fair game to be brought down by visitors with ground to make up. You hardly need telling that's not how it turned out, of course.
In assessing this drearily beige offering, it must first be conceded that Lee Bowyer's plans for this season have been regularly torn to shreds by an injury list of frequently pandemic proportions. At DW Stadium, his thinning squad lost Ben Watson after 10 minutes but escaped otherwise unscathed until Darren Pratley found another way of joining the absentees by getting himself sent off early in the second half and incurring suspension. As the door closed behind him, Chuks Aneke opened another by thoughtfully completing a one-game ban and will be available to Bowyer for next Friday's TV titbit against Accrington Stanley. Your classic example of one step forward, two steps back.
The under-pressure gaffer hardly eased the strain by leaving Akin Famewo on the bench, where he shared space with Marcus Maddison, whose injection of class had saved the day against Plymouth. Famewo is either fit or not fit - if the latter, his presence among the substitutes was surely pointless. The almost wilful indifference to Maddison, meanwhile, is equally difficult to understand. An anaemic line-up which as good as surrendered to Hull clearly lacked the creativity Charlton's enfant terrible can supply when he's in the mood. He might be a pain in the tuchas but he would have had a point to prove to Hull, where he spent a few wheel-spinning months not too long ago. He was worth a punt and it was frankly mystifying that he was ignored while his colleagues threshed around feebly in front of him.
For this ill-fated fixture, Bowyer named an oddly deployed starting line-up featuring right-footed Matthews at left back again, with naturally left-footed Ian Maatsen in right midfield. Neither the experienced Matthews nor the L-plated Maatsen embarrassed himself but the Addicks were a lopsided mess who surprised us all by lasting 18 minutes before conceding what turned out to be a decisive goal.
When Jacob Greaves lofted a measured pass into a yawning space behind the visitors' undermanned defence, Mallik Wilks was alone and unhindered while bringing the ball down and driving it waist-high across the six-yard area. An inadvertent deflection off both Jason Pearce and Ben Amos left Habeeb Adelukan the easy task of tapping home from close range. His goal made the remaining minutes mere motions to be gone through, though it took the Tigers fifty seven of those minutes to deliver the coup-de-grace. And if you find my wording ugly - well, it fits in well with this equally ugly game.
Without suggesting even once that they had it in them to equalise, Charlton pottered around aimlessly. Their ineptitude was even more firmly demonstrated by Pratley, who responded to Wilks' baiting and kicked out at his tormentor. His inane dismissal had absolutely no effect on the outcome of a game, in which the Addicks merely made up the numbers they were again at pains to reduce. Describing their offensive contribution needn't detain us for long.
The less said the better, for instance, about the mess made by Omar Bogle of connecting with the chance laid on for him when Pearce nodded down Jake Forster-Caskey's corner. So we'll say no more about it. Forster-Caskey himself was responsible for the Addicks' best effort, his free kick forcing George Long into a diving save to keep out a respectable delivery. There isn't much else to say except to note that, at least, the general misery didn't include a long journey home from Humberside.
To be fair, there's the small matter of describing the Tigers' irrelevant second goal. It occurred while refreshments were being served in Grove Park and passed without comment or curse. To be honest, our interest was waning anyway by the time substitute Keane Lewis-Potter placed on a plate a chance which Wilks inexplicably headed against a post. Skipper George Honeyman alertly re-cycled the rebound for Greg Docherty to bash past Amos. Had it been a fight, the referee would have been justified in stopping it. Mind you, he could have spared us needless punishment by waving it over after City's first goal. You gotta know when you're beaten. And we were already beaten...
Hull: Long, Emmanuel, Jones, Greaves, Fleming, Smallwood (Batty 84), Docherty, Honeyman (Slayter 78), Adelukan (Mayer 78), Wilks, Eaves (Lewis-Potter 78). Not used: Ingram, Coyle, McLoughlin
Charlton: Amos, Gunter, Pearce, Pratley, Matthews, Maatsen, Watson (Gilbey 10), Forster-Caskey, Morgan(Williams 61), Washington, Bogle (Smyth 46). Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Purrington, Famewo, Maddison.
Referee: Martin Coy.
In memory of Tom Morris, friend and colleague. In an old school age, I wrote the reports, Tom expertly took the photos and Peter Cordwell added the snappy headlines. We've lost an artist. Go gentle into that good night, Tom.