AFC Wimbledon 2 (Longman 15, 65) Charlton 2 (Stockley 10, Jaiyesimi 21)
Kevin Nolan wrestles with his emotions and moderates his language in Grove Park.
Charlton's new boss Nigel Adkins has been relaxing at home since leaving his last managerial job but it's safe to assume he kept up with developments within the game by one means or another. It's not known where he stands on the practice of "playing out from the back", or, as it's more technically called, "building from the back" which is all the rage nowadays. Everyone from Manchester City to the Dog and Duck's second team are at it with, it must be said, varying degrees of competence. City are flagship exponents of the method while D & D's reserves frequently degenerate into heated recriminations and even the odd fistfight when things, as they do, go horribly wrong.
Charlton wasted little time in demonstrating to their recently arrived gaffer that they've never quite grasped the mechanics of building from the back. From time to time, they've ended up covered in brick dust while some gleeful opponent makes off for the corner flag to join his mates in celebrating an unexpected windfall. For visual evidence, Adkins might usefully be referred to videos of the 2019 Wembley play-off final or more appositely the evening of November 24th 2020 when the Addicks shot themselves in both feet and had to limp through an embarrassing 4-2 defeat by Burton Albion. Nigel might be the one to explain why horsing around at the back is preferred to the admittedly cruder practice of clearing the ball over the halfway line into the opposition's half. After all, what's the point of passing among yourselves in the shadow of your goal anyway? Where does it get you? And are you some kind of Luddite if you despair over the suicidal sequence of events which gifted AFC Wimbledon's their second equaliser on Saturday?
The details of Charlton's latest descent into lunacy are starkly simple. Standing over a goal kick 20 minutes into the second half, Ben Amos had the obvious option of launching it routinely out of harm's way. Standing next to him, meanwhile, Akin Famewo would doubtless have applauded his goalkeeper's decision to do exactly that; his obvious diffidence suggested he wanted nothing to do with the ball. When it reached him, he prodded it half-heartedly back to Amos without taking into account the predatory presence of Ryan Longman, who was loitering nearby with baleful intent. Concluding reasonably that both Amos and Famewo had temporarily taken leave of their senses, the Brighton loanee quietly rolled his second goal of the afternoon into a yawning net. "Really disappointed" was Adkins' admirably restrained reaction to the disaster. Er, quite so boss. I must confess to being -erm- disappointed myself. I was few other things as well, over which we will draw a discreet veil.
As significant as the loss of two important points was the departure, after less than five minutes, of in-form forward Conor Washington. A hamstring injury was the discouraging diagnosis, which was hardly the news Washington's admirers wanted to hear. To their credit, the stricken Addicks re-grouped and were in front mere minutes later. Picking up a clearance from Amos, Albie Morgan's fine pass sent Liam Millar ghosting past Luke O'Neill on the left flank. The winger's head-high cross on the run was cleverly nodded beyond Nikola Tzanev by Jayden Stockley at the near post and the visitors were off and running towards three apparently comfortable points. That feeling lasted all of five minutes, which was the time these gutsy Dons needed to draw level again
Almost inevitably ex-Addick Joe Pigott was crucially involved in his side's prompt equaliser. Receiving Alex Woodyard's pass in heavy traffic, he astutely kept the ball moving into Longman's path. With momentum lending him wings, the fleet-footed loanee cut inside from the right and placed a crisp low drive across Amos into the far bottom corner.
Continuing the trend of a goal every five minutes, Charlton quickly regained the lead through Diallang Jaiyeisimi. Boldly preferred to Chuks Aneke as Washington' replacement, he hung back as Millar chased down Jake Forster-Caskey's fine, lofted pass and was unmarked as the winger picked him out. Using one touch to steady himself, Jaiyesimi drilled a precise shot into the middle of the goal. His coolness and accuracy were impressive.
In an entertaining game, both sides came close to a winner. For the Dons, Pigott broke clear to rattle a post with a ferocious, angled drive while Longman failed by inches to complete a hat-trick as Oksanen's fiercely driven cross eluded him on its way to safety. Much improved on his recent performances, Millar drew a fine save from Tzanev before Aneke hit the woodwork deep into added time.
Then it was over to Adkins who patiently explained how the early loss of Washington forced his hand and meant an adjustment to Charlton's diamond shape. It was very helpful but the experienced manager doesn't need me to remind him that the only diamonds worth a carat in football are goals. Unlike basketball where an error becomes irrelevant in a blizzard of points, goals are hard to come by in football; if you average two per game, you're on the way to the top. To gift your opponents one, therefore amounts to no less than criminal behaviour. Even Dog & Duck's second team manager knows the consequences of that. Anyway, welcome aboard, Mr. Adkins. You've got your hands full. Sorting out Charlton's chaotic defending for a start.
Wimbledon: Tzanev, O'Neill (Guiness-Walker 64), Woodyard, Nightingale, Alexander, Dobson, Oksanen, Longman, Woodyard, Assal (Rudoni 64), Pigott. Not used: Palmer, Chislett, McLoughlin, Cox, Asew. Booked: Oksanen.
Charlton: Amos, Gunter, Famewo, Pearce, Maatsen, Morgan (Pratley 78), Shinnie, Forster-Caskey, Millar (Aneke 68), Washington (Jaiyesimi 5, Schwartz 79), Stockley. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Oshilaja, Watson. Booked: Aneke
Referee: Charles Breakspear.