Charlton slipped to a fifth consecutive defeat as Sheffield Wednesday won 2-0 at Hillsborough. The Addicks have now gone seven games without a clean sheet, conceding at least twice in each of the last six. They’ve failed to score in three. Here’s Louis Mendez’s takeaways from another substandard afternoon.
AN AIR OF INEVITABILITY ALL AFTERNOON
The writing was on the wall from the off with Charlton powerless to stop the Owl’s early onslaught. Sheffield Wednesday penned the Addicks into their own final third immediately and the opening goal already felt inevitable when it came on five minutes. Again, Charlton didn’t deal with a set-piece. This time Alex Gilbey was the man who was beaten to the ball by George Byers in the air, with the Wednesday man’s flick gliding beyond Craig MacGillivray. The South Londoners managed to break out of their own goalmouth for a bit after but still looked toothless – it’s now three games since they last found the net. Wednesday’s second goal came just before the break and extinguished any naively held belief that the visitors could play their way back into it. The second-period was as comfortable as you’d like for Darren Moore’s side – who were able to coast to full-time in second gear.
Recurring mistakes are always a concern for a manager and it’s now four times in three games where the Addicks have been carved open by simple passes down the side of their defence. Massimo Luongo’s threaded ball behind wing-back Diallang Jaiyesimi but outside of right-centre-back Chris Gunter allowed Marvin Johnson the space to feed Callum Paterson for a simple tap in. Oxford United and Milton Keynes also exploited the vulnerabilities Charlton have in that area in the last two outings. Whether it’s formation, personnel, or player’s personal positioning – there must be a shake up to plug those gaps.
Charlton still have an eight-point buffer to the drop zone that should see them home safely – but its fragility was exposed yesterday. At one point yesterday that gap was cut to just six points until Ipswich’s late leveller at Morecambe. Below them, Doncaster have lost just one in four and Gillingham just once in five. AFC Wimbledon’s continuing freefall sees the Dons get sucked further and further into the mire and may get Charlton out of jail. But the Addicks probably need two or three more wins from their final 12 games to extinguish any burning unease once and for all.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
It can’t be ignored that Charlton’s terrible recent run has coincided with an injury crisis that has decimated their frontline. That’s why the return of Jayden Stockley after nearly three months out will give Jackson something to be enthused about. He didn’t have a major impact after coming on at the break with the Addicks already two down but will finally start to provide some bulk in both boxes going forward – desperately missing over the last few weeks. Scott Fraser has also recovered from coronavirus and will look to spark some drive into a midfield that hasn’t imposed itself on games either recently. Hopefully these reinforcements can breathe some life back into a team that looks like it’s been sleepwalking towards the end of the season.
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS