BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Rarely has a three-month absence been felt so noticeably – but Charlton are undoubtably a stronger side that now Jayden Stockley is back in the fold.
The Addicks forward had been ruled out with two slipped discs in his back since just before Christmas – but remains the club’s top scorer by some distance with 14 goals in all competitions.
He returned to action when introduced from the bench at half-time of the defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend, before completing his first 90 minutes during the stalemate with Sunderland at The Valley on Saturday.
The 28-year-old, who signed permanently from Preston North End in the summer after spending the second-half of last season on loan in SE7, was pleased to come through the game unscathed.
“I’ve really looked after myself,” he explained.
“To get through 90 was huge for me, confidence-wise in my body. Sometimes you’re waiting to feel something. I couldn’t really jump towards the end, calves were cramping up. But it’s football. You’ve got to get on with it. I’ve been conditioned to play games since I was young. Looking after myself whilst I’ve been injured has allowed me to do that. The staff here and everyone have given me the platform to play 90 minutes.
“It was really tough. I look at people around me. I drew inspiration from people like Cas [Jake Forster-Caskey], how hard they work. The bad luck that he’s had, he’s on the other side of it now and looking fantastic. If I can draw a little bit of inspiration from people like him, it makes my time out seem quite insignificant when you’ve got lads like that who’ve been out a long time.”
Chances were few and far between for the Addicks over the weekend but they did manage to bring to a halt the five-game losing streak with the goalless draw against the Black Cats.
Stockley was nearly involved in a late winner as his volley flashed across the face of goal – with defender Sam Lavelle unable to convert on the stretch.
“I couldn’t feel my legs from 60 on,” admitted the striker.
“It came to me and I just thought headlines. I shanked a volley into Sam’s path so I can claim it as a pass, nearly. That’s how much I shanked it. Yeh I was [going for goal]. Euelly [Jason Euell] said to me side-foot, but I thought all or nothing here, I’m going for it. I wasn’t rewarded. I’ll save it for the next one.
“I think you could see from everyone on the pitch how much it meant. When you lose quite a few games, like we have back-to-back, confidence, especially on the ball, you can see that we’re trying to get somewhere. Today was all about getting back to basics. Similar to the Sunderland away performance. Back to basics to just try and stop the loss of momentum that we’ve had.
“It is an important point, where we are at the moment. Hopefully in weeks to come points like that won’t be good results. Especially at home. Our home form was so good a few weeks before and that’s something that we’re desperate to get back. A point in a few weeks’ time won’t be good enough but this time it feels like we’ve gained a little bit of momentum back.
“A bit of old school grit. At times like this the fans want to see a bit of passion. Not that we haven’t shown passion in the last few games. Needs must. We had a few warriors on the pitch that were defending with their lives. And we needed Macca [Craig MacGillivray] today. I thought he was outstanding today. He made some brilliant saves. He’s shown a few times this season he’s an unbelievable shot-stopper.”
PHOTOS: PAUL EDWARDS