Charlton put a stop to their losing run as they shared a goalless draw with Sunderland. Here’s Louis Mendez’s four takeaways from the game.
TAKE A POINT
Not many would have predicted that Charlton would have been able to hang on for a point after Sunderland totally dominated the opening half hour. The Black Cats had racked up 71% of possession and six efforts on goal in that time, with League One’s top scorer Ross Stewart probably disappointed not to have added to the 22 goals he’d already plundered this season. The pressure let up slightly before the break, with the Addicks carving out a couple of half-chances that went begging. But Sunderland were quick out the blocks after interval – this time finding their path to goal blocked by some smart saves from Craig MacGillivray, some important blocks from the imperious Jason Pearce and a goal line clearance from Chris Gunter. The Addicks did have some chances of their own as it opened up towards the end. Young striker Mason Burstow, who needs a goal, skewed wide when fed through by Jayden Stockley. Sam Lavelle also saw a pair of injury-time openings come and go – but overall, it would have been very harsh on Sunderland if they headed back to Wearside empty handed.
IMPORTANT TO STOP RUN
Any point is a blessing after the run of defeats the Addicks have been on. Morale has felt, to quote former Charlton striker Josh Magennis, lower than a snake’s belly under a top hat (still never worked out where the fancy headwear comes into play in that phrase). Five defeats in a row are enough to sap anyone of confidence and whilst it’s only a point, it stops that rot. By hook or by crook, it’s a first clean sheet in eight as well and hopefully can be used as a springboard to a better end to the season.
It’s now well over seven hours since Charlton last found the back of the net – Elliott Lee’s early opening goal during the loss at Wigan just less than a month ago. The absence of the likes of Jayden Stockley and Conor Washington, plus the overreliance on an inexperienced Mason Burstow and an ineffective Jonathan Leko have clearly played a big part in this disappointing slump. The hope now is that Jayden Stockley’s return, coupled with Conor Washington edging back to fitness, provide a glimmer of light at the end of that tunnel.
SUNDERLAND MUST HATE US
Charlton are to Sunderland as Millwall are to the Addicks. Setting aside the unblemished play-off final record the South Londoners enjoy against the Black Cats – Charlton have now lost just once in their last 12 regular league meetings with their familiar Wearside opponents as well. They had won every game at the Stadium of Light this season until Charlton rocked up and won 1-0 in October. They hadn’t lost in over two months, stretching over 13 games when the Addicks pulled the same trick there last season. The goalless draw at The Valley last season was the only game they didn’t win in a five-game streak of hot form. They had been on a downward turn recently but goalscoring hasn’t been an issue this year for them – yesterday was the first time they’ve failed to find the net since late January. It’s a bizarre hold that Charlton have over Sunderland. If only the Addicks could alternate between playing Sunderland every week and Portsmouth away every other week, they’d be in the Champions League in four years’ time.
PHOTOS: PAUL EDWARDS