Sunday, 28 September 2014

Boro Blank

Charlton Athletic 0-0 Middlesbrough

For the first league game this season Charlton failed to score but again kept their unbeaten status playing out a goalless draw versus high flying Middlesbrough.

This Saturday after early drinks in Greenwich with friends headed to The Valley with high hopes we could extend our unbeaten run and keep up our fine home form. Although under no illusions that Boro are a real force to be reckoned with this season with ex Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka in his first full season really making his mark on the team.

Where as we were out of the League Cup and therefore had no game in midweek Boro travelled to Liverpool a game in which saw them knocked out in a tiring penalty shootout, so hopefully you would think this game would hamper their preparation for Saturdays game as there would still be many tired bodies around physically and emotionally, Was this to be the case?
Teams out at The Valley

Well the team news was that Big Bob made one change to the side from last weekends draw with Rotherham, Franck Moussa being replaced by Frederic Bulot who was given his first start for the club. Again another 4-4-1-1 type of formation.
To be honest on first viewing was surprised we were not starting with two up front especially at home but due to Tucudean and Moussa not particularly impressing on their last starts for the club & our lack of abundance in strikers Bob gave Bulot his chance to shine from the start.

The first twenty minutes of the game was all Middlebrough, showing no signs of tiredness from midweek Albert Adomah who missed the vital penalty on Tuesday was really catching the eye and he fired a shot into the side netting early on. Adomah again tried his luck this time from long range to which Henderson had to be alert to, from the resulting corner George Friends effort failed to test the keeper.

Boro's passing was quick and they were keeping the possession well but never really testing Henderson in the Charlton goal, where as on the other hand Charlton were finding it hard to make their way into the game apart from a wayward Buyens shot and a few set pieces which came to no avail.

On loan striker Patrick Bamford who had Championship experience last season with Derby was very lively firing a shot from outside the box towards the top corner of the goal which ended up in the side netting yet again, to which the Boro fans thought was in.

At the end of the first half Boro would be most pleased with their efforts but overall never really gave Henderson a lot to do. Charlton were really lacking a final pass or move to break down the Boro defence, and alarm bells rang just on half time as Gudmundsson limped off.

The game restarted but before it could the injury to Gudmundsson received late on it the first half would see The Icelandic replaced by Moussa,again I was surprised Tucudean wasn't brought on as clearly the formation wasn't breaking Boro down in the first half.

The second half started and it was a much more of a dominant Charlton performance who really started to knock down the ball and play more and were starting to take advantage of Boro's tiredness from midweek.

There were times Boro tried to get forward but the defence was strong with Ben Haim reading the game well and nipping in at crucial moments and as usual Solly was there working hard and mopping up any loose balls at the back.

Despite the Charlton pressure and a few corners that we had we still failed really to test the Boro keeper, so on the 68th minutes Peeters changed it up and took off Skipper Jackson and brought on Tucudean changing back to a 4-4-2 formation. Straight away you could see the difference an added striker who in turn  gave Vetokele more freedom to operate as he was being targeted as a lone man up front by the two Boro center backs.

Boro were still proving to be lively on the break with the energetic Bamford proving problems and it was Bamford who was involved in a heated exchange with defender Bikey, Bamford gave Bikey a little nudge as Bikey was shielding the ball out to which Bikey looked like he reacted with an elbow to the face of Bamford but neither Referee or Linesman saw anything wrong. Now the incident happened right in front of where I was sat and Bikey was a lucky boy.
Second half action

On the 78th minute came the best chance of the match as a lovely move saw Wiggins make way down the left his cross evaded everyone and came to Bulot whose effort agonisingly bounced of the inside of the post before being hoofed away by the Boro defence. A real chance for Charlton as we all thought we had taken the lead.

On the 81st minute Boro were reduced to ten men, Albert Adomah summed up a dreadful week for himself by picking up a second booking for a high footed tackle on Wiggins, although at first bizarrely the referee had signalled the free kick to Boro.

Silly from Adomah to go in on a 50/50 tackle like that when he had only just picked up a yellow it wasn't a awful tackle he was just a split second too late and caught Wiggins and as i say it was a 50/50 tackle but when your on a yellow it's a risky choice to make which it then did prove to be.

Could Charlton take advantage in the last ten minutes with Boro now down to ten men? Peeters sent forward Bikey and the decision nearly came off, a long ball from Ben Haim was chested down by Bikey who played a ball into Vetokele who turned and set up the on rushing Wilson whose shot was fired straight at the Boro keeper who saved well with his feet. From that corner it fell to Wiggins whose saw his effort cleared off the line and away. And that's how the game ended, frustration in the end but overall it was too little too late from Charlton and the game finished 0-0

Overall Boro played well in the first half but failed to create any real threat to the goal. In the second half Charlton were the better team as Boro tired from their game on Tuesday looked lacklustre & continued to time waste in the second half. Although coming so close from Bulot's effort late on a draw was probably a fair result as we failed to carve out many more goal scoring attempts.

Henderson - A very quiet afternoon for him with Boro only firing one shot on target.

Solly - Had a brilliant game many peoples choice for the man of the match solid performance as ever from Chris.

Bikey - Solid as usual, but he showed a glimpse of a bad side to his game.. his temper. He really should have got sent off if the official would have seen it he clearly lashed out at Bamford and was very lucky to stay on the pitch. Really hope he learns his lesson now and make sure his temper doesn't get the better of him.

Ben Haim - My man of the match he was first to nearly every ball really reads the game well & after being at fault last week for the goal bounced back with a fine performance.

Wiggins - Can't really remember much about Wiggins game which can be a good thing which means he didn't really do much wrong, he got forward well at times and so nearly provided a goal for Bulot if it wasn't for the inside of the post to deny him.

Gudmundsson - Unfortunately got taken off at half time with an injury, as in the second half with two strikers could have really seen him become more influential than he did in the first.

Buyens - Had a poor game lots of wayward passes and poor decision making from Yoni, but that comes as a surprise as he's had a fantastic start to his Charlton career so hopefully that was just a one off.

Jackson - Like Wiggins didn't really remember much from Jackson's performance, my one criticism would be there needs to be communication as at times him and Buyens would both sit deep or both want to go forward & we know from last season how vital Jackson can be when he gets in the box.

Cousins - Solid game from Jordan but lacked the spark to break down the Boro defence.

Bulot - Looked sharp at times and so nearly gave us all three points

Vetokele - Really needs another man up there with him especially at home, but as usual he ran about all over the place and you can't knock his work rate.

Moussa - Failed to have an impact on the game.

Home Fans - Grew frustrated at times but got louder in the second half to try and spur the team on.

Away Fans - Quality support from the Boro fans with 1967 making the trip down to the capital especially after they took a good number to Liverpool on Tuesday too. Spoke to a few on train afterwards who again were frustrated that their team had come for a draw, disappointed after their strong start to the season.
Boro fans in good number

Ref Watch - Thought he was very inconsistent with both sides being on the end of strange decisions. Think he should have sent Bikey off but luckily for us he didn't! And when he sent Adomah off he at first gave the free kick to Boro.

Moment Of The Match - Bulot's effort rebounding off the inside of the post as he so nearly nicked all 3 points for The Addicks

Moan Of The Match - Two moans today to make up for no moans lately! 1. As I said earlier I moan at Bikey losing his temper and was lucky not to get sent off & 2. How & why has Simon Church been frozen out to being not even on the bench? Don't get me wrong it's great to see another academy product coming through in Grant, but Church's last display was a fantastic cameo appearance from the bench v Brighton now suddenly he cant get in the squad?

Overall a point is a point and is of course better than nothing and we still have started this season promising although supporters are getting frustrated with three draws in a row we still need to remember it's a new team new manager all trying to work each other out and work out the right methods to push us forward which so far is working.

We now look forward to our game on Tuesday night against top of the table Norwich City a real tough test for us probably our toughest game so far so we will need a big performance to get something from the game. But we have seen us play against some good teams so far and done well so again we can take confidence into the game! Safe journey to those going to the match.

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