Charlton arrived in Bolton desperate for points. One place above the drop zone, and Sheffield Wednesday still with a game in hand (following the postponement of their midweek fixture again Wigan), the Addicks needed to get their season back on track. Last season, it was Charlton’s away form that contributed the majority of their successful season, and a win against Bolton would give the Addicks a welcome boost ahead of the busy Xmas period.
The pre-game talking point was a return to the first eleven for Chris Solly. Following months on the sidelines, the former academy player and two-time Player of the Year returned to his right-back spot to the delight of Addicks fans. He was joined by Morrison, Wood (also returning to the side) and Wiggins; with Alnwick continuing in goal. Ahead of them, Wilson and Stewart straddled the ever-growing Cousins and Stephens partnership, and Kermorgant was joined by Church up front, following a lonely game against Derby last week.
Charlton came out of the blocks impressively, pressurising their hosts from the first whistle. Kermorgant was utilised in his preferred role just off the main striker, and the majority of the early chances fell to the Frenchman. It was one of these early chances that proved decisive, as the struggling Addicks took the lead. Stephens found Wiggins down the left side, who crossed into the middle. Kermorgant met the ball, and the crowd-favourite swept the ball home to send the 300+ away fans into raptures.
1-0 is never safe, and in Charlton’s current state they needed to capitalise on their dominance. They couldn’t find the second goal though, and as the game reached the half hour mark, the hosts began to grow in to the game. Eagles’ attempt was saved by Alnwick before Morrison cleared a chance from Lee. The pressure told though, and just before the break Bolton were level. The ball was blocked out to McNaughton who equalised for the home side.
Powell had a decision to make at half time, to push for a winner or try and protect a draw. As the second half kicked off, Bolton pinned the Addicks in their own half, as the home sides’ confidence began to grow. They sensed that their visitors were fragile, but couldn’t find a way through. At the other end, Charlton nearly went ahead themselves, a stunning half-volley from Kermorgant was turned away brilliantly by Lonergan in the Bolton goal.
With both Sheffield Wednesday and Yeovil losing, it was imperative that the Addicks took something from the game, and Powell introduced Dervite and Evina in an attempt to sure the game up. As the game reached it’s final stages, it looked like the home side were going to get their winner, as they forced several late corners. The Addicks dug deep however, and to a man protected the goal. Mills drilled over from 20 yards in the 94th minute, and it was to be the last action of a frantic match…1-1.
Powell’s side has built up a reputation over the last two seasons for making up for a lack of quality with determination, character and spirit, and it was their attitude that secured the point ahead of the Xmas period. Yann was back to his heroic best, and combined with the gritty performances of the rest of the team, it was a thoroughly deserved point.
The Addicks have been unlucky in recent weeks, but the players appeared confident as they took on a Bolton side who are also struggling. It’s important that they take the confidence into the home games against Brighton, and more importantly Sheffield Wednesday, and end the year on a high.
January will be a different beast. With contracts expiring, the chance to sign players (or not) and a fresh outlook on the second half of the season, the Addicks will look to secure Championship football for a third successive campaign. With a few improvements, there is no reason why this set of players can’t achieve that. And with Powell at the helm, fans know that the side will continue to play for the club.
In Powell We Trust!
By Tom Wallin