Injury time goals have been a regular feature of Charlton games over recent seasons. Late winners against Wolves and Leeds saw the Addicks collect six points back in the 2013-14 season, whilst few can forget Johnnie Jackson’s memorable header against QPR as Charlton battled for survival last season.
This season has been no different, with Frank Moussa looping a shot over Scott Carson as the Addicks beat Wigan in the 94th minute. Just a week later, in-form striker Vetokele rescued a point in the dying minutes as Peeters’ men drew away at Huddersfield.
The Addicks’ trip to the AmEx stadium on the south coast also saw a late goal, but unfortunately for Charlton fans it was a Brighton equaliser, as the away side looked to steal all three points in a game in which they were largely outplayed.
Charlton started the game on the front foot, and were ahead after only 4 minutes following a fantastic counter-attack. Buyens, so influential in huge middle of the park this season, picked up the ball and fed Vetokele. The Angolan linked nicely with Tucudean before steering the ball past Stockdale from the edge of the area.
Far from being stunned, the Seagulls took over the game, imposing their flair game and dominating possession. They wasted countless chances however, and combined with a couple of good saves from returning ‘keeper Stephen Henderson, the half finished with the Addicks ahead.
The second 45 minutes began with Charlton attacking their travelling supporters, but many would have needed binoculars as most of the play occurred at the other end of the pitch. Despite continuing to dominate possession, and creating numerous chances, Henderson was rarely tested, as Brighton were wasteful in and around the penalty area. Their constant pressure finally paid off halfway through the second half however, as Lewis Dunk steered home Danny Holla’s corner to level proceedings.
The crowd were buoyant and Hyppia’s side sensed the kill, but amazingly just 8 minutes later they were behind once again. A rare attack from the Addicks saw substitute Simon Church break forward before slotting the ball into Vetokele. The striker turned expertly on the edge of the 6-yard box, before tapping the ball in off the post. The somewhat stunned away fans leapt up in unison, knowing that somehow their side were just 15 minutes from victory.
Many times this season, it has been noticed that in the latter stages of games, Peeters’ substitutions have changed the games. Unlike previous managers who may have introduced the likes of Dervite to preserve a draw, Peeters has often thrown Harriott or Moussa into a game to push for more goals.
If ever there was a time to shut up shop, it was now, and Fox replaced Gudmundsson with 10 minutes remaining. The home side continued to press (ending up with stats of 64% possession and 20 shots), but could not find a way through a defiant Addicks defence.
Charlton are unbeaten so far this season, having won both their home games and drawn away. At the AmEx, it looked like they would change that habit, but with just a minute remaining, Dunk leapt to meet Lua Lua’s chip and level proceedings once again. It was heartbreak for the Addicks, who held on for the final 60 seconds to secure a well-earned point.
Brighton may well have dominated the game, but for all their possession and chances, they rarely tested Henderson. They came up against a resolute Charlton defence, and had to rely on two set pieces to escape with a point. The game was a far cry from the 2-0 victory just a few months ago, as Peeters’ new look Addicks go from strength to strength. From Charlton’s point of view, Vetokele continues his fantastic goal scoring form, whilst the impressive Buyens and Gudmundsson have certainly improved the midfield. In defence, Ben Haim and Bikey are building a strong partnership, and the signs are that the Addicks are on the cusp of something special, despite still being in the early stages of the season.
Peeters still needs to strengthen in depth, either through the transfer window or through the loan window, which will open shortly. Another striker would give more options and relieve some of the pressure, and more back up in central midfield may be useful as the season progresses and injuries occur.
However, the opening 5 games represent a fantastic start for the Addicks. Wins against Wigan and Derby and a draw with Brighton indicate that they can battle with the best in the league, and if they can continue to perform to these high standards throughout the season, Charlton won’t have to concern themselves with a relegation battle. The international break gives Peeters a chance to reflect on his positive start, and prepare for another hard month ahead.
Come on you Reds!
Written by Tom Wallin