All Square at The Valley

By Alex Stedman – http://theendofthedayfootball.blogspot.co.uk/

Charlton earned a creditable draw with a strong Blackburn side on Saturday in a hotly contested affair. Indeed, the hosts may have felt they were unlucky not to take all three points from a game in which they looked well organised and assured from the start.

Blackburn looked happy to settle for a point at the end, and after Steve Kean had left the Ewood Park hot seat the evening beforehand, fans of the Lancashire side will hope they can now push forward as a club and focus on matters on rather than off the pitch. They fielded a remarkably strong team for Championship football, amongst them £8 million signing Jordan Rhodes, former Charlton man Danny Murphy, and the experienced and well travelled Nuno Gomes.

After a cagey start to the match it was Charlton who had the first attempt on goal, Danny Hollands launched the ball in from a throw, and Salim Kerkar saw his effort fizz agonisingly wide of the post. The former Rangers man was given a place in the starting eleven for a second week in a row after impressing in last week’s match against Ipswich Town.

But soon after it was the visitors who were celebrating. The ball was fed into Nuno Gomes, who turned well to find talisman Rhodes. The Scotsman threaded the ball through to the on-rushing Dickson Etuhu who made no mistake with his finish.

After going a goal behind, Charlton battled back immediately and after Leon Cort was bundled over inside the box, the referee pointed to the spot. Johnnie Jackson stepped up to take the kick, but his effort cannoned back off the outstretched leg of Paul Robinson.

The ball was swiftly flung back into the Rovers box however, and Jackson was able to make amends for his miss seconds earlier as he managed to flick the ball past Robinson and into the net after Hollands’ shot was heading wide.

After further opportunities for both Rhodes and Kerkar, the hosts found themselves out of luck once again moments later, as Danny Green did well to create himself an opening, but his thunderous drive came back off the post

The winger has begun to cement a place in the starting eleven in recent weeks – owing to his tenacity and energy, as well as a stunning “goal of the season” contender at Pride Park just over a week ago.

There was still time for Charlton to be cursing their luck before the break, as Jackson was foiled again by the home defence. His shot was well blocked, after Lawrie Wilson had powerfully driven down the right hand side to cross the ball into his skipper.

Play resumed after the interval in the same fashion as it had ended in the first. This time Leon Cort rose highest from a corner only to see his header cleared off the line. Rhodes then threatened to put the visitors back in front, but failed to find the target as Morrison and Cort marshalled Blackburn’s key front man.

Blackburn created further chances of their own in front of their travelling fans – who had been making no secret of their happiness following Kean’s departure. Nuno Gomes had three efforts on Ben Hamer’s goal, the last of which flew way over the crossbar.

At the other end, Green put the ball over the bar from a free kick and then fired wide after neat approach play from substitute Bradley Pritchard. The South Londoners went close again as Cort met the ball well on the volley, only to be foiled by arguably the man of the match Paul Robinson.

Bradley Wright-Phillips was next in line to bring the best out of Robinson as Charlton continued to push forward. After seeing his shot blocked by Morten Gamdst Pedersen, the fleet-footed front-man pulled off a sublime overhead kick, which was tipped over by the Blackburn keeper – and the game had ended honours even.

As the final whistle blew Charlton had every right to feel they should have had all three points. The side showed they are more than capable of competing at this level against a side who will undoubtedly be firmly in the promotion picture in May.

The key to success this season for the Addicks will be making sure that performances of this intensity are maintained throughout the season. If they can do so, then there is nothing to fear for Powell’s men.

About Alex Stedman