Last-minute heartache for Addicks dents promotion bid after 2-2 draw at The Valley
By Alessandro Schiavone at The Valley
Charlton 2 - Crewe Alexandra 2
Charlton Athletic‘s promotion hopes suffered a severe setback after conceding a 95th minute equaliser to play out a hard-fought 2-2 with Crewe Alexandra at The Valley tonight.
An assist and a goal either side of half-time by Alex Gilbey, who teed up Jayden Stockley for Charlton’s opener, were not enough to secure the three points as Owen Dale shocked the home side with a last-gasp equaliser to capitalise on a defensive calamity from the hosts’ rearguard.
Charlton were the dominant side in the first 45 minutes, but an inability to put their chances away allowed Crewe a route back into the game in the second-half as the Addicks’ hopes of a top-six finish are now hanging in the balance.
The Addicks find themselves in an invidious position as they have to chase rather than to be chased with the next three fixtures, against Accrington Stanley away before two home matches against Lincoln City and Hull City, almost certainly making or breaking their season.
Jayden Stockley opened the scoring for the Addicks when he flicked home a diving header from Alex Gilbey’s delivery down the left in the 10th minute to score his first goal at The Valley in more than two months.
Charlton continued to turn the screw on a disjointed and disorganized Crewe Alexandra backline and only seven minutes later Stockley came close to completing a brace but his thumping header went off target.
Despite the absence of charismatic centre-back Ryan Inniss, Charlton looked sound defensively and did not concede much territory to the opposition in their own area in the first half. Crewe’s Owen Dale spurned the visitors’ best chance in the 33th minute when he fired a shot wide from the edge of the box.
In the last minute of additional time, Charlton skipper Jason Pearce smothered the threat when he was on hand to clear after Dale had rolled a fierce ball across the six-yard box after bypassing his opposite number.
Crewe struggled to contain Stockley in the first 45 minutes and the fact that they required two players, Donervon Daniels and Mikael Mandron to clatter him for a free-kick once, was testament to the striker’s individual brilliance on the night.
The Addicks’ first chance after the interval came through Liam Millar who blazed over from about 20 yards. But that proved to be a false dawn as his side was pegged back through 22-year winger Dale, who finally made amends for his first-half miss when he rammed home a left-footed effort in the box in the 67th minute.
The visitors looked the much better side as they saw two powerful goal-bound efforts in quick succession blocked by Charlton players. Charlton struggled to deal with Tom Lowery and Dale’s change of pace and bursts of acceleration and raised their barricades.
But there was a fluidity about Charlton’s movement after the introductions of Ryan Inniss, Chuks Aneke and Darren Pratley as the Addicks took the pace out of Crewe’s game with this triple substitution.
And after being pushed back for pretty much the entire second-half, Charlton finally had a much-needed moment of respite but substitute Aneke failed to put a golden chance away in the 77th minute, skying his effort from close range. Before he came close again from a tight angle three minutes later.
Midfielder Gilbey then sent the Charlton players, and presumably the fans at home, into raptures when he headed through hapless goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen’s legs from point-blank range after Akin Famewo’s flick-on in the area.
But that was yet another false dawn as the joy was short-lived when Dale struck again in injury-time to break Charlton hearts when the backline failed to clear their lines.
A year ago, Charlton’s season imploded after a poor run of form with ex-manager Lee Bowyer’s side suffering dramatic relegation from the Championship on the last day of the season. This term survival has long been secured and with a game in hand on sixth-placed Portsmouth and Oxford United, with Karl Robinson’s side a place and a point above them, fate is in the Addicks’ hands to prevent lightning from striking twice. But Conor Washington, Aneke and company have to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later if they want to offer their returning fans Championship football next season.
13 Ben Amos- 3 Ben Purrington- 5 Akin Famewo-6 Jason Pearce ©- 8 Jake Forster-Caskey-Jayden Stockley-11 Alex Gilbey- 16 Adam Matthews- 22 Ian Maatsen- 26 Ben Watson- 27 Liam Millar
1 Will Jaaskelainen, 3 Harry Pickering ©, 4 Ryan Wintle, 5 Donervon Daniels, 8 Tom Lowery, 10 Charlie Kirk, 11 Callum Ainley, 12 Mikael Mandron, 19 Owen Dale, 21 Rio Adebisi, 33 Nathan Wood