XIII) Charlton Athletic v. Carlisle United

Tuesday night in London. The city hosts a match which just may become pivotal in one club’s fortunes this season.
Man United travel to Chelsea in an attempt to tighten their hold on the Premier League.
Yet 40 minutes east of Stamford Bridge, another game is played, maybe less glamorous but no less full of feeling and passion.
To The Valley, where Charlton Athletic welcome Carlisle United as they strive to reignite their season in League One, which has fallen at an alarming rate these past few weeks.
Three successive defeats previous to this encounter have left Charlton’s promotion hopes floundering, and points are needed fast to stop the rot.
Chris Powell, a former player for the club in their Premier League days, won his first four matches yet was looking for his side to bounce back.
The game could prove to be a defining moment in his club’s exploits for the season.

Charlton started positively, bombing forward from the first whistle as they sought to overturn their bad run.
Their early pressure was rewarded in the 10th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips, recently bought from the financially-struggling Plymouth, scored his 5th goal in 7 games.
Liverpool loanee Nathan Eccleston made a probing run down the right before cutting in and finding Wright-Phillips.
The son of Arsenal great Ian Wright controlled the ball and powered a fine effort into the bottom corner of the goal.
It was looking good for Charlton and in the 18th minute they perhaps should have been two up, however Jenkinson could only blast his shot over the bar when completely free in the box.
Carlisle were starting to pressurise the Charlton midfield, and when Ben Marshall received the ball from a turn-over, his 20-yard run was only halted when Semedo took him out.
It signalled the start of a period where Carlisle’s high defence line and harrying in the midfield were forcing Charlton players into mistakes.
Simon Francis gave the ball away in the 27th minute and again it was Marshall bearing down on goals, his eventual shot taking a deflection off Dailly and nestling into the corner away from Elliot’s despairing dive.
Carlisle were now pushing on and if Elliot hadn’t been quick off his line moments later to smother James Berrett’s effort it could have been a lot worse for Charlton.
Gary Doherty was forced off the field with what looked like a hamstring injury, with Charlton servant Justin Fortune coming into play.
Peter Murphy ensured a nervy finish to the first half for Charlton, seeing his bullet header from a corner tipped over the bar by Elliot just before the break.

Charlton began the second half full of energy, Racon having his shot blocked in the 48th minute after good work from Jenkinson and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Kyel Reid and Wagstaff combined in the 51st minute to send in a cross for Eccleston who was free in the box.
However the youngster took too long to take a shot and his effort was eventually blocked.
Carlisle were playing on the counter-attack, attempting to rush Charlton into turn-overs and then attacking the goals with ferocious pace.
It was end to end football and an entertaining match.

Wright-Phillips was close to doubling his tally in the 59th when he received the ball inside the box, he turned well and hit a strong effort, which was destined for the bottom corner, however Frank Simek was on top of it and got in a vital block.
In the 63rd minute Carlisle took a somewhat unexpected lead, as Elliot’s parry from a corner failed to clear the box, with the ball eventually falling to Craig Curran.
The Charlton defence was slow to react and from 6-yards out the Carlisle striker could hardly miss.

Charlton were losing their grip on the game, the second Carlisle goal obviously shaking them, and the crowd also getting restless as loose passing and poor decisions were starting to creep into the game.
This was encapsulated when Elliot’s poor goal kick was collected by Ben Marshall, the midfielder rushing towards goal without any Charlton player attempting a challenge.
He was left free to wind up a shot which Elliot did well to tip round the post.
10 minutes of Charlton dominating possession could not bring about an equaliser, with poor decisions again haunting the home side.
Carlisle were doing a great job at rushing the midfield, and were strong in defence too, repelling wave after wave of crosses coming into the box.
The crowd were getting restless, one fan starting to sing, “We’re not very good, we’re not very good, we are we are we’re not very good”
Striker Paul Benson came on for Eccleston in the 76th minute, as Charlton attempted to get back into the match.
However not long after Carlisle scored a third, with their pressure on the Charlton midfield once again providing a turn-over of possession.
Marshall was allowed to run free at the defence once again and although his shot was straight at Elliot, it was too hot for the keeper to hold, and Rory Loy was on hand to tap home for an easy finish.

This sparked a major walk-out from the Charlton faithful, who were obviously sick and tired of seeing a 4th consecutive loss and their aspirations for promotion taking a major blow.

The side on the pitch attempted to get a goal back, Racon seeing his shot blocked and then Bradley Wright-Phillips pushing his header over the bar in the 89th.
Yet it was Carlisle who could have extended their lead, another mistake in defence allowing Craig Curran the time and space to shoot, Elliot again called upon to tip the effort around the post.

Carlisle’s commitment and aggression in midfield was all too much for Charlton, with the central midfield pairing of Racon and Semedo failing to take control of the game.
They forced Charlton into a lot of errors, often committing two men to one man in order to win the ball.
Their stamina and hunger overwhelmed a Charlton side who couldn’t find the space in order to work their attacks, while Carlisle played on the counter and took advantage of hesitant defending and individual errors to seal the points.
Charlton will need to go back to the drawing board and reorganise their shape and structure, with players often failing to get into position for quick attacks, while their short passing game often ended with mistakes.
Chris Powell is no doubt the man to help Charlton return to the glory days of the Premier League, and if they need any encouragement, they need only to look at Leeds United, who were promoted last season and currently stand in the 6th position in the Championship table.

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