Following a tricky run of games against QPR, Ipswich and Reading, the trip to fellow struggles Yeovil was one of huge importance. It represented a great chance for Charlton to distance themselves further from the relegation scrap.
Powell selected the same team that had beaten Doncaster and lost to Ipswich, but he added a slight tactical slant to the XI. Instead of playing Jackson out on the left, he was deployed as part of a central midfield trio. Cameron Stewart switched from right wing to left wing at will, meaning the formation was somewhat lopsided - but not in a bad way.
|The sun shone during a good first half for the away side|
The first half an hour of the game saw both teams struggle to string together decent passages of play, but of the two sides Yeovil had marginally more success. Alnwick was forced into a couple of comfortable saves as Ishmael Miller made a nuisance of himself. One shot from outside the box looked destined for the top corner but it drifted over the bar.
Despite Yeovil having more attacks, Charlton had the best chance of the half. Cameron Stewart was given the ball out on the left and cut inside and aimed a shot at the far corner. Only a flying save by Dunn denied the Addicks an opener.
Soon after it was Yeovil again pressing, but Alnwick diffused the situation with a confident catch from a corner. He made a quick throw out to Stewart on the left wing, who only had a couple of defenders ahead of him. He carried the ball forward to the left corner of the box, once again cut inside and fired a shot from just inside the D. It curved away from Dunn, who was unable to divert the path of the ball with his despairing dive, and the ball buried itself in the bottom right hand corner.
Absolute joy in the away end. Before long there was even more cause for celebration. Again the ball was with Stewart on the left, but instead of cutting inside he shaped to beat the right back on the outside. His left footed chipped cross was too heavy for Church, but he knew Jackson was advancing towards the back post so cleared the way. The Addicks skipper headed the ball downward and past Dunn in the Yeovil goal. Double delight. Jackson was once again saluting the travelling support - he embodies the heart and the fighting spirit of this club more than anyone else.
For the first time in a while, we'd taken our chances, and the 2-0 scoreline was a reflection of the effectiveness of our counter-attacking play. Having watched Charlton for a number of years, though, we knew the job wasn't finished.
Yeovil made a double substitution but the impact on the pattern of play was minimal. Charlton were defending slightly deeper down the far end of the pitch, and that obviously causes nerves, but we actually enjoyed our best spell of the match as the hour mark approached. Some good passing football moved the ball up the pitch, and Cousins fired a shot narrowly wide from just outside the area.
Yeovil started to apply the pressure, and having worked an opportunity down the left. The cross from just outside the box was aimed across goal, deflecting off Morrison and into the net past the helpless Alnwick. The home crowd burst into life and and the momentum swung towards the home team.
Kermorgant challenged for a header but was harshly penalised due to the Yeovil player making a meal of it. Inexplicably, he was booked. It was a genuine challenge for the ball which Yann won, but as the defender went to ground he got the decision. From the long ball forward, Charlton failed to deal with a scramble outside the box, and with Miller having turned Dervite, he was brought down, and a penalty awarded. Difficult to tell from a distance but word is that the decision was indisputable. The incident that led up to it wasn't, however.
We never seem to save penalties, and there was no change here. Alnwick dived to right but Miller had drilled his spot-kick high down the middle into the back of the net. 2-2, Huish Park rocking.
Charlton hadn't defended the set piece well, but they still had a chance to win the game. That was until referee Dawson had his say. Hughes and Miller had collided going for a header, with the former lying injured on the floor as a result. The ball rebounded out to the left where Jackson made a strong challenge, winning the ball convincingly. However, the Yeovil player made a meal of it, and as there was a hint of aggression detected by the ref, it was deemed a foul. Whether it was two-footed was debatable. Pawson blew for the foul and gleefully reached for his back pocket, producing a red card. Tackling has increasingly been demonised in football, and Jackson certainly has reason to feel aggrieved.
|The change in weather reflected the change in fortunes for the Addicks|
Distraught. In the space of ten minutes a comfortable lead had vanished, replaced by a desperation to cling on to a point, and deny Yeovil a vital win. There was a sense of disbelief on the away terrace, with a combination of mistakes and misfortune conspiring to prevent victory.
Yeovil pressed for a winner. A quick break down the left almost saw the home side to break into the box, only for a superbly timed sliding challenge from Wiggins to deny them. Soon after, after a long ball and lots of headed contests, the ball fell to Miller, who seemed to have the goal at his mercy but placed his shot wide of the post.
Charlton held on, with Hughes having replaced Cousins after a knock, Church making way for Solly after the sending off, and Wood replacing Stewart in added time. Dawson added five minutes to try and allow his side to score a winner, but the game was drawn after a late but ultimately futile a track by the Addicks.
The players trudged over to thank the travelling support, who responded with their own applause. There was a feeling of defeat despite the point that had been secured. It took a while to shake off that feeling.
The refereeing performance was terrible. Dawson favoured the home side in the second half especially, with a couple of key decisions going against the Addicks. When will we finally get a good break...
Rhoys Wiggins had a fantastic game, with heroic defending and threatening attacking play down the left. Stephens played well centrally, whilst Church worked his socks off again without being created a clear cut chance. Kermorgant played really well in patches, particularly the early period of the second half, but he couldn't make enough clinical passes in the final third. Alnwick played well, particularly when he threw the ball for Stewart to score the opening goal, and claimed each cross with conviction. Stewart himself was the reason we took a two goal lead into half time.
Tactically, Powell's slant on 4-4-2 worked very well, largely down to the creative spark that Cameron Stewart gives us. He may not be the most consistent player but his importance to our side cannot be overstated. The liveliness of his play combined with the powerful right foot he has makes him a vital component of the side. We somehow need to keep hold of him beyond January.
The performance was once again valiant but the smallest of errors carried the dearest of consequences. Powell will undoubtedly take positives from the way we played, but in not closing out the game we displayed our vulnerability when our backs are against the wall.
It's undeniable that we are in a poor position in this league, but this bunch of players are trying so hard at the moment without getting any reward. Football is a results business, of course, but these players have proven capable of winning games, and with a bit more confidence and that rub of the green, our form will pick up. It's just a matter of sticking with the team through this tough spell and showing our full support for them. It's a two-way process, supporting a football club. Big tests lie ahead, and a lot of work needs to be done, but the players need us to keep backing them.