Walsall 1-2 Charlton Athletic
20/08/2016 - 15:00
They say a week is a long time in politics, and the same description could apply to life at the Banks`s Stadium as a Nicky Ajose brace condemned the Saddlers to back to back league defeats. Last Saturday leaving Oldham optimism was still relatively high following 4 points from our opening two games. A week later our total stands at 4pts from four games, our points per game average having been halved, and suddenly a win next weekend against Bury becomes essential to allay fears of a long hard winter ahead.
It`s far too early in the season to hit the panic button, but the current predicament certain qualifies as mildly concerning at least, as we currently look like a side who are going to struggle both to score goals at one end and keep them out at the other.
Yet we didn`t exactly play badly, especially in the first half with the visitors being forced to defend well; our best chance coming on the half hour mark when Simeon Jackson forced an instinctive stop from visiting keeper Declan Rudd, who recovered well to then palm away Kieron Morris follow up effort. Charlton showed their teeth immediately in response, with Ajose clipping the bar from outside the area.
The Charlton striker would open the scoring just before half time though, scrambling home from close range after Josh Magennis had headed Ricky Holmes cross.
After the break the Saddlers attempted to be a bit more direct, especially after Amadou Bakayoko had come on for Andreas Makris; the new record signing certainly looks to have potential, currently looking like a man who has a good football brain, but who`s feet haven`t quite realised this yet. When he gets up to speed I reckon he`ll be a decent player.
Down the other end, Neil Etheridge was having his now customary weekly wobble. The Philippines international is fast becoming an opposition strikers wet dream with his insistence on giving the other team at least one gift wrapped opportunity every game. Fortunately, having this time miskicked his clearance straight to Chris Solly, Etheridge recovered to turn the effort away for a corner. There`s no doubting his abilities as a shot stopper, and Yeovil aside, he does have an uncanny knack for getting himself out of trouble. Unfortunately, he`s a bit too 'Barthez` for my liking and I wish he`d just do his job and cut out all the faffing about.
Then, out of nothing, the Saddlers drew level. Rudd, making amends for his double save earlier on, allowed a Morris effort to slip through his fingers and into the net to even the scores. The golden rule at that point, of course, is not to then go and concede again straight away, but it`s a rule we neglected to follow as James O`Connor, who`d been as shaky as he always looks when playing alongside Matt Preston, was beaten to the ball by Magennis who was able to run through and set up Ajose to prod home from close range again.
There was still time for two big opportunities for Walsall to level, firstly an Osbourne through ball, which appeared to deflect off the referee found its way to substitute Flo Cuvelier who fluffed his lines, and then in the final minute of injury time a long Etheridge clearance was expertly controlled by Simeon Jackson who then saw his blistering drive turned over by Ruddy.
In conclusion, Charlton weren`t really as good as I expected them to be, and yet they were still better than us. At this moment in time, that speaks volumes.