Charlton Rob County
Charlton got back on the winning trail yesterday but had more than a little good fortune to assist them.
The way the pre-match warm up is structured makes it easy to work out who will be in the starting line-up and who will be on the bench. So way before Dave Lockwood read the teams out, it was obvious that the ineffective and uncreative central midfield pairing of Semedo and McCormack was set to continue.
That Charlton spent much of the first-half on the back foot against opponents noted for their sluggish starts, paid testament to the theory that a more creative presence is needed in the middle.
Llera paid the price for his late slip at Exeter and was relegated to the bench with Matt Fry replacing him as the left-sided central defender. The youngster had a solid game despite conceding the penalty that should have won the game for the visitors.
Elliot was again at the forefront in keeping Charlton's hopes alive though County spurned numerous golden opportunities. Just before the break the keeper parried a Ben Davies free-kick to Craig Westcarr whose driven cross was heading for Kevin Smith to tap in from close range. Fortunately for the hosts Lee Hughes slid in to somehow put the ball wide from little more than a yard out.
The hapless McCormack was replaced at the interval by Therry Racon and without doing anything sensational, the more gifted Gallic artist instilled a measure of cohesion to the central area. County continued to be the side in the ascendency and spurned another glorious opportunity a quarter of an hour from time. Reid's slip allowed Davies to rob him and drive into the box. Fry's desperate challenge upended Davies with the referee awarding the inevitible penalty.
Up strode the controversial Hughes to blast the spot-kick down the middle. Elliot managed to get his trailing leg on the ball to divert it high over the bar.
Charlton made the most of their good fortune with late subs, Joe Anyinsah and the heavily bandaged Akpo Sodje involved. Sodje was proving a handful for County's defence and when he received Francis' quick throw he slipped it to Lee Martin who picked out the debutant Anyinsah's run. The winger-cum-striker struck a glorious, crisp finish under Stuart Nelson to secure the win for the Addicks.
The win, though only lifting them to ninth, put Charlton within two points of the top in an increasingly open looking division. Welcome though the win was, it did paper over the cracks of a team yet to find the correct blend. With fixtures against lowly Tranmere and Dagenham next on the agenda, Phil Parkinson will look to make the most of his side's promising position.