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THREE INTERESTING VISITORS

26-Dec 19:57, by Ketts

An ultimately frustrating afternoon for the Addicks, they drew again when they should have won. There were also a trio of interesting visitors in attendance.

Former striker, Kim Grant, watched Friday afternoon's match against Cardiff from the Valley stands.

New arrival, Tony Watt, also watched his new teammates from the sidelines and avid Charlton fan, Owen Roose, managed to get his photo taken with Watt as he made his way to his seat before the game.

The third visitor was the most interesting of all, but more of that later.

As expected, Bob Peeters, shuffled his pack and introduced, Neil Etheridge, Johnnie Jackson and George Tucudean to the starting line-up.

Surprisingly though, it was Joe Gomez who played on the left hand side of defence, with Chris Solly on the right.

Nick Pope, Nathan Fox and Igor Vetokele were the ones who dropped down to the bench.

Cardiff were much the brighter of the two sides in the opening exchanges and it took a series of contentious decisions from Hertfordshire referee, Mick Russell, to fire up the Valley faithful.

Russell last took charge of a Charlton game at Carrow Road in September, when the Addicks beat Norwich 1-0. He will not be so fondly remembered in South London this time.

Aron Gunnarsson's long throws, once again exposed the fallibility of Charlton's zonal marking system. A throw from the left after 12 minutes was flicked on to the unmarked Tom Adeyemi, who picked his spot with a precise header.

The Bluebirds had chances to increase their but Etheridge impressed in his first start for the club. Tal Ben Haim set the pulses racing with one of his buccaneering runs, but his pass to Tucadean - another to have a good game - was just a little too heavy.

The turning point of the game came after 33 minutes when Callum Harriott was sent off for a late, high challenge on Craig Noone.

As so often happens in these situations, the dismissal galvanised the depleted side and Cardiff barely created a chance for the rest of the game.

Just before the hour mark, Peeters made a double substitution, with Gomez and Jackson being replaced by Oguchi Onyewu and the rested Igor Vetokele.

Peeters switched to three at the back, and the ten men Addicks began to pin their opponents back.

They had shots kicked off the line, efforts blocked and at least one decent penalty shout turned down.

Just when it seemed it was going to be one of those days, a piece of magic from Johann Gudmundsson rescued a point for Peeters' men.

Sliding in to win the ball in midfield, the Icelander advanced a few yards before unleashing an unstoppable thunderbolt from 28 yards, that flew past David Marshall, to level things up.

Charlton pressed for the winner and should have sealed the win they so richly deserved right at the end of stoppage time.

Vetokele broke clear, leaving a posse of Cardiff defenders trailing in his wake. He entered the penalty area with just Marshall to beat.

It appeared a formality for Vetokele to slide the ball past the keeper to snatch the win.

Unfortunately, the Angolan opted for the Hollywood goal, smashing the ball with all his might. He was unlucky that it took a bobble as he pulled the trigger and the ball went high, wide and not very handsome.

There were plenty of positives for Peeters to take from the game, hopefully the head coach saw that a less cautious approach would help him improve his win ratio. He now has a tough trip to Ipswich on Tuesday to ponder.


Charlton: Etheridge; Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Gomez (Onyewu 58);Gudmundsson, Buyens, Jackson (Vetokele 59), Cousins; Harriott, Tucudean.

Subs (not used): Pope, Wilson, Bulot, Ahearne-Grant, Fox.

Goal: Gudmundsson 88.

Booked: Solly 70 (foul on Harris)

Sent off: Harriott 33 (serious foul play).


Cardiff: Marshall; Brayford, Turner, Morrison, John; Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Adeyemi (Ralls 88), Noone; Jones, Le Fondre (Harris 69).

Subs (not used): Moore, Fabio, Manga, Connolly, Macheda.

Goal: Adeyemi 12.

Booked: Marshall 64 (foul).


Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire).

Attn: 17,543 (874 Cardiff).


That third visitor we mentioned was Jose Riga's former assistant, Karel Freye. He is highly thought of and one of his jobs is head of network player recruitment, it was Freye who was largely responsible for getting Vetokele to The Valley for example.

When he departed in May, Freye told some fans that he would return as Charlton manager in the not too distant future.

We exchanged smiles on Saturday, and I welcomed him back. He grinned broadly, and said, "The bell is ringing for me." Make of that what you will.

 

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