16 December 2015

Charlton 2 Bolton 2

In this clash of the overpaid v the unpaid there should only have been one winner. Bolton, along with Blackpool, have been a team whose plight lets us think things could be worse.

Indeed they could. Charlton's only ability this season is to make things worse, sometimes twice in one week.

It looked fine for 20 minutes. An easy goal after 26 seconds, followed by a really good goal, put Charlton into a lead that any competent team would have found it impossible to relinquish.

Charlton relinquished it.

Bolton were terrible, but they weren't the most terrible team on the pitch. Charlton - two nil up against the basket case of the division - started wasting time after 20 minutes. The defence looked nervous and fragile whenever Bolton had possession, while the midfield and attack seemed to think its work was done after that encouraging start.

Bolton's players could sense the weakness, and far from giving up, raised their game. It was rarely above the merely competent but that was all that was needed. Their first goal came out of nothing: a hopeful cross from the left finding Emile Heskey unmarked and unhindered. He's been playing professional football for 46 years: he doesn't miss chances like that. The second goal was the inevitable result of the defence's inability to clear the ball cleanly. Sooner or later, we all knew, it had to happen. That it happened shortly before half-time destroyed any hope of a fightback.

Some bizarre substitutions in the second half couldn't add anything, and the game came to resemble Saturday's match: two poor teams clumsily lumping out something that only occasionally looked like football.

The booing at the end was muted. Most of the crowd had already left. In fact, most of the crowd hadn't turned up. Official figure was 12,294, but it's well known that a lot of season ticket holders aren't bothering any more, so the real figure would be about 8,000 or, to put it another way, roughly 20,000 empty seats. Even with the phantoms included, it was the lowest attendance for a league game at the Valley since March 1998.

And the club still, six weeks after the sacking of Guy Luzon, has an Interim Head Coach. We all suspect that the club is waiting for the right moment to drop the pretence and reward Karel Fraeye for good results by making him permanent. Will that moment ever come?

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