Charlton Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 1: Phillips keeps Baggies within striking distance
Saturday 22 March 2008
Alan Pardew called last week "the worst of the season" for Charlton, which was fair comment as the Addicks' manager saw his side lose three games and finally fall out of the play-off places. This well-deserved draw at least ended that run but barely improved their play-off hopes.
That they had stayed so long in the top six despite a consistently poor year says more about the relative strengths of the teams around them. The Addicks have now won only four out of their last 19 games and, even in the Championship, that is going to see a team fall away sooner or later.
For West Bromwich an FA Cup semi-final looms in a fortnight against Portsmouth, whose Harry Redknapp was an onlooker here, and their manager, Tony Mowbray, is insistent that his side have regained the confidence and zip in their league play that once had them marked down for instant promotion. As it is, they have not lost touch with the top two and, after today, will have two games in hand thanks to their Cup adventures.
However, the Baggies have been stuttering since their quarter-final win over Bristol Rovers, not winning any of their three games in the interim. There was more evidence of their frailty here at The Valley as they fell behind. It was just as much an indictment of Charlton's current form that their opening goal was scored by a full-back. With 30 minutes gone, Darren Ambrose drifted in a high free-kick and Greg Halford's header crept inside the far post. Dean Kiely was partly at fault as he was slow to get down to the ball.
Not that the visitors seemed unduly worried by this and within 12 minutes they had levelled matters with apparent ease from another set piece. Jonathan Greening's free-kick was headed down to Kevin Phillips by Zoltan Gera at the far post and Phillips had the time to pick the top corner of Nicky Weaver's goal for his 21st of the season.
Pardew had only made one change from that third defeat of the week, against Ipswich, suggesting either a weakness in the potential replacements or a profound trust in his squad, but he saw Leroy Lita go close just after the break, poking wide of Kiely's post. Even closer was Jerome Thomas's curling effort from the edge of the area soon afterwards, but neither side had the composure to claim victory.
Not that Mowbray saw it that way, saying: "We deserved three points today. There is disappointment in the dressing room. We did enough to win and Phillips showed his quality."
Goals: Halford (30) 1-0, Phillips (42) 1-1
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Weaver; Halford, Sodje, McCarthy, Thatcher; Ambrose (Cook, 79), Semedo (Zheng, 64), Holland, Thomas; Gray, Lita (Iwelumo, 71). Substitutes not used: Elliott (gk), Fortune.
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-3-1-1): Kiely; Hoefkens, Albrechtsen, Cesar, Robinson; Pele; Miller (Bednar, 77), Greening, Koren; Gera; Phillips. Substitutes not used: Danek (gk), Kim, Martis, Slusarski.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).
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