Charlton Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 1: Charlton hopes hurt by Phillips

By Conrad Leach
Saturday 22 March 2008 01:00

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 fall out of the play-off places.

This draw, well-deserved, at least ended that run but barely improved their play-off hopes.

That they had stayed so long in the top six despite a poor 2008 says more about the strength of the teams around them. Charlton have now only won 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 Albion an FA Cup semi-final looms in a fortnight but their manager Tony Mowbray is insistent that his side regain the confidence and zip in the league that had them marked down for automatic promotion. As it is, they have not lost touch with the top two teams and after yesterday still have a game in hand thanks to their Cup adventures.

However, the Baggies have been stuttering since their quarter-final win over Bristol Rovers, having not won either of their three games since.

There was more evidence of their weakness in defence at The Valley as they fell behind. It was just as much an indictment of Charlton's current form that their 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 – a former Charlton goalkeeper of many years' standing – 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 goal of the season.

Pardew had only made one change from the defeat at Ipswich last weekend, suggesting either a weakness in the potential replacements or a profound trust in his squad, and 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 wide soon after but neither side had the composure to claim victory.

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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