Rodman 52 Beckles 67
By Richard Cawley at The Valley
It’s often said you have got to score when you are on top – but Charlton’s period of superiority on Saturday was about three minutes.
And that brief period of ascendency came right at the start. It was downhill from there. By the end they could have no complaints as a Shrewsbury Town side – superior in every department – took all three points back to Shropshire.
Paul Hurst’s team showed the benchmark for being automatic promotion contenders. Charlton are some way off that level. Their play-off prospects have been aided by the fact that some of their rivals are also dishing up indifferent results.
But they are once again out of the top six after Plymouth, whose storming form has seen them climb from the lower reaches of the table into a sought-after play-off spot, earned a 1-0 win over Bradford City.
The Addicks have taken one point from a possible nine at The Valley of late and Shrewsbury’s success in SE7 was every bit as comprehensive as when Wigan looked a class above in a 3-0 victory.
The only way in which Charlton’s side stood out was in the sense of being desperately poor.
Mere minutes were on the clock when the Addicks had their best chance of the contest. Sullay Kaikai’s storming run through the middle – evading Alex Rodman’s attempts to pull him back, ending with Josh Magennis’ cross clipping into the path of Jake Forster-Caskey, but the midfielder struck his effort at a defender’s legs.
Forster-Caskey is usually a good finisher and it was a poor attempt by his standards.
Moments later and goalkeeper Dean Henderson kept out Magennis’ header with his outstretched right foot, then acrobatically tipped over Joe Aribo’s strike.
But things went off the boil after that – badly. The highest crowd of the season – the club’s Football For A Fiver scheme attracting 17,581 into The Valley – were left feeling short-changed if they were genuine Charlton supporters and not just looking for a cheap football fix.
Shrewsbury failed to take their own big opportunity to net in the 17th minute. Ezri Konsa lost his balance in his own box and proceeded to clumsily topple Jon Nolan for a clear penalty. But Nolan’s attempt was kept out by the legs of Ben Amos, the rebound being headed onto the crossbar by the spot-kick taker before Konsa hacked clear.
Shrewsbury stayed on top for the remainder of the half and the interval – a chance for the Addicks to regroup and get their tactics right – failed to change the flow.
Charlton’s passing was sub-standard and their opponents, high-pressing and energetic, were first to the ball.
A case in point was the first goal on 52 minutes. Ahmed Kashi made a sliding tackle on Carlton Morris but Alex Rodman was first on the scene, carrying on the attack down the left before cutting inside Chris Solly and angling a fine strike into the top right-hand corner of the net. Amos got a hand to the shot, but could not majorly deviate its end destination.
Charlton were having a bad day at the office. And it looked like so many of the side would have clocked out early if their had been the option. A training ground free-kick saw Kaikai play a one-two with Forster-Caskey, only for the return ball to be too high to control before it drifted out of play.
Omar Beckles made it 2-0 on 67 minutes. The defender stepped in front of Konsa to neatly head home Shaun Whalley’s corner.
Charlton’s record against the current top three in League One has seen them draw once – a resilient 0-0 at Wigan – but lose the other three. They conceded seven goals in those four fixtures and failed to hit the net themselves.
Hurst’s team were well-schooled, played as unit and clearly knew their instructions. Karl Robinson accused his players of failing to follow orders by passing sideways and backwards, inviting Shrewsbury to swarm them.
There were way too many errors from Charlton. Kashi sparked a late melee after going in hard from behind on Abu Ogogo – but the passion shown by the South Londoners as they squared up near the home technical area would have been better served channeling into the game.
Seven of the Addicks’ final 13 matches are against clubs in the top-10. And their run-in sees them go to Shrewsbury and Portsmouth in the final four matches along with a home game against Blackburn, who went to the summit at the weekend.
Charlton’s two games in hand might offer some form of comfort, but their top-six prospects are in serious danger.
Charlton (4-2-3-1): Amos 7, Solly 4, Konsa 4, Pearce 5, Dasilva 5 (Ajose 71), Kashi 4, Forster-Caskey 5, Kaikai 4 (Zyro 90), Aribo 5, Marshall 4 (Fosu 57, 5), Magennis 5. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Jackson, Bauer, Reeves.