Charlton Athletic 2 Oxford United 0
Funny old game.
First half hour we chased the shadows as Oxford passed and moved around us and we didn’t trouble them at all as we lined up 4-4-2 with Smyth and Shinnie outside Pratley and Watson in midfield.
Then abruptly we burst into life. Gunter from the right played the ball into Shinnie, who shook his marker and played a lovely reverse ball into an acre of space for Connor Washington to run onto, which he did with full gusto and he finished expertly under Eastwood, and suddenly we were ahead.
We were then much better and as the clock wound down we had a free kick to the left of the outskirts of the penalty box.
A direct shot was a distinct possibility but I wasn’t sure Shinnie had it in his locker, and earlier set-plays had been a little bit telegraphed. Eastwood surely had to do better but the pace and direction with which Shinnie hit the dead ball left it buried in the top corner and it was 2-0 at the half where we really were second best.
The 2nd half was much better. We started on the front foot, were more mobile and the stuffing had been knocked out of Karl Robinson’s side despite I am sure a Churchillian half-time speech!
The ref had already made some frivolous decisions although I thought Ben Watson’s accustomed yellow was clear cut, and he will get his much sought after Saturday with the family this weekend, but it was Ryan Inniss’ booking for a innocuous looking challenge on the hour that was to have a greater consequence.
Five minutes later the impressive defender was off after he brought down a player going nowhere on the halfway line. No last warning nothing. It was probably Inniss’ second foul of the game.
He and Watson now both miss Saturday and despite us having signed 42 players, Darren Pratley will have play centre-half.
Down to 10 men, and we had to sit back a bit, but until the 82nd minute Bow was happy for the players to continue and contain and break quickly, which Smyth and particularly Maatsen, who I thought was excellent, both did. They were supported by the tireless Bogle, Washington and Shinnie. Watson by the way showed a real calmness and authority sweeping up deep in midfield when we went down to 10.
Then it was over. Another clean sheet, even with 10 men, and another three points. There was a lot to like and the spirit is building.
Bow’s thoughts: “I think they should be proud of that, because I am proud of them.“
Photo credit: @K_AndrewsPhotos
Unless Oshilaja is ready to make a return then Pratley has to drop into defence, but that leaves a gap at DM. Dylan Levitt started there at the weekend, but he struggled and was subbed off at half-time after which we looked a stronger side. The problem is I can’t see another player in the squad who play there, maybe JFC or alternatively one of Purrington, Matthews or Gunter could play at centre back allowing Pratley to play DM? Another solution might be to play 4-2-3-1 with two screening defensive midfielders. Bow does like to keep his options open, whatever he goes for it should only be for one game.
I think their goalkeeper should have saved at least one of our goals last night possibly both.
I wonder how Bowyer will set up the defence against Portsmouth without Inniss, maybe a back 3. Portsmouth forwards are pacey, better on the ground than in the air. If Matthews is fit enough to do himself justice could Gunter be moved to the right side of a 3 alongside Pratley and Femewo with Matthews and Maatsen as wing backs. Barker as defensive cover on the subs bench.
I’d have Gunter in a three or even a two with Pratley in front of he and Famewo. Matthews strikes me as naturally fit so hopefully he can play. Barker on the bench.