Accrington Stanley 2 Charlton Athletic 2
First games are always difficult to judge, but judge them we do. There were definitely passages of play, Fraser’s goal as an example, where evidence of an identity that Ben Garner is trying to instill were there to see.
There was also some initial concerns, some which had already been pinpointed when studying Swindon from last season. This team as it stands is going to concede goals, and I honestly can’t see us scoring enough to counter that each week.
60% possession is lovely but having half as many shots on and off target as your opposition is not. Most of that possession was playing across the back, where we did not look comfortable and although Wollacott made a couple of vital saves, he is not going to command his box, and is not a big lad.
There certainly were a few heart in the mouth moments in the first half, but 2nd half Joe mostly kicked it out as far as he could and avoided the short passes.
The final item I’ll add some scrutiny too was the the high press, and there wasn’t an awful lot of that on show, but hopefully that will come with more fitness and match situations.
The positive is that a draw is a decent result, whatever you want to say about Accrington’s place in the football hierarchy. They don’t give two hoots, and this friendly club and their supporters deserve to be where they are, and a point here, especially bearing in mind our form against them, could be valuable and would’ve been well received by most of us prior to the game.
Garner talked of two possibly three additions post match. That is pointedly not enough when you consider the only fit senior pro not involved yesterday was JFC, with Deji Elerewe being allowed go to Wealdstone on loan.
If it is three, then one has to be a striker, although no doubt Thomas is convinced now that Miles Leaburn is the answer. A wide man, a left back and probably now a centre-half is a minimum requirement not a wish list.
For all of Jayden Stockley’s hard work, he looked lost in this system and his performance was a mirror-image of the ones under Nigel Adkins. His Stanley marker pretty much owned him all game, and when he had a headed opportunity from a delicious Morgan cross, he misdirected it away from goal. A goal at that stage early 2nd half probably would have meant 3 points.
CBT’s pace is such a weapon, but sadly his final ball is often not. DJ was lively and had the assist for the goal but he faded badly in the 2nd half.
George Dobson was a lot quieter than we were used to, but this may have been because those around him were working harder than we saw last season. Morgan was excellent in patches, but this the frustration, was invisible at other times. Scott Fraser put in a decent shift but I wanted him to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the 2nd half because we were getting overrun in midfield. Nice finish for the goal though, created by Morgan and DJ.
Then the back four. Ryan Inniss, for me, was our man of the match. He is certainly a fish out of water in the playing out from the back style, but he made less unenforced errors than McConnell, who I was very disappointed in, and Inniss won literally every heading dual, which is necessary when playing against a team the size of Accrington.
At full back Sessegnon was much better going forward and he really looks more of a wing back than a full back. I think he may well get caught out a few times this season, but he is young and learning and only been at the club a couple of weeks. Yesterday was his first 90 minutes.
Conversely on the other side Sean Clare has great positional awareness, is brave and gets forward well. I though Sean had a very good game.
Then the keeper. It is particularly hard to judge a keeper on one game, so I won’t but I reckon on some slapstick defending at times this season, and I do worry to the frequency of goals we will let in.
Despite how sickening it was the concede with almost the final kick after we had just taken the lead, we didn’t deserve to win and a draw was the right result. Nevertheless what a fantastic moment for Miles Leaburn and his family.
Miles was lively when he came on although we weren’t sure if he was playing wide or alongside Stockley, but when he dispatched that header from Payne’s cross it sent every Addick into delirious chanting and pointing of ‘Leaburn, Leaburn.’ Brilliant moment and it made the long journey all worthwhile.
As for the journey. For me and for my brother who flew in from Spain, it was literally planes, trains and automobiles. Thank you to Avanti West Coast, seemingly the only train company not on strike, and a wonderful taxi driver from Preston, plus my son driving us up from Chiselhurst, we made it to Accrington in plenty of time to sample the local hostelries and get to our seat out of the rain in time to clap the boys onto the pitch.
I have to say that Accrington was a lovely little town, and their fans were so welcoming and grateful to us and the other Addicks for making the almost impossible journey. Great club and a great day.
Ben Garner: “I thought we were the better side first half and they came on stronger in the second half. They are very good at what they do and we weren’t quite as fluid second half and didn’t get as much control of the game as we what we had in the first. On reflection, overall, it was a good point. Accrington is a tough place to come. We’re just disappointed because of the nature of the late equaliser.”
Stats (CAFC first): Possession – 59% / 41%; Passes – 359 / 234; Accurate passes – 240 / 119; Shots (on target) – 11 (3) / 22 (6)