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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 06 Feb 16 at 16:45 PM

Report: Charlton Athletic 0-1 City

Mark Perrow reports from The Valley

Lee Tomlin’s first-half penalty was enough to lift City out of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone on the day Lee Johnson was announced as the club’s new head coach.

A game of huge significance at the foot of the table was not short on tension but lacked significant goalmouth action.

It was Tomlin who proved to be the match-winner on 21 minutes, picking himself up after he was fouled to dispatch a potentially crucial spot-kick in both sides’ seasons.

Johnson’s appointment on a three-and-a-half-year deal signalled this would be the last of five games in charge for City’s interim management team of John Pemberton and Wade Elliott.

The duo kept faith in the same starting line-up who dominated much of the goalless draw at home to Birmingham City last time out despite the return from injury of Frank Fielding, who was on the bench.

The four matches since the departure of Steve Cotterill 23 days ago had produced only two goals – one at each end – so the cagey opening to a game of such high stakes was to be expected.

Korey Smith’s booking for pulling back Jordan Cousins after only five minutes was a sign that this was unlikely to be a fluent, easy on the eye sort of contest.

Former City keeper Stephen Henderson was the first to be called into action, clawing out Aden Flint’s near-post header from a Luke Freeman corner, but otherwise chances were non-existent until Tomlin was bundled to the floor in the box.

When space opened up for Bobby Reid to pull the trigger from 25 yards he did exactly that, before the ball took a looping deflection in the direction of Tomlin.

As the attacker surged forward to get there first, he was dragged down in the box and referee Mike Jones was quick to award City their second penalty of the season – both against Charlton.

This time Tomlin took responsibility himself, blasting the ball straight down the middle and enjoying a slice of luck as Henderson stood his ground but could not prevent the spot-kick finding the net via the underside of his outstretched right arm.

Charlton responded with plenty of possession and pressure but no clear sights of goal, while Henderson was having to perform miracles to keep out Freeman ten minutes before the interval.

Tomlin’s inventive ball over the top with the outside of his right foot sent Reid running into the box, where the Bristolian appeared to be pushed in the back and went to ground, but this time Jones was unmoved.

The attack continued as the ball ran loose to Tomlin, who this time picked out Freeman for a first-time shot that took a deflection to deceive the committed Henderson, but the keeper improvised well to claw the ball to safety, seemingly in slow motion. 

City were yet to hit top gear but still looked to have the better of their hosts, before Charlton enjoyed their best spell of the game at the start of the second half.

A moment’s hesitation from Nathan Baker allowed Zakarya Bergdich to bear down on goal only to shoot low into the grasp of Richard O’Donnell, before Chris Solly crossed from the byeline to Ademola Lookman at the far post, who threw himself at the ball with a diving header that struck Mark Little on its way behind for a corner.

City maintained a counter-attacking threat and soon enough a physical presence up front by the time Aaron Wilbraham replaced Tomlin on the hour.

Scott Wagstaff would join Wilbraham in arriving from the bench, doing so in place of Bobby Reid to be greeted by a standing ovation from the home crowd, having served the London club for 15 years at the beginning of his career.

But City were on the back foot when Bergdich played in Reza Ghoochannejhad, who was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Baker.

The natives were baying for blood moments later when Baker impeded Ghoochannejhad as the Charlton substitute chased down another Bergdich pass, but the defender escaped with a booking before the resulting free kick struck the visiting wall.

City striker Jonathan Kodjia had not been blessed with a great deal of service but did chase down one ball over the top to good effect, holding up the play before finding Freeman, who went for goal but saw his shot sail closer to the corner flag from a tight angle with Wilbraham hoping for a cross instead.

It was a game Charlton dare not lose and as time wore on the Addicks piled men forward.

From one breakaway Freeman tried his luck in audacious fashion, attempting to chip Henderson from 30 yards with a superb effort the keeper did well to tip over, before the midfielder cut inside and unleashed a well-struck shot on his right foot that again needed Henderson to keep at bay.

Enter four added minutes and a nail-biting finale for over 2,000 travelling fans, but City stood firm to leapfrog both Rotherham United and MK Dons as the survival push gathers pace.

Over to you, Mr Johnson.

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