Days removed from a hugely impressive display in the Carling Cup against local rivals Nottingham Forest, County were always going to find it tough going against a Charlton side many predict big things for this season.
A fairly even encounter at Meadow Lane saw the visitors up 2-0 at half time largely through two Jeff Hughes errors, but a second half fightback wasn’t enough for Martin Allen’s team as the game ended 2-1.
Saturday’s game was largely one of the most uninspiring contests you can imagine. Charlton persistently looked the better team on the ball, whilst Notts rarely looked like the side that had pushed the Championship side from across the river to the limits last week.
You won’t find any excuses here citing the derby’s events taking their toll on Notts – but draw your own conclusions that Nottingham Forest similarly apparently looked laboured in defeat at Millwall on Saturday.
A dour first half in which Charlton only created two chances of note never really sparked into life. The ball would be lofted into the Meadow Lane stands on regular occasions – which in a world where the multiball system has been axed doesn’t do you any favours. Similarly when you’re waiting for Mike Edwards to bomb across the field to take his long throw-ins.
With game locked a 0-0, Karl Hawley had Notts’ best chance as he bicycle kicked an effort a yard or two wide in the melee from one of those Edwards throws. This was as good as it got for us in the first half.
Scott Wagstaff was the one to give the Addicks their lead when Alan Sheehan and Hughes (the Jeff one) conspired to give the ball away on the halfway. Dale Stephens picked up a loose ball and threaded in Wagstaff who rounded Stuart Nelson for a neat finish from an angle – a decent goal ill-fitting of it’s occasion.
And it was 2-0 right on half time as Paul Hayes slid in at the back post unmarked. Hughes the guilty party once more having weakly given up possession in his own half.
It was no big surprise to see him substituted at halftime alongside Hamza Bencherif – both had been guilty of largely ineffective displays. Their replacements Hughes (the one they call Lee) and Christian Montano changed things around for the better though.
When Montano scored (on his home debut) the tide most certainly turned in Notts’ favour but ultimately, the display wasn’t too dissimilar to the sort which plagued our campaign last season. There was much huffing and puffing, even some really nice football in the middle of the park – but Charlton’s Ben Hamer in goal in truth was rarely tested.
Hughes had the ball in the back of the net for an equaliser but the goal was disallowed for a handball, this was as close as Martin Allen’s side came to the equaliser.
Certainly not the result many would’ve expected – but Charlton are a side tipped by many for promotion this season. Afternoons like this will come, it’s the response which counts for most now. Tranmere are next up, at Meadow Lane tomorrow evening – a side who have two wins from two already, with no goals conceded.
Personally speaking, following our episodes with them last season, there can’t be many better sides in League One to get back to winning ways against!