Charlton Athletic 0-1 Reading
AN EARLY PENALTY from George Puscas proved decisive as Reading wrestled the points away from the Valley, leaving Charlton running out of chances, and seemingly ideas on how to pull themselves away from the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.
Spirited performances but ultimately back-to-back defeats had plunged the Addicks withing a point of the bottom three ahead of kick-off. Boss, Lee Bowyer, who it has to be said must be received as far more than a ‘firefighter’ in the Addicks hot seat, remained positive, but honests, in his approach against a Royals outfit that themselves have fluctuated between Yin and Yang throughout the campaign.
“Reading are another good side but it’s a game where I think if we turn up and do things right, we’ve got as good a chance as they do,” Bowyer explained.
“The most important thing is that we keep fighting, pushing and sticking together until the end.”
But there was to be an early setback for the home side. Adedeji Oshilaja was clumsy on Andy Rinomhota – Puscas comfortably converting the resulting spot-kick with barely four minutes on the clock.
Darren Pratley nodded over as Charlton attempted a swift redemption, while Yakou Meite’s inviting centre just eluded goalscorer Puscas – then Meite headed into Dillon Phillips’ gloves and sent another attempt wide as Reading, neat and effectively, continued to offer the crisper football.
Chuks Aneke’s close-range strike was ruled out, while Macauley Bonne cut a frustrated figure after guiding Aiden McGeady’s pinpoint cross the wrong side of an upright. But Charlton’s toil – as honest as it is – lacks conviction.
The introduction of Alfie Doughty offered a little more dimension to the Addicks threat – the 20-year-old causing plenty of menace from the left flank. But with genuine opportunities coming at a premium, Charlton’s fate already appeared sealed.
Jake Forster-Caskey appeared harshly done by – the frontman cautioned for diving by referee Darren Bond after he appeared to be hauled to the ground by Jordan Obita. Meanwhile, Cullen lifted another chance over in stoppage-time as another opportunity to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone evaporated.
Charlton Athletic now face a tricky trip to St Andrew’s on Wednesday, July 15 where they’ll take on Birmingham City (6pm).
Charlton Athletic: Dillon Phillips, Adam Matthews, Deji Oshilaja (Alfie Doughty 46’), Tom Lockyer, Jason Pearce (Capt), Chuks Aneke, Aiden McGeady (Timer Hemed 80’), Darren Pratley (Jake Forster-Caskey 84’), Macaulay Bonne, Albie Morgan (Jonny Williams 46’), Josh Cullen Subs not used: Ben Amos (GK), Ben Purrington, Naby Sarr, Sam Field, Erhun Oztumer
Booked: Alfie Doughty (foul), Josh Cullen (foul), Jake Forster-Caskey (diving), Dillon Phillips (dissent)
Reading: Rafael Cabral, Michael Morrison, Andy Rinomhota, John Swift (Capt) (Liam Moore 75’), Tom McIntyre, Yakou Meite, Michael Olise (Omar Richards 61’), Tyler Blackett, Judilson Gomes Pele (Jordan Obita 46’), Gabriel Osho (Chris Gunter 75’), George Puscas (Sam Baldock 56’) Subs not used: Sam Walker (GK), Matt Miazga, Grath McCleary, Lucas Boye
Booked: Tyler Blackett (foul), Gabriel Osho (foul), Sam Baldock (foul)
Goals: George Puscas 4’ (penalty)
Referee: Darren Bond
Assistants: Michael George and Sam Lewis
Fourth Official: Christopher Pollard