Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Wycombe 0-1 Charlton: Chairboys’ relegation worries heightened by Addicks defeat

Posted on 9 April 2019 by Peter White

Jason Pearce’s first-half goal was enough to stretch promotion-chasing Charlton Athletic’s unbeaten run to 10 games, while the host’s ninth defeat in 10 leaves them with a fight to stay in League One.

Pearce prodded home to put the visitors in front after 35 minutes, following a poor clearance from a Charlton corner.

Adebayo Akinfenwa posed the home side’s biggest threat, but Wycombe couldn’t convert any of the several chances he and his teammates had in front of goal.

The Chairboys remain just a point off the relegation places with five games to play, while the Addicks are just four points off the automatic promotion places as they chase a spot in next year’s Championship.

The game began at a fierce tempo and the hosts registered the night’s first shot on target within the first 60 seconds. A flick-on from top-scorer Akinfenwa released Scott Kashket, but his shot was comfortably collected by Addicks stopper Dillon Phillips.

Barely a minute later, Ryan Allsop in the Wycombe goal got his first save under his belt. Following a Chairboys corner, Charlton broke and Lyle Taylor sent Igor Vetokele through on goal, but the Angola international could only fire straight at the home keeper.

The game soon settled down and the away side, backed by vociferous support, began to control possession without causing any real trouble for the Blues defence.

When Wycombe did have the ball, they were keen to utilise the wings and get the ball into the danger zone, but Akinfenwa’s physical presence was so-far failing to trouble Charlton’s commanding centre-half pairing of Pearce and Patrick Bauer.

The hosts gradually got their foot on the ball and the game was firmly in the balance at the midway point in the half. Akinfenwa had two half-chances in quick succession, but was penalised for a push first-of-all, before his second effort sailed over the bar.

Charlton were dangerous on the break, however, and Vetokele and Joe Aribo were demonstrating a good level of understanding that was only limited by strong defending by Adam El-Abd and Michael Harriman.

But the threat posed by the visitors could only be contained for so long, and Charlton skipper Pearce broke the deadlock 10 minutes before half-time. A poor clearance following an Addicks corner allowed the ball to be whipped back in by Josh Cullen, and the former-Leeds man was ideally placed to tap in from close range.

Neither team showed any sign of slowing down as the game headed towards the break. Vetokele caused more trouble at the Wycombe end and Akinfenwa headed over for the home side, before referee Anthony Coggins blew the whistle to bring the first period to a close.

The visitors started the second half on top and Pearce sent a weak header straight into the arms of Allsop as he looked to grab his second of the night and make Charlton’s lead all the more comfortable.

The hosts should have been on equal terms soon after, however, with Kashket going painfully close to making it all-square. A neat flick-on from Akinfenwa and good work from Alex Samuel set up Kashket with the chance from close range, but his effort was heroically blocked and cleared away to safety.

The game had started to hot up and Cullen went into the book in the 55th minute after a series of crunching tackles between the sides.

The Chairboys had a penalty shout waved away after an Akinfenwa shot was blocked, but referee Coggins – who had suddenly become very busy – adjudged that the effort hadn’t come off the hand of a Charlton player.

Wycombe remained firmly in the match and were desperately pushing for an equaliser after a period of sustained pressure. Samuel had a good chance deflected away in the 68th minute, before another effort was blocked moments later after good inter-play between Jason McCarthy and substitute Paris Cowan-Hall.

Phillips had to be alert to keep his side in front in the 78th minute, when Akinfenwa got the better of the Charlton defence but headed straight at the keeper following a cross from the right-hand-side.

Akinfenwa again had a good chance to level terms two minutes later, but his weak shot didn’t trouble the Addicks stopper after he had initially spilled Nick Freeman’s effort.

The home side were now applying all the pressure with just minutes remaining. Curtis Thompson was denied twice in quick succession four minutes from time after a McCarthy free-kick, his second effort well saved from just a couple of yards out.

Charlton provided a stark reminder of the threat they posed, however, as Bauer’s saved header was luckily rebounded out for a corner as the visitors looked to nick a second goal.

Despite being under the cosh throughout the closing stages, Charlton held firm to see out an invaluable victory which maintains their quest for promotion.

Featured photograph/Peter White