ACTION MAN: Charlton's Ricardo Fuller on the attack against Huddersfield
CHARLTON’S SATURDAY night will be dampened after a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town. Charlton, managed by Chris Powell, looked set for all three points prior to an 88th Town penalty which levelled the scores at the rain-soaked The Valley.
A Rob Hulse goal looked to secure a deserved home win but the visitors had other ideas with Adam Clayton striking home his penalty in the dying minutes.
The home side started this match in 14th and faced a stern test of their growing credentials against a Simon Grayson managed Huddersfield who sat in 8th.
Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan at Charlton until the new year, went straight into a side that have been progressing nicely up the Championship table after a sluggish start to the campaign.
Since a 4-1 home defeat against Middlesbrough at the start of the November, Charlton have beaten Cardiff City, Britsol City and Burnley to move up to mid-table security.
Early Christmas shopping plus the miserable conditions, persistent rain and cold, did not deter Charlton’s fans with some 20,012 hardy souls at the famous Valley.
The away side started the more fluently and threatened to score early on. They really should have done so with the game just minutes old. Peter Clarke spooned the ball over the bar after a corner, when it appeared easier to score. The chance was such a good one that you could hear the sighs of relief coming from the home fans.
Town striker Lee Novak then had a couple of decent chances during the opening quarter. Firstly he fired wide with a long rangeeffort and then he was denied by the Charlton defence after a crazy scramble in the home penalty area.
Charlton looked nervous and this was reflected by their penchant for square balls rather than the direct football they are known for. The experienced Athletic striker Ricardo Fuller, the former Jamaica international, did provide some cheer after a great run but he fired tamely wide.
But the highlight of the opening period came when Town’s Keith Southern was sent off by referee Collins in the 35th minute after a tackle on Michael Morrison. The decision, by Powelll’s admission, was harsh. But all credit to Huddersfield who always kept going despite the numerical disadvantage.
A tame first half was to end with the score 0-0 and not too much to keep supporters warm on an increasingly chilly day. The incessant rain got heavier as the second half started but Charlton were keen to get their fans singing in the rain.
Fuller had another shot after a lightning quick raid which was led by the increasingly influential Frimpong, who seemed intent to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Sadly, Fuller’s shooting boots were clearly not with him and another chance went begging.
However, veteran striker and journeyman Rob Hulse was to lift the mood with a well taken goal after a Chris Solly cross in the 60th minute.
Frimpong, after coming to talk to his new boss on the sidelines, came off after 65 minutes with a combination of fatigue and a leg injury. Danny Green was to take his place.
With just ten minutes remaining, Fuller placed a right foot shot wide after good work by the effervescent Bradley Pritchard. Charlton were to pay for yet another wasted opportunity which if taken would have sealed a win.
With Town in the ascendency and attacking with growing menace, a cross was swung into the Charlton box. Keeper Ben Hamer flapped and spilled his clearance with the result that Solly brought down Clarke. Penalty. Clayton did the rest from 12 yards to send the Yorkshire club’s fans delirious.
But Charlton still had two clear chances to score a winner with Hulse central to the action. In the 90th minute he wasted a good a chance with a wayward header and moments later Town stopper Alex Smithies saved from the big striker from point blank range.