Second defeat in a row for Boro
Leaders Charlton score two second half goals to overcome Stevenage at the Valley
Charlton Athletic 2
TWO second half goals sealed Boro’s second defeat inside a week as they went down to league-leaders Charlton.
The defeat was compounded by Carlisle United’s 3-2 win over Yeovil, meaning Boro fell out of the play-off places.
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Boro more than matched their opponents in the opening half, but sloppy defending just after half time allowed Michael Morrison to put the Addicks in front, before the win was effectively sealed just past the hour-mark through Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Boro made one change from the team that lost 1-0 at Notts County on Wednesday night, with Stacy Long replacing Darius Charles. The former Charlton man lined up on the right wing while Lawrie Wilson started in an unfamiliar role behind Chris Beardsley up front.
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The visitors made a positive start shooting towards their fans in the Jimmy Seed Stand, and their first sight of goal came after eight minutes when Joel Byrom played a neat ball over the top of the Charlton back-line to the on-rushing Wilson. However the Boro man was unable to lift the bouncing ball over goalkeeper Ben Hamer who punched the ball out for a throw-in.
Charlton quickly began to impose themselves on the match, and it looked as though they would take the lead during a goal-mouth scramble on 15 minutes, but Boro somehow scrambled the ball away out of danger.
Luke Freeman was next to have a decent sight of goal following good link-up play between Beardsley and Wilson down the right channel. Wilson cut past his man before feeding Freeman just inside the box, but his left-footed effort was deflected just wide for a corner which came to nothing.
Boro had the first of what would later become two decent shouts for a penalty on 22 minutes when skipper Mark Roberts appeared to be pushed in the back following Byrom’s free-kick. However the appeals of the Boro players and visiting supporters behind the goal fell on deaf ears.
The first half continued to be an even affair, but Charlton should have gone ahead on the half-hour mark when they carved out an excellent sight at goal. Danny Green’s pinpoint cross from the right wing picked out Bradley Wright-Phillips between Roberts and Jon Ashton, but he was unable to direct his header on target from six yards and the ball flew over Chris Day’s crossbar.
However their best chance of the opening 45 minutes came 10 minutes before the interval. And it was Wright-Phillips again who was the guilty party when he was put clean through by strike-partner Yann Kermorgant, but the Addicks’ top scorer saw his lobbed effort fly just over the crossbar when he really should have done better – such was the space behind Day who had rushed off his line.
The last action of the first half took place in the Charlton penalty area when Boro were denied again what looked to be a nailed-on penalty. Long had created space for himself well on the right before sending in a teasing cross. And it looked for all the world the onrushing Charles, who had replaced the injured Beardsley on 22 minutes, but the substitute was pushed to the ground by defender Michael Morrison. Again, though, the strong appeals were waved away – much to the frustration of the visiting bench who were up in arms.
Boro made the worst possible start to the second half as they found themselves behind within three minutes of the restart. A throw-in wasn’t cleared properly and the ball dropped to Morrison on the edge of the area. The Boro players just didn’t react quickly enough to the danger and before they knew it Morrison had fired home a stinging shot from the edge of the box into the top corner. Day should maybe have done better as he got fingertips to the ball, but he wasn’t helped by his team-mates who looked half asleep.
The match settled down for the next 15 minutes, but Stevenage struggled to mount any serious attacks as the home side now looked far more assured having taken the lead. And disaster struck on 64 minutes when Charlton doubled their lead. It was again the result of some poor defending, this time from Ashton, who was beaten far too easily by Wright-Phillips, and the former Plymouth man raced into the box before firing low past Day, with the ball going in off Ronnie Henry on the line.
Smith wasted no time in introducing Jennison Myrie-Williams for Long, while Chuks Aneke was also brought on in place of the struggling Ashton, with Bostwick dropping back into defence.
And they weren’t content to just roll over, as Boro pushed numbers forward at every opportunity. However they did look very susceptible to the counter-attack, and Wright-Phillips should have made it 3-0 on 79 minutes following a flick on by Kermorgant. Wrigh-Phillips found himself one-on-one with Day but the Boro stopper blocked his effort superbly with his legs.
Boro should have pulled a goal back a minute later when Byrom’s out-swinging free-kick from the left found Roberts at the back stick, but the skipper somehow put his header a yard wide of the post from four yards with the goal at his mercy.
Charlton continued to create chances – seemingly at will – up at the other end, and Day was again on top form to deny substitute Danny Haynes’ low effort with five minutes remaining.
It really could have been nearing double figures had it not been for Man of the Match contender Day, who once again stood firm when all in front of him was cut to pieces, again denying Wright-Phillips who, again, found himself one-on-one with the Stevenage stopper.
In the end Boro were well beaten, but they more than matched their table-topping counterparts for the first half of this match. Two sloppy goals ultimately cost Smith’s side but in truth it could have been a lot worse. The Boro fans remained in superb voice throughout, and they were an absolute credit to their football club.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Hamer; Solly, Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison; Green, Hollands, Stephens, Jackson (Haynes 81); Wright-Phillips (Pritchard 90), Kermogrant.
Subs not used: Sullivan, Cort, Clarke.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day; Henry, Ashton (Aneke 75), Roberts (c), Laird; Long (Myrie-Williams 68), Byrom, Bostwick, Freeman; Wilson; Beardsley (Charles 22).
Subs not used: Julian, Cowan.