Sunderland hung on to salvage a draw at The Valley after Luke O’Nien’s stunner was cancelled out by a Reece James own goal in a tightly contested game at the top of League One. Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: “It’s difficult to say with certainty how I feel about it. It’s a little bit bittersweet because we started the game well and throughout the first half we created really good opportunities but we didn’t take them, which gave Charlton the chance to come back in the second half. However we are at a really tough venue - their home record has been very good over the course of the season and particularly recently. They have taken points off people and not only is this a tough venue, they are a good side. The perception of us in this league, and sometimes the expectations on us, means there is disappointment whenever we don’t win a game. But the reality is that this is a tough league with some good teams in it and some tough venues, so I’m sure that when we dust ourselves down we will look upon this as another point towards a total that will bring us success this season. I think Lee [Bowyer, Charlton manager] has a good side here and it’s a side that has shown that, as we pass the halfway point of the season, it will be competitive in that top part of the table. For us, our ambition is still to be top of the league and finish top of the league, and we have given ourselves a platform to do that. I think we’ll look back on this as a good point, a point that we had to work very hard for, and we had to play well for - which I thought we did for periods of the game. We only had 18 players fit and available and then Bryan got injured in the last part of training yesterday and wasn’t able to travel. We had an U23 game against Newcastle United at the training ground yesterday and I wasn’t going to pull anyone out of the team at that stage and make them travel. You can only make a maximum of three subs and I only made two in the end, so having six was not too tough.”
Ross also spoke about the Josh Maja situation. "I have been consistent in my communication publicly about my relationship with Josh, how I would view him from a football perspective regardless of whether he signed a new contract or not. Today just showed that I will continue to be consistent, I selected him, he played well and he contributed to us getting a point. I will continue to do that until the situation changes. You have to temper it with the fact that at the moment he has chosen not to sign a new contract, he hasn’t asked to leave the club. They are two very different things. People should take that on board, it can get forgotten about. He has not, for one moment, came and said to me he doesn’t want to be here. What he has done is not chosen to take the option of extending his contract as things stand. They are two very different things. I was pleased with the reception, his performance deserved that as do his performances to date this season. Football is a very emotive industry, I get that, it is what makes it so interesting for people and to be keen to be in it. But sometimes you have to understand it is people’s lives, careers, their choices. In terms of what happens next? I would just continue as is. The situation, there is no duress upon us at the moment, to get rid of him or anything like, from the owner or my perspective as a manager. I would hope that would continue to be the case as he is an asset to me on the pitch. Being incredibly selfish, I would like him to be here until the end of the season so I can utilise him as a player and as a goalscorer. I might not get that option, we have a number of days left in January, we will have to see what transpires in the rest of the month. The fans showed an understanding, his performance today and his contribution over the course of the season. I get how passionate they are about the club and also understand why you could take it as a lack of commitment to the club, but as I mentioned it is important to stress he has not asked to leave the club. I spoke to him last night to check he was okay, I thought he would be, he was fine. If he continues to perform and be committed, he will keep getting that reception and rightly so. Anytime you don’t is when fans feel you haven’t played well or been wholly committed. I don’t see any reason why that would be the case with Josh.”
Charlton Player Ratings
By Jake Kirkbride
Had a relatively comfortable afternoon with rarely any efforts to deal with in the first half. In the second he did his job to great effect, saving well from Lyle Taylor as well as dominating his area.
Did great work when he didn’t have the ball for the second week in a row. His goal, which has to be one of the goals of the season put the icing on the cake to his class performance.
Linked up very well with McGeady in the first half, with the pair supplying some great crosses from the left. Second half really struggled to get further up the field.
Was very solid throughout the game and also kept his composure well when moving the ball out from the back. Always marked his man superbly on set pieces.
Lyle Taylor caused him all sorts of problems in the second period and he looked all over the place at times. Also, could have done so much better in stopping the cross that lead to Charlton’s equalising goal.
His work off the ball was poor and could never really get his passing game going with the midfield. Despite putting some poor crosses in he was very unlucky not get a goal himself as his wonderfully struck shot crashed off the bar in the first half after some good trickery to work his way into the box.
Started the game well and did a good job to find space to make good passes. However, in the second period his confidence looked like it dropped completely as Charlton’s high pressing really pushed him out the game at times.
McGeough 9/10 MOTM
One his best performances in a long time as his movement on the ball was second to none along with his pace to close down Charlton’s creative players. Was also good in the area battle as well which is fantastic to see as he’s not the biggest of lads.
If this was his final ever performance for SAFC then he can certainly hold his head up high as his ability to hold the ball up and beating his marker was different class.
Used his physical presence well and his flick ons were impressive. On the other hand, when we were on the counter attack in the second half he never really got up the pitch quick enough to get into decent areas in the box so he could take advantage of the crosses coming in. Still struggling for match fitness.
His tricky feet were the perfect weapon at times to exploit Charlton’s back four but in the final third his finishing was sloppy, with his efforts way off target. His service into the box was not the best either compared what they were in the Blackpool game.
His pace caused problems for Charlton’s full backs when he came on but his finishing is something he needs to work on.
Found himself good room at times to put a decent ball in towards Charlie Wyke but his link up play with Reece James just wasn’t up to scratch.