Charlton (A) Report

Sunderland hung on to salvage a draw 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.

Sunderland started the game on fire with O’Nien’s volley but couldn’t manage to find a second in the first half to double the lead. Charlton got a deserved equalizer through an unfortunate James own goal. Both sides had chances to win it through Watmore and Lyle Taylor, however, the two teams had to settle for a point.

Sunderland faced a stern test in Charlton who are very much rivals for promotion, the two teams met back in August on opening day where Sunderland came from behind thanks to a 96th minute winner from Lynden Gooch. It was one of the highlights of the season, but no doubt Charlton will be looking to seek their revenge and push closer towards to the promotion places.

Josh Maja has been the centre of attention with his contract drama, however, he started for the Black Cats. The only change was the suspended Lee Cattermole who dropped out for Dylan McGeouch.

Charlton sat in fifth going into the game and would only be one point behind the lads if they came out victorious. Lee Bowyers men will have no doubt been looking to make a statement in one of the biggest games in League One this season.

With just under two minutes Sunderland produced the dream start, after some good work from down the left from Gooch he played it back to Reece James who crossed it into Luke O’Nien and dispatched an incredible volley into the far corner to give the lads the lead.

O’Nien has been a breath of fresh air this season and epitomises everything good about the new regime at the club. He has been playing out of position a role he’s not used to, and he always puts in 100%. Also, it’s always a bonus when he can score Van Basten style volleys too.

Charlton were having a lot more of the ball than Sunderland, but without testing Jon McLaughlin, the lads seemed more than content to soak up the pressure and try and hit them on the break.

With over half an hour played Charlton had failed to register even attempt on goal, Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan were having very solid games and were restricting Lyle Taylor to next to nothing.

Charlie Wyke was still looking to get his first goal since his return from injury and was presented with a great chance on the edge of the area from a lovely backheel from Gooch, he attempted to curl it into the far corner but got it all wrong as it flew wide of the post.

Sunderland could have easily been going into the break 2-0 up after Gooch had Chris Solly on toast as he fired it off the bar, it looked as if it was a fine save by Dillon Phillips who got a fingertip on it. The ball bounced back to Wyke who headed it over from six yards, it came very quickly at the striker who just couldn’t react in time.

Wyke had a glorious chance as he was sent through by a Charlton misplaced pass, however, he took far too long to shoot, and it was eventually blocked by Naby Sarr.

The final few minutes of the first half was being played at a much higher pace, the hosts were growing into the game and the first half whistle was good news for Sunderland who were on the back foot for the last five minutes of the half.

Charlton got a goal back in incredibly lucky circumstances, Taylor’s cross cannoned of James who tried to clear, and it left McLaughlin with no chance as he could only watch it hit the back of the net.

Missing those key chances in the first half came back to haunt the team, it could have easily been two or three nil at the break, but it was now the hosts who were looking the more likely to get a second.

The Addicks should have taken the lead, Darren Pratley had a free header eight yards out, but he couldn’t find the target. Jack Ross’ men were crumbling, and it looked as if a second was inevitable for Charlton.

Lyle Taylor had a glorious chance to give the hosts the lead as he latched on to an over the top ball from Sarr, he was through one on one, however, his shot was well saved by McLaughlin who stayed tall to block the shot.

Charlton were having the much better chances and Karlan Grant missed a sitter at the back post, it was a great ball in from the right which took a deflection and fell to Grant who hit it over the bar with the goal gaping.

The game had changed from Sunderland looking to win the game to now holding on for a point, it was a real game of two halves.

Duncan Watmore had come on in the second half to liven things up and did brilliantly on the left as he got to the by-line, but his shot was well saved by Phillips who blocked it with his feet.

Watmore had a glorious chance to win it right at the death as Max Power crossed it in low and it fell straight to the forward who shot way over the bar. He was just leaning back a touch as he blazed it over from 12 yards out.

Final Score: Charlton Athletic 1-1 Sunderland AFC

ALS Man of the Match: Jon McLaughlin

Alex Miller