Charlton Athletic 1-1 Bury: Review

  • Let’s take a moment to appreciate Jermaine Beckford’s fifth of the season. Of the strikers currently on the roster at Bury, he is the most capable of doing something out of nothing in open play with the end result being a goal. Chris Maguire could win that ‘argument’ from free kicks (although not yet in a white shirt) but in most contexts, it’s the former Preston North End hitman. The pass from Josh Laurent on the counter was excellent; even so, Beckford still had a lot to do to score but he did brilliantly to bend his shot into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of Charlton Athletic custodian Ben Amos. What’s perhaps been missing before now from the 33 year-old is the ability to demonstrate that he has no shortage of skill with the ball at his feet and on the dribble. He’s often had to perform more of a target man role but with Michael Smith now present to do that, there is much less onus on him in that respect. His teammates further back need to ensure almost regardless of instructions from the sidelines stand that he has those opportunities.

 

  • The early hamstring injury to Nathan Cameron prompted a change of shape which changed the course of the match. There is clearly a perception amongst the management team that a centre back pairing without the fan favourite just doesn’t currently possess the correct combination of skills and strengths for a flat four to work, rightly or wrongly. Alex Whitmore is an able albeit relatively inexperienced replacement; neither he nor Tom Aldred have the dynamism or pace of Cameron and with the addition of Phil Edwards as the right-sided of the trio, it had the effect of pushing their line deeper and giving the hosts more time and space in possession. With Eoghan O’Connell still recovering from his own spell on the sidelines, it will be intriguing to see if Lee Clark persists with that shape.

 

  • Josh Magennis is in a decent run of form similar to Beckford. His equalising header was expertly taken and he had other good chances to add to his tally but found his match in goalkeeper Joe Murphy. On Saturday’s evidence, he appeared to be well-supported by the attacking triumvirate around him. He has a tendency to position himself in the right areas but also be a link man in more than a single phase of play. There is the potential to ‘rotate’ with Billy Clarke to offer some greater unpredictability if Karl Robinson chooses to utilise it, a tactic that is likely to be at its best when the Addicks are pressed by the opposition as a collective.

 

  • Speaking of individuals at the peak of their powers, Jake Forster-Caskey is at last showing more than mere glimpses his considerable ability. He arrived at the Valley with a high reputation in January but it is only in the current campaign that he has produced. His whipped cross for Magennis’ header was his just reward for a showing full of industry and endeavour. Granted, he did at times have significant areas to work in but it doesn’t always follow that a player excels in that context. He grew into things as the contest wore on and even had a chance of his own to snatch all three points for the hosts…

 

  • It’s easy to look at the overall number of goals conceded by the Shakers on paper and lay some of the blame on the goalkeeper. I can honestly say that Joe Murphy has not been at fault for a single one; he was well-beaten by Magennis but was more than equal to the other clear-cut chances Charlton were able to create. His outstanding save at the death deserves a second (and third) viewing. He gives confidence to the ever-changing defence in front of him and perhaps needlessly, I can’t help but wonder who will succeed him once he’s no longer at the club as he is fast becoming one of the best I’ve seen between the sticks for Bury.

 

  • I can’t see Clark being sacked on the back of the draw even though it wasn’t what he had ‘promised’ fans. However, the concerns I have despite the two draws in the league are growing. Robinson was always going to want to grab the lion’s share of possession and dictate the tempo and his opposite number was only too happy to oblige both in team selection and subsequent tweaks after Cameron’s early substitution. The squad available to him is the best at the club for 20 years and yet it has still not been shaped into a unit that looks like it can control a game and keep a lead. Additionally, I don’t buy his spiel about Nicky Ajose’s continued absence; he cited that a maximum of five loan players can be named in a matchday and whilst true, there have been occasions when the full complement haven’t been used. I’d rather he just be honest about the real reason(s) for his exclusion.
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