Battling Charlton inch closer to safety

CHARLTON picked up another point in their battle for Premiership survival following a goalless draw against Reading at The Valley – but will know it should have been more.

After hitting the crossbar early on through defender Talal El Karkouri, the Addicks, much-improved under new boss Alan Pardew, struggled to create many further clear-cut chances.

However, given the amount of possession they had, this was perhaps an opportunity lost for the south-east London side to put daylight between themselves and the bottom three.

With fellow strugglers Sheffield United still to come to The Valley later this month, destiny would appear in their own hands – but much hard work remains ahead for Pardew’s battling troops over the next five games.

Afterwards Alan Pardew paid tribute to Reading for making it difficult for his side.

“Reading came here off the back of a difficult run and they didn’t let us play,” Pardew said on Sky Sports.

“A couple of injuries in the first half didn’t help and it was a shame because we wanted to play a bit more, but the back four never got a rest.

“It was a tough old game and although the quality could have been up, a point might be important.

“There are five games to go and a lot to play for. I’m not disappointed, things could have gone better but the commitment and spirit was still there.

“I’ve never looked over my shoulder my whole life and I’m not going to start now, but the run-in is going to be intense.”

Reading, meanwhile remain firmly in contention for a place in Europe.

Afterwards Royals manager Coppell said: “It was a good point.

“It was a massive game for them and for us to match the desire and heart, it was almost bordering on the stupid in the second half, we were trying to play quicker than them.

“They’ve looked a strong outfit recently and were unlucky with a couple of injuries in the first half.

“It was like a cup game and in view of our recent run I couldn’t fault what we were doing.”

Reading midfielder Steve Sidwell added: “It was tough game, you expect that at a club fighting relegation. I thought a draw was a fair result.

“It was a good battle. We’ve been on a bad run of form and picked up a well-deserved point today.

“We’re not thinking about Europe, taking it a game at a time and see where it takes us. If we don’t get there it’s still a great achievement to stay in the Premier League.”

Charlton slowly took control of midfield and came within inches of taking the lead in the fifth minute.

A free-kick from the right touchline was sent over by Darren Ambrose and centre-half El Karkouri crashed a free header against the underside of the crossbar from six yards.

Reading regrouped following that let-off and again looked dangerous going forwards.

However, Charlton pair Alexandre Song, on loan from Arsenal, and Zheng Zhi were breaking play up well in the centre.

Then Charlton broke quickly after defending the resulting free-kick and Darren Bent skipped clear down the right, but his low centre into the area was gathered by Marcus Hahnemann.

In the second half the visitors continued their stubborn resistance.

With the match still finely balanced heading into the last 30 minutes, you could begin to sense the tension growing inside The Valley.

Sidwell flashed a low shot just wide of Carson’s left-hand post following good work by Stephen Hunt on the edge of the area.

Suddenly, the Charlton faithful found their voice – and the team responded.

Zheng burst into the left side of the area, but Hahnemann was out quickly to smother the danger at his near post.

El Karkouri headed clear from under his own crossbar following agoalmouth scramble — beforeThomas dashed clear down the other end to cause panic in the Reading box.

Hunt could have snatched victory for Reading late on, but his diving header went across goal and wide.

CHARLTON: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson (Thatcher 24), Ambrose, Zheng, Song Billong (Lisbie 69), Thomas, Darren Bent, Marcus Bent (Holland 30).

READING: Hahnemann, De la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt, Long, Lita.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

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