Charlton 0 – 0 Middlesbrough. You’ll have forgotten it ever happened by Sunday morning.
Bob Peeters’ Charlton side failed to score for the first time in the Championship as Charlton toiled in a stop-start game.
For a club that so desperately struggled to score last season, scoring in eight consecutive games is an achievement in itself – especially when that run has coincided with an unbeaten streak.
Yet even with so much to still feel positive about, today’s game had an anti-climatic feel about it, the Valley ever so slightly deflated upon the final whistle.
Frederic Bulot was given his first start in an advanced position between Igor Vetokele and the midfield. Yet Peeters’ 4-4-1-1 line-up seemed to curb our attacking potency, with Vetokele gobbled up by Boro’s centre-halves.
Bulot has now come within centimetres of scoring a winner in two consecutive appearances, after hitting the post with an acrobatic effort today. Had those efforts gone in, we’d be praising a new hero. Yet his role as an attacking midfielder/winger in this squad is one that will be judged on fine margins and, so far, it’s hard to see what he offers that either Franck Moussa or George Tucudean couldn’t do better.
In fact, it was Tucudean’s introduction that ignited a late shift in momentum in our favour. The Romanian was at the heart of a late flurry of chances – animated gestures (the good kind!) to the crowd, knock-downs in the box, a header cleared off the line. Tucudean, who hasn’t totally convinced so far either, played like a man absolutely determined to win his place back.
It’s only fair to begrudgingly point out that Middlesbrough were yet another strong side to have failed to the conquer the Valley this season. It’s hard to remember the standard of Championship football on show ever being stronger than this season – from both our own team and the various opposition.
Boro had scored 13 goals in eight prior to today’s fixture. Max Clayton conducted brilliantly from deep, Lee Tomlin probed and Patrick Bamford was sharp. But we matched them in all of those areas. A draw was a fair result.
So today’s result is clearly no disaster. Yet Bob Peeters’ supersonic start to life as Charlton manager seems to have lost some of its steam in recent outings.
We’re still trucking along, still in good nick. But coming away from the Valley today, you couldn’t help but feel there was just one missing ingredient needed to get us back up to top speed.