Rotherham v Charlton: can the Addicks turn a corner?


Igor Vetokele –

At the moment, it seems hard work for Charlton to get a corner, let alone turn one. They have been in awful form for some time, and the position they were in for the reverse fixture against Rotherham back in September seems a long time ago.

The Football Lab saw Charlton be held to a 1-1 draw that day, but the performance the South Londoners put in did not suggest such a rapid decline. They attacked the Millers with pace and urgency at the Valley but were denied three points due to inconsistent shooting and a man-of-the-match performance from visiting goalkeeper Lee Camp.

That match was Camp’s first of 23 league games for Rotherham, over the course of which he has become a fans favourite. The former Derby stopper has saved the South Yorkshire side a lot of points this season with his quick reflexes and is never shy to show his passion on the field. At 31, the Northern Irishman is at his prime and it seems surprising that more Championship clubs did not want to snap him up on a free transfer.

Rotherham United are the Championship’s highest scorers from corners with seven, defenders Danny Collins, Tom Thorpe and Farrend Rawson scoring two goals each this term. In search of more creativity in open play, Neil Redfearn has brought in Andrew Shinnie on loan from Birmingham and Chris Burke from Nottingham Forest. Shinnie has ability on the ball and his deft passing quality may compliment the speed of Jonson Clarke-Harris. Burke has lost a yard of pace since his impressive 11/12 season with Birmingham, but he still contributes defensively and can produce a piece of magic out of nothing. Both players will improve the quality of the side without disrupting the levels of work rate out of possession.

Charlton have been picking up little over half a point per game since the fifth game of the season and are without a win since 21st November. The good, and in many ways amazing, thing for them is that they are still in a relegation battle. The Addicks are only four points off safety and with back-to-back wins against the two teams immediately above them in the table, the other being Bristol City, they could conceivably be outside the relegation zone in early February.

To do so, however, they would need to produce a drastic upturn in performances. Their best hope of that is to accomodate a strike partnership of Igor Vetokele and Tony Watt, because those two players provide their biggest goal threat. Vetokele looked bright in last week’s 1-1 draw against Blackburn and could be getting back to his best after injury, while Watt provided moments of quality, even if his ego got the better of him at times.

Charlton are looking to bring in Reece Oxford on loan from West Ham. That would be a good addition, because Oxford proved on the opening day at Arsenal that he can be a beast and is very difficult to play against. The youngster captained the U21s team and has leadership skills that bely his 17 years. If the Addicks are to have any chance of staying up, now is the time for them to show some fight and desire.