Iain Liddle reports
Chris Powell left the Riverside Stadium with a nagging sense of ‘what might have been’ following the 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Of course, any manager whose side lets a two-goal lead slip away from home will leave unhappy and the nature of Boro’s efforts only added to that feeling.
Refereeing decisions also seemed to go against his side on the day with Ricardo Fuller first appearing to be brought down in the penalty area in the first half, before video replays showed his strike in the second half – which would have made the scoreline 3-1 at the time – was incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Charlton gave an exemplary display in a first period in which they raced into in a 2-0 lead within 17 minutes, but Powell rued the fact his side left with just one point for their efforts.
“We started off at a great pace and I thought our first half display was one of the best, if not our best, exhibition of football. It was outstanding,” he said.
“We deservedly went two goals in front and could have got more. I am quite frustrated, but fair play to Middlesbrough for coming back.
“Certain incidents were missed. Ricardo Fuller scores a perfectly good goal which was adjudged offside but was clearly on. He got fouled which was a clear-cut pen.
“We looked at the penalty appeal on Yann [Kermorgant], which was a great tackle by Rhys Williams, but really it was a terrific away performance yet again for us and it is just a bit frustrating that it didn’t result in three points.”
He added: “We wanted to start off at a good tempo and we knew it has been tough for Middlesbrough of late so we really wanted to put them under pressure which we did, but of course you have got to do it over 90 plus minutes.
“It is a real shame that we didn’t convert the chances that came our way because we created very, very good opportunities and I am quietly pleased with the performance if not the result, but any point on the road is very good.”
Middlesbrough’s equaliser came in disappointing circumstances for the Addicks when Scott McDonald was left unmarked to head in from a corner.
The Australian striker made an instant impact after coming off the bench, along with Emmanuel Ledesma, and asked questions of the Charlton defence with his direct approach.
There was an element of fortune about Boro’s first, too, with Marvin Emnes inadvertently kneeing a cross past Ben Hamer and into the top corner.
Powell agreed that a lack of concentration defensively may have played a part in them losing the lead.
“On the second goal, yes, but on the first no,” he said.
“It was a cross that came off his knee. He could do it 100 times and it wouldn’t happen but they are going to put you on the back foot a little bit. He made some changes and the players that came on I felt gave them a bit more impetus but we handled it quite well.
“We still counter-attacked with pace and endeavour and I really felt that we had enough chances to seal the game. I am not here to ever put the official under pressure but they missed a lot.
“The level of decisions that are being missed and decisions that should be made – there are always going to be tight ones – but ones like Ricardo Fuller’s goal and the penalty challenge on him in the first period shouldn’t be missed.”
In addition to the first-half showing there were a number of positives for Powell on the day, few more so than Danny Hollands’ return from injury.
The midfielder had not featured for the Addicks’ first team since the 5-4 victory over Cardiff City in November, having gone out on loan to Swindon Town and picked up an injury since then, but was recalled to replace the absent Andy Hughes.
Hollands featured for the full match and the Charlton boss praised his contribution and ability to acclimatise once again to Championship football.
“’Dutch’ got injured when he went out on loan to Swindon and came back and had to go through all his rehab, but he has looked sharp in training,” said Powell.
"He has been playing with a real confidence and zest and I just felt with the two players we were missing – Johnnie Jackson and Andy Hughes – that he warranted a chance in the team.
“I thought he acquitted himself really well and I am really pleased. It shows the value of the squad and the mentality of the players and the mentality of him.
“He was in the team, he went out on loan when he wasn’t in the side, but he has come back and as long as he is a Charlton player then he is a player I can call upon. I did that today and he certainly played his part in the point we got.”
Powell also took the time out to praise Charlton’s supporters who made the trip for the final away game of the season – many of whom went in fancy dress.
A number even turned out in Powell’s customary suit and flat cap combination, with a mask of the manager’s face thrown in for good measure.
“It was a bit of a crazy day, but the fans have been terrific for us and they have really enjoyed the ups and downs of the season, especially away,” he said.
“There has been terrific support yet again. There was a few in fancy dress and a lot in the masks and suits. Personally I’ll take this opportunity to thank them for backing myself, my staff and especially the boys throughout the campaign.
“I’m sure we’ll see them all next week, but thanks a lot for everything this year and we’ll look to carry on next season.”