On the third occasion, in 23 days, when the Addicks battled against MK Dons on Boxing Day, Charlton finally recorded a victory and took all three points. However, the performance displayed by the South Londoners was not the most impressive, but a defensive performance in the second half, ensured that the travelling side went back to the Valley with a win! In fact, the first win under Karl Robinson.
In the opening stages, MK Dons had the first sight of goal, with Ben Reeves firing off target after cutting in from the left hand side. This was followed up by a lacklustre effort by Josh Magennis whose effort was directly at David Martin from the edge of the box.
If MK Dons were more clinical and organised on the attack, they could have taken the lead in the opening thirty minutes. Reeves directed a low ball towards Dean Bowditch across the face of goal, but Bowditch was unable to convert. A couple of minutes later, another cross was driven into the Addicks’ penalty box, which connected with Samir Carruthers’ head from close range, but Dillon Phillips was able to make an easy save.
The MK Dons had one more promising attempt before Charlton took an unexpected and largely undeserved lead. An MK Dons corner, resulted in an uneasy pinball display inside the Charlton box, which eventually led to the ball dropping to Bowditch who lifted the ball over the crossbar.
Seven minutes later, Charlton took the lead. Andrew Crofts directed a fast and long through ball to Ademola Lookman, who took a heavy touch, but recovered, and lifted the ball over the advancing Martin, and into the back of the net from a 45 degree angle. A video of the goal can be seen below.
Then approached half time, and it was clear going into the second half that both managers knew that their sides had to keep fighting in order to ensure points were secured from this game.
In the early stages of the second half, the MK Dons were on the forefront, driving forward and trying to find an equaliser. Reeves had a shot from the edge of the box, but was blocked well by the Charlton defence.
The next stage of the game saw Charlton succumb to another injury. The captain Johnnie Jackson, who made his 250th appearance for the South Londoners, was replaced by Joe Aribo, for the youngster to make his second league debut, as the skipper was no longer able to continue.
The remainder of the half saw the home side dominate possession, but not much creativity with the ball leading to a lack of significant chances for the home side – the Charlton defence not really being challenged. In the later stages of the second half, top goal scorer, Nicky Ajose, had a chance to increase his tally for the Addicks, but was unable to slide the ball past Martin in a one-on-one situation to attack an open goal.
In the closing stages there was an appeal for a penalty from the home side as Chuks Aneke went down in the box, many Charlton fans concerned as a possible decision by the referee could have changed the tide of the game and prevented the security of three points. However, the referee saw nothing in the challenge.
Thanks to the young academy star, Ademola Lookman, converting from an impressive pass from Andrew Crofts, Charlton were able to seal their third away win for the season and arguably stop the rot, as Charlton had not won in five league games.
From obtaining all three points, Charlton have moved up to 12th in SkyBet League One, 6 points from a play off position, and 10 points safe from the drop zone.
In the post-match press conference, Karl Robinson had the following to say (transcript below video):
“I don’t think the performance was great but did they have a shot on target in the second half?”
“It’s an MK Dons team that normally have 20 shots on target and we really negated them. I don’t think we can come here and outpass this team. I worked with them for six years and they have some outstanding players.
“I played a different system today, we were more direct. We sat a little bit deeper and we knew we had people on the break. We worked all week on that goal. From a coaching perspective I was happy with that.
“It’s always hard to keep teams at bay. It’s important that we have self-belief and self-confidence. We came here and we showed what it takes to roll your sleeves up.”
Karl Robinson believes that the result against MK Dons on Boxing Day was a significant win for the club and badge, rather than the manager himself.
“It’s not about me getting my first win,”
“I’m not the most important thing at this football, the badge is. The fans will be here at longer than I will be here. This is about the players and the club I work for. I want to give my life to the club. I want to grow with this club and develop this club.
“I’ve not won here (at Stadium MK) for a long time as a manager. Maybe that was the problem, I sat in the wrong dugout for too long. This will always be somewhere that’s a special place for me, but I get goose pimples thinking about stepping back into The Valley.”
Karl Robinson was impressed with the determination and fight that Josh Magennis showed, specifically in a notably superb and gritty tackle.
“I jumped in the air and turned behind me and said this is what you lot want to do if you want to play for this club,”
“Our fans pay hundreds of pounds a year and they want you to do that. That was probably my best moment of the game. They’re the things I think about when I go to bed at night, and I don’t want Josh to get too arrogant and think I dream of him and I’m certainly not, it’s the last thing I think of. Obviously I’ve got my wife. But its only one victory, we’ve not done anything yet.”
Robinson is heading to Belgium on the 27th to watch St. Truiden take on Standard Liege – a current and former network club of Roland Duchatelet – in which Karl will speak to the “President” about the upcoming transfer window.
“I spoke to the president about going to see him,”
“Myself, the captain (Johnnie Jackson), Richie Barker and Katrien Meire are going to go over. STTV are playing Standard Liege tomorrow night and I felt it was important I go to watch that game. I’m going to try to get a board meeting and have a chat and do some press over there as well about what players I want to try and bring in.
“That shows intent from me. This club can mean so much to many people and I want to be a part of this journey. The president was fantastic with me on the day after the defeat (to Millwall). He just said listen this was one for the fans; they’re the ones you need to apologise to. Hopefully we apologised today.”
Robinson is looking to secure two midfield players and a winger in the winter transfer window.
“Two midfield players hopefully, and a winger,”
“Depending on what happens with our players, we have to be proactive as well. He won’t just tick them off Just like when I was at Milton Keynes or at Blackburn with Sam Allardyce, you have to make him believe in your project. Then I have to do it and sit down on the touchline and bring this club forward. We’re a million miles away from where we want to be, I’m not getting carried away.
“I know if he just looked at the performance today he’d be disappointed. Its all about how we win football matches. We want to dominate possession of the football but I think he can clearly see we’d have to make changes to do that.
“We don’t have the personnel. I’ve picked up a team that plays 4-4-2 and I’ve gone 4-3-3. Round pegs in square holes at the moment maybe but the players desire to fight for the football club when things aren’t quite right has been tremendous.”
A comparison of where Charlton currently stand in the league this season after 23 games, compared to previous campaigns in SkyBet League One, can be found below:
2016/2017 Season: 12th = 31 points
2011/2012 Season: 1st = 51 points
2010/2011 Season: 7th = 35 points
2009/2010 Season: 2nd = 47 points
Highlights of the game can be found in the video below: