PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0: Another O’Malley penalty save gives Posh a point from the big promotion battle
Peterborough United’s penalty-saving expert came to the rescue again in today’s big League One promotion battle against Charlton at the ABAX Stadium (January 26).
Charlton looked set to be rewarded for a dominant spell of pressure in the second-half when they were awarded an 80th-minute spot-kick.
But Karlan Grant, who might have been playing his last game for the Londoners as Premier League Huddersfield are keen to sign him, sent such a feeble shot at goal from 12 yards Posh goalkeeper Conor O’Malley was able to make a simple save. That’s five penalty saves in two months by O’Malley, a run that started with three in an FA Cup shootout at Bradford City.
Posh then battened down the hatches to secure a 0-0 draw. It is now three games without a goal for Posh though as the battle intensfies for the play-off spots.
Posh deployed a midfield diamond for the first time this season and with Charlton lining up with a 4-3-2-1 formation central areas quickly became crowded. Lee Tomlin played at the tip of the diamond behind strikers Ivan Toney and Matt Godden.
Posh did find some space in the opening 15 minutes, but either passed poorly or the control of Toney let them down. Toney’s early overhead kick dribbled into Charlton ‘keeper Dillon Phillips’ hands and Godden, back in the side as one of five changes to the team beaten in the Checkatrade Trophy at Portsmouth, headed a difficult opporunity over the bar.
Otherwise all Posh crosses, and some excellent set-pieces from Marcus Maddison, floundered on the heads of some big centre-backs.
Charlton laboured early on, but once getting to grips with the change of Posh formation they started to threaten. Josh Cullen didn’t get enough on a deep cross enabling Conor O’Malley to tip the ball over the bar and Jonny Williams, the first-half’s best player ruined a fine dribble into the Posh area by diving in such a ludicrous fashion he was cautioned by referee David Webb.
Posh broke out promisingly five minutes before the break, a move started by Tomlin’s skill, but Maddison overhit a return pass forcing Tomlin to cross rather than shoot and the danger was cleared.
Charlton almost took the lead in added time, but Rhys Bennett blocked Cullen’s shot.
Posh should have taken the lead within 30 seconds of the re-start after Toney stretched well to reach Louis Reed’s pass, but Godden fired wide.
Within a minute a poor backheader by Bennett led to a chance for Karlan Grant. The striker’s shot was deflected on to the crossbar by Jason Naismith.
Posh continued to compete well without creating much against a strong defence. Charlton made an attacking substitution and matched the Posh diamond. Crosses started raining into the Posh area, but Ben White was most impressive at the heart of the home defence.
Charlton could have been reduced to 10 men midway through the half when Krystian Bielik committed two poor fouls in the space of a few minutes.
Bielik received a yellow card for upending Toney, but was let off when tugging Maddison back soon afterwards.
Daniel Lafferty did test Phillips with a raking low shot, but Posh visibly tired and looked doomed 10 minutes from time when Naismith’s unnecessary lunge on Cullen in a wide area gave Charlton a penalty. Grant’s shot was feeble though and O’Malley was able to drop on the ball.
A cross then flashed across the area as Posh rode their luck against powerful opponents.
It was a performance full of spirit and commitment, but the lack of penetration is a concern.
Posh: Conor O’Malley: Jason Naismith, Daniel Lafferty, Ben White, Rhys Bennett: Louis Reed, Kyle Dempsey, Marcus Maddison (sub Joe Ward, 87 mins), Lee Tomlin (sub George Cooper, 72 mins): Matt Godden (sub Siriki Dembele, 80 mins), Ivan Toney.
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Alex Woodyard, Callum Cooke,Matty Stevens.
Charlton: Dillon Phillips, Krystian Bielik, Patrick Bauer, Ben Purrington, Naby Sarr, Jonny Williams (sub Tariqe Fosu, 82 mins), Chris Solly, Josh Cullen, Darren Pratley (sub Reeco Hackett-Farchild, 64 mins), Ben Reeves, Karlan Grant.
Unused substitutes: Chris Maxwell, Anfernee Dijksteel, Mark Marshall, Billy Clarke, George Lapslie.
Cautions: Charlton - Williams (simulation), Bielik (foul), Reeves (dissent).
Posh - Naismith (foul).
Referee: David Webb 8
Attendance: 9,002 (2,531 Charlton).