RIGA’S ADDICKS BACK IN BUSINESS
ROTHERHAM manager Neil Redfearn warned that his side face a “scrap to the very end of the season” to stay up after fellow strugglers Charlton closed the gap to a single point with their first win in 12 games.
Forwards Simon Makienok and Igor Vetokele grabbed the headlines with three goals between them, with the Millers finishing a well-beaten side after substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris fluffed a second-half penalty
“We were a little bit nervous and tentative in this game at the start which was surprising as we’ve been doing well at home,” said Redfearn.
“It was a poor performance from us but Charlton played well and looked dangerous when they broke, particularly Vetokele.
“I’m not going to be too critical of my players because they have had a right go in the last six or seven weeks and picked up some results.
“We can’t afford to dwell on this because we know we will have to scrap to the very end of the season – that’s for certain.”
Charlton were the more measured and fluent of the two sides and had two contrasting but equally effective strikers in Makienok and Vetokele.
Makienok supplied the height and physical strength to test a cumbersome home back four while Vetokele took the eye with his clever turns and artistry.
On this evidence, there’s plenty of hope that Charlton manager Jose Riga can help his side to beat the drop to League One, but the problems pile up for Redfearn.
Already busy in the transfer window, he will have been pleased to see Chris Burke, on loan from Forest, net on his home debut but puzzlingly brought the winger off shortly after fellow newcomer Luciano Becchio came off the bench.
There was a frantic, almost naïve, feel to their attempts to rescue something in the second half, highlighted by the mixed fortunes of substitute ClarkeHarris.
After winning a spot-kick that could have put his side back in the hunt at 3-2, the striker carelessly blazed his penalty yards over the bar into Charlton hordes enjoying a rare good day on their travels.
To his credit, Clarke-Harris was narrowly off target with two other efforts – as well as seeing a third blocked – but a lack of composure at both ends cost his side dearly.
Makienok netted precisely from just outside the box after four minutes from Zakarya Bergdich’s intelligent squared pass before loose defending at the other end allowed Burke to steer in having been released by Danny Ward.
The goal Vetokele had been threatening came in the 44th minute with a far-post tap-in after Johann Berg Gudmundsson surged down the right, and the Icelander was also involved in the decisive third when Makienok headed in his corner.
The spot-kick let-off further inflamed the angry home fans, and many had left in droves before substitute Ademola Lookman slid in a fourth.
“Everyone has done their job – the goalkeeper, defence, midfield and the strikers,” said Riga.
“We had a plan out there and it worked well. It’s the second time we have taken the lead – then conceded – but this time we kicked on.
“It’s a good win because it’s in direct opposition to another team fighting relegation, but it’s still three points.
“I wanted us not to defend but to show our quality and we had the game under control.
“We have been waiting for this kind of result but there’s still a long way for us to go.”
BLOND AMBITION: Simon Makienok celebrates after scoring Charlton’s first goal and inset, Jonson ClarkeHarris misses a penalty for Rotherham