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NEW ARTICLE: Charlton Athletic 2018/19 Review - FULL-BACKS


It would be fair to say that defence has been the area which we have had the most stability in during the last few turbulent few years. It’s only right to start with someone who has dedicated his whole professional career to the club, been through these tough times with us and quite rightly will play his testimonial game against Aston Villa at the end of July, Chris Solly.

We all know how brilliant Sols was when we were last in League One, especially that title winning season, but things have not been so plain sailing for the steady right-back since with injuries. However, with 37 league appearances, Solly played far more games this season than many would expect. Given he was forced to miss the final three league games and the first leg of the play offs through suspension, that’s pretty good going for a player who some say can’t play regularly. 

As well as a standard right full back, he covered a variety of other roles too. At Sunderland on the opening day, Chris played right centre back of a back three, he has pushed further forward as a right wing-back and filled in at left back when required. It was early in the season when Solly had his most memorable moment away at Luton Town, scoring in the 95th minute to salvage a draw, keeping our good run of form going and triggering some serious LIMBS behind the goal :-)

You could argue though that (bar his Doncaster penalty) Solly’s season from that point never really went on to reach too many more personal highs. Lewis Page's season-ending injury in the next game against Scunthorpe meant Solly was forced to play at left-back for a number of games due to the lack of cover in the squad. Additionally, a poor challenge away at Barnsley in December resulted in his first red card of the season, and another away at Oxford United in April proved to be his last start of the season. Interestingly, both red cards were in a position of which we were attacking and both challenges are very similar, Solly going for the ball but just being a little late and slightly too aggressive. Solly over time has proved himself to be a very good and dependable player for us, leading us out as club captain 16 times this season. Having previously made the step up well in the Championship last time out, I don’t have any qualms as to how he will fare next season, especially with the competition that Anfernee Dijksteel has provided of late too.

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Dijksteel had a tough start to the season after suffering from pneumonia in the summer and was not involved until the beginning of October. When you take into consideration what he has gone through in the last 12 months, including learning to play in a relatively new position at right back, the improvement and transformation has been phenomenal. Anfernee now looks to have the makings of being a very good modern day full back. With his machine-like ability to keep going, his build, athleticism, and height, he has a bright future ahead of him if he continues to progress. 

As Bowyer has rightly pointed out, there are parts of his game that need work. His delivery from crosses, his comfort on the ball and sometimes his positional awareness, but that will all develop in time and with experience, Dijksteel is only 22 after all. But things look promising, and increasingly as the season progressed, Anfernee looked more effective getting into good positions higher up the pitch. This was highlighted in his first goal for the club against Scunthorpe on Easter Monday and also his part in Purrington’s equaliser at Wembley. It was a telling factor in his progression that Bowyer trusted him to play in Wembley Play-Off Final ahead of Solly. That will only do his confidence the world of good going into a season at a higher level.

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Moving onto the opposite side of the defence,  Lewis Page had a solid start to the season and provides us with such great width and attacking threat down the left hand side. His comfort, skill, and ability on the ball is a real asset and suited for that left wing-back position. A perfect example being the cross into Grant for the opener against Accrington Stanley way back in August. Interestingly, the games in which he directly contributed to goals at the beginning of the season, we played a back three with Page as left wing-back. Injuries have really dampened his time with us so far, this season not making an appearance since being forced off away at Scunthorpe on 1st October 2018. If Lewis gets fit and with a good pre-season behind him, making the step up to the Championship could well be a natural one for Page. However, it was his injury and time out of the side that for a while caused us to be unbalanced until the introduction of Ben Purrington

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A player which Gallen described as a 7 out of 10 every week, Ben noticeably developed his game going forward in the short time he was here and as the second half of the season progressed, he seemed increasingly comfortable with the style of play and approach Bowyer was wanting the team to adopt.  

Even in the modern game, a defenders first and most important role is to defend, the attacking aspect is a bonus. Our record defensively with Purrington in the side is outstanding. He rarely got beaten in a one on one dual, almost a left back version of Solly, and he allowed us a fundamental part of the defensive jigsaw, balance. An interesting stat to show just how influential he was is the only game in which he played, and we conceded more than one goal, was the home leg against Doncaster in the Play-Offs. We also kept 11 clean sheets in 18 league games when Purrington started. 

It wouldn’t be right to not mention what could be one of the most important goals of our season. The equaliser at Wembley calmed our nerves after the opening disaster. A goal which was his first for Charlton, Purrington was in fact was very unfortunate not to have scored more. The position he found himself in was the same he was in away at Gillingham, where Holy made a great save, and home to Rochdale, where Calvin Andrew scored an own goal before Ben could get on the end of Taylor’s cross, and it was Taylor would crossed to Purrington in the final too. It’s certainly something that they had been working on, and it came to fruition just at the right time.

Purrington did not let us down nor fail to impress, so much so that I am sure we all would be pleased to sign him permanently this summer.

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  • Brilliant read...Thanks for the informative post. 

    If Purrington had a right foot he would be PL. His left and fitness is at that standard . 

    Spent all the SF getting my pal to study his game and how important it is to take a few touches on your weak foot so the OPPO is kept guessing

    What's he score with at Wembley? Right foot.

    What do i know ? Feck all

    I'd sign Ben P and work hard on being able to control with the weak foot. 
  • Great stuff @Sage
  • Brilliant read...Thanks for the informative post. 

    If Purrington had a right foot he would be PL. His left and fitness is at that standard . 

    Spent all the SF getting my pal to study his game and how important it is to take a few touches on your weak foot so the OPPO is kept guessing

    What's he score with at Wembley? Right foot.

    What do i know ? Feck all

    I'd sign Ben P and work hard on being able to control with the weak foot. 
    Thank you.

    I hate to be so pedantic but Purrington actually scored with his left at Wembley. Your point is still very valid though, I do agree if he was half as good with his right as he is his left he would be higher up the leagues than he has been. Still very young and will continue to improve though.
  • Who needs newspapers!
  • Hopefully Bows makes Purrington train on his right, forcing him to take two touches on it.  I was very impressed with him, when I saw him.  Always looking for an effective overlap.  Djikstel get's drawn in to the inside and towards Charlton players, without getting a quick one or two touch pass off.  Djikstel looks really positive which is great, he just needs to back himself to go outside more.  Still on the ball when he doesn't have to think he csn be excellent, such as his layoff to Lyle for the Wembley goal.
  • Has Lee Bowyer taken over at Rotherham ?
  • Hull d'on
  • Hope we sign Purrington, he is solid.
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