Charlton Athletic 4 Northampton Town 1 - match review, player ratings and highlights

Ricky Holmes, who tormented the Cobblers throughout Saturday's game, celebrates scoring against his former club. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
Ricky Holmes, who tormented the Cobblers throughout Saturday's game, celebrates scoring against his former club. Pictures: Sharon Lucey

As soon as Josh Magennis' second-minute header landed in the back of David Cornell's net, the tone for this sorrowful afternoon was set.

It was a tone that Northampton fans have become all too accustomed to in 2017 as they witnessed their team slump to a 15th defeat since the turn of the year - out of 26 games - in disappointingly resounding fashion.

If their slow start to the season was a reason for concern prior to Saturday, it is now much more than that. And if Justin Edinburgh was hoping his players would give him a result and a performance to take the pressure off, he got the exact opposite.

At Shrewsbury they were poor but could be forgiven for because it was the first day; against Fleetwood they were marginally better and only lost out in unfortunate fashion; against Charlton they were just simply outplayed in almost all departments and deserved nothing but a beating.

For sure, 4-1 arguably flattered the Addicks if you were being generous and yes, it's true that Northampton created enough presentable chances to be at least level or even ahead at half-time in Saturday's contest at The Valley.

But, regardless, those chances were not taken, which in itself is a recurring theme, and the second-half then unfolded in a way we've seen many times before over the past 12 months.

It doesn't seem to matter who the manager is or who the players are, the same problems keep cropping up ever since the Cobblers took their place in League One 12 months ago; the same lack of discipline and inability to remain structured and organised; the same lack of creativity up front and composure and control in midfield.

It was noticeable on Saturday how Charlton allowed their visitors to have possession among the back three, in particular Aaron Pierre, but as soon as Northampton attempted to go forward, they found themselves outnumbered and therefore crowded out in midfield.

That resulted in plenty of long balls being played, thus bypassing Matt Crooks and Yaser Kasim, and while Brendan Moloney brought drive at wing-back, there was still no real creative force throughout the side.

It's also become apparent that Marc Richards and Alex Revell are not suited to each other in attack. Edinburgh was not helped by Chris Long's injury, followed shortly by Aaron Phillips, but perhaps, in hindsight, pushing Billy Waters further forward and bringing someone like Matt Grimes into midfield would have shored things up.

Even a defence that has previously looked so assured began to creak as they were left exposed whenever Charlton won possession in the middle third.

In the second-half Northampton were chasing the game but it seemed their desperation for a goal came too soon. From around the 50-minute mark they were pushing too many bodies forward, which gave the Addicks numerous three-on-three or even three-on-two counter-attacking opportunities, and eventually they capitalised through Ricky Holmes, who terrorised his former club throughout the 84 minutes he was on the field.

Charlton had a simple but effective game plan: wait for Northampton to cross the halfway line, win the ball back and then spring forward, thus catching their visitors short at the back.

That strategy culminated in several chances in the first-half and far more in the second.

Goalscorer Marc Richards

Goalscorer Marc Richards

It would not be fair to say that the Cobblers didn't have their own opportunities either. Marc Richards twice went close, second time thwarted by a fine Ben Amos stop, as did Ash Taylor while Billy Waters was also snuffed out by the Charton goalkeeper and Brendan Moloney's missed header just after half-time was perhaps the turning point.

Because from then on Town lost their shape and barely threatened again until Richards stooped low and headed Daniel Powell's knock-down into the bottom corner, although even their first goal of the season could not lift the gloom on this dark day.

Because there was to be no late onslaught and the only action came at the other end where Jake Forster-Caskey's well-taken brace in stoppage-time put the gloss on Charlton's emphatic and deserved victory.

The sombre mood of Edinburgh's post-match interview encapsulated the afternoon. There was no doubt for anyone who saw his downcast, deeply disappointed demeanour that this result hit him as hard as any since taking over in January.

It's now up to him to fix the situation and put things right because ultimately the buck always stops with the manager and there is far too much talent and ability in this team for them to be floundering near the bottom of the table.

The question is: what happens next? Does Edinburgh abandon 3-5-2 in favour of a more conventional formation? Does he make sweeping personnel changes?

Ricky Holmes hammers home

Ricky Holmes hammers home

The worry for the Cobblers is not so much that they've lost their first three games - there's ample time to pull that back - it's the way those defeats have come about and the fact they don't look like turning it around any time soon.

Indeed, one quick glance at the fixture list hardly offers any reassurance.

Up next are Peterborough United and then comes a trip to Wigan Athletic - both of those teams have won every game so far - followed by Doncaster, Portsmouth, Southend and Bradford. It is not entirely inconceivable that the Cobblers could still be winless in a month's time, especially going by their current form.

It might still be early in the season but with each passing defeat the pressure goes up several notches.

How they rated...

David Cornell - His least assured performance of the campaign, not that any blame can be levelled at him for any of the four goals. Fumbled a couple of long-range shots and was shaky under one cross. Now faces stiff competition from Coddington... 5

Leon Barnett - Was brushed aside too easily by Holmes in the lead up to Charlton's first and that rather set the tone for a poor afternoon for Town's back three... 5

Ash Taylor - Half-hearted challenge allowed Holmes space to fire in the crucial second goal. Squandered two very decent openings at the other end too... 5

Aaron Pierre - One surging run aside, he was helpless to prevent Charlton's sprint to victory. Out-muscled by Magennis for the opener and then showed anger when substituted, which is not necessarily a bad thing providing it's for the right reasons... 5

Aaron Phillips - Threaded a fine through ball for an early chance before his game was cut short by injury moments later... 6

Matt Crooks - A bad day at the office for the midfielder. Twice careless in possession in dangerous areas, saved only by his team-mates, and was wasteful on the rare occasions he got into the final third... 5

Yaser Kasim - Bar the one which found an unmarked Taylor, his set-pieces were a let down on an afternoon when nothing happened for him. Having said that, though his display was below-par, the ironic cheers that met his substitution were harsh... 5

David Buchanan - Timely headed clearance prevented a certain goal late in the first-half. If nitpicking, he could have got out quicker to close down Forster-Caskey's second but by that stage the game had well and truly gone... 5

Billy Waters - Can't fault his endeavour or willingness to try and make something happen. If Town were to create something you felt Waters would be at the heart of it, perhaps needs moving back up front... 6

Alex Revell - Kept on the fringes of the game for the majority, unable to put his stamp on it, although some of that can be put down to the often poor service up to him. His partnership with Richards very much remains a work-in-progress... 5

Marc Richards - A late addition to the team and ultimately a positive one given he scored Town's first and only goal of the season. Was also influential first-half, twice going close and also teeing up Waters for a chance... 6 CHRON STAR MAN

Substitutes

Brendan Moloney - Headed wide after half-time when the score was 1-0, which could have changed things. Provided impetus and drive from the right... 6

Matt Grimes - Showed some nice touches in his debut cameo... 6

Daniel Powell - 6

Justin Edinburgh

Justin Edinburgh

Debutant Matt Grimes

Debutant Matt Grimes