‘Ray of light’ Leko shone on his Charlton return after Blues struggles

It would be a stoney heart that didn’t warm even slightly at the news Jonathan Leko had scored on his debut for Charlton Athletic.

The Birmingham City attacker came off the bench for the first time since his deadline day loan deal and was in the perfect position to slot home the Addicks’ only goal of their 2-1 loss to Cheltenham Town.

It was his first goal since November 2019, a barren run of 46 games – equivalent to an entire season, 41 of them in Royal Blue and first since both his return from a serious knee ligament injury and the racism row that preceded his move from West Brom to St Andrew’s.

Indeed the £1 million man has had a torrid time, with pressure mounting on him to justify his price tag, initially under a manager who gave him precious free opportunities in a failing team.

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Lee Bowyer ’s arrival at Blues produced some kind of spark, but even under his former Charlton boss, the chance that fell to his feet at The Valley on Saturday simply refused to come at Blues.

However, the response from supporters and the media has been largely supportive – with some Blues fans wishing him well.

One said: “Really pleased for the lad ,hope he has a good season there and is able to return and fulfill his potential at @BCFC.”

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Another added: “Blues Twitter is gunna go into meltdown…Leko scored a goal for charlton,” while a third praised his composure. “Lovely composed finish from Leko today. It’s interesting – I can imagine him snatching at the exact same chance in a Blues shirt. Is there a chance he’s just never been able to get comfy here? He seems to fit in beautifully at Charlton.”

A fourth Blues fans replied: “Confidence is massive. People constantly on his back at blues. Hopefully he scores a lot this season and comes back feeling more prepared.” Another agreed: “Confidence is a massive part they love him at Charlton.”

Another acknowledged. “Honestly I wouldn’t blame him for feeling uncomfortable with the way he was treated on social media. Towards the end it felt like people were giving him abuse for the sake of it.”

READ MORE: Lee Bowyer fumes as Manchester United starlet on end of Derby County ‘knee height’ tackle

Meanwhile the Charlton fans ripped into their team’s display but exonerated Leko: “Difficult to find positives from today probably only Leko and the keeper ! We’re missing ball winning dominant midfielders. Lots of “flair” players. I’ll say it again …if you lose the midfield more times than not you’ll lose the game #cafc Who’s the ball winner/disrupter ?”

Another said: “The keeper was superb today for us. Brilliant performance and some big saves, well in Big Mac. Thought Leko was good. Lee was decent today but that was where the good performances stopped for me.”

READ MORE: ‘One of our own’ – What happened on Troy Deeney’s Birmingham City debut

And reporter Louis Mendez, writing in London News Online, also picked out the 22-year-old display. “The introduction of Jonathan Leko from the bench at half-time did wake the Addicks up briefly.

“He halved the deficit and saw a couple of pot-shots drift wide from range, before fading as the rest of the side did again. On a day when once again Charlton didn’t see enough from their flair players, Leko provided the small ray of light fans will cling on to. Charlton simply aren’t creating enough chances at the moment though.”

READ MORE: Birmingham City vs Derby County player ratings: Chong sparkles on Deeney’s debut

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