Wednesday 31 August 2011

Striker signed

Stockholm: Spend a couple of hours on a plane and events move fast with the transfer window looming.   Anyway, it appears that we have signed 19-year old striker Michael Smith from Darlington or at least will do once his train reaches London.  There was a lot of competition for him with Bristol City, Watford and Notts County all in the frame.

This would seem to imply that Paul Benson is likely to depart, but Pravda has just tweeted that he is likely to stay.

Depending on whose account you believe we have had an offer rejected for winger Mark Marshall of Barnet or our interest has cooled.   Some Addicks rate him highly, but a winger is not our first priority.

We may also be bringing in a defender from Spain.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Newcastle's No.3

Rob Elliot has signed for Newcastle as their third goalkeeper.    The fee is undisclosed, but presumably it is bigger than the £100,000 originally offered which led to a rift between the two clubs.   Elliot has secured a five year contract so he will have a chance to develop.

The Charlton fan has done his best for the club during a difficult period and I wish him well.

Parky snaps up Reid

Phil Parkinson has 'snapped up' Kyel Reid in his first day in charge at Bradford, he has also confirmed his interest in a reunion with Paul Benson but doesn't think it will be easy to get him, possibly because he does not fancy a move that far 'oop north:

The Cherries now appear to be leading the race for the signature of Ryan Lowe which doesn't fit well with the notion that he wouldn't come to Charlton because of the upheaval it would cause to his family.  Sheffield Wednesday have also expressed interest which would mean that we would face him again next Monday:

Monday 29 August 2011

Palace are interested in Tubbs

Reports are suggesting that Crystal Palace are also interested in Crawley striker Matt Tubbs.   Here is a report from an Addick who has seen him play:

I saw Matt Tubbs a few times last season. In the conference he was an excellent forward, without doubt the best I have seen at that standard. He was not only a natural goalscorer, but an intellegent forward and seemed perfectly suited for the step up to league football. He won the player of the season quite easily in a team that strode through the conference, and, I predict, will go straight through div 2 this season.

Talking to my brother, who is a season ticket holder at Crawley, that despite scoring four goals already this season, he has found the step up in standard at little harder than he thought he would, and would benefit from at least one more season at Crawley in div 2. He is not a youngster at 27 though, so if the offer comes in from a higher club, he may wish to chance it.

My opinion is he would be behind BWP,  Hayes and Euell, or Wagstaff moving in from the wing. I assume this interest, if true, is because of the possibility of Benson joining Parky at Bradford, and therefore a replacement required.  Personally, I would show an interest in Matt Tubbs but then watch his progress this season, or at least until January, with Crawley in div 2 before deciding whether to go in with an offer.

Cort in on loan?

Pravda and other normally reliable sources are reporting that 31-year old centre back Leon Cort is coming in from Burnley on a year's loan and this has now been confirmed.

Clarets sources are not too complementary about the former Dulwich Hamlet, Millwall and Palace player, but presumably he is being brought in as cover:

His Wikipedia entry is here:

He was player of the year for Palace in 2007 and was Stoke's (then) record signing.  It has been suggested that he has become injury prone.

Unconfirmed reports are stating that Ryan Lowe has turned down a move to Charlton for family reasons.

Another unconfirmed report (Sky is one source for this story) says that Charlton have expressed an interest in Crawley striker Matt Tubbs:

Tubbs scored 40 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions last season.

Johnnie Jackson sets his sights high

Johnnie Jackson has made clear the extent of the confidence and ambition in the current Charlton squad in an interview with The Times.

The skipper commented, 'We've got a well-equipped squad, all of whom are itching to get in, there's a lot of competition for places and because of that strength in depth, we go out thinking we can win every game.'

'The priority is automatic promotion, but we want to win the league, it's been the target from Day 1.  The manager has put together a team who know what it takes to get out of the division.'

We certainly missed Jackson in the latter part of last season.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Parky pounces for Benson

New Bradford City Phil Parkinson looks like he is going to pounce for Paul Benson and the Addicks may get less than the £150,000 price tag:

Former Charlton player Andy Gray is interviewed and he takes the view that Parkinson did as well as he could in the circumstances as Addicks manager given the club's financial problems at the time.

If Benson does go, we need to get another striker in as cover, but time is running out.

Waggy interview

Scott Wagstaff has a feature interview in The League Paper today.   He says, 'I've been at this club since I was eight and while it's good to have other clubs saying nice things about you, I love this club and never wanted to leave.  I want to play at a higher level, but I want to do it with Charlton.'

Referring to the changes over the summer, he comments, 'The fear is that it'll take time to gel, but we haven't.  It helps that we've got senior players like Johnnie Jackson and Bradley Wright-Phillips still here.  They're key for us.   We bonded and looked strong in pre-season and that's continued for us'.

Wagstaff said that he is looking to better last season's goal tally of 10: 'It's important for me to score, especially as we've signed Danny Green from Dagenham and we're competing for a place so I have to make sure I'm at my best.'

As yesterday confirmed, he is also good at playing in the 'hole' behind a striker and perhaps that is his best position.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Charlton go second after win at Bury

Charlton are second in League 1 after winning 2-1 at Bury.   MK Dons are top with a better goal difference of one over Charlton and Sheffield United, who won at Yeovil, are also on 13 points but with an inferior goal difference of one compared with the Addicks.

Charlton started with Hamer in goal and Sullivan on the bench.  With Bradley Wright-Phillips unavailable through injury, Green started with Hayes up front and Wagstaff in the hole.

Bury's Ryan Lowe grabbed his seventh goal of the season on 40 minutes. Lowe, making his 100th Bury appearance, fired home a free-kick from 30 yards after Michael Morrison had fouled him.  The free kick was taken quickly after Lowe saw Ben Hamer out of position.

It's always a good time to score just before half time, but Chris Powell told his players he wangted more from them and Charlton responded well.   Powell said afterwards, 'Each player gave me that five or ten per cent extra.'

Paul Hayes equalised for the Addicks four minutes into the second half, heading down into the net following a looping cross from Johnnie Jackson.   Bury manager Richie Barker said after the game, 'I told the defenders all week that Hayes would try and float of the back of them, and he was doing it all game and thanks to the quality of the cross he scored.'

Lowe volleyed wide, but  the unbeaten Addicks then scored the winner when Jackson came in at the back post to convert from Dale Stephens' low, inch perfect pass.   Bury applied some late pressure, but Charlton stood firm.

It seems to have been a bit of a game of two halves.  Our centre backs may have been too deep in the first half.  Jason Euell tweeted, 'Great result in the end today.  Wasn't at our best first half but came out second half and showed what we are about.'

Friday 26 August 2011

Bury boss calls for element of realism

Bury boss Richie Barker evidently thinks his side won't have an easy ride against the Addicks tomorrow at Gigg Lane even though the Shakers are 6th in the table.   He said of Charlton, 'They're a good side and probably one of the favourites to win the league.  There has to be an element of realism again as we're playing against Charlton Athletic.'

One element of realism is that our record is none too good against Bury.   Of sixteen games we have played against them, they have won eight, we have four and four have been drawn.   The last time we played them was in 1997-8 when both matches ended in goallless draws.

I still remember my sense of disappointment at The Valley result in a season when our promise was eventually fulfilled.   Bury turned up as a big northern side determined to close us down and they did.  They were greatly helped by their goalkeeper, Dean Kiely, whose merits became apparent to Curbs if they weren't already were.

36-year old Scouser Barker was brought in as manager a temporary measure last season after Alan Knill departed for Scunthorpe.   He proved himself by clinching six straight wins putting the club in the runners up spot and into League One for the first time in nine years.   It's just as well he did as Iain Dowie was waiting in the wings to take over and we all know what the curse of Dowie means.

A key player is striker Ryan Lowe who has scored six goals in as many games following up on 27 last season.   There were fears he would leave over the summer but the League 2 player of the year has stayed put.  

Goalkeeper Cameron Belford is something of a fans' favourite.  The 22-year old started his career in the Coventry City academy and kept his cool when he was punched in a pitch invasion at Chesterfield last season.

Bury have signed Ashley Eastham on a loan deal from Blackpool after central defender Mark Hughes picked up a hamstring injury:,19764,11065_3407371,00.html

Four Four Two have them finishing bottom while The Times put them at 19th.   They have come out of the traps well, but one question is whether they can sustain themselves over the season with a relatively small squad.

Bury fans are saying they will edge the match but Charlton have been playing well and their confidence will be boosted by the Reading win even if relatively few of the participants appear tomorrow (but hopefully Danny Green will).   I am going for a 2-2 draw.

The Radio Scilly sports show returns tomorrow (Saturday) from 10 to 11 hosted by Mark Twynham and I will be contributing.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Injuries after last night

Paul Benson may have a dislocated finger which is a shame after a sterling performance.   Doherty picked up a calf injury and Bover had cramp.

This underlines the risks of putting out the first team for such a fixture but Chris Powell's gamble certainly paid off.   Tickets for Preston will also be at £10 and £5 and there may be more than 6,600 or so there.  Those who went certainly got value for money.

Powell's other eleven beat Reading

It's a highly experimental starting eleven at The Valley tonight.   Benson and Euell are the pair up front, while Hamer faces his old club in goal.   Doherty and Mambo blend experience and youthful hope in the central defence positions, while Francis is recalled on the right flank and Evina comes in as left back.   The promising 'Bover' is in midfield, along with Green, Hughes and Pritchard all featuring in the starting eleven for the first time.

An early volley from Benson making use of a long throw from Green went wide reports Andrea Hilton from The Valley.  Green put in a great effort but it had hit the outside of the post and bounced away.    Charlton were under pressure at the other end and Francis had to put it away for a corner.   The ball was hacked off the line by Evina.

Francis charged down the right but the ball was taken away from Benson at the expense of a corner from which Reading made a break.   It was end-to-end stuff.
Euell had a chance to score but it was saved by the keeper.    Reading won their third corner of the game.   Charlton surged forward in a counter attack started by Pritchard, but Benson’s effort was blocked by Euell and went behind.
Hamer made a good save off Church after Mambo and Doherty got caught out.   A shot by Euell was blocked by Benson.    An effort by Howard was turned behind by Hamer for a corner.   Reading put the ball wide.
Evina rode out three challenges, but the Reading defence bundled the ball away before Euell could made use of it.
Charlton took the lead through Benson who got the ball beyond the Reading keeper after their defence had frozen.   Green put the ball in.
Green advanced again and Pritchard had a go.   Benson tried to shoot and the ball was put behind.
Cummings had to clear the ball off the line to deny Pritchard a second for Charlton as the Addicks piled on the pressure.
Charlton advanced well down the right and a good cross came in but Francis was unable to connect. Green put in an effort from long range, but it was gathered comfortably.
Reading won their fifth corner, but they were unable to make anything of it.   Howard went for goal from 20 yards but Hamer made a very good save to push the ball round the post.    The ball was in play in front of goal, but Mambo hooked it away.  
Charlton were in control and looking very coherent.    Pritchard played very well.

Half time: Addicks 1, Royals 0

Reading started brightly and Church put the ball just over the bar and careered into an advertising hoarding.  Benson’s  shoulder  was troubling him and he had to come off.   Wagstaff came on in his place.  Euell moved further upfield and Waggy dropped into the hole that Euell had been occupying where he started to cause all sorts of problems.
Charlton won a corner, Doherty was clattered as he headed towards goal.   Wagstaff put in an early cross who won it back, both times it just missed Pritchard.    As Charlton kept up the pressure with a great one-two between Francis and Green, they won another corner.   Hughes put in a shot from 35 yards.
Reading won a free kick inside the D some 20 yards out.   A six man wall was formed as dead ball man Harte put it round the wall and just over the bar.
Wagstaff’s effort was pushed away, Bover had an open goal but Cummings made a great clearance.  McCarthy got something on it from a good delivery by Green.   Wagstaff advanced down the left but Euell couldn’t connect and Reading cleared.
Green lashed the ball towards goal but McCarthy pushed it away and Euell couldn’t follow up.  Reading made a double substitution, surprisingly taken off Harte.   Bover got a cross in and won a corner, but it was pushed away by the keeper.   A cross by Francis was put out for a throw.   Euell scored to make it 2-0 for Charlton off a great delivery from the right by Francis, re-opening his account after five years.   Chris Powell really enjoyed that goal.
Church fired the ball across the box but Hamer gathered confidently.    Green put in a free kick from 25 yards out which was deflected for a corner.   Charlton won the ball back but eventually Reading got a throw in.
Mills put in a free kick with real pace and Hamer had to tip it over the bar giving the visitors a corner. Doherty was taken off and replaced by Morrison who didn’t deal with the ball well enough.   From the corner the ball was scrambled into the roof of the net by Reading’s Sean Morrison to make it 2-1, dangerous score after Saturday.
Wagstaff cut the ball across the goal but there was no one to turn it in.    Evina was dumped on the ground but no free kick was given and Chris Powell was livid. 
Reading advanced and Morrison headed behind for a corner.  Charlton had to clear off the line through Wagstaff.   Reading kept up the pressure with a free kick near the edge of the penalty area.  The effort by Mills was flicked away by Euell for a corner.   A free header by Sean Morrison went wide.
Mills gave away a free kick.  Then Reading won a free kick level on the left with the penalty area.   A Reading player [McAnuff] got a yellow card for complaining to the referee.   It was handled in the box by a Reading player and the Addicks got a free kick.   Charlton hit the crossbar from Bover.
Solly came on at left back.   Francis defended well.  Four minutes were added on.    Wagstaff fed Evina but his effort was saved in stoppage time.   Evina put in a great diagonal ball to Euell who won Charlton a throw in.   They won a free kick by the Reading corner flag after a foul by Mills, but Reading won a throw in.  The offside flag was raised against Church.   The whistle blew and Charlton were through to the next round and will face Preston at home.

Royal feast

Tonight Charlton entertain Reading in the rearranged Carling Cup fixture at The Valley.  Heavy morning rain should have cleared by this evening.

The bookies don't seem to rate the Royals' chances that highly with 7/4 for a Charlton win, 6/4 for Reading and 23/10 for a draw at the end of play.

Reading are currently 13th in the Championship after a mixed start to the season as they seek to put their play-off final defeat behind them.  On Saturday they went down 1-2 at home to mighty Barnsley with the Tykes keeper making two penalty saves, although Reading scored one of their three opportunities.

Over the summer defender Matt Mills joined Leicester and striker Shane Long, who netted 25 last season, also departed for the Baggies.  However, the second leading scorer was left back Ian Harte who is a dead ball specialist and needs to be watched carefully tonight, although he was responsible for one of the penalty misses on Saturday.

Powerhouse midfielder Mikele Leighterwood was signed up fron QPR after impressing on loan and is regarded as a key player who has added steel to the side.  

Sir John Madjeski is still trying to sell the club which is a promising prospect, but according to the owner you would have to be a billionaire to afford it and no one has stepped forward yet.

One view of cup games is that we should concentrate on the league and that a cup run only saps strength and invites injuries.    The alternative view is that it can boost morale as well as bringing in some extra cash.

I would expect Chris Powell to put out a full strength side tonight, but perhaps to use the opportunity to try out a few changes.   I would start with Green instead of Wagstaff.

It's a difficult one to call, but Charlton could just edge it.   If it goes to penalties, you wouldn't rely on Reading finding the back of the net.

Monday 22 August 2011

Positive report on Powell and Charlton

A positive report on Chris Powell and Charlton in The Guardian:

One thing I didn't know is that we had to take wage capping into account in making our signings this summer (the Football League has drawn up a scheme to implement this).

Saturday 20 August 2011

What went wrong?

Charlton drew 2-2 at home with Scunthorpe today, surrendering a half-time 2-0 lead with the visitors scoring their equaliser in time added on.  With MK Dons winning 6-2 against Chesterfield, they took top place in the table from Charlton.  The moaners found their voice again and boos were heard at the end of the game.

Charlton never looked as composed as they did against Bournemouth or as they appear to have been in the two away wins, but they certainly edged the first half.  In the second half they lost momentum while the Iron upped their game.  Some chances were missed and poor decision-making occurred when the Addicks tried to keep the ball by the corner flag in the 87th minute rather than lauching an attack to try and get a third goal.

In our section of the East Stand, we thought that we were vulnerable to attacks down our right and would have substituted Solly.

A series of mug shots was put on the big screen before the game but to my surprise Dowie and Pardew were nowhere to be seen among the suspected perpetrators of damage.

Bradley Wright-Phillips went down after a  clash in the opening minute but was fortunately not hurt and was able to launch a run on goal which was saved by the keeper.   Elliot had to tip a curving ball over to prevent a goal.  The subsequent Scunthorpe corner went off but Elliot should have come for it.  A free kick for Scunthorpe by the touchline led to a corner.

A Scunthorpe corner was cleared by Johnnie Jackson.  There were some good play by Stephens.  He turned provider for Wright-Phillips who flicked the ball on well but the subsequent effort went just wide.

A free kick by Wiggins on 20 minutes set up a goalmouth scramble.   Initially we thought the ball had gone wide but Johnnie Jackson found the back of the net to make it 1-0.   The Bloke Beside Me said that the actual time was 19:47, a very propitious date in Charlton's (and my) history.

Solly put in some good defensive work.   Elliot had to stop a shot and then another effort from distance went just wide, signalling Scunthorpe's intent.   Johnnie Jackson put in a good cross, but no one was able to connect with it.

Some energetic action with the pitchforks was required of the ground staff as the heavy rain in the first half had produced a very slippery surface.

Half time: Addicks 1, Iron 0

The second half was characterised by bright sunshine. Scunthorpe took off Paul Reid and brought on Neil Canavan.  Ellliot saved well.  Hayes had a chance but his effort was weak, although it was deflected for a Charlton corner.   Pressure from Scunthorpe led to a succession of corners from them, once again Elliot stayed rooted to his line.

A great cross from Hollands allowed Wright-Phillips to put a bullet header in the back of the net to make it 2-0.   Scunthorpe nearly scored, but Elliot did well at the expense of a corner for the visitors.   Bradley Wright-Phillips played in Hayes, but his effort was saved with his legs by the keeper.

Scunthorpe captain Sam Togwell received a yellow card for a blatant trip.   Scunthorpe took off Mark Duffy and brought on Jimmy Ryan.   Wagstaff forged forward well, but he should have passed the ball rather than trying to do it all himself.

On 73 minutes Scunthorpe made it 2-1 through striker Bobby Grant, although as Chris Powell noted later, the ball richocheted around a lot.   Green came on in place of Wagstaff and Scunthorpe made their last substitution with Andy Barcham replaced by Garry Thompson.  Hayes was then replaced by Euell fir his Valley return.

Elliot made a great save.  Green put in a great cross, but no one was able to make use of it.   Green received a yellow card.   Canavan was given a yellow card for obstruction.  A Charlton corner was mistakenly played as a defensive move.

Wright-Phillips was replaced by Doherty which arguably upset the balance of the side.   Five minutes were added on.  Solly should have cleared the ball more decisively and this gave Bobby Grant the chance to make it 2-2.   In the remaining time Scunthorpe had two more corners and looked as if they might score again.

Match analysis

No one had an outstanding game in a Charlton shirt or indeed for either side but Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Johnnie Jackson for his goal and his contribution throughout the game.  Elliot made some good saves.  He is a good shot stopper, but is less impressive at corners and stays rooted to one place too much.  However, he probably could not have done anything about the two goals.  Morrison did create danger in the first half by giving the ball away but he and Taylor had a competent performance, although I would like to see their positioning for the two goals.   Wiggins had a relatively quiet game, but I could not fault him for anything, although those in the row behind me has already decided he is not good enough.   Solly is often good on the ball, but his lack of height can give him problems and a poor clearance arguably led to one of the goals.  Hollands is another player who has been named as not good enough by those in the row behind, but he put a superb cross in for the Wright-Phillips goal and was generally involved.  Wagstaff had his moments, but was not consistent enough.   Stephens was less impressive than against Bournemouth.  Hayes was fully involved but did not take full advantage of some chances.  Wright-Phillips has clearly got his scoring boots on and seems more involved generally than he was last season.  Green showed in his Valley debut that he can deliver some good crosses and free kicks.   Euell was warmly greeted by the Addickted and was busy and displayed some skill.   If Doherty was meant to shore up the defence, he failed to do so in his cameo.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the East Stand linesman who seemed unable or unwilling to tell the referee what was happening in front of him.

Friday 19 August 2011

Charlton report Pardew to Premier League

Charlton have reported Newcastle manager Alan Pardew to the Premier League after he broke a confidentiality agreement in relation to a bid for Rob Elliot: Elliot

Newcastle made a derisory £100,000 for the keeper on Wednesday which was immediately rejected.

It is unlikely that we will get any joy from the Premier League, but it is worth making the point.

Any old Iron?

With Charlton topping the league and Scunthorpe in 20th place, tomorrow's fixture would look like a banker for the Addicks.   One should never be complacent, but the team is playing well.  The midfield has impressed.  The central defenders may be a bit agricultural, but they are doing their job.  Bradley Wright-Phillips has found his scoring boots and Paul Hayes, much criticised pre-season, is displaying his qualities.

Chris Powell has been playing down speculation about Rob Elliot moving to the Toon saying that talks are at an 'embryonic' stage.   It looks as if Rob Elliot will be between the sticks on Saturday and there is a lot to be said for continuity.

Four Four Two saw the Iron finisihing in the play offs.   The Times thought 'It will be a significant surprise if they make an immediate return to the Championship' and saw them finishing 16th.   They thought that the looss of David Mirfin to Watford left a big hole in defence and saw their weakness as 'brittle confidence after relegation last season' which ended in a 6-0 defeat at Carrow Road.

The supremo is giant former central defender Alan Knill who was brought in from Bury with eight games to go last season but was not able to turn things around.

Some disllusioned Addicks may be tempted to return tomorrow, but don't expect a big crowd as Scunthorpe are expected to bring only around 250.

I am going for a 3-1 win for the Addicks.

Incidentally in the 'you couldn't make it up' category Notts County boss Martin Allen is looking for a whistling coach to help him communicate with his players:

Thursday 18 August 2011

Pards swoops for Elliot

Newcastle United are expected to sign Charlton goalkeeper with Rob Elliot in the next day or two. He would be a replacement for Fraser Forster who has rejoined Celtic on loan with a view to a £2m transfer.

Elliot was recommended to Pardew by Andy Woodman, the goalkeeping coach, who worked with the player at Sparrows Lane.

Elliot has had a good start to the season, conceding only one goal. Doubts have been expressed in the past about how well he commands his area and how good he is with crosses, but I am far from sure that his departure is good news.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

The best team won admits U's manager

Colchester's manager has admitted that the best team won after Charlton beat them 2-0 in front of a crowd of 5,094 at the Community Homes Stadium last night with goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips.   He claims that he simply cannot match Charlton's millions.   A Colchester supporter comments that the Addicks are the best team in the league:

On 13 minutes Wright-Phillips completed a one-two with Waggy and on 28 minutes he converted Johnnie Jackson's left-wing cross. He had chances in the second half to get his hattrick but was denied three times by Mark Cousins (who was named man of the match) in the U's goal.

Elliot and Wright-Phillips were booked. Danny Green came on in a 86th minute cameo.

Charlton had 57 per cent of the possession and seven shots on target to two for the home side.

Charlton remain top of League 1 but Sheffield United retain their 100 per cent record after coming back from a two goal deficit to beat mighty Walsall at home 3-2.

Monday 15 August 2011

Are the U's sustainable?

After beating the second placed team in the admittedly provisional table on Saturday, the Addicks now face fourth placed Colchester United away tomorrow. The U's started the season with a storming 4-2 win at Preston, then scored another three at Wycombe in the Carling Cup midweek only to be knocked out on penalties. They then managed a 1-1 draw in the league at home to the Chairboys on Saturday.

Limited resources are one of their constraints, although that may be more of a problem later in the season as injuries and suspensions take their toll. Their new stadium is often far from full and owner Robbie Cowling has stated that he is building a 'sustainable' club. This does not mean green turf on the roof and a wind turbine by each corner flag but involves cutting the playing budget.

No surprise, then, that Four Four Two forecasts mid-table mediocrity for the U's, while The Times plumps for relegation. They do have a fight back capability, though: they gained 21 points from losing positions last season.

Former Norwich striker Ian Henderson is seen as a key player. Tom Eastman was brought in from Ipswich and Michael Rose from Swindon to strengthen the back line in a team that can be defensively suspect and liable to concede penalties. The U's will be without winger Ashley Vincent who scored the only goal on Saturday but was then stretchered off with a knee injury.  Michail Antonio has been brought in from Reading on a month's loan as cover.   He is a direct, attacking player.

Boss John Ward stepped up from assistant manager after Aidy Boothroyd left. He is something of a journeyman manager in the lower divisions, having seen service at six different clubs. Fans are sceptical about him and some doubt whether he will last the season.

The betting odds suggest that this could go one of three ways. I think we are more likely to win (by the odd goal) than lose, but I will opt for a 2-2 draw.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Charlton stay top with away win

Charlton started with an unchanged side against Notts County today reports Erith Addick Paul May from Meadow Lane.   Scott Wagstaff deservedly retained his place with Danny Green joined by Jason Euell on the bench.
Charlton started brightly.   Hollands was the object of an early foul with the Magpies determined to get their retaliation in early.   County were able to clear from the free kick.   Good play by Hayes won a corner for the Addicks.   Jackson’s corner was cleared by Hughes and the move ended in a goal kick for the home side.
A free kick was awarded against Morrison on the edge of the box on seven minutes.   It was a good free kick but the Addicks handled it well and it was cleared.   A Jackson free kick was unproductive.  Wagstaff was caught in the face by a ball at point blank range.    He came back on with cotton wool in his nose.
The green shirted Elliot came quickly off his line and acted as a sweeper, anticipating the situation well.   The Addickted were vocal while the home fans seemed quite subdued.   Elliot punched out a long throw from Edwards.
With twenty minutes gone neither side had had a real chance but then Jackson headed the ball off the line to deal with a volley.   Wagstaff was pushed but the referee, who had not followed the advice of the hoardings round the ground to visit Vision Express, saw nothing.
Good play by Stephens and Wagstaff gave Jackson an opportunity and he put the ball in the net but was ruled to be offside.   Bishop put in a speculative effort that went wide.  A shot from Hayes was saved well by the keeper.
Hollands won the ball well in midfield with a good tackle and turned provider for Wagstaff who rounded the keeper and scored from a tight angle to put the Addicks ahead on 35 minutes.  The game then went a bit quiet.
Wright-Phillips advanced down the right and turned provider with a slide rule pass for Hayes who made no mistake tapping the ball in on the far post to make it 2-0 to the Addicks just before half time.

Half time: Magpies 0, Addicks 2
County made two substitutions at half time, taking off Bencherif who had been quite effective in defence.  Whether they were going to abandon their 4-1-3-2 formation was initially unclear.  Lee Hughes came on, possibly posing more of a challenge to Morrison.
Hayes threatened early on and then Stephens put in an excellent ball and Jackson was there but the offside flag went up.  Bishop clattered into the back of Wagstaff and the free kick was awarded.   Bishop then fouled Stephens and another free kick was awarded, but Jackson’s effort went well over.   Bishop conceded another free kick.
Sheehan headed back to his keeper and Nelson had to scramble across to prevent an own goal.  Solly provided some great defending at the expense of a corner, without Solly’s intervention Hawley would have been in for a tap in.   Sheehan put a great ball in and the substitute Montano made no mistake in finding the back of net to make it 1-2.   The defending was a bit slack as Charlton conceded their first goal of the season.
Hayes turned provider for Wright-Phillips but his effort went over the bar.   It all kicked off in midfield after Charlton were given a free kick.   Elliot told Wagstaff to calm down.    Westcarr put in a shot as County revived.
Hayes put in a clever ball for Wright-Phillips, but the keeper was able to gather.   A shot by the Magpies from distance was only just wide.   Hayes put in a shot from 35 yards that wasn’t far wide. A bad challenge was made on Jackson by Ravenhill who received the first yellow card of the game.   Wright-Phillips was manhandled but the free kick was given against him.
A free kick by Stephens from 30 yards out was too close to the keeper.   Demontagnac (whose first name was on his shirt) came on and the full back Kelly came off suggesting that County were going to intensify their attack. 
Taylor dealt well with a long throw from Edwards.   Wright-Phillips played in Hayes but the offside flag was raised.   Taylor and Montano had a clash of heads.    A free kick was awarded against the combative Hollands who had had a good game.    The offside flag was raised against County to the distress of the home fans.
Wiggins got a yellow card for kicking the ball away after a disputed throw in.   Lee Hughes put the ball down for the goal kick and Elliot put it elsewhere.    Jason Euell came on to replace Paul Hayes who had played well but was possibly tiring.  Euell was warmly greeted by the 818 Addickted at the game.
Morrison stopped Westcarr putting in a shot with a fierce but fair tackle.   Stephens dealt with a long throw by Edwards.    Elliot came off his line well to deal with the ball.   Montano started a move with a push which was ignored and won a corner.  A poor shot went in from distance.   Doherty came on.
Charm merchant Lee Hughes went down in the box in an exhibition of cheating.    Edwards had another long throw opportunity but Doherty defended it bravely and the goal kick was awarded as manager Allen went beserk again.
Four minutes were added on.  Doherty won the ball in the air.    Westcarr put in a shot which was gathered by Elliot.   Former County player Andy Hughes came on for his Charlton debut to replace Wagstaff.    Euell tried to hold the ball up in the corner but the free kick went against him which was taken by the keeper in a much more advanced position.   Sheehan went up to the referee, tapped him on the shoulder and said something and received a yellow card for his views.
Charlton won a corner and then the full time whistle blew.   It all kicked off with handbags at six places and Euell and Hollands were involved and Elliot joined in.   The coaching staff went on to calm things down.   Hollands got a yellow card.
It was 2-1 win as Wyn Grant forecast yesterday and Charlton kept their place at the top of the table.    As Chris Powell said last season, ‘Judge me when I get my own team’


Friday 12 August 2011

Elliot keeps his place

Rob Elliot is expected to keep his place in goal in tomorrow's match against Notts County, even though Ben Hamer has now recovered from his minor injury:

Notts County won a surprise victory away at Carlisle on the opening day of the season and maintained their good form in a league cup tie with rivals Forest in their first competitive meeting since 1994 which they only lost on penalties midweek.  They will be hoping to take three points off the Addicks to remain top of the table.

Last season they finished 19th and two years ago they neraly fell into the non-league.   The heady days of the Munto Finance affair and Sven Goran Eriksson are now an unhappy memory.   Martin Allen is the seventh manager in less than two seasons but has a good track record of improving lower division teams.

The fans are not that optimistic, forecasting mid-table mediocrity.   <i>Four Four Two</i> forecasts that they will end the season returning to League Two, but <i>The Times</i> goes for a more realistic 12th.

Player of the Year Neal Bishop is very much the fulcrum of the team.  He is combative and tenacious midfielder.  Karl Hawley is a good attacking player, but the defence is suspect.

No doubt I will have to eat my words at 5 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, but I am going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Paul May will be covering the match from Meadow Lane.  He always appreciates the offer of a drink.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

And now Jason Euell

Jason Euell has become Charlton's 16th summer signing:

The 34-year old, the club's record all-time signing, has been given a one year contract.   He will provide useful cover and his experience will be of value to the younger players.

Monday 8 August 2011

Reading game is off

Tonight's cup match with Reading is off as the police do not want to dilute their resources after the serious disturbances overnight in London.  Woolwich was one location in which trouble occurred with one report of a fire:   Shops were also ransacked at Charlton retail park.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Matt Taylor: the pressure is on

Matt Taylor writes about the experience joining Charlton in today's edition of The Football League Paper.  He notes, 'The pressure is on me and the rest of the new boys to perform straight away but we've got to relish that expectancy - as a player you want to play in front of big crowds every week and we're going to get them.'  [16,111 yesterday, marginally down on 16,236 last year].

'There's big expectations at a club of this size that was an established Premier League team not too long ago, has a big fanbase  and owners who want success.'   He adds, 'Having a big fanbase can sometimes be a burden and when I played at The Valley last season in front of a massive crowd we got on top and it wasn't easy for the home players.  If we can get [the fans] withuis early then we're in for the season we all want.'

'It's going to take time for us all to gel as a group but we're getting where we want to be and if we can hit the ground running and build momentum the whole club would jump on board.'   [They certainly seemed to be playing as a team who knew each other yesterday].

Of Chris Powell he says, 'The gaffer has really impressed me since I knew he wanted me to come to the club.  As a player he had a fantastic career with a superb work ethic and from what I've seen he's going to be a great success at Charlton and further down the line.'

'I am desperate to do all I can to help the club get back into the Championship.'

Clubs compete for Reid

Kyel Reid could make an early return to The Valley if Scunthorpe succeed in their attempt to secure his services. However, the free agent has impressed at his trial with Barnsley so he is likely to settle for whoever can offer him the best package.

Both clubs are clearly impressed by pace and not too worried about the quality of the final ball.

On another subject altogether, today is the birthday of Charlton legend Eddie Firmani. He will be 88 and celebrating in Naples, Florida.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Cherry juice

Every so often someone sends me an E-mail advocating the merits of cherry juice as a remedy for gout (which I have never had).  Bournemouth's players looked like cherry juice at 5 p.m. this afternoon as they slumped on the pitch after an emphatic season opening 3-0 defeat by Charlton.

The Times had us tipped as champions and although it's very early days no one can deny that it's a good start and puts the Addicks top of the league in the tentative table.

It wasn't perfect but there was some fluent passing play at least some of the time and a judicious use of the long ball.  We still go too deep under pressure and we looked a bit vulnerable defensively to counter attacks.  But the corners were an improvement on last season.

The two goals scored from open play by Dale Stephens and Waggy were screamers and Johnnie Jackson scored his penalty with calm and authoritative aplomb as one expect from the skipper.

Bournemouth started the game with some agricultural clearances which suggested that this was not the best team we would face this season, but not the worst either.  Solly conceded a rather unnecessary corner but fortunately it was unproductive.

A nasty foul on Hollands did not earn the yellow card it deserved from the raher self-important referee.   Good work by Hayes led to a Charlton corner, but Morrison, always busy in the box on these occasions, headed the ball over.

A corner taken by Jackson was played back in by the alert Stephens but Wright-Phillips put the ball just wide.  Hesitancy by Wagstaff nearly caused problems, but then a good long ball released Wright-Phillips.  However, he was not able to get round the keeper.  At this stage of the game one saw some good ideas but they were not quite coming off.

Another corner was conceded unnecessarily, something which needs to be worked on.  There was then panic stations in the defence because Elliot failed to come for the ball when he should have done.
Solly made a good run and passed to Wright-Phillips who flicked the ball well to Stephens enabling him to put in a rocket shot that left the keeper with no chance.  Quite wisely, Charlton then slowed the game down and kept possession to avoid the kind of early equaliser which happened too often last season.   However, possibly they kept this up for too long, leading to a rather quiet end to the half.

Bournemouth's Byrne, on loan from Spurs, was looking lively and a bit of a menace and was given far too much space throughout the match.  Elliot risked danger by hesitating again.  Charm merchant Arter was finally given the yellow card he deserved.  Some fans thought we should not have let him go, but I was not convinced by his petulance, even if he is Scott Parker's cousin.

Jackson put in an opportunistic shot from distance which tested the keeper and led to a Charlton corner.  Stephens provided a good corner with some real pace on it but it was unproductive.

Charlton prospect Danny Ings received a yellow card for a foul.  I was not that impressed by his contribution.  Wagstaff won Charlton a corner.  Elliot had to make a good save in the minute added on.

Half time: Addicks 1, Cherries 0

Bournemouth took off Baudry and brought on Taylor.  The Cherries threatened with a couple of early corners, but then Solly won one for Charlton taken by Jackson.  Stephens laid the ball off to Wagstaff who put in a screamer of a shot to make it 2-0.

A Bournemouth free kick flashed across the front of the Charlton goal and then the Addicks gave the ball away in midfield.   They mounted a good counter attack, but Stephens should have tried a shot rather than playing the ball across the field.   Another Bournemouth attack ended in an offside decision.

Elliot caught a Bournemouth corner.  Good play by Hayes saw him put in a shot at a difficult angle and he was frustrated when it went wide.  A Charlton corner was unproductive, but at least we were winning them.  Elliot saved from play following a Cherries corner.

Charlton were awarded a free kick for holding at last, but Jackson's effort went over.  Wright-Phillips was then brought down for the penalty which Jackson converted to make it 3-0.

Elliot made a good save.  Taylor received a yellow card.  Good work by Wagstaff was unproductive when Jackson overhit the ball.  Wright-Phillips was just wide with a good effort from distance.

Hayes was replaced by Benson and shortly afterwards Bradley Pritchard made his competitive debut in place of Wagstaff.  Wright-Phillips advanced well, but Jackson was unable to steer the ball.   Pritchard displayed good control of the ball and then good defensive work.   The three minutes added on were dominated by Charlton.

A clean sheet and no bookings, I feel good about this result.  But next Saturday we face a top of the table clash away at Notts County.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible  has awarded Dale Stephens his first ever Silver Bone for an authoritative and committed performance.    Elliot deserves credit for a clean sheet and some good saves, although the pressure he was under was rather intermittent.   However, he is sometimes overcome by hesitancy and fails to command his area which suggests that he should not be first choice keeper even if he stays (Hamer having injured his thumb in training).   The two new centre backs Taylor and Morrison displayed competent efficiency in their tasks, Taylor possibly showing more subtlety in his play.   Wiggins was continually jeered by the away support, but apart from the odd mistake carried out his tasks well.   Solly had some excellent moments, particularly in terms of contributing to attacks, but looked less secure in defence.  Hollands was not that prominent, but did what he had to do with a commendable quiet efficiency.   Jackson showed some nice touches and had a number of speculative efforts on goal which were worth the effort.    Wagstaff did lose the ball a few times, possibly through hesitancy or trying to be too clever, but this should not detract from an impressive overall performance in attack.   Hayes attracted some pre-season criticism, but seemed fully involved to me and showed some real guile.    Wright-Phillips was relatively quiet and does expect the ball to be played to him but he did set up the penalty claim well.  Benson had ten minutes to show what he could do which was pretty much what we saw last season, i.e., not that much but not without some skill.
One time TNT Dynamos player Bradley Pritchard had a cameo in which he showed that he is a player with real promise.   Incidentally, he must be the most educated player ever to feature for Charlton with five years at university, culminating in a Masters level qualification in sport science which surely trumps Iain Dowie's degree in rocket science.   Doherty came on to help us defend our 3-0 lead and did what he was asked to do competently enough.

The Hiss of the Match was awarded by rescue cat Fleur who joined Juneau the Soccer Cat's squad in the close season and the former Southam United fan gave the award to the East Stand lino for some bizarre second half decisions.

Friday 5 August 2011

Cherries team in M25 chaos

Bournemouth's team were caught in chaos on the M25 last night after an accident and only reached their hotel at around 9 p.m.

At one time it looked as if the Cherries were going to ask for today's kick off to be delayed but this will not happen and indeed the idea received short shrift from their own fans.

How the pundits assess the Cherries

Last year Bournemouth were knocked out of the play offs in a penalty shoot out.  Will they be able to repeat their play off achievement this season?   There is a sense in the assessments from pundits that they over achieved last season and the general view seems to be that they will finish just outside the play offs.  The Times and Four Four Two give remarkably similar rankings: 8th and 9th respectively.

The Times thinks that a solid defence is a strength, but takes the view that Eddie Howe is a hard act to follow for manager Bradbury.   They see the departure of Rhoys Wiggins to Charlton as significant (although some doubts have been expressed about him pre-season) but note the arrival of Adam Barrett from the Glaziers.  Captain Jason Pearce has left for Portsmouth.

Four Four Two note the effectiveness of the midfield with March Pugh and Liam Feeney providing the final pass for almost a third of their 75 goals last season.   Their fans' player of the season last year was a midfielder, 25-year old Anton Robinson.   The former Weymouth player is noted for his 'all-action displays'.  Perhaps he comes on and does a dance routine as well.

The Cherries have some difficulty in holding on to a lead, having squandered 32 points from winning positions last season.

On the south coast fans are saying that Charlton are there for the taking, have been 'all over the place' pre-season.   Perhaps this is a reference to the Spanish tour, but it would be interesting to know what some of them are on down on the south coast.

More cautious voices are saying they will settle for a draw which would not be good enough for us.  I am going for a 2-1 win, the Cherries scoring first after 19 minutes from a free kick and Bradley Wright-Phillips getting both of the Charlton goals.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Addicks may bid for Ings

Charlton may bid for Bournemouth striker Danny Ings if they don't land Jeffery Schlupp from Leicester according to Pravda: Ings

The Cherries are asking £1m for the 19-year old ace, but any Charlton bid is likely to start at £500,000 plus add ons with Simon Francis as a possible makeweight.

Johnnie Jackson has been named as the popular choice for Charlton captain. The team trained at Sparrows Lane today instead of at The Valley as planned as it was considered important not to damage the pitch after heavy rain.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

The countdown begins

Just another 48 hours and I will be getting ready to travel to The Valley. The football season is within touching distance. Yesterday I was doing a preview for Radio Mercia on Coventry City, but now I can start to think about Charlton with a real sense of anticipation.

I have a sense of optimism about the coming season, although perhaps I will already have suffered a setback by 5 p.m. on Saturday. Last year's team simply wasn't good enough to achieve the promotion that all Addicks desire and it seems to me that some good choices of new players have been made. How they will play together remains to be seen, but early indications are of a passing game with the occasional use of a judicious long ball.

There are those who insist that the problem is the manager not the players and are calling for judgment to be made after three games. I think we need to be a little more patient and not too short-termist. What we need in the early part of the season is to stay in touch: the example of Southampton last year shows that it is possible to go forward from a solid base.

Come on you Reds!