Friday 30 September 2011

Powell asks for calm and focused approach

Chris Powell has called for a calm and focused approach at tomorrow's match against Sheffield United with the Addicks playing to their strengths and not being distracted by the ferbile atmosphere in the stadium.  Rather surprisingly this report from the steel city says that Charlton are 'two points ahead of second placed Charlton'.   It is encouraging that our second string side are now in the league and could also get promoted:

The feeling in Sheffield is that the match against Wycombe shows an inability to take scoring opportunities and that they lack a player with an eye for goal in the way that Bradley Wright-Phillips does.   There is a concern that they may be exposed as 'playground bullies' by Charlton with a lack of real quality:

I must say that I find this a really difficult match to call.   It really could go one of three ways, but it is certainly a key match.   However, defeat should not be interpreted as meaning that automatic promotion is outside our grasp.

The bookies have Sheffield United as firm favourites for the game.   Ironically, I have to be at a 80th birthday celebration in Hull and could well be travelling back via Sheffield as the game ends.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Pritchard has op

Bradley Pritchard has had his operation on his foot and it has been a success.  Chris Powell hopes to have him back in four weeks.

Rory Weal, the 16 year old darling of the current Labour conference, was interviewed by The Times and he had a Charlton season ticket in his hand, great product placement.   This was something the political shows missed as they had been focusing on the fact that he went to a private school before his father's business went bust.

Rather confusingly, a report in The Times says that he had to give up his season ticket when the family moved from Bromley to Maidstone after their financial meltdown.    However, junior season tickets don't cost that much and he could use the Rickshaw.

In any event he came in the top ten in the Charlton section of a fantasy football competition.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Breton retains Charlton's unbeaten record

He is almost certainly the only Breton to have ever played for Charlton and last night Yann Kermorgant secured a 1-1 draw for the Addicks against MK Dons.   Preston won 4-3 at Wycombe and hence are now just two points behind the Addicks: they also have a game in hand.     MK Dons dominated the first half, but Charlton came back strongly in the second.

MK Dons started strongly as Balanta and charm merchant Clinton Morrison went close within the first five minutes.    However, Morrison was unable to secure his objective of scoring against the Addicks, although it is the second time this season he has been involved in a 1-1 draw with them.

Dons played a 4-3-2-1 formation to deny Charlton possession and the alert Hamer had to make three important saves in the first half.

The franchisees secured a first-half lead after Dean Lewington was brought down in the box by Matt Taylor (one report says Chris Solly) and Shaun Williams converted the penalty.

After the break Paul Hayes brought an excellent save from keeper David Martin before Bradley Wright-Phillips wasted a free header from a Rhoys Wiggins cross.

Skipper Johnnie Jackson, was at the heart of much of Charlton's improved work after the break and created two chances in as many minutes on the hour mark. First Paul Hayes’ volley was blocked close to goal, before Bradley Wright-Phillips headed over.

Kermorgant, who had only been on the field three minutes as a substitute replacing Wagstaff, headed Charlton level on 75 minutes from Danny Green's cross.

As the slogan goes, 'Win at home, draw away, go up in May.'

Monday 26 September 2011

Would we settle for a draw?

The smart money is on a draw between MK Dons and Charlton tonight.   The franchisees are unbeaten at home this season, but have drawn two matches.   Charlton have won all their away matches, but would a fifth away win in the league be too much to ask for?

Surprisingly the leading MK Dons fan site says that nothing goes right at home for them recently and it should be an easy away win for Charlton.   I am going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks, although having got the score right against Chesterfield I am unlikely to repeat the feat.   Nevertheless, a win would set us up for the tougher of the week's two fixtures at Bramall Lane.

My one concern is charm merchant Clinton Morrison.   Having fallen out with Gary Megson, Morrison wants to make a permanent move to the Dons.  He thinks that he can establish his case by scoring against Charlton tonight and he has recent previous.   However, he could score the only goal in a defeat for the home side.

I might have well have gone tonight, but a long-standing colleague is having his retirement dinner.   Paul May can't make it either.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Dons charm merchant targeted by officials

One time Glazier Clinton Morrison has gone to MK Dons on a one month loan meaning we will face him again on Tuesday evening.  Having been feted by Sky TV as the hero of the hour after he scored the equaliser for the Owls at The Valley, one would have thought that his future with Wednesday was secure.  However, apparently the charm merchant has fallen out with Gary Megson.

Now it appears that the popular player is being unfairly targeted by officials or so Dons supremo Karl Robinson would have it.   Apparently when Morrison was brought on an assistant referee was heard to say, 'here he is, watch all the fouls he's going to give away.'

According to Robinson, 'Clinton didn't get one free kick, not one, but had three or four against him.  It speaks volumes.'   Well, it does.   One interpretation is that Morrison is a vigorous player who commits more fouls than he is fouled against.

Nevertheless, he does have any eye for goal and the Bury keeper had to tip a shot from him past the post.

Not only is the Dons supremo furious with the officials after the 0-0 draw at Bury, he is also angry with defender Gary MacKenzie after the player was sent off for what appeared to be a head butt at Huddersfield last weekend.  'It's a disgrace what he did, he knows that,' fulminated the Dons boss.  MacKenzie will miss three matches. 

One might think that a setting like Milton Keynes would induce a certain somnolence in the manager, but this is evidently not the case.

Saturday 24 September 2011

We are top of the league!

That was the chant of the Addickted after today's 3-1 victory over Chesterfield.   Sheffield United lost 1-0 at Wycombe, putting Charlton three points clear while MK Dons and Huddersfield both drew, the latter dropping two points at home to Orient.

Charlton dominated the first half and went ahead through goals from Paul Hayes and Johnnie Jackson, although Hayes missed two chances to put the Addicks even further ahead.   After the break, the Spireites came into the game more while Charlton seemed a little lacklustre.

However, although the visitors have a strong midfield while the Charlton midfield faded in the second half, their shooting was either wayward or straight at the keeper.  It was a soft penalty that got them back in the game but then Bradley Wright-Phillips sealed Charlton's victory with a late header.

'Everything seems right at Charlton' said the 606 presenter in response to the Addick who called in.  Well, perhaps not everything, and the moaners found their voice in the second half, but it was a clear victory.

Before the match soprano Victoria Stanyon gave an impressive and evocative rendition of Jerusalem and Valley Floyd Road.   She certainly has a very good voice.

I spotted this week's deliberate mistake in the programme which had us 3-2 winners over Preston.

Chesterfield started quite vigorously but then Charlton won a free kick on the edge of the box which led to a corner that was unproductive.  Generally, however, I thought that our corners were better today.

Good work on the left led to a Charlton throw in.   Johnnie Jackson played the ball in and it had to be cleared off the line leading to a Charlton corner.   The ball was played in again, but the Spireites defence was able to clear.

Charlton advanced again.   Hoots mon!   No.2 Spireites goalkeeper Greg Fleming had to make a fingertip save at the expense of a Charlton corner, one of a number of good saves he made in the first half.   Charlton kept up the pressure and Wright-Phillips turned provider for Hayes, but he was unable to take advantage.  The resultant Charlton corner led to a goal kick.

The pressure was bound to tell eventually.   Charton kept up the pressure in the box and Hayes was able to get through the crowd to score a messy goal and make it 1-0.

Good defensive work from Wagstaff won Charlton a free kick.   Wright-Phillips advanced well and turned provider for Hayes but he was unable to take advantage of the scoring opportunity.    Morrison provided some good defensive work.

A Charlton free kick for handball was well taken by Dale Stephens and skipper Johnnie Jackson was able to put the ball in the back of the net to make it 2-0.    Hayes put in a disappointing pass.

While this was going on a Spireite was marched out and the small number of Charlton supporters in the Jimmy Seed subsequently disappeared.

A Charlton corner was tipped over the bar by the keeper.    The alert Wiggins provided good defensive cover as the Spireites attacked.   A Chesterfield corner was taken very quickly, a routine they clearly had well worked out.   Leon Clarke had an excellent scoring opportunity, but put the ball wide, leading to chants of 'Paolo di Canio'.

Wright-Phillips shot straight at the keeper.   A Charlton corner was unproductive.

Half time: Addicks 2, Spireites 0

Chesterfield are a neat passing side and they changed their tactics effectively in the second half, using two central midfielders to close down Hollands and Stephens, leading Charlton to lose their control of the midfield.

A Chesterfield free kick was caught by Hamer.   Johnnie Jackson received a yellow card for a foul.  Spireites manager John Sheridan was sent to the stands after he insisted that they were entitled to a penalty.

A Chesterfield free kick led to a corner for them.   They won another corner, but Hamer remained in control.   Wagstaff was fouled and went down, but the lino remained oblivious.   Chesterfield persisted with their attack and won a penalty.   Some argument followed among themselves about who should take it, but eventually folically challenged Danny Whitaker stepped up and put the ball decisively past Hamer.

A Chesterfield free kick led to a corner, but once again Hamer was on hand to deal with the situation.   A Charlton shot came off the bar.   Hayes was taken off to allow Kermorgant to make his debut.    Chesterfield took off Gary Johnson's son and brought on Morgan.  Talbot received a yellow card.

Taylor was brought down in the area and I thought the referee was going to give a penalty, but instead he awarded a yellow card for simulation.   My view remains that it was a penalty.

Charlton won a couple more corners and then with four minutes added on Kermorgant put in a neat ball to Wagstaff who provided a cross for Bradley Wright-Phillips who headed the ball in the back of the net to make it 3-1.

In the dying minutes Wagstaff was replaced by Andy Hughes.   At the end of the game Taylor politely remonstrated with the referee about his card.

The attendance was 22,105 and those involved in the 'football for a fiver' campaign were a little disappointed.   A club source commented, 'Interestingly matchday sales today were the same as Exeter, in the rain. So perhaps the weather wasn't the factor we assumed back in February.'

'For the last two weeks sales have tracked that Exeter game pretty closely. The missing sales were at the beginning. I'd have liked a five week run at it, but the way the games fell didn't allow it, plus we had to see how the team started before committing.'

'I am not generally disappointed with our crowds because I think we have to be realistic about the appeal of League One football and the opposition. If you look at past promotion campaigns there is little uplift this early.'

'Finally, bear in mind that for the last home game we had 1500 community and schools comps and for Scunthorpe more than 2000. There were none today, so we probably had 8,000 plus extra paying home fans. And I think they will have enjoyed themselves.'

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Ben Hamer.   He wasn't able to save the penalty, but otherwise it was a near flawless performance.   It's good to see a keeper catch the ball rather than punch it out.   Taylor and Morrison once again demonstrated their solidity, showing that we have our best central defensive pairing since relegation.   Wiggins had an excellent match, getting forward well and also providing good defensive cover.  His passing was accurate and his throw ins were good and he received a special round of applause from the East Stand.   Solly had a very good game and is improving all the time.  Although they were checked in the second half, I would take Hollands and Stephens over Racon and Semedo any day.  Wagstaff contributed a great deal, although occasionally he found himself out of position.  Jackson had a good game, contributing well and showing once again that he can take scoring opportunities.   I wish the same could be said of Hayes whose passing also left something to be desired.   Wright-Phillips can seem casual or uninterested, but he does what is required of him when scoring opportunities arise. Kermorgant looked very promising in his cameo, a stylish player.  Hughes was just on for a couple of minutes.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the referee who had an excellent first half but then deteriorated in the second half.

Friday 23 September 2011

Spireites do much better at home

Chesterfield have a poor record on the road and even their own leading fan site cannot see them coming away from The Valley with anything tomorrow afternoon.   After a poor start to the campaign, the Spireites have recovered to mid-table, but largely on the basis of home form.   Much hope is placed on loan striker Leon Clarke, he of bust up with di Canio fame, who scored a hat trick against Carlisle:

He must be the only striker greeted with the chant 'You slapped di Canio'.

A draw would be a good result for Chesterfield and it may be that they will try to play defensively, although I am none too sure about the quality of their defence.   Their first choice keeper Tommy Lee is out injured and Greg Fleming is in goal while 18-year old Adam Smith has been brought in from Leicester on loan as cover (another player named after a dead economist).   Fleming played for Gretna at one time.   The 24-year old is 6ft. 2ins. and is known for his impenetrable Scottish accent.

Talk of a 'stiff test', however, suggests psychological preparation for a defeat.  I am prepared to offer their manager a script now: 'Tough place to come with Charlton riding high ... big spending club ... gave a good account of ourselves and will get back on the road at home ... arguably should have had a penalty after ten minutes which would have changed the game.'

One concern at The Valley is always the crowd which starts to become restive at the first misplaced pass or hoofed ball.  An early goal would do a lot to settle nerves.

I know that it is a hostage to fortune, but I am confident of winning this match, although probably by a smaller margin than many of the Addickted would like.   I am going for 3-1.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Pritchard foot injury

Bradley Pritchard has a broken metatarsal and is likely to be out for a month.

Pritchard has impressed with his commitment in appearances from the bench in league games, although whether his skill is as impressive remains to be seen, but hopefully that can be developed.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Fernandes: why I didn't buy Charlton

New QPR owner Tony Fernandes has said that, frustrated by failed attempts to take over at his first love West Ham, he considered buying Charlton:

It was cheap and a 'great business deal'.   However, his heart was not in it as it was too close to West Ham.

Fernandes is thinking that QPR need a new stadium.   But they might share it with someone else.   He sees the groundshare between Palace and Charlton as a precedent.  Just as well he didn't come to The Valley.

Spireites defeat started a new era

When Charlton went down 2-5 at home to Chesterfield in 1933, it was the last game of the season and they had already been relegated away at Southampton the previous week.   Perhaps their hearts were not in it in front of the crowd of 5,419.   Malam scored three goals for Chesterfield in the first ten minutes, followed later by a fourth.  Much good that it did them as they were unable to overtake West Ham and were relegated along with the Addicks.

However, it saw the end of the temporary reign of Albert Lindon who reverted to assistant manager having taken over as manager from Alex Macfarlane in December 1932.   In his place came the great Jimmy Seed.

In 1980-81 Charlton beat Chesterfield 1-0 home and away.   Charlton finished 3rd on the same number of points as Burnley and the Spireites were not far behind in 5th place.   8,775 were at the home game with the winning goal scored by Phil Walker.

Spireites target Valley win

After three wins in a row, Chesterfield are targeting their first victory at The Valley since 1933 on Saturday in what will be their first visit since 1980:

Manager John Sheridan has a number of players returning from injury and takes the view that Charlton are by no means the best team in the league.

A crowd of over 20,000 is forecast for the tickets for a fiver match.   This turned out to be a bit of a banana skin last year, but we now have an improved side, so I am expecting a competitive match but one that Charlton will win.

Monday 19 September 2011

Brakes face former Charlton coach in FA Cup

Leamington have been drawn away to Daventry Town  in the next round of the FA Cup.  This means that they will come up against former Charlton captain and coach Mark Kinsella who has been manager since the summer of the up-and-coming Southern League outfit.

A Rochdale fan reflects

My Rochdale contact reflects on Saturday's match:

At half time I feared the worst. After a bright start in which Rochdale almost went ahead from a bullet header by Pim Balkenstein, which was blocked, Charlton imposed themselves on the game and we actually found it quite difficult to get the ball for the last thirty minutes of the first half. Charlton were 2-0 up at half time after goals from Danny Hollands, who was unmarked after an excellent run, and Rhoys Wiggins who took advantage of a very poor clearance to steer home off the post on the stroke of half time.

Dale came out fighting at the start of the second half and got back into the game courtesy of one of the best headed goals I have ever seen. Ashley Grimes won the ball in midfield, released David Ball who found Jean Louis Akpa Akpro in a wide position, and his cross was brilliantly headed home by Grimes from the 18 yard line. Within minutes we were level after David Ball crashed through the Charlton defence and lashed in the equaliser. In truth, we should have gone on from that to take the game to Charlton and possibly put ourselves in a winning position, but we didn’t.

Slowly but surely Charlton weathered the storm and started to put themselves into good positions again. With 15 minutes to go I felt that the tide was definitely turning in Charlton’s favour. However, the winning goal, when it came, was another soft one, with Hollands given a free header on the six yard line that he headed home easily, to give the visitors three points that I feel, over the 90 minutes, they just about warranted. I am slightly disappointed that our goals were hard earned and well crafted while all Charlton’s three goals could have been prevented by better defensive play, but I cannot argue with the eventual outcome. I think Charlton will win promotion.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Charlton stay top after Rochdale win

Today's Football League Paper has more than one writer saying that Sheffield United are as good as promoted, but it is Charlton who remain top of their table after their 3-2 win at Rochdale.   The Addicks were 2-0 ahead at half time, but then surrendered their lead before scoring the winner.

Hamer made a superb save while the game was still 0-0.   The wife of Danny Hollands, Natalie, gave birth to triplets this week, but he was ready and alert to head home from six yards out after 20 minutes following a superb delivery from Johnnie Jackson.

On 44 minutes Paul Hayes drove into the box and found Wiggins, who picked his spot from 18 yards.  Wiggins was man of the match for the Rochdale commentators, followed by Jackson, but Chris Powell was full of praise for Hollands.

Rochdale scored their first on 57 minutes when Akpro put in a cross and Grimes muscled Scott Wagstaff off the ball before heading into the corner of the net.   Ball then equalised for Rochdale three minutes later.

Charlton often don't seem to threaten from corners, but on 80 minutes Hollands leapt to connect with a corner from Jackson and put his header past the keeper.

Jason Euell who had come on a sub cleared Balkenstein's header off the line at the end of the game to preserve Charlton's lead.

Charlton have got 12 points from their four games on the road so the challenge now is to do better in front of the edgy Valley crowd.

For me it was another sporting treble weekend: Leamington demolished Boldmere St. Michaels 5-0 in the FA Cup and Blaze beat Stingrays 6-3 (which they deserved if only for their fish mascot).

It is being reported that Paul Benson is going out on loan to Colchester United.

Thursday 15 September 2011

A Rochdale fan writes

A Rochdale fan gives his thoughts on his team and tomorrow's game:

It was a difficult summer. After four and a half years of pure success (league 2 play-offs twice, first ever appearance at Wembley, promotion to league 1 after 36 years, equal highest ever league position), Keith Hill and David Flitcroft finally moved to Barnsley, taking Matt Done and Scott Wiseman with them. Craig Dawson moved to West Brom and just after this season started Chris O’Grady moved to Sheffield Wednesday. New manager Steve Eyre thus has a hell of a challenge keeping Dale’s heads above water in what would in any case have been the difficult second season at a higher level.

The first six games brought only two draws, one of which was rather fortunate.  However, there are some positives. The Carling Cup has seen wins over Chesterfield and, famously, at QPR in a game that Neil Warnock apparently wanted to lose. The attacking play has been promising. Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro, Dale’s French striker, has revelled in the new responsibility of leading the line. New loan signing David Ball has started very promisingly and, in the past week, things have improved in terms of league results with a derby day 4-2 win at Bury and a 1-0 win over Scunthorpe on Tuesday night.

We are all prepared to give Steve Eyre a chance and the signs are good. Also he has some humility about him and clearly understands football. Everyone is delighted with the way we are trying to play and the upturn in results over the past week. We know Charlton are flying and anticipate a very difficult game. But who knows? If the effort and determination shown thus far are in display again, we could grind out another result.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Yann Kermogant signed

French striker Yann Kermogant has signed (I think that his name is spelt incorrectly on the club website).  A free agent, Chris Powell knew him when he was coaching at Leicester. Apparently he struggled to adjust to life in England, but then he was in Leicester.

He went on to play on a season-long loan for French club Aples-Auvignon who were relegated from Ligue 1 last season.   The 29-year old has scored four goals in his last 29 appearances, so he is hardly a hot shot, but there have been calls for an additional striker.   Apparently he impressed earlier in his career at Grenoble and Stade Reims.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Charlton go top of the league but out of the cup

Charlton went top of League 1 last night after Sheffield United were beaten 0-3 at home by Huddersfield.   The record of the Addicks in the league cup is never good and they played a second string side was beaten 0-2 at home by a Preston team that contained eight of their normal first team players.    Given that the reward on offer was a trip away to Southampton, I'll take being top of the league.

Preston were a physical side and played a direct game in contrast to Reading who tried to play football.    They had a tricky formation, loosely based around a diamond.

The Addicks were better in the second half and Euell had a goal disallowed for offside in stoppage time while Wagstaff hit the post.   Wagstaff's energy, pace and skill gave Preston a lot of trouble, but he did not have enough quality around him,

Benson looked ill at ease in the first half with his hand and wrist heavily strapped and had to be taken off at the break and replaced by Wagstaff.   Green lasted for 60 minutes but was clearly still not fully fit after his recent illness.   What we particularly lacked was a central ball player which shows how much work Hollands and Stephens normally put in.

The general consensus was that Francis was poor.   He was at fault for the Preston opener and have the ball away on many occasions giving the visitors a chance.   Mambo came on at right back at half time and did a lot better which says it all really, although he found it difficult to cope with the pace of the Preston winger.

Pritchard put in a typically energetic performance, but lacked real quality and didn't create all that much.  Doherty and Cort were strong, but Sullivan looked shaky.   Views about Bover differ.   The physical approach of Preston was difficult for him, but he had some bright moments and was unlucky with a long range effort in the first half.

One well-known Addick has already asked for his money back, but it seemed to me to be the right strategy to me to try out the reserves.   The only downside is that it is another feather in the cap of Phil Brown.   It also shows once again that we need to be involved in a proper reserve league for development purposes.

Interview with Addicks chairman

Charlton chairman and Manchester City fan Michael Slater is interviewed by Mihir Bose in this evening's Sub-Standard (although I think it has been getting better lately):

Monday 12 September 2011

Preston look for fifth consecutive victory

Preston North End are looking for their fifth consecutive victory at The Valley in the Carling Cup tonight, having beaten Yeovil 4-3 at the weekend.   They have won five games and drawn one since losing to Colchester on the opening day.

Prestion potentially face seven matches in three weeks, so manager Phil Brown may rest some players.   Striker Iain Hume is expected to be rested.   He played against Yeovil 36 hours after playing for Canada.  On the whole the squad is a quality one and fears about a lack of confidence have now been overcome.

The Addicks are expected to field a much changed side.   Danny Green has now recovered from his illness and Leon Cort could make his debut for the Addicks.   Bover may well appear, but Benson still has a problem with his broken finger.

This is the first time the two sides have faced each other in the League Cup.  They last met in the Championship in March 2009, a game that ended 0-0 at The Valley.   The two clubs have played each other 68 times with Preston winning 31 and Charlton 23, although some of those would have been in the days of Tom Finney.

We can expect a competitive game which may well be drawn at full time.

Sunday 11 September 2011

A good sporting weekend

It's actually been a good sporting weekend for me.   The ice hockey started again yesterday.  It was bit odd driving into Coventry on a warm late summer afternoon kitted up for the rink.   But Blaze demolished Fife Flyers (from Kirkcaldy) 9-0.   Admittedly they are the rookie team in the league, Newcastle Vipers having finally lost their sting, but they are also the oldest team in British hockey, having been founded in 1938.   They won't be dancing in the streets of Raith tonight and Adam Smith must be spinning in his grave.   I did feel sorry for the small knot of away supporters, though.

Leamington managed to beat Hitchin 1-0, the goal being scored by a new signing.

And then there was Charlton.   The consensus of the blogging community, which no doubt reflects that of the majority of fans, is one of some flatness despite another three points.   The expectation level is very high, but I do not think that we are going to flatten teams like Exeter, even with 10 men.   If we get a really big win, it will be away from The Valley.

One area that does need more work is corners.   None of our corners was productive on Saturday.  They fell into three categories:

1. Taken short.   This never seems to work and I don't know why we persist with them.  Indeed, one on Saturday, evidently a training ground routine, was a complete disaster.
2. Caught by the keeper.
3. Overhit.

Given the negativity about our win on Saturday, it looks as if the roof will fall in when we eventually lose a game, as we inevitably will.

Saturday 10 September 2011

'Put me out of my misery'

That was the plaintive cry of the Bloke Behind Me as Charlton came to the end of their 2-0 win over Exeter City at The Valley today.   There were certainly some anxious moments and a lack of consistent quality from Charlton, but they kept a clean sheet and took all three points to go second.   What more can one ask for?  Well, clearly a lot more as far as some Charlton fans are concerned, but we have to remember that we are a League 1 team playing in the third division and we are not going to overwhelm other teams.  Grinding out results is what it is all about.

In many respects the turning point in the game was when Grecians charm merchant David Nardiello was sent off in the first half for foul and abusive language to a linesman.  Connossieurs of useless facts may have already realised that this is the first sending off in a match between Charlton and Exeter over all the years since the first league game at The Valley.

My first adjustment on arriving at The Valley was to work out that this was not a re-match against Sheffield Wednesday as Chris Powell's programme notes seemed to indicate.

Two minutes in the game a Charlton free kick led to a header from Wright-Phillips that was not too far over the bar.  I thought that the Charlton players seemed a bit nervous and I am sure that we will see their best performances this season away from the edgy Valley crowd.   Incidentally, despite a decent Exeter contingent, this was well down on the Bournemouth game at 14,217 and our average for the season is below 15,000.

Hamer fumbled the ball and it appears that television replays showed that the ball did cross the line, although from my vantage point I wasn't sure that it was entirely over.   But then the replays also showed that Solly's shot that bounced down off the crossbar also went over the line.

Anyway, following a Charlton corner, Nardiello expressed his views in no uncertain terms to the linesman.   I thought that the referee was going to give a yellow, but he handed out a red.  Exeter's petulance continued with captain David Noble receiving a yellow card for kicking the ball away.

I liked the patient, possession football we were playing which was a welcome change from the deterioration into hoof ball on Monday.   Over the match as a whole we had 63 per cent of the possession.  Many of the crowd, however, became dissatisfied wanting all out attack against the ten men.   I reassured the Bloke Beside Me (Paul from Bexleyheath) that this would eventually pay off by creating a chance.   In the end it was Paul Hayes who turned provider for Bradley Wright-Phillips who put the ball along the ground into the Exeter goal to the chagrin of the Grecians in the Jimmy Seed who had been booing him for his Plymouth associations.

Half time: Addicks 1, Grecians 0

Exeter made a double substitution after half time taking off Jones and Coles and bringing on Chris Shephard and Richard Logan.   The 29-year old has been at City since 2007 and has scored 42 goals.   He certainly looked lively and constituted Exeter's main threat in the second half, although his most potent shot went straight at the keeper when he was one on one which perhaps shows his limitations.

Hayes managed to lose the ball and Wright-Phillips put in a shot that was just wide.   An Exeter free kick led to their one corner of the game against our seven.   It was cleared.   Solly made a great run down the wing but it was unproductive.  Hayes failed to take a good chance.   Wright-Phillips put in an effort that was just wide.

On 77 minutes Hayes was taken off and replaced by Jason Euell.   Wright-Phillips showed great determination and skill in fighting for the ball just in front of us in the East Stand.   He then turned provider for Dale Stephens who found the back of the net.

A good attack forced the Exeter keeper to turn the ball round the post, but the corner was caught by him.  We still need more work on our corners and taking them short never seems to work.

There were relatively few incidents in the rest of the game, although Wagstaff managed to shoot over in the four minutes added on.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Chris Solly for playing the ball forward with intelligence and determination, even if he does make the occasional error in defence.  He was also named in The League Paper team of the day.   Ben Hamer nearly let a goal slip in in the first half, but his distribution is good.   Once again Morrison and Taylor showed that they are reliable centre backs with Morrison in particular making one decisive interception.   I have more doubts about Wiggins who sometimes needs to get forward a bit more quickly and who put in a couple of wayward shots from distance which were really a waste of time.   Stephens had a rather poor game until he scored his goal.   He didn't always seem to be very alert.   Wagstaff combined well with Solly, but did always get the ball from other players when he was unmarked in a good position.  Hollands played his part competently enough, although I am not sure that he is as good at throw ins as advertised.   Jackson didn't have one of his best games, but got into threatening positions once or twice.  Hayes was a bit of a disappointment to say the least, failing to take one opportunity to score.  Wright-Phillips once again showed that he has an eye for goal and showed real skill in other parts of the pitch.   Euell came on in place of Hayes and tried hard but did not really make a substantial difference.   Pritchard gave the ball away shortly after coming over, but showed some real grit and skill after that.   I didn't see Andy Hughes BSc make any particular contribution in his cameo.

The Hiss of the Match did not go to the officials who did very well.  I don't blame them for not seeing whether balls crossed the line as that is why we need goalline technology.  Juneau the Soccer Cat handed it to the Bloke Behind Me.

Friday 9 September 2011

Scott Parker talks about time at 'small club'

In an in depth interview in the Daily Telegraph today Scott Parker talks about his time at 'small club' Charlton and his move to a 'big club' at Chelsea.   He reckons that he was not mentally tough enough then and things would get him down, presumably including being at a small club:

Rooney Rule debate focuses attention on Powell

There is a debate going on at the moment about whether the FA should introduce a version of the Rooney Rule used in the United States which requires that every shortlist for a managerial vacancy should include an ethnic minority candidate.   Of course, all this could result in is tokenism and Chris Powell is sceptical about it, stressing that what is important is to get the right man for the job regardless of colour.

The debate has, however, led to a number of articles about the Charlton manager as a 'role model' and the best of them is here:

Finding the net a problem for Grecians

Exeter City have a scoring problem, having found the back of the net just six times in six league games.   This is not such a surprise given that strikers John O'Flynn and Guillem Bauza are both out injured.  Rowan Vine has been brought in on loan from QPR and he is likely to be partnered up front by Daniel Nardielo.   Manager Paul Tisdale has been trying to get a loan player in for the last few weeks, but he has faced a problem ever since Jamie Cureton decided to join Leyton Orient.

The Grecians are now No. 1 in Devon and indeed anywhere west of Bristol.   Four Four Two forecast that they would finish 17th.  The Times had them finishing 13th.   In other words, not likely to be promotion challengers, but likely to pull out of any relegation battle.

Given that we have had two home draws, one has to be cautious about forecasting a win, but surely this is at least a chance to put a few past Len Pidgeley and improve our goal difference.   I am going for a 2-0 win for the Addicks.

Pidgeley sounds like a no nonsense northerner but in fact he hails from Twickenham and spent some time with Chelsea, coming on as a substitute for them against us in the last game of the 2004-5 season.  Since then, he has had spells with Woking, Carlisle and Bradford City.

Elsewhere Kevin Lisbie has signed up with Leyton Orient until January 8th as the O's look for a way to get off the bottom of the table.   Lisbie had been linked with a move back to Gillingham, having been let go by Ipswich.

Grecians boss would have liked to sign Hamer

Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale would liked to have sign Addicks keeper Ben Hamer who was on loan with the Grecians last season, but didn't have the funds:

Tisdale is also full of praise for Matt Taylor who joined the Addicks from Exeter.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Grecians hope for morale boost from Valley win

After a poor start to the season and with morale in the camp low, Exeter City are 'reading off' from last year's 3-1 victory and hoping to take all three points at The Valley on Saturday:

The Grecians have some injury worries and I think that the key to the game is to score an early goal and then follow up with a second which we failed to do on Monday night.

There has been some criticism of the use of the long ball on Monday, but the long ball is fine as long as it is intelligently.   There was some excellent diagonal balls against Wednesday.   However, the success rate with such balls is lower than playing through the middle and some of them were overhit while others recalled the old hoofing days of last season.   On balance we should try and keep the ball on the deck but then occasional long ball can make a contribution and vary the play.

Incidentally, I hear that Simon Jordan is writing his autobiography (with the aid of a ghost writer in classic 'as told to' fashion).   Apparently it is going to be 'explosive' and may trouble the lawyers.   I wonder what, if anything, he will say about being 'dissed' by Richard Murray?

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Powell in running for manager of the month

Chris Powell has been short listed for the League 1 Manager of the Month award for August.   We all know about the curse of this award.    However, it is more likely to go to Karl Robinson at MK Dons, Danny Wilson at Sheffield United or Les Parry at Tranmere Rovers who have been something of a surprise package so far.

Monday 5 September 2011

Charlton fade in second half

Charlton were unable to maintain the momentum of their first half performance and drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday at The Valley last night.   Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a superb goal for the Addicks in the third minute, but they were unable to capitalise on the extent to which they were running the match in the first half.   A second goal then would have killed the game off.

After the break Sheffield Wednesday stepped up a gear while Charlton's midfield seemed to lose their control of the game.  The equaliser came from a corner and in the last quarter of an hour the game fizzled out in front of a crowd of just over 14,000, perhaps to be expected on a Monday night when the game was on Sky.  

One surprise in the opening line up was the absence of Nicky Weaver in the Owls goal, presumably injured.  We were also missing Danny Green suffering from a virus so the bench was a bit lacking in substance.

We made a vigorous start and were rewarded with the early goal from Wright-Phillips.  Wiggins was brought down, but no action was taken by the referee.   Wright-Phillips advanced down the left wing and put in a good cross, but no one was able to connect.   Charlton won a corner which was taken short, which rarely works in my view, but we were able to keep up the pressure.

Wright-Phillips played the ball in well, but Jackson's effort went just over.   After just 21 minutes Gary Megson, who was in arm waving mode, decided to take off Sidgwick and bring on new signing Ryan Lowe.

A Sheffield Wednesday free kick was taken in the wrong position (all evening Wednesday were advancing at throw ins, but the referee took action only once whilst being strict on our throw ins).   Before the free kick could be taken there was a fracas and Morrison and Rob Jones for Wednesday received the first yellow cards of the evening, the referee having developed a decisive flourish for the cameras.

Hayes shirt was pulled as he advanced.   No action was taken, but a trip on Wright-Phillips earned a yellow card for Lines.   Charlton won a corner.   The Owls managed to break, but I thought that we defended the counter attack well.  A Wednesday corner was eventually cleared.

Half time: Addicks 1, Owls 0

Taylor and Lowe had a clash of heads, leaving the latter rather groggy.   The ball went off, but the visually challenged East Stand lino failed to flag.   Wright-Phillips advanced down the wing and put a good ball in.  Lowe went down and was replaced by Clinton Morrison.   The popular player was greeted by a chorus of boos.

Wednesday's goal started with a throw in that was taken well down the pitch from where it should have been.   They then won a corner which was tight with the goal line and headed in at the far post by the substitute Morrison.

Semedo went down on his haunches and the referee advised him to move to the touchline.   Clinton Morrison took exception to this and received a yellow card for the benefit of his opinions.

Wright-Phillips won a Charlton corner.   There was a goalmouth scramble with the ball played in several times but O'Donnell in the Wednesday goal was eventually able to win control.

Semedo was taken off and received a round of applause and a chorus of the Semedo song from the North Stand who had been booing him every time he got the ball (Megson was frantically instructing him to acknowledge the Wednesday support).   The explanation for this that I heard was that his contribution was acknowledged at the beginning of the game and when he went off, but that while he was on the pitch he was playing against us.   In any event he showed what he did for us: an ability to win the ball and play some sideways passes, but not to move the game forward.

The last quarter of an hour saw no real chances for either side, although Wright-Phillips continued to display real skill.   I would have taken a chance and brought Bradley Pritchard on because I think his creativity and determination could have made a difference.  If anyone scored it was likely to be Wednesday, a fact that the Bloke Behind Me repeatedly pointed out amid his torrent of moaning.   At least we have kept our unbeaten record.   But it was a bitter pill to see hero of the hour and charm merchant Clinton Morrison being interviewed by Sky, although whether the microphones picked up the North Stand chant claiming that he was a self-abuser is an interesting point (it's possible the chant was directed at the narcisstic referee Mr Deadman who is clearly proud of his tan).

Match analysis

The Silver Bone has been awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Bradley Wright-Phillips not just for his goal but for some creative play throughout the match, especially on the wing.   Hamer claimed that he was fouled for the goal.  He wasn't tested that much but he seemed to be authoritative, although he sometimes he takes too long to kick the ball out when it is played back to him.  I noted good defensive work by both Taylor and Morrison and they must take some credit for our unbeaten record.  Wiggins was competent enough, alhough sometimes he needs to display more pace to intercept balls.   Solly linked up well with Wagstaff, especially in the first half.  Wagstaff was outstanding in the first half and a real menace to the Owls defence, but faded in the second which perhaps says something about the game.   Hollands was effective at times, but could have been more involved.   Jackson was active and creative as ever.   Stephens had a mare of a game, including missing a chance to score.   Hayes is already becoming a target for some moaners, but I thought that he had put in a decent shift and was the subject of some blatant shirt pulling that was ignored by the officials.  Euell did not really change the game when he came on.

The Hiss of the Match has been given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand linesman.   I don't know whether there is a 24-hour Specsavers in London but he should have been sent there after the game for remedial action to deal with his inability to observe and act on what was going on in front of him.

Semedo's dream

As he prepares to return to The Valley tonight with Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Player of the Year Jose Semedo has said that his dream is that both clubs will go up this season:

Owls boss Gary Megson is more worried about their poor away record than Charlton in particular.   Wednesday have lost all four away league and cup games so far this season:

Sunday 4 September 2011

Chris Powell was No.1 wheeler and dealer

Chris Powell was the most active manager in the transfer window as he reconstructed the Charlton squad.  Read a profile of him in today's Independent on Sunday here:

Will Charlton be brought Lowe?

I didn't generally go to midweek matches last season.   The product on offer did not really justify getting back home at 1 a.m. in the morning.   But I will be going to tomorrow night's game between Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday (I can't watch it on television anyway as the local council bans satellite dishes).

After an indifferent start to the season, the Owls signed Ryan Lowe from Bury, a player in whom Charlton had expressed an interest.   Lowe commented, 'Monday's game is almost like a second leg for me as I've ony just played Charlton this week.   They'll obviously know what I can do.  But hopefully I can help by bringing a bit of advice to my team-mates on how to try and beat them.  Hopefully, without putting too many hopes on myself, it would be nice to have my last goal for Bury against Charlton and my first for Wednesday against Charlton.'

The Addickted will have the chance to 'welcome' keeper Nicky Weaver back to The Valley.  He has been  reunited with his boyhood club.   A warmer welcome will go to Jose Semedo who was arguably our greatest loss over the summer.

Milan Mandaric clearly expects Gary Megson to deliver promotion and Four Four Two forecast a second place.   The Times goes for third.

I'm hoping the trip down to London won't be wasted and I am hoping for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Cort brings experience

Loan defender Leon Cort thinks that he can bring the voice of reason and experience to Chris Powell's youthful side.  Defenders Michael Morrison, Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins are all 23 or younger.

Cort told The League Paper, 'They are good players but they are young so I'll try and use my experience where I can.   I've been promoted before and I know that you just have to stay calm.   If you get too big headed, it can all blow up in your face.'

Cort is expected to start against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow night (although at whose expense is unclear given that the defence has generally done well so far).  He grew up in Southwark and commented, 'It's brilliant to be where someone wants you.   It's a club with great tradition and history so it was an easy decision to come here.'

Saturday 3 September 2011

Charlton now 3rd

Charlton have fallen back to 3rd after MK Dons won 3-1 at Carlisle and Sheffield United improved their goal difference with a 4-0 home win over Bury.  Brentford are now one point behind Charlton after they won 1-0 at Walsall.   Monday night's home game with Sheffield Wednesday now assumes a greater importance.

Leamington's unbeaten start to the season ended with a 2-1 defeat at Oxford City.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Blades sell strikers

The surprise package of MK Dons notwithstanding, Sheffield United have always looked like the most serious rivals in League 1 to me.  But now the financial pressures of relegation have forced them to sell two strikers, one to Blackburn Rovers and one to Blackpool:

This contrasts with the substantial strengthening of the squad at The Valley during the transfer window.