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.

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