Saturday 31 December 2011

Year ends on sour note

The year ended on a sour note for Charlton as the 10 man Addicks lost 1-0 away to Leyton Orient.
Charlton made a lively start at the Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Road reports Paul May.   The returning Jackson started in place of Ephraim who is unwell.    The O’s seemed to be using a diamond system with David Mooney at the top.

But then disaster struck with Hamer being shown a red card for coming out of his area and handling the ball.  Wagstaff had to make way for John Sullivan in the 7th minute.   Lee Cook floated his free kick in and the header from Jimmy Smith was not far wide.   Charlton switched to a 4-3-2 with a narrow three in midfield.

The frantic pace of the match continued.    Charlton won the first corner of the game after 15 minutes.    Orient were able to clear.

Orient won their first corner.   Wiggins defended well from the corner.   Orient put in a shot from distance which went just over.   Mooney tried to turn provider for Lisbie but the ball went into the arms of Sullivan.

A shot was charged down by Hollands.   Lisbie put in a good ball but Dawson couldn’t control it.   Former Charlton midfielder Spring put in a left foot strike which took a deflection off Taylor to sail over the head of Sullivan to put the O’s ahead on 26 minutes.

Dawson turned provider for Smith who put it wide of the far post.   Charlton were chasing the game.

Sullivan failed to come for the ball and caused all sorts of problem.   Taylor had to rescue the situation at the expense of a corner from which the ball had to be cleared off the line.  The O’s won another corner and the ball had to put over the bar.    The next corner was cleared into touch.  The O’s kept up the pressure.    Eventually Charlton won a goal kick.

Wiggins put in a good tackle on Lisbie.   The O’s conceded a corner under pressure from Wiggins.    Orient broke from Jackson’s corner.  

Lisbie went down in the area and appealed for a penalty but the referee was well up with play.  Charlton won a free kick 35 yards out.   Jackson’s effort was accurate but lacked sufficient power to trouble Butcher in the Orient goal.

Three minutes were added on.   Spring put in a good cross, but Smith was caught offside as he put the ball in the bottom corner.

Half time: O’s 1 Addicks 0

Charlton started brightly.   Solly defended well as Mooney threatened.    A shot went in from the corner but Wiggins blocked well on the line. 

Smith put in a shot that was deflected for a corner.   Jackson made a good defensive header.   Wiggins put in an opportunistic shot that went over the bar.

Russell advanced well and put in a decent ball in but Orient were able to defend it.

Charlton won a corner, but Jackson’s effort was defended.   Morrison was shown a yellow card for a foul while the assistant referee collided with Orient skipper Dawson.  Bradley Wright-Phillips, who had not been at his best, was taken off and replaced by Bradley Pritchard.

Mooney got round Taylor but Solly intercepted well to deny a goal scoring opportunity to Lisbie.   Mooney had a free shot on goal having got round the defender but, what a surprise, he put it wide.

Mooney shot but Sullivan made a good save by tipping the ball round the post to give the O’s their seventh corner of the game.   Mooney fired wide but the flag was up anyway.   The 3103 Orient fans in the crowd of 5097 became excited nevertheless.

The nearly 2000 Addickted launched into a rousing chorus of Valley Floyd Road.    Mooney was taken off and took his time. 

Orient won another corner which led to a second.   The Addicks were able to break.   Butcher punched away from Wiggins.   The ball took a deflection off Wiggins for the O’s tenth corner of the game, but it was unproductive.

Dean Cox came on for Orient in place of Cook.   Johnnie Jackson was taken off and replaced by Hayes.   Wiggins got the better of Smith but Solly put the ball well over the crossbar.   An effort from Wiggins was cleared off the line.

Three minutes were added on.    A shot from Cox was blocked by Taylor at the expense of a corner.  Solly worked well on the right but Morrison’s effort was poor.

Charlton experienced their second defeat of the season.   I thought that the quality of our passing was not always good and that we gave up possession too easily.   Our lead has been cut to four points.   We now need to pick ourselves up for Monday's game against Brentford.

Friday 30 December 2011

'Unconvincing' Charlton form gives Orient hope

Charlton's 'decent but unconvincing' form has given hope in East London of Leyton Orient getting something from this evening's televised clash at Brisbane Road:

Russell Slade has called for a response from his players after the 0-3 home defeat by MK Dons:

I will be taking my grandson to his first ever football match at Leamington but Paul May will provide coverage of the game.

Benno for Clarke swap

Swindon Town have apparently agreed a swap deal, Paul Benson to join the Rocking Robins for Leon Clarke, he of the bust up with di Canio.  Thanks to Pedro for alerting me to this story:

Originally a product of the Wolves youth academy Clarke has played at a number of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and QPR:

Thursday 29 December 2011

We three goals of Orient are

Different interpretations are, as always, possible about Orient's 0-3 defeat at home to MK Dons.  The lazy media interpretation has been that it demonstrates what a formidable team the Dons are, once again showing their credentials as serious promotion challengers after the blip at home to Preston.   All I can say is that the two Sheffield teams worry me more, although Dons should get into the play offs.

What happened in the game was that Orient started the more brightly but both Jamie Cureton and Kevin Missbie missed chances to score.    On the whole the first half was evenly balanced, although O's manager Russell Slade thought that they were the better side.   Nevertheless, they were a goal down by the interval.

However, in the second half the home side crumbled and ex Addick Charlie MacDonald sealed the win for the visitors.  Slade admitted that his side switched off which does not say a lot for their levels of concentration.

My view of Orient is that they are unlikely to be in relegation danger, but unlikely to mount a serious challenge for a play off place.   In other words, they are a solid enough League 1 side with a manager who has had a moderately successful career at seven different clubs.

Four Four Two saw them ending up fourth at the beginning of the season which seems a bit generous.  The Times put them at a more realistic 10th.   Currently they are 17th with a less than sparkling home record: won three, drawn three, lost six.

As well as Kevin Lisbie, those Addicks attending will have the chance to make the acquaintance again of former loan player David Mooney who recalls more desperate times at The Valley.    There should be a good turn out of the Addickted despite the late New Year's Eve kick off and the attendance should be above the 4,162 recorded on Boxing Day.

It is worth noting that we have won are last two away matches at Orient in League 1.   The odds offered by Coral certainly favour Charlton: Leyton Orient 3/1, Draw 12/5, Charlton 10/11.

The O's will no doubt be seeking to make amends for their Boxing Day performance.   It is not always easy to play a team coming off such a comprehensive home defeat.  Do we have enough quality to beat them?   Yes, but a draw is always a possibility at a derby.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Lead cut to seven points

Charlton's lead at the top of League 1 has been cut to seven points after Sheffield United beat Notts County 2-1 last night.

Pessimists may also wish to note that MK Dons now top the League 1 form table.   Indeed, they are the club the media have now chosen to drool over with The Times featuring their victory against Leyton Orient.

Addick Richard Pemberton has put together some interesting stats about the team that was top at Christmas in League 1 for the last seven years:

He notes, 'Good news - only two clubs have failed to win promotion having led at the turn of the year and neither had any gap from 3rd place. In 7 of the 10 years, the team leading at the turn of the year has gone on to win the league.'

2011 - with one game to go, Charlton have 51 points from 22 games, with a 9 point lead on 3rd place.
2010 - Brighton had (just) 37 points from 20 games, with a 4 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 95 points.
2009 - Leeds had 56 points from 23 games, with an 11 point lead on 3rd place. They finished second on 86 points.   [But only secured 2nd place on the last day of the season]
2008 - Leicester had 51 points from 23 games, with a 7 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 96 points.
2007 - Swansea had 43 points from 21 games, with a 6 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 92 points.
2006 - Scunthorpe had 48 points from 25 games, with a 3 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 91 points.
2005 - Swansea had 43 points from 24 games, leading from 3rd place on GD only. They finished 6th on 71 points.
2004 - Luton had 52 points from 24 games, with a 7 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 98 points.
2003- Plymouth had 49 points from 24 games, with a 9 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 90 points.
2002 - Wigan had 56 points from 24 games, with a 7 point lead on 3rd place. They finished top on 100 points.
2001 - Bristol City had 47 points from 26 games, with a 1 point lead on 3rd place. They finished 7th on 73 points.

Chris Powell has pointed out that we are not yet halfway through the season and clearly there are no grounds for complacency with two London derbies coming up.    However, even the Bloke Behind Me is going to find it difficult to construct a gloomy narrative from our current position.

Halifax streaker fined

The streaker who entered what Emma likes to call 'the field of play' at the televised cup match between Halifax and Charlton has been fined £165 with £85 costs.   Judging by the photo that appeared in The Non-League Paper yesterday his well upholstered posterior would have been better left unexposed.

Sentencing Terry Lowther, the chairman of the bench John Halliday said, 'You will in future be known as the man who ran on to the pitch at Halifax Town without his trousers.'

To add to his troubles his father, who is a season ticket holder at The Shay, is refusing to talk to him and his partner is threatening to throw him out.

Historic win for Old Dribblers

In the annual Boxing Day football match between over 35s and under 35s at the Garrison Field stadium on the Isles of Scilly, the Old Dribblers won for the first time in 35 years:

The Radio Scilly sports show is currently taking a festive break but we will be back on air in the New Year at 10 a.m. on Saturdays with host Mark Twynham and myself as mainland football correspondent.

Monday 26 December 2011

Charlton fight for the three points

In the opening minute the ball was given away by Andy Williams in the Charlton half reports Paul May from a chilly Huish Park, Wright-Phillips connected and Green ran on to it.   For a moment it looked as if the shot had gone in but it went into the side netting to the horror of Chris Powell.

Wright-Phillips was unable to keep a cross in.   Ephraim advanced well with Hollands and Wiggins involved, but the move ended in a throw in.   Yeovil kept giving the ball away in midfield.  Wright-Phillips didn’t put in a particularly good cross from the left.

Against the run of play loan player Obika scored for Yeovil on eight minutes with an overhead kick although Charlton complained about dangerous play.   The ball had come off a Charlton defender.

Charlton tried to apply some pressure, but Yeovil won a free kick.    The Addicks won the first corner of the afternoon.    Hollands was unmarked and put in a header from Green’s corner at the back post to make it 1-1.

Kermorgant tried an overhead kick but it went through to Gilmartin in the Yeovil goal.   A cross from Russell went over the top of the bar, but the match had gone a bit quiet along with both sets of supporters.

A Yeovil attack was cut out by Charlton at the expense of a throw in, but Wiggins cleared well. 

Green was fouled and Charlton were given a free kick on the touchline 25 yards from goal but Kermorgant’s effort to connect was unproductive.   Wiggins dealt with an effort from Upson.  Wiggins put in an effort from some 40 yards out.

Charlton won a corner after applying some pressure following a Green free kick.  Gilmartin punched out with both hands and Charlton won another corner off a deflected shot.    This time Green’s effort went over the bar.

The floodlights started to come on.   Obika put in a shot which he took first time and which went wide.  

Yeovil conceded another free kick on the touchline.   The home side packed the area and initially cleared.   Green put another ball in and Morrison’s effort went just past the back post.   It was an opportunity to score.  Gavin Williams put in an effort from distance which went over.

Gilmartin put a poor kick out, Wootton controlled it poorly, Wright-Phillips took advantage and won a corner, but Gilmartin saved from it.    Obika managed to get clear of Taylor.   As Hamer came out, Obika tried to flick it over him but put the shot wide.

Yeovil won their first corner of the afternoon, leading to a second, although Charlton thought that a Yeovil head got the final touch.   Charlton were able to clear.

Charlton started well, but seemed to flag somewhat after getting the equaliser.   In the last five minutes a number of passes went astray.   Ephraim tried to launch a last minute attack.  Wootton got a yellow card for sliding in studs up and Charlton won a corner.

Half time: Glovers 1, Addicks 1

Yeovil won a corner following a free kick in front of the home fans.   Hamer punched the ball out, but the Glovers kept up the pressure for a while.   A shot from Andy Williams went wide but took a deflection for a corner.   Hamer should have claimed the ball as the corner was nothing special, Huntington came through the crowd and the big player put it in the net from two or three yards out to make it 2-1 after five minutes.   Hamer claimed that he was fouled.

Green received a yellow card for a trip giving Yeovil a free kick, Hollands was able to volley clear.   The home side continued to apply some pressure.

A clumsy challenge on Kermorgant  gave Charlton a free kick 25 yards out.   The ball went in to make it 2-2 from Kermorgant on 60 minutes, delighting the 920 Addickted in a crowd of under 5,000.   The power, pace and placement was excellent and left the 6ft. 5 ins. Gilmartin was left with no chance.   It was arrowed in to the left hand side of the goal.

Charm merchant Upson picked up his 10th yellow card of the season.    The free kick was about 30-35 yards out.   Morrison drew a point blank save from Gilmartin.

Morrison won Charlton a corner.   The referee moved the ball an inch.   Green couldn’t find enough space to shoot.   Upson was taken down as Yeovil broke and Russell got a yellow card.

Wright-Phillips put in a shot which led to a corner.   Blizzard just about managed to clear.   Charlton kept up the pressure.    Wiggins was fouled and Ayling received a yellow card.   Charlton won another corner.   The ball was headed off the line at the back post. 

Morrison was tackled in the box by Huntington and Yeovil broke, but the attack fizzled out.   The Addicks were dominating the match.   A snap shot by Green went over the bar.

O’Brien came on for Yeovil and Gavin Williams went off.   Wiggins won a corner for Charlton.  The Addicks kept up the pressure, Gilmartin splayed himself to save a toe poke from Ephraim.  The ball from the corner was cleared off the line by Yeovil after a header by Taylor.

Two more Charlton corners followed as they piled on the pressure.  The Addicks continued to camp out in the Yeovil half.   Wright-Phillips put in a shot but a goal kick gave the home side a breather.

The home fans started to get angry with the referee.   Green put in a good ball and Ayling had to put it out for a corner.   An effort by Solly hit three players and Yeovil broke.  Andy Williams was brought down by Wiggins who received a yellow card.

Wiggins dealt well with a Yeovil break.   Green displayed a flash of brilliance and put an unstoppable shot into the far corner to the delight of the Addickted.    The Addicks brought on Andy Hughes in place of Wright-Phillips.  

Andy Williams thought he had equalised and Hamer palmed it round the post.   Morrison went down during the wait for a corner.   Charlton cleared off the line at the back post.

Charlton are now eight points clear at the top of the table after Sheffield Wednesday lost at Walsall.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Addicks ripe for plucking

The view being taken in Yeovil is that following their recent 'dip in form' the Addicks are ripe for plucking by the resurgent Glovers today:

On one level this is the usual kind of bigging up nonsense one hears from an opposition team trying to boost morale in advance of a big match.   I am far from sure that two draws constitutes a dip in form, even if the Bloke Behind Me has already proclaimed it a slump.

However, Yeovil have shown themselves to be tricky opposition at home in our last two visits and I am not sure how well our depleted midfield will cope with their much vaunted diamond formation (although clearly Fleetwood Town did).

One worry for the home side is the condition of the 'Glovers' glover' as the alliteration merchants like to put it.   Rene Gilmartin is on loan from Watford and has been proclaiming that he has been enjoying the west country so much that he would like to stay.   However, he dislocated his finger in the last game before Christmas.  

Given that the youth keeper and the goalkeeeping coach are both out of action it looks as if Gilmartin will play on given that so far there is no sign of Yeovil dipping into the emergency loan market.  In any case that would have meant finding someone over Christmas and the lucky individual then locating Yeovil.

We are now at a stage of year where people expect to read results off the table so no doubt the roof will fall in if we don't win today.   I think this is going to be a tricky, nervy match and I am by no means confident.  

One encouraging piece of news is that the referee got new contact lenses for Christmas.   One of the linos was given a 'Dummy's Guide to the Offside Rule' in his stocking while the other one has been given a book 'How the Assistant Referee Can Actually Assist'.

Paul May enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner at his mum's in Blackfen yesterday but will be heading down to the west country to cover the game.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Down Under Addick and professional photographer Brian Cassey has sent this Christmas Day photo of Sam the Kookaburra.  (Copyright reserved).

Happy Christmas to all the Addickted and here's hoping for promotion in 2012.   COYR!

Moutaoukil rebuilds career - and other holiday reading

Former Addick Yassin Moutaoukil is seeking to rebuild his career with Conference side Hayes and Yeading:

Johnnie Jackson talks about his childhood here.  Why am I not surptised that his dad was a cab driver:

Chris Powell has played down reports that he is interested in signing teenage Leicester striker Jeffrey Schlup:

Indeed, he may not make any signings at all in the transfer window, pointing out the loan window is open to the Addicks until March.

Friday 23 December 2011

Skivo receives Twitter abuse

Yeovil Town manager Terry Skiverton has been the subject of abuse on social networking sites from Glovers fans disgruntled with their current position in the league, but he is not allowing it to deter him from his goal of making the club one of the top two in the south-west.   Skiverton admits that Bristol City are ahead, but argues that Yeovil and Exeter are vying for the coveted second spot among the Wurzels:

Quite what his strategy will be against Charlton on Boxing Day is unclear, but we have not found Huish Park an easy place to visit, securing a draw and a 1-0 win.

However, both my teams go into Christmas top of their leagues with the Addicks five points ahead while Leamington are one point ahead at the top of the Southern Premier League with teams below them having games in hand.

My main concern for Monday is the midfield.   We miss Johnnie Jackson and Dale Stephens.  Bradley Wright-Phillips has also been below par, but perhaps he has not got the service he needs.

Monday 19 December 2011

Wall Street Journal denounces Charlton

The Wall Street Journal has published an article arguing that American football is superior to 'soccer'.  No surprise there, you might say.   What is a surprise is that Charlton Athletic is castigated for its 'crumbling, violence infested stadium.'   Of course, the writer appears to have lived in the States for a long time.

CAFC Picks editor Ken Jennings drew this piece to my attention and has already left a comment which I intend to do as well (once I have registered - although the job title choices offered are CEO etc. going down to 'other managerial' and 'other professional').

You can read the article here:

Tom Morris has tweeted to point out that the article doesn't actually say that The Valley was crumbling, but stadiums that hosted teams like Charlton Athletic.   'Hosted' is a bit vague in this context and the author seems to find the name of the Addicks odd, although admittedly we are one of only three league teams called Athletic (the others being Oldham and Wigan).   Central TV used to delight at one time in calling us 'anything but athletic'.

See also further thoughts from me at:

Sunday 18 December 2011

Dawson reports persist

Reports linking Charlton with O's captain Stephen Dawson in the media continue to circulate.   Charlton have apparently had him watched, but there would be fierce competition from Championship clubs for the signature of the 26-year old.   Leeds are lining up a move for him but Crystal Palace, Barnsley and Burnley are also in the frame.

The one time under-21 Republic of Ireland international operates in midfield or on the right wing.   He joined Orient at the start of last season when he signed on a free transfer from Bury.  He was the O's player of the year last season.

In other news Yeovil goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin played on with a dislocated finger at Rochdale on Saturday to earn a point for the Glovers.   This is his third clean sheet in three league games and it is hoped that he can play against the Addicks on Boxing Day.

However, Glovers manager Terry Skiverton admitted that confidence was not 100 per cent after the home cup defeat to Fleetwood Town.   Defender Kerrea Gilbert was sent off towards the end of the game.

Some fans at Yeovil seem to be less than happy with the state of affairs at the club:

Saturday 17 December 2011

Valley of Frustration

There was little pre-Christmas cheer for the Addickted at The Valley this afternoon in a dour and physical 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic.   The Lactics came to do a number on us and they succeeded, greeting their exultant supporters as if they had won the game before being booed off the pitch by the Addickted for their spoiling tactics.

Fortunately the encounter between Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield ended in a 4-4 draw, Huddersfield scoring the equaliser towards the end of seven minutes added on.   This means that the Addicks are five points ahead of the Owls in second place and with a far superior goal difference.   Sheffield United won their game, but perhaps more signficantly soaring MK Dons lost 0-1 at home to Preston now without tanned maestro Phil Brown.

Our efforts today were not helped by weak kneed refereeing, but it also has to be said that we lost the midfield battle for much of the match while Bradley Wright-Phillips had a below par game.  We had our chances put the game beyond reach but failed to take them.   I do think that we really miss Johnnie Jackson - and Dale Stephens.

I left rather late for The Valley and I must say that I had an uneasy feeling about the match as I left Coventry.   One thing that strikes me is how well spoken tube drivers are these days.  The young (I presume) lady driving the crowded Northern line train to London Bridge advised us to 'mind the daaws'.   But when you think what they get paid it is more than most graduate level jobs.   A further bad omen was that the tide at Deptford Creek was out.

It was great to see the tribute to Peter Croker before the match.   My father was a great admirer of both the Crokers whom he thought were real quality both as footballers and individuals.

We actually started the game rather well.   We won a very early corner but for some reason decided to take it short rather than putting more pressure on the keeper.   In my view short corners very rarely work, certainly at this level, and we just invited pressure on ourselves at the other end as a result.

What quickly became apparent that Oldham are very short on skill but compensate it for by physicality.   Shefki Kuqi is a big guy but it quickly became apparent that he was a headless chicken player with loads of pace who thought that running at Hamer would intimidate him but no sense of positioning.

Charm merchant Tom Adeymi got a yellow for a two footed lunge which could have been a red if the referee had a grip.    The Charlton free kick came off the wall but we were in again very quickly and Kermorgant's effort was just wide.

A clash of heads between Kermorgant and Diamond saw both players go off to receive stitches.  They were off for some considerable time.   Baffingly, for the rest of the match the Breton seemed to have trouble with his laces.   Perhaps we could get him a new pair.   The only option on the bench to replace him was Euell, Hayes being nowhere to be seen, quite why was unclear.

Green burst through and looked as if he might score but his effort was just wide.   Kermorgant had to go off to receive more treatment and to change his shirt.   Oldham declared their intent with a shot from distance which Hamer did well to tip over.   Wright-Phillips managed to draw a save, but one gets the feeling that this is a player who will never realise his full potential because of a lazy streak or something of that kind.

Half time: Addicks 0, Lactcics 0

Wright-Phillips burst through at the start of the half but just missed.   He started to display some of the skill he undoubtedly has but missed an open goal - but then he was offside anyway.   Following a Charlton corner, Darel Russell scored with a header on 59 minutes.

What we need to do then was to get the second goal but despite some chances we failed to do so and eventually paid the price.  The best chance was a Danny Green free kick which he struck well but it went inches wide of the post.  Darel Russell managed to pick up a yellow card for a tackle that was unnecessarily vigorous.   Hollands was given a yellow card for nothing at all which puts him on four.

I thought we were starting to tire a bit and it might have been a time to bring Bradley Pritchard on who can be quite a nuisance to a team like Oldham.   The visitors stepped up a gear and we seemed to become very open at the back.  On 83 minutes what I had been fearing happened and Filipe Morais, who had come on as a substitute, scored for the Lactics.   A number of away supporters, two of whom had been frog marched out shortly beforehand, came on to the pitch.

Oldham had got what they had come for and it was then difficult for us to get something out of the game with ten minutes left.   Indeed, as we tried to press forward, we were in danger of giving them another scoring opportunity.   I didn't think that our play in this final phase was very well coordinated, indeed it was a bit panic stations.

With his customary cheerfulness, the BBM proclaimed that we were now in a 'slump'.   Admittedly, we have a difficult Boxing Day match away against Yeovil another team trying to stay in the division and claim a big 'scalp' in the process.   I was talking to a Bristol City supporter in the week and he said they had found it a very difficult division to get out because there were so many teams who played spoiling tactics and were allowed to get away with.

All 7,000 tickets for Fulham were sold out by 10 a.m. and clearly this will be a big day out for the Addickted.   However, I do think that it is a distraction from our league campaign and we are in danger of getting a thumping.

At least Brakes won away at Aresley Town to maintain their promotion challenge.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Yann Kermorgant.   Having been taken off for stitches to a head wound and wearing an impressive bandage, he nevertheless stuck to the task.  I was talking to Walsall Addick Graham Speller afterwards and he said that he had never seen a Charlton player win so many headers since Bartlett.

Ben Hamer had a generally good game and was not really at fault for the equaliser which was unstoppable.  I liked the way he celebrated our goal.  Michael Morrison  seemed to be getting forward in attack quite a bit but not because he was neglecting his defensive duties.   Matt Taylor as captain was once again very solid.    Rhoys Wiggins had some brilliant moments at one point taking the ball away from the danger area under pressure and forging forward to launch an attack.  Chris Solly made a few mistakes but redeemed them although he needs to watch his positioning.  Danny Green launched some impressive attacks but seems unable to score.   Danny Hollands was relatively quiet and failed to impose himself on the game.  Hogan Ephraim was not as impressive as in some earlier matches.   Darel Russell seized the opportunity to score.   Bradley Wright-Phillips was often in danger of being caught offside and seemed reluctant sometimes to make the extra effort needed to take advantage of a promising opening.   The contribution of Wagstaff seemed to be limited to moaning at the officials.

For trainee match analyst Reg it was the first match at League 1 level as he was a Coventry City supporter before he was rescued.   He was appalled at the standard of refereeing and the inability or unwillingness of referee L Collins to deal with the physical tactics and time wasting of the visitors.  However his mentor Juneau the Soccer Cat pointed out that the officials were constantly harried by the uncouth northeners and gave the official Hiss of the Match to the worst offender, Oldham captain Dean Furman.

Friday 16 December 2011

Serie C: no good

That was the verdict of my taxi driver in Rome yesterday when he asked me which football club I supported. Perhaps if I had a named a Premiership club I wouldn't have got overcharged.

Not suprisingly, there is little discussion in Rome about tomorrow's game against Oldham.   What is perhaps more surprising is that I have been able to find very little on the internet, other than a rather grudging admission from an Oldham fan site that we 'might poach a narrow victory'.   If 1st can't beat 16th convincingly, it would be a concern.

I hear that the weather hasn't been too good in Blighty, but I am sure it will be game on.   My focus is on getting back given further disruption expected here this afternoon as the Chamber of Deputies votes on the austerity package.   This has already produced some wrestling on the floor of the chamber.

I was invited to dinner last night at a yacht club on the Tiber (it seeemed to offer other sports as well) and I must say that I didn't see much evidence of austerity.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

What will Oldham's cup victory mean?

Last night's 1-0 victory over the Shrimpers gave Oldham Athletic a trip to Anfield in the FA Cup.   It will be a big financial boost for the cash strapped club.   Charm merchant manager Paul Dickov (whom I remember spitting at the Addickted at Blackpool) has been bigging it up, claiming that it will create a real buzz around the town.   No doubt the many City and United supporters who live there will become Lactics for the game, particularly given the opposition.

How will this affect Saturday's game, if at all?   Will it give the visitors a confidence boost or will they be exhausted from their exertions against the Shrimpers?  I honestly don't know, but I think that we can beat them.

I have to go to Rome early tomorrow morning on a work trip so I may not be able to provide the normal pre-match service.   Indeed, given anti-austerity protests in Italy, I am wondering if I will get back for the match.   My hosts said that they would send a car to the airport to meet me but I was not filled with confidence when I was told to look out for a sign for 'Ms. Win'.  On the other hand, it could be a good omen for Saturday.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Parky: Charlton are a 'great club'

Phil Parkinson talks about Charlton in an interview in The Football League Paper today.  He recalls, 'I was quite philosophical after my exit from Charlton.   They were going through a tough time financially and [had] a lot of problems.'

'When the club was sold I didn't expect to be there long.  I was proud to keep their heads above water and we nearly got promoted.   I have a lot of friends there and I wish Chris Powell all the best.  It's a great club behind the scenes and I'm glad to see them doing well.'

'When I left Charlton there was a chance to go to some Legue One clubs, but the challenge of Bradfod appealed to me.'

Challenge is the operative word.   The Bantams are currently third from bottom in League 2 having drawn at home to fellow strugglers Plymouth yesterday.   However, Parky is not worried about them slipping down to the Conference.   He's targeting a return to the Championship which he sees as the natural level for the one time Premiership club.

My favourite memory of a game against Bradford City was when we were both in Division 1 and targeting promotion.   It was a televised game (I still have the video) and the Bantams thought they could do a number on us and settled for all out attack.  We won 4-2: Morts was brilliant that day.

Lead cut to five points

Charlton's lead at the top of League 1 was cut to five points after they drew 1-1 at Walsall while Sheffield Wednesday won their game.    However, we are eight points above third place while the Invincibles lost at home to Bournemouth.

Walsall went ahead from a corner, but a cross from Ephraim enabled Kermorgant to equalise with a header just before the break.   Danny Hollands’ fine flick saw Hogan Ephraim scamper down the left and, with Lee Beevers backing off, the winger delivered a superb cross for Kermorgant to score.

Hollands did not make the best of a good chance on 68 minutes.  The midfielder was left free in the middle from Kermorgant’s knock-down but could only plant his header straight at Walker.

Suddenly the game opened up and only Darel Russell’s goal-line header denied Sadler’s curling effort four minutes later after substitute Claude Gnakpa bulldozed his way through.

It was end to end stuff and the impressive Hollands volleyed over with 13 minutes remaining.

Ephraim hit the post towards the end of the game.

An Addick who was there commented, 'Dreadful refereeing, BWP given no protection. At one corner two defenders literally held him in the goal - shocking officials.  Solly was excellent Wiggins crossing poorer than usual, Green not at his best. Whole team took 15 minutes to start bossing it.    Pitiful attendance and zealous stewards.'

Webber in on trial?

Reports are stating that we are given a trial to Danny Webber:

Chris Powell is reported as saying, 'We are just taking a look, he has got a decent pedigree.'

The striker's contract at Portsmouth expired at the end of last season and he became a free agent.   He spent most of last year in the treatment room there.   He then picked up another injury in a pre-season stint at QPR,

The former Manchester United trainee had been hoping to join Celtic earlier this month, but nothing seems to have come of this.

Friday 9 December 2011

No fear for Saddlers says Sadler

With Walsall coming off a three match unbeaten run, left back Mat Sadler [sic] insists that tomorrow's match against Charlton holds no fear for them.   In his view teams in League 1 are all pretty much the same:

In that case it's quite surprising that there is already such a dispersal of points across the league or that the bookies are backing a Charlton win.  Coral are offering Walsall 10/3; Draw 5/2; Charlton 5/6.  Pride becomes before a fall, of course.

I have some good memories of matches at the Banks's.   When both teams were in what was then the first division, but the Addicks were heading out and the Saddlers were going down, we won 4-2 in a match in which Mark Kinsella played a key role.

Walsall fans were staging a demonstration that night and the Addickted broke into an ironic chant of 'Sack the board!' after the fourth goal went in.   As he emerged from the directors' 'lounge', Richard Murray was confronted by a protesting Saddler who demanded to know why he had not spent any money.  He had the satisfaction of replying: 'I am a Charlton director and I have spent some money.'

The match will be a special attraction for No.1 Walsall Addick Graham Speller who lives just a few miles from the ground and can converse in the local dialect.

I know I am tempting fate, but I am going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Double accolade for Addicks

Chris Powell has finally received overdue recognition by being named as manager of the month while formidable defender Michael Morrison has received the player of the month award:

It is often argued that receipt of the manager of the month award is following by a defeat.   This really is superstitious nonsense, but it's the kind of false perception that has an effect by indirectly influencing behaviour.   I still think that we can beat the Saddlers, however.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Saddlers told to toughen up at home

Walsall have been told to toughen up at home in advance of Charlton's visit on Saturday.  The Saddlers have only won four times at home this season and only 37 times in the last hundred matches going back to 2008:

Once I would have said that it was just the sort of match Charlton would lose, but I think we are developing into a very determined, focused and resilient side under Chris Powell, notwithstanding his lack of previous managerial experience.

'Norfolk Saddler' makes an interesting point in the comments.   He argues that it's not our attack that is our USP, but our almost impenetrable defence (needless to say I don't agree with his comment that Huddersfield 'played us off the park').   I do believe that we now have the best central defensive pairing since Premier League days, plus an outstanding left back and a rapidly developing right back.  COYR!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Semedo happy on his perch

José Semedo has settled in well at Sheffield Wednesday and in the steel city, according to this week's Football League Paper.  Of course, he is hardly likely to say that the Owls are inconsistent (as one Blade commented to me last week about his side) or that Sheffield is a dump.

Semedo is described as 'a combative midfielder' who delivers 'crunching tackles and raking passes'.  He is said to have a 'no-nonsense approach perfectly suited to the English game'.

Apparently Semedo sought the advice of popular keeper Nicky Weaver before going 'oop North and Weaver 'said nothing but great things'.  Semedo sees promotion to the Championship as an intermediate target before the Owls are restored to the Premiership (if one added up all the players and fans who thought their rightful place was in the Premiership it would have at least forty clubs in it).

The article makes much of Semedo's links with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon, although it is evident that they haven't been in touch much recently.

He did a good job for us while he was here, particularly given the paucity of talent around him, but I haven't missed him this year.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Fulham away

I have mixed feelings about being drawn away to Fulham in the FA Cup.   It is a London match so there should be a good turnout of the Addickted.   However, I would have preferred Fulham at home which would have given us a better chance of getting something out of the tie.

It's hardly going to be a big money spinner given the capacity of the Cottage.  Fulham fans will probably not see it as that exciting a fixture so the crowd is unlikely to reach capacity.   The attention of television will be elsewhere.

I always regard Fulham as a slightly odd club.   The last time I was there they had a section for 'neutrals', although in practice many Addicks were in there.   However, I did get into conversation with a genuine neutral after the game which perhaps suggests that they had tapped into a niche London market.

The only Fulham fan I know is slightly weird which sort of reflects the club.   I remember going there once and I was right alongside the Fulham supporters who were wearing suits and ties and it wasn't a hopsitality section.   You hear more cut glass accents there than at any other London club apart from Arsenal.   It is in Putney, but then most of the supporters come from further afield.

Happy Back to the Valley day!   There have been some ups and downs since then, but we are playing in our own historic ground, a much improved one, managed by one of our former players and with every prospect of a return to the Championship.

Coincidentally it happens to be the day on which I met my wife, but nearly forty years ago of course!

Saturday 3 December 2011

Euell strike seals Charlton victory

A substantially changed Charlton side faced Carlisle at The Valley this afternoon.   Sullivan was in goal, Cort and Evina were in defence, Pritchard was operating in central midfield and Hayes was up front.  Kermorgant and Wright-Phillips were on the bench.

The game had a quiet start at a subdued, cold, dismal and windy Valley reports Paul May with the attendance announced at 7,461. Solly made a great challenge to snuff out a Carlisle attack.   The first corner of the game went to Carlisle after their first spell of pressure.  Solly brought the ball under control.
Sullivan made an excellent save to stop the visitors going ahead as the ball floated  in.   Carlisle won another corner, although Evina was able to avert greater danger.   Carlisle won a third corner, although Hollands was not happy about the decision.

Pritchard set up Hollands well with a cross field ball but it went out for a goal kick.   Wiggins made a bit of a mess of a clearance.   Wagstaff was clipped setting up Charlton with a free kick 30 yards out, but it was unproductive.
Morrison put in a left footed drive which was only just over the bar.   Carlisle threatened having broken through the Charlton defence, but Sullivan was able to make the save.   Sullivan was not happy with a poor back pass from Pritchard who felt obliged to say sorry.   Charlton were having trouble retaining possession.

Murphy for Carlisle went down holding his right knee and the physio had to come on.   Chris Powell took the chance of the break in play to speak to the players, particularly Evina.    Pritchard caught one of the Carlisle players with a stray elbow and the physio had to come on again.
Robson pushed Green right in front of the lino, leading to a free kick.   The cross in from Green was excellent, Morrison headed the ball down well but Hollands was unable to make use of a great opportunity.   A second attempt went over the bar.

Carlisle won another corner after the ball was charged down by Chris Solly.   Leon Cort dealt with the ball, but they won another corner.   Cort cleared, but the ball came in again.   The visitors won a throw in. 
Ribeiro got a talking to from the referee after he raised his arm to Evina.   Hayes came forward and shot from 35 yards out, but Wagstaff was in a lot of space and Evina was bursting into the box.   The ball took a deflection and was gathered by the keeper.    Pritchard but in a decent ball, but it was slightly over hit and Hayes was unable to connect.

Wagstaff went down and looked to be in some pain.    Hollands put in some good work, but the pass from Hayes just evaded Pritchard.   An effort by Wagstaff following good work by Green went out for a corner after it took a deflection.   Cort headed over from Green’ s corner.
Carlisle launched a counter attack in the two minutes added on, but Sullivan came out well for the ball.   Green made a great run, but it was ultimately unproductive.

Charlton had not got off to the best start, but their resilience was in evidence and they were brighter in the concluding ten minutes.   However, Hayes did not have much of a presence up front.
Half time: 0-0

Within the first minute Robson put in a shot which Sullivan saved at the expense of a corner which led to a nervous moment.
Pritchard burst through, but his shot took a deflection leading to a corner.   The corner ended in a goal kick.

Wagstaff controlled the ball well, but he was not able to put it either side of the keeper who made the save.   His effort livened up the Addickted.    Hayes released Wagstaff who turned provider for Green who shot over the top.   Charlton were certainly looking livelier.
The ball came in from Hollands, Cort and Morrison came into the box late and weren’t picked up, but it wasn’t a good effort from Morrison. 

Green put in a great effort from only five yards inside the half and it went just wide.    The keeper made a bit of a mess of another effort from Green, dropping it the ball.  Wagstaff was poleaxed in the box but nothing was given.
Hollands won Charlton their third corner of the game.    Green’s corner was well taken.  The initial effort from Morrison was blocked, but he went on to score to make it 1-0 on 62 minutes.

The ball nearly went in from Green, but it was in the side netting.   Carlisle won their seventh corner. Scottish charm merchant Rory Loy went off, possibly to prepare for his impending court appearance and was replaced by Zoko.
Carlisle won another corner.   The ball had to be headed off the line by Wiggins.  Sullivan had to tip the ball away, as the visitors stepped up the pressure.

Green and Pritchard combined well leading to a Charlton corner.   Green’s corner was not a good one.  
Green was fouled and then was taken off without getting the goal he wanted, receiving a good round of applause and was replaced by Kermorgant.     Evina’s free kick was punched away by the keeper.

Miller threatened, but Wiggins defended well at the expense of a corner.   Carlisle skipper Thirlwell went off having picked up a knock and Madden came on.   Evina put the ball over the top having shot with his right foot.
Wright-Phillips came on in place of Hayes.    He advanced on goal, tried to pass it past the keeper, but Collin was able to put it out at the expense of a corner.   Cort’s header went over the bar.

Carlisle made their last substitution while Evina came off to a round of applause and Euell came on.  Hollands advanced into the box well and won a corner.   Pritchard did well to win the ball back after taking the corner.   
The ball was floated in from the right by Kermorgant and Euell scored to enthusiastic applause to make it 2-0.   Wiggins and Wright-Phillips combined well: Wiggins should have carried on the run and he might have scored.

Then the whistle was blown and Charlton were through to the 3rd round, let’s hope for an exciting draw.
The Silver Biscuit was awarded to Bradley Pritchard.   Trainee Hiss of the Match analyst Reg was in action after moving into his new home this morning, but slept through most of the game before concluding that the referee had a good match.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Carlisle out for revenge

Carlisle United are, not suprisingly, out for revenge at The Valley tomorrow after their recent 4-0 drubbing there.   Somewhat bizarrely, they hope that the 'high red slopes and basin setting' of The Valley will cancel out any effects from the wind, although I would have thought a wayward ball might help them by creating chances for a freak goal:

Clearly tomorrow poses some selection dilemmas.   I would be good to go through and get a draw against a Premiership club in the 3rd round.   Although our financial situation is better than it was, the money would come in very handy.   However, this season is not about winning the FA Cup or even progressing in it very far. Knowing our luck, we would end up away to the one League 2 club left in the competition. Against that, a defeat would not be good for morale and a draw would be in many ways be the worst outcome, creating an away midweek fixture in Cumbria.

Chris Powell, therefore, has another chance to show his mettle as a manager.   Some fringe players need to be given a chance, but probably not as many as in the league cup or the paint pot.   Key players could be kept on the bench to provide extra firepower if necessary.

The Carlisle article points out that the Addicks are not invincible and indeed we have never made claims of the type advanced by Huddersfield (or made for them in the storm of media hype).   I think that we should be able to win this 2-1