Saturday, 31 March 2012

Brains triumph over brawn (and a crap ref) at a happy valley

Another game notched off and another week which see's us retain our cushion in the promotion places.

On the day, in the first half in-particular, it could be argued that Charlton provided some of the best passages of play, passing and invention that I've seen all season. Shame about the ref though. He was woeful. I mused to myself at one point whether it was in the powers of the fourth official and referee assessor to actually sub him. So bad was his performance. In fact he may well have got the refereeing equivalent of a half term bollocking because in the second half the thugs that Orient were got no fewer than five bookings and got away with a little less.

Poor old Yan the Man must be black and blue tonight, he seemed to be singled out for plenty of extremely cynical bad sportsmanship and heavy treatment.

Waggy opened the scoring early on, and if it were not for the blind bloke in the black letting the O's get away with ABH on numerous occasions we may well have added one or two more before half time.

The second half was a different matter. The usual nerves we've seen creep in over recent games reappeared. However at no point was I really all the concerned about the East Londoners getting back into the game. Their kit may have resembled that of the old Wimbledon crazy gang, but they had none of the guile and only the brawn.

Again in the nervy second half Charlton worked hard to carve out an opportunity to put the game to bed, and we're finally rewarded with the goal when N'Gusseon connected strongly to meet Cooks cross and secure all three points.

The only real negative on a Charlton front would be Stephens performance. Again he looked a shadow of the player we saw early season. At times he looked confused and indecisive about what to do and where to pass the ball. I was upraised Pritchard did not come on for him towards the end, as it did look like if anyone was going to make the error to let Orient into the game it would be him.

Cook linked up with Whiggins really well. Fully match fit, which he wasn't, he could be a good acquisition in the summer. Court again offered experience and safety in defence. (I can't see Taylor usurping him, except to give him a rest in next weekends double header)

With the player of the year vote coming up it's becoming harder than usual to call.

Wagstaff remains one of my favourite players. When he's on his game he's both dangerous going forward and fearless when looking to win back the ball. Both full backs, in my opinion, are quality! Both fly forward impressively and look dangerous. Solly being home grown, very young and a future England international in the making has a great case. Kermogant has been immense. And let's not forget that BWP has scored over twenty of our goals.

Six games to go, nearly over that line. Three more wins and we'll get there.

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Curse of 'the old boys' ...

If I use my usual strange un scientific logic to guide me to my prediction (which based on recent history will almost certainly be wrong) for the Orient game we will need to score at least four goals to win. This based on the theory of ex players always scoring against us. And with Spring, Lisbie and Mooney in the side i'm thinking the o's are worth at least one. To be fair I'd gladly take 4-3 to the Addicks. Having said that I'd just as gladly take one nil with the winner coming in the first minute.

We've all been going on about the run in for probably too long too early now. But with seven games to go and the Easter fixtures coming up we are well and truly onto the final straight. Will we sprint to the finish (bank holiday Monday at home) or limp over the line at the last knockings? I think the bottom line is as long as it's in first or second and the booby prize that is third and brings the horror of the play offs is staved off who cares.

On the whole it's been a long and enjoyable season, with the odd hiccup and some great, performances. I want be sorry to see the back of it though.

My honest expectation is maximum points for those of us in the top four and us keeping that all important cushion we've built up and edging closer to nailing it.

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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Kent Senior Cup semi final

Charlton reserves travel to Dartford tonight for the semi final of the Kent Senior cup. A place alongside Hythe is the prize for the winners!

I think it was a good thing for Charlton, Millwall and Gillingham to enter sides into the competition this season. With a complete lack of competitive matches available for League One level reserve teams it does offer up some valuable experience of playing against teams who actually want to roll their sleeves up and give you a game.

As I understand it Damien Matthew has taken control of the teams for these games, and has on more than one occasion had first teamer's at his disposal. Stephens began his come trail from injury in one of these matches.

Being that Dartford's tidy and compact stadium is virtually at the bottom of my garden, I shall be popping along tonight for a few beers and to see first hand some of our development players and those on the periphery of the first team. It will also be a welcome break from sitting at The Valley chewing my seat willing us to not throw it all away.

You never know we could take one step closer to completing a first treble trophy season for the Addicks. The People's Cup, The Kent Senior Cup and The League One Championship.
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Saturday, 24 March 2012

You couldn't make it up (unless your the Daily Mail)

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Friday, 23 March 2012

Catch us if you can...

There need not be too much pre match analysis of this match really. We all know how important the points are to both sides. Huddersfield need to win to keep themselves very much in touch with the two Sheffield clubs, for us another three points will continue to push us ever closer to promotion.

Looking at the four clubs remaining fixtures there is a similar looking mix of mid table and relegation strugglers in store across the board. On paper Huddersfield look to have the most difficult run in. Games against us, Carlisle chasing the final play off spot, Sheffield Wednesday, Scunthorpe and Walsall who are fighting for their place in League One. They do however have the benefit (?) of a game in hand.

It's hard to be to scientific about the outcome of the final few games, I've decided to base the points total that will be accrued by the four teams on the following basis. Mid table opposition home or away = win, Relegation battler at home/away = win/draw, Play off contender at home/away = win/draw, promotion chaser home/away = win/loss.

This will mean the following final points haul for each side:

Charlton Athletic 19
Sheffield United. 18
Sheffield Weds. 21
Huddersfield. 23

Which in turn will see this as the final table:

Charlton Athletic 101
Sheffield Weds. 92
Sheffield United. 91
Huddersfield. 91

As I say, it's not exactly scientific, and I certainly won't be betting my house on it. Our points total allows for defeat away to Huddersfield on Saturday.

All this still points to Carlisle being the clincher. If we do win tomorrow, and other results all go our way, we could even see us celebrating on Bank Holiday Monday at home to Walsall!

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Solid display see's off The Cider Boys

I thought I'd leave it overnight to post after yesterday evenings important win at The Valley to remain objective and not overreactive.

'ei ay ei ay ei ay o...up the football league we go'

Oh well, at least I managed not being overreactive for 35 words!

Okay, it wasn't Man Utd we were playing, but they are/were on a rich run of form, and did not play that badly, but ultimately we were the better side.

The first goal was such a freakish surprise that it took most of the stadium a few seconds delay before they realised Dany had crossed/lobbed the ball from distance, at an acute angle into the back of the net. On the whole he was not a particularly great looking wide man, not hugely mobile but hard working none the less.

The second, from memory a good cut back header from Kermit for BWP to slot home and take his tally to an impressive and very credible 21 so far.

The third and most impressive saw Kermit again releasing Wiggens along the left who raced through and squared the ball for Russell, who had an excellent game, to crack in our third. This taking our goal difference to forty, nine better than any other team in the division.

Two other players, other than the usual suspects (ie. Solly and Yan), that I feel really need a mention are Cort and Wagstaff. Despite his shortcomings I've always been a fan of Waggy over Green. Last night he worked his socks off, covered an awful lot of the pitch both defensively and with attacking play. He showed invention and his attitude was back to it's best and spot on.

Leon Cort has actually provided a bit of a selection dilemma for Sir Chris in my opinion. Every time a lofted ball came towards our goal he towered confidently above which ever opposition player it was heading for and did what sometimes Taylor forgets to do. He plays the ball strongly and in a controlled manner forward back up to the half way line and our players.

Cort also surged forward and had a go on more one occasion. All be it unsuccessfully, but if he had have nicked one of those chances it would have been a deserved goal.

On the whole a good result. A shame that Sheffield United romped past Notts County and Wednesday nicked a late late equaliser at Wallsall, but with only eight games remaining it's very much in our hands.

All we need to do is match, win lose or draw Wednesday and Hudersfield over the next four games and it's job done. If that is the case then it will be an away promotion party up in Carlisle as I'd recently predicted. (But then as time and time again this season I've proven, I could be wrong)

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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Here come the 'Cider Boy's

Another "most important match of the season" coming up tonight, at home against the mighty Yeovil Town.

Perhaps the most important thing to come out of last weeks away draw at Scunthorpe was Charlton rediscovering how to not get beat, despite performance.

Yeovil visit us on the back of a run that has seen them steer themselves away from the relegation dog relatively early and put them 3rd in the current form table. 5 matches unbeaten including only one draw. But then we all know all great things must come to an end, including The Cider Boy's run.

In seven league and cup performances against Yeovil we have only lost the once, in the League Cup, back in 2008.

Chris Powell has strengthened the squad with two loan signings. The first Lee Cook who returns to the Valley for his second loan spell. Not sure if he can play on the right, if he can we may well see him come straight into the starting eleven. The other is an ex colleague of Powell. Dany N'Guessan. I asked my Millwall supporting friend about him, to be fair he hasn't really got enough game time for any constructive or other criticism. However based on our recent experience of Sir Chris signing ex Leicester forwards may be he'll turn out to be another gem of the likes of Yan the Man.

A full programme of fixtures tonight see' Sheffield United away to the possible banana skin that is Keith Curles impressive Notts County, who will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at the weekend. Wednesday entertain strugglers Wallsall, who in. 20th place may well go to Hillsborough looking to frustrate and pick up a vital point.

Huddersfield look to have the easiest fixture of our promotion rivals. Away to rock bottom Chesterfield who are now beginning to look a shoe in for League Two next term.

We've been trying to break the eighty point landmark since our last midweek home game against Colchester. And I fully expect us to do so this evening. I'd also not be surprised if all three of the other games end in score draws so not only could we see ourselves on 82 points but 11 points clear with 8 games to go and 24 points left to be had.

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Saturday, 17 March 2012


So it's not panic stations quite yet. I've been one of the many bemoaning the moaners and with the Mantra of 'we're still seventeen points clear from third place' followed by 'we're still eleven points clear from third spot', now I'm going to say it 'we're still nine points clear of the play off melee'. A midweek visit from Yeovil and then a home game against Huddersfield and I'm really hoping that next Saturday I won't be saying 'oh dear, there's only three points in it!'

Being Charlton, we never do things the easy way, but this is starting to make my you know what squeak a touch.

The idea of being pulled into the horror show of the play off's fills me with dread. But remembering last season awful run where we just could not buy a win anything it would seem is possible.

I was not at the game, but looking at the stats, Scunthorpe looked more likely to nick the points, I expect to be fully enlightened by bloggers that were actually at the game.

Ho hum. A hideous trio of Charlton results must surely be followed by an arrest of this promotion wobble (let's be honest it always happens to the teams who finally go up) mustn't it?

I'll be there on Tuesday night willing the lad's to put in a performance, and even more importantly pick up three points to keep our nine point cushion as we edge ever hopefully closer to the end of the season and eventual promotion.

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Friday, 16 March 2012

The final straight starts here...

Being a season of overcoming records and achievements hopefully Saturdays game will see this trend continue and Charlton take maximum points from the Irons for the first time since 1973 back in the old third division.
After the two surprise home defeats we face two tricky matches against sides who despite still being well in the relegation dog fight mix are both on 4 match unbeaten runs.
Scunthorpe have managed to win twice and draw twice, three of these games were away from home.
Yeovil recorded 3 wins and a draw in their own unbeaten sequence.
I think the result and performance at Scunthorpe will have a direct baring on the Tuesday night game at the Valley. The team, who actually played really well in the second half of the County game have had a week to recuperate from the recent full on fixture list and also reflect and work on the dip in performance levels over the last few games.
I expect Powell to go with pretty much his favoured starting eleven. We may, if his services are secured and in time see the introduction of Glasgow Rangers Greg Wylde who is now a free agent. Various media sources are saying that with a cash lump sum signing fee we've beaten Bolton Wanderers to his signature. The fact that it's likely that we'll be plying our trade in the same division as them next season it looks logical.
We may also see Stephens benched with Russell or (hopefully) Hughes getting their chance back in the starting eleven.
It's always difficult when you have to play away to a team that's battling to stay up. I think however that after our recent performances and the last two results we'll see an even more dogged performance than that in the second half last week. Notts County are a good side, and they looked shell shocked when and how we came out of traps. If we do that from kick off this week I think you could well see Scunthorpe's mini run coming to a rather spectacular end. Scunthorpe nil Charlton five or six.
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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Is there enough left in the tank?

Absolutely agree with the general sentiment that we need not panic. Yet, anyway!

The first half yesterday was pretty bad, let's be honest with ourselves. Recent performances, if not results, have shown a tired and perhaps slightly complacent group of players.

Notts County really did a job on us in the first half. Their players movement off the ball was everything ours wasn't. Tireless, intelligent, well drilled and disciplined.

Besides the high tempo start to the second half and our two goals that tempted us all in to believing a come back was possible (for the first ten minutes of the second half we looked like the side who swept all in front of them aside early season) we did run out of legs and ideas and resorted to the long ball route one style that we always seem to when on the back foot.

What really struck me was the lack of players arms going up and actually calling for the ball. The 'sameness' of some of the passing patterns that were simply not working. On more than one occasion both Wagstaff and BWP made incisive runs into very good unmarked positions but the ball was continually played across the midfield in the same predictable way.

We still have a very credible lead over second and third, providing the blip does not become a slide we should pick up enough points (I hope) between now and May to ensure Championship football next season.

In the event that we do go up we will certainly need to strengthen to ensure we don't drop straight back down into this horrible division.

It would be unfair to single out any individual players for their performance yesterday. First half we were all, to a man, dreadful. Hamer looks nervous post Colchester, Stephens has not looked at all the real deal for several games now and BWP despite getting his first ever hat trick recently is still miss firing.

I'd be looking for us to sign two midfielders, a wide man and a central midfielder, a striker to offer BWP some real competition and maybe a defender who again can actually push the back four for a starting place.

My opinion would be for the Scunthorpe game get Hughes or Pritchard back in, give Waggy a starting place with Green on the bench. I'd still start with BWP and Yan up front. I don't think either Clarke or Haynes really have many goals in them. I'd even look at the possibility of recalling Hayes back from Wycombe as a proven and possible realistic alternative to Wright Phillips.

It's never easy being a Charlton supporter. And I'm sure we will see some more twists and turns on our journey back to The Championship, but ultimately I just can't see us dropping out of the top two. A lot will become clearer after the next two games. I just hope that if we don't pick up the four points we'd all expect that the board don't have a rush of blood to the head a la Huddersfield/Sheffield Wednesday.

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

I don't think any of us can really complain about last nights result. We had the lion share of possession, ultimately a much bigger shot on and off target and corner ratio than United but it was just one of those nights where the important elements of the game frustrated us. At no point during the game did I or I think many of the 13 odd thousand Addicks in attendance really see us converting anymore the chances that came our way. The away side defended in numbers when we were in their final third, and when any shots did fly in there always seemed to be a Colchester leg, head, backside to block it.

Stephens did not have a great game, and Kermo must have had an instruction in training to when he had his back goal chest the ball back into the path of an onrushing colleague. It did not work once.

Another oddity last night was the number of times Charlton players apparently collapsed to the floor. I don't know if the pitch was overly slippy or the Colchester trainer had snuck into the home dressing room and removed every bodies studs?

We worked really hard, and on another night if one or two early chances had gone our way then it could have been a completely different story.

The sublime was Colchester's first goal. The ball leaving Wordsworths boot with such ferocity and accuracy that would have made messrs Stephens, Wagstaff and Morrison (our very own wonder goal specialists) proud had it flown off of their own boots.

The ridiculous the second which coming when it did really put the game beyond us. Hamer faffing (not sure that's a real word) which bounced of the Colchester player and looped over the hapless keeper into the net. The way the Colchester players celebrated that one was pretty embarrassing.

So we wipe our mouths and move on to Notts County on Saturday. So far this season we've bounced back well from the odd set back and generally gone on a bit of a run. I honestly think this is the right time mix things up slightly. Rest or two players, give some of the better players in waiting have their chance. Green benched in favour of Waggy, Hughes or Pritchard back in for Stephens. BWP to stay up front with Kermo, but if he still does not look so sharp come half time give Haynes a full 45 minutes.

One shining light from last night was Chris Solly. A couple of times he got the ball and cut inside to run at the Colchester defence and looked very dangerous. He's tireless energy and tackling never let him down.

Not a result that heralds the beginning of the end but the usual sort of blip that the likes of Leeds, Brighton and Norwich all hit on the final straight.

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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Essex boys

So another opportunity to edge ever closer to the championship.
Colchester are one of those sides you never really quite know what to expect from. Positioned with the rest of the pack of hopefuls just outside the play off places. Indeed there usually is one of these sides that put a run together to ultimately upset one of the teams that have been in the top six pretty much all season. Will it be Colchester? Who knows, I'm thinking probably not.
Despite a solid 3-0 win at the weekend when you look at how they've faired against the top seven this season you'll see they have lost pretty much all of those encounters. Most memorably the 6-1 tonking at home against Stevenage.
I'm not being complacent, and a lot will depend on Powell's selection policy for this evening. Based on what I've heard from supporters that were down in Bournemouth at the weekend, we were looking a touch jaded.
Providing we don't put the second string out tonight and just go with resting one or two players I'm thinking the fresher legs of Pritchard, Wagstaff, Haynes and maybe even Evina will see us take care of business and break the eighty point mark. Let's hope so!
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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Charlton to continue winning ways...

By the time I'm writing this post many Addicks will be on their merry way down to Bournemouth anticipating another step towards promotion.

I'm now extremely confident that the march back into The Championship will continue unerring and we will see another confident and professional dispatch of another away win.

After Tuesday night the players will be brimming with confidence (not overly, we have a well grounded group of players who will never presume all they need to do is turn up). I've got a feeling that the performance and result today may well have us and everyone in the division accepting the inevitability of Charlton as champions. I think it's going to be one of those anomaly's of a scoreline that draws the eye to it when your perusing the results in the Sunday papers. They'll be at least six goals, not sure how they will be shared out but It will be in Charlton's favour. But then I've been wrong before.

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