Sunday, 30 October 2011

Ei Ei EiO...Up the Football League We Go...

Another possible away day banana skin, another romping four nil victory.

Chris Powell stuck with a winning line up and they once again did not disappoint.  All we need to do now is win against Preston at the Valley next week, then grab a draw away to one of our Bogey sides Brentford and it should all set things up nicely for the home televised match against Huddesfield. Who unfortunately seem to be enjoying the same 'X Factor' that we do currently. Otherwise we'd truly have a great lead at the top of the table.

BWP is really showing that when motivated, which he certainly is at the moment,  is a class act. And will I'm sure be just a lethal a proposition in the Championship. Waggy came on from the bench and showed that he still has the motivation to get on the score sheet through his tenacity.  I wonder how long before he regains his place on the right over the booking prone Green.

The usual Sunday morning tradition of growling at the kids to be quiet whilst I watched and re watched the goals on The Football League Show ensued.  There is absolutely no doubt, we do look the real article this season.  You don't put in the kind of away performance's we have through pure blaggery and fluke.

The added bonus of an away tie at FC Halifax, which apparently is hotly tipped to be selected as the live game, and I'm an extremely happy addick at the moment!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hartlepool Away...

Charlton travel away to Hartlepool tomorrow for what, on paper and current form, should really be a must for all three points.  However we all know that's not how it always works out in this division.

After a great September in which they won all five league games the wheels well and truly came of Hartlepool's early challenge this month. Winning only once, away to Chesterfield 3-2 and losing all four home games and scoring just the one home goal.

I would imagine they will be looking at frustrating us and grabbing a draw and a point to stop the recent rot (which would seem like a victory for them on current form).  Expect a team going all out to frustrate us and stop us playing.  I think the key will be for Charlton to dictate the tempo from the outset and get an early goal.  That ought to let Hartlepool heads drop and enable us to get on with our normal game.

I will be extremely happy if we can ride out any spoiling tactics that Hartlepool try and come away with a hard fought point.

With Huddersfield having a seemingly easy away game against rock bottom Yeovil it's vitally important we pick up at least a point tomorrow. (Mind you, as mentioned at the start of this post, Huddersfield could come unstuck, they've got to lose at some point after all, and we could enter November sitting pretty and six points clear at the top...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

'Bradley's Brace keeps Charlton Top'...Wycombe 1 Charlton 2

It's really great fun being an Addick at the moment.

I spent the match in a pub in Dartford celebrating my wife's friends birthday, glued to the large screen which was showing Gillette soccer special on Sky.  They must have 1. Thought I was a bit ignorant staring over my shoulder squinting at the television for most of the evening and 2. A bit odd when I suddenly waved my arms about and made a strange 'graaaaagh yes' noise when BWP's second goal came across he ticker at the bottom of the screen.

Reading various blogs from supporters that were at the game, along with the BBC report,  it was a deserved win with the sometimes customary last twenty minutes of squeaky bum time.  I was really surprised to read the BWP has never scored a hat trick before.

It's beginning to look like myself and some others were wrong in our original appraisal of what pairing upfront is best BWP/Hayes or BWP/Kermogant.  The Frenchman does seem to be growing in confidence by the game, and it would seem a good understanding between him and BWP is beginning to develop.

What was also good was to see Hughes rewarded for his performance as stand in for Stephens.

Onwards and upwards to Hartlepool on Saturday, and I'm hoping my predicted 4 points from two away games will be the outcome.  I may even be pleasantly surprised and see us accumulate all six going into November.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wycombe away...

And so to Buckinghamshire and Wycombe Wanderers tonight.  Despite the form guide indicating it should be a relatively easy run out for the Addicks tonight, it is one of those games where the home side will be up for it and looking to raise there game against 'big' opposition.  Much as they did against Sheffield United, there only home win in the league so far this season.

Having said that, when you look at the stats it was no walk over (50-50% possession, 11 shots on goals to Wycombe, 14 to to United). Apparently Wycombe set there stall out to defend and looked to catch United on the break.  If they defend to deep and don't close us down at every opportunity it will suit the patient build up passing game we do well, and could aid our own tactics greatly.

I don't expect another easy ride like Carlisle, but can see us getting back to winning ways on the road.

It will be interesting to see if any players are rested, I would doubt it.  The only questions I think will be raised would be whether Powell sticks with Hughes in the middle after his workman like performance and who will start on the wide right berth, Wagstaff or Green?

I said before that we'll have a much better idea of how this division is going to pan out coming into November, just tonight's game and a tough away fixture up at Hartlepool before the Preston game. I appreciate the old cliche that is used so often regarding the third tier and how any team can beat any team, but I think we'll be going into the next game at the Valley four more points to the good.

Monday, 24 October 2011

'Can we play you every week...' Charlton 4 Carlisle 0

I've only just got round to posting following Saturdays excellent performance against Carlisle following a Sunday consumed by one of my daughters birthdays. (Controlling five kids in the West End is an extremely stressful experience, but they all had a great time so it was worth the near nervous breakdown).

What was really nice on Saturday was going in at half time three up and in control, and for the first time in years not having any of the now usual nerves about throwing it all away.

Carlisle, unlike recent opposition, came to try and play the game the way it is meant to be played.  Unfortunately for them they just were not very good at this and really looked to lack confidence. (A bit like us second half of last season).  It was one of those days for Carlisle when absolutely nothing would go right and pretty much everything would go wrong. A player sent off, a calamitous display by their goalkeeper and a penalty saved.

I'd had a bet on Charlton to win five nil, so was really willing us to get the fifth in the last ten minutes, but it was not meant to be, and to be fair nothing could halt the spring in my step walking back to the car after the team proved that they do indeed have what it takes to bounce back and sustain the challenge at the top.

I can't really find any faults with any of the Addicks out on the field. Danny Green looked a bit more comfortable, and maybe with more game time could become the exciting player we had all anticipated when we signed him.  Kermogant, you can't really argue with his inclusion in the team following another two goals and an involved performance.  Wiggins was immense and is really beginning to become a key player in the team. Solly was a welcome returnee to the side.  Hughes I thought did really well filling in for Stephens in the midfield, and Hollands looked really good playing with a bit more of an attacking intent than usual.  We were once again playing with some confidence and I think all of the doubters must surely by now be coming round to the idea that we look like being there or there abouts come next spring.

With only four more games until our home match against the seemingly irrepressible Huddersfield, if we can continue in the same vein as Saturday, that game looks more and more like taking on a real epic proportions  down at the Valley.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Stoke and Charlton, like ships that passed in the night.

I saw Stoke City's great result in the Europa Cup/League last night.

My biggest memory of seeing us play Stoke was the "last match at the Valley" back the good old dark days (as opposed to the good old bad new dark days).

As we've not really met them too much in the 21st century I thought I'd take a look at the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs since the 2000-2001 season.  What it shows us is that everything, both good and bad is possible in the beautiful game.  After all who would have thought back in the heady days of the Addicks enjoying plying their trade at places like Old Trafford whilst Stoke languished in the third division, that now Stoke would be playing in the Uefa Cup (still can't get used to the Europa League over the Cup Winners Cup and Uefa Cup) whilst we were contesting the Johnston 'watch paint drying' Trophy.
It took Stoke since their relegation from England's top flight in 1985 twenty three years to return, but return they have, and contrary to a lot of opinion with some style mixing it with the big boys and now becoming an established mid table premier league side.

I think it just goes to show, unless you are one of the big four or five, lots of things (not anything) are possible. Which is why our game is so great, and the idea of a 'closed' top flight that has caused such a stir over the last few days is a complete nonsense.

I don't think we're going to romp our way back into the top flight 1930's style, but will not be surprised to see us back up there in a few years time with the seemingly sensible backing we are currently enjoying.

Monday, 17 October 2011

the bubble bursts at boro

So the inevitable has happened and the Addick's taste defeat in the league for the first time this season.

It was always going to happen sooner or later.  I think, providing we can get back on track, it's a positive that it happened against Stevenage and not one of our main promotion rivals such as Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, MK Dons, Scunthorpe or Notts County (We've played all of those and avoided defeat). We're still top and it's only two weeks ago that we picked up our last win (away to Sheffield United, arguably one of the better teams in the division).

I think the current blip is not about us suddenly becoming a bad team over night.  Tranmere and Stevenage both came at us, closed us down and harried for every ball, something that a lot of the other opposition we've played this term to date have not done, or not done very well.  I think also Sir Chris needs to revert to the starting eleven that have served us so well.  Despite the potential of Green Wagstaff has proved to be a much more integral and influential part of the team when he has played, contributing 2 goals and 2 assists so far (as opposed to Danny Greens none and one).

Kermogant, in my opinion, is not a bad player - and is best suited as we have seen on two occasions this season to coming on with fresh legs and changing the dynamics of the forward line.  Hayes, despite not having the silkiest skills, links up play intelligently and has himself chipped in with 3 league goals and four assists. (This means he has been directly involved in 29% of our league goals this term). The BWP/Hayes partnership looks the more natural, and they've only played together for handful of games so can only get stronger.

Finally I've read Sir Chris comment on why he moved Morrison to right back and dropped Solly. I can see his reasoning based on (what would seem was incorrect) the assumption that Stevenage were a purley physical threat, but again think that was the wrong decision. From what I can gather it left us a bit lopsided, and Solly has been our most consistent player so far. And for all the right reasons.

It's really important we get back to the basics. Play our passing patient game, get the midfield to get some steel back into their game to combat opposition who want to stifle us, and give as good as we get in that respect.

I don't feel the wheels are falling off just yet and look forward to seeing a return to type on Saturday and hopefully a good win which will return that winning focus and confidence back to the team.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Physical test awaits Addick's in New Town

I think once you get to the point we're at in a season, Too early to be pulling away and looking like a shoe in but late enough to start believing it may just be your year, away games like tomorrow begin to take on the look of big fat slippery banana skins.

We tend to do well against sides that want to try and play flowing football, it's the tenacious types like Brentford and Tranmere who will chase and close down for the whole 90 minutes and are more physical that we seem to a have trouble with.

Stevenage are now becoming well known for their uncompromising physical style of football. If you look at the disciplinary stats it indicates we are in for a tough ride tomorrow afternoon. Stevenage have so far committed 187 fouls compared to the 109 by our own players. At twenty two yellow cards they have been booked nearly twice the number of times as Charlton players (12).

Where I think we will benefit tomorrow over our last two games will be the lack of experience at this level in the Stevenage squad. They will give away free kicks, we do seem to be much more dangerous at set pieces this season, and I would not be surprised if we get a penalty at some point. Whatever happens the ref and his assistants will have to be at their best to protect our players.

I see at worst a score draw, but would not be surprised by yet another win on the road.  Stevenage will be full of grit and determination but ultimately I think a combination of their overzealous tackling and inexperience and our own patience should see us with another three points in the bag. (And hopefully no injuries.)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tranmere bring a reality check to The Valley

Last March I posted regarding our one all home draw against Tranmere, referring to it as a victory. At the time after the initial euphoric start made in charge by Sir Chris followed by four back to back defeats I felt it might have been the turning point.  Little did I know this was just a punctuation of the woeful run of only two wins out of 19 matches in the long drawn out and horrid finale to last season.

This time round it certainly felt like a defeat at first.  However when you put things into perspective, still unbeaten and still top by points it's not as bad as it first seemed.  I think the important thing is how the players are coached physiologically to bounce back from the set back of the home defeat by Brentford and the draw against the well drilled time wasters of Tranmere. (To be honest if the boot was on the other foot we'd have all been congratulating Hamer for helping run the clock down).

I think we are entering a pivotal stage of the season, with Stevenage away and Carlisle at home both being games in which the players should be disappointed if they cannot come away from having gained at least four points. Followed by Wycombe and Hartlepool away, which will be no walkovers I'm sure.

Come November, and the Preston home match we'll have a very real feel for which way the mop is going to flop over the remainder of the season. (Hopefully the right way and head up!)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sir Chris fails again...Happy days!

Somehow Sir Chris has now managed to dodge the cursed bullet that is manager of the month again. Karl Robinson's (post manager of the month) Milton Keynes had a pretty under par September taking only six out of a possible 18 points.

This brings us on to tomorrows visit to the Valley of Mersey side's third team, Tranmere Rovers. Mid table with 16 points and looking not quite as bad away as they seem to be at home.

I fully expect to see a return to the usual line up, including the bench. (None of the peripheral players did anything near enough on Wednesday night to merit even pushing for a place on the bench.) The defence will be wanting to show that the 'a-team' can keep a clean sheet and with BWP and Hayes up front together sandwiching our excellent midfield, dare I say it, this should be another three points in the bag.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Here's to short term memory loss...

I couldn't make last nights game, so like I'm guessing around 11,000 odd other Charlton supporters settled for watching it live on Sky.  Well when I say live i mean nearly live by the time I'd navigated the M1, M25 and picked my eldest up from her secondary schools open evening. (Thank goodness for Sky+).

Besides the fact it is a competition that is a bit of a pain in the backside for clubs with aspirations of promotion (risk of injury to first teamer's due to the stupid 60% rule and the cost of the home side opening, powering and staffing the ground) I was looking forward to the bonus of being able to watch some of our players on the fringe of the first team and seeing the likes of Alonso (our very own Shaggy from Scooby Doo look-a-like) and Evina for the first time.

On the whole it was a disjointed performance, you could certainly see where we have benefited from Sir Chris having been able to field the same starting eleven so many times this season.

Alonso looked interested, but ultimately not particularly good at passing, tackling or attacking. I think it would be unfair, baring in mind his lack of game time and probable lack of match fitness to write him off quite yet.

Evina also had a bit of a dreary game, but as with Alonso it may be too early to judge him too harshly for the same reasons.

I can't see Green displacing Waggy on this display.  And I think we now defiantly must concede that Wagstaff may be able to move into a more central role later on in games when things need shaking up a bit.  But as a starting central striker is not really the ticket and should be kept as a wide man.

Docherty, could once have been described a few seasons ago, as 'a good honest centre back'. Now I think the best description would be 'he played centre back'.  I think for the Doc, the best thing would be his rumoured move to Luton Town to go ahead.

Finally Kermorgant looked lively and up for it when he came on.  Just a shame he tried to hit the doors to Charlton House with his only real chance of the game rather than the target.

All in all I'm not too despondent, it's always nice to see your team perform well on the goggle box, but at least that's another distraction out of the way and we can really concentrate on the league without any mid week cup games getting in the way.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Big Result

I won't go into the finer details of today's fine win too much, as I wasn't there and was relying on text commentary to keep in touch with events up in Yorkshire.

Fan bloody tastic is about all I can say.  I thought at best we'd pick up a point perhaps, with both teams cancelling each other out.  It seems every time I sit down at my laptop these days there is something new Charlton related, to enthuse about.  I even had the added bonus of realising that Preston did indeed actually have a fixture today (see my last post, not sure how I missed it). When I discovered it was away to the hapless Leyton Orient I was a bit disappointed. But they only went and lost. Happy days!

Another big bonus today was the scorer of our first goal. Kermorgant with another headed goal. When we sigined him I checked his previous out.  It was less than impressive to be fair.  But the big Frenchman has now scored twice in as many performances, and more importantly he's actually looking like a pretty astute and decent player and signing.

I know this may sound OTT, but I view today's victory as a pivotal moment in our season.  I just cannot see this group of players Sir Chris had put together becoming complacent. If anything I'd envisage the likes of Taylor,  Morrison, Stephens, Hollands et al just becoming more and more focused on winning.

We sit five points clear at the top of the table, with compared to the last few matches, on paper the rest of October throws up some of the easier opponents we will face this season.

On top of all this (and believe me when I say I'm not prone to gloating, and my best friend is a Millwall supporter) the post Morrison Millwall continue to find it impossible to hit a barn door, and now sit precariously second from bottom in the Championship.

It's all beginning to feel like one of those very rare special seasons we see from time to time in SE7.