Friday, 31 August 2007


Chicago, Il.: Great news about the loan signings of Danny Mills and Sodje. This should overcome our greatest weakness and I am now much more optimistic about the season. Also it will give the picture of me with Danny Mills a new relevance.

Had a great lunch with the Chicago Addick yesterday as he has recorded. Also enjoyed drinks with the British Consul at his 62nd floor penthouse.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Chicago bound

I'm off to Chicago for meetings until next Monday so I will miss the Carling Cup and Palace games. I'm looking forward to meeting up with fellow Charlton blogger, the Chicago Addick.

I'm travelling quite a lot in September - Spain (Valencia), Germany and Belgium - so service may be interrupted.

It's ten years since Addick's Diary started and the first substantive entry related to a defeat at home by Stockport: 1997-8 season

Mozza Saves Pen as Royals are Braked

Leamington beat Sutton Coldfield Town 2-0 at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon in a tightly fought contest in front of a Bank Holiday crowd of 648.

Brakes scored after one minute with former Sky Blues striker Ben Mackey putting in a sizzling shot that went in off the post. Fussy Rugby referee Mr Garrett awarded a dubious penalty to the Royals, but justice was done when Richard Morris made the save. The rebound went off the crossbar and Mozza was called on to save again at the expense of a corner.

Jacko used his pace to burst through but the right back's shot went just wide. After the lino had flagged for a mystery offence, the Royals shot came off the Brakes wall.

After the break Leamington failed to take advantage of Royals keeper Gemmell being off his line. Royals were awarded a free kick on the edge of the D, but Mozza saved on the line. Mackie was taken off and replaced by Richard Adams.

Royals kept up relentless pressure, but Brakes defended doughtily if not prettily. Royals opened themselves up at the back and former Warwick University student James Husband burst down the wing and put in a great shot to beat the keeper to make it 2-0 a few minutes from time.

Silver Biscuit Richard Morris

Brakes supremo appeals to fans

Brakes boss David Hucker has issued an appeal to fans to turn out and support Leamington when they face the Royals at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon. Brakes went down 1-0 away at Rushall Olympic on Saturday, leading to an outbreak of whingeing on the club's message boards.

Hucker said: 'I know that some people were unhappy at Saturday's showing and can understand their frustration. However, everyone connected with the team realises that it was a poor performance and I am sure that we will see a big improvement on Monday. This season will see some low points as well as high ones and we all need to get behind the team to get back on the winning track.'

Brakes have lost two of their best players, Jon Adams and Jamie Towers, to a higher level and there must always be concerns about how long they can hang on to former Coventry City striker Ben Mackey. They are competing at a higher level and can no longer expect every game to be a win.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Sparrows Lane could be sold

Much scepticism has been expressed about the idea that Sparrows Lane could be sold as part of any restructuring at Charlton. It has been pointed out that access is limited, although it is proposed to construct a new entrance from Foots Crays Road. It has also been pointed out that permission has been refused to develop the overgrown Gaelic Athletic Association site nearby. But government policy is placing an increasing emphasis on the need for an adequate supply of affordable housing, not least in London.

Now Addicks supremo Peter Varney has admitted that there could be an alternative. Writing in the programme, he reveals that Charlton have been in discussion over the past year with US-based property developers Libery Trust. This is currently developing a site at Kings Hill for housing and business unit use in partnership with Kent County Council. Planning applications are about to be submitted with full support from Charlton.

Part of the plan is the provision of commnity sport facilities. But there will also be a new, state-of-the-art training complex on the former Heath Farm site. Charlton 'look forward to a long and successful partnership with Liberty Trust.' In other words, a replacement for Sparrows Lane is available.

On the broader takeover issue, Peter Varney urges supporters to ignore press reports which suggests that speculation about Russians or Nigerians is wide of the mark. He says that Seymour Pierce are there to advise, among other things, on new investment from existing shareholders and/or new investors. But new directors have been brought on board in the past, or existing ones have put in more money, without the benefit of an external adviser.

In other words, a takeover remains a possibility, as Varney admits. But it could be a deal in which Richard Murray and his fellow directors retain a stake in the club and a role in the board. Such a solution could bring in new investment whilst reassuring the Addickted.

Marcus Bent rumours

There are strong rumours circulating that Wigan have displayed an interest in Marcus Bent (the football club not the rugby club).

We are well supplied with strikers and although I think that Marcus has found his level more in the Championship, we could survive without him. Particularly if we spent the money on a much needed quality central defender.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

A Game of Two Halves

That cliché needs to be brought at least once in a season, but today at The Valley it was fully deserved. Charlton conceded two easy goals in the opening period to Sheffield Wednesday. Their attempts to get back into the game were marred by the limitations of the midfield with long balls being played forward in the hope that they would find an Addick rather than an Owl. Our efforts also lacked pace, albeit it was a very hot day. We also seemed to have no shape whereas Wednesday kept theirs.

Things changed for the better just before half time when Zheng Zhi came on in place of the injured Thatcher, Semedo switching impressively to left back. Almost immediately, the midfield became more effective and showed more bite. Balls were passed forward along the ground and Jerome Thomas came into the game much more. Reid opening the scoring for the Addicks, followed by two good strikes by the commanding Chris Iwelumo. A disallowed goal for each side added to the excitement, but Charlton ended the day with their first league win of the season.

On our way out of Leamington we saw a crowd of Brakes fans waiting for the coach to Rushall Olympic. They went down 1-0 so Leamington have started their season like Charlton with one win, one draw and a defeat.

Pards had called in the programme for the team to be quicker to opposition defences before they get set and Charlton did started brightly with an early attack. However, Bent delivered to the keeper and another effort went just wide.

Wednesday won a corner and the ball draw an 'ooooh!' from their supporters as it was watched past the post. However, on six minutes Springbok Burton O'Brien lifted his shot over the outstretched Weaver to make it 1-0 to the Owls.

A long ball forward by Thatcher allowed Iwelumo to win Charlton their first corner, but it ended in a free kick for the visitors. Ambrose put an effort well wide. A Wednesday corner ended in an Addicks free kick. A corner from O'Brien was poorly defended and Spurr was able to head into the back of the net to make it 0-2, his first goal for the Owls.

McCarthy picked up a yellow card for a foul. A Charlton free kick in front of goal went to the keeper. Marcus Bent won Charlton a corner, but it was unproductive. A Charlton free kick in front of goal went over the bar. As the match headed into time added on, Thatcher, who had taken a knock, was taken off and Zheng Zhi came on.

Half time: Addicks 0, Owls 2

Marcus Bent was taken off in favour of Todorov immediately after the break. Ambrose put in a shot from distance. An effort by Thomas was saved. Then on 51 minutes Andy Reid got the ball on his right foot and put the ball in the net to make it 1-2. Game on.

Ambrose created a dangerous situation by giving the ball away in midfield. Iwelumo had a try, but his shot went wide. In play following a Wednesday free kick, Weaver's save was a bit slow. The Wednesday corner led to play in front of goal and a shot went in leading to a second corner. From there Wednesday put the ball in the net. However, referee Friend who had a good game and was scrupulously neutral, ruled it out for pushing. A scramble in front of the Wednesday goal saw the ball in the back of the net, but this too was disallowed.

O'Brien kicked the ball away at a free kick and was yellow carded by the referee. On 67 minutes an excellent through ball from Zheng Zhi allowed Iwelumo to put the ball in the back of the net for the equaliser.

A phase followed in which the Addicks dominated the match, but could not find the back of the net for the winning goal. Ambrose won Charlton a corner which was taken short and followed by a second. Thomas put in a good ball to Reid, but he seemed to catch the Charlton captain off balance and he was not able to make use of it. Thomas turned provider for Iwelumo, but his shot went wide.

Spurr fouled Thomas and received a yellow card. Reid's resultant free kick was over hit. The rampant Iwelumo won Charlton a corner which was mysteriously converted into a free kick on the edge of the box. Wednesday keeper Grant Lee had to tip the shot over the bar. Before the resultant corner could be taken, the keeper was booked.

For a moment I thought Iwelumo had scored, but the ball went round the back of the net. Ambrose blasted over. Wednesday still threatend on occasion and Zheng Zhi had to make a good defensive tackle. Then with three minutes remaining before full time, Iwelumo powered through the penalty area and put in an excellent strike to make it 3-2.

An Ambrose error set up a Wednesday attack. In four minutes of time added on, Thomas won a corner and an attempt was made to keep it in the corner, but all that resulted was a Wednesday free kick. Then the whistle blew and the Addickted could celebrate their first league win since March. What this performance did show was that there is the spirit in the side to fight back.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has been signed on by The Observer after only a couple of weeks as a match analyst and you can read her comments there tomorrow. The Belgian Shepherd presented the Silver Bone to Chris Iwelumo for his performance which showed strength, skill and determination. Nicky Weaver (5) did not have the best of games even though he was let done by his defence. Bougherra (6) was the subject of continual taunting by the Owls, but I still don't see what they think they are missing. Fortune (6) is probably the best centre back we have at the club at the moment, but it is clearly a problem area. Thatcher (5) was not that impressive before going off injured. McCarthy (6) did his best in the right back role, but needed to be more mobile coming forward. Semedo (7) continues to look a promising player and slotted very well into the left back role. Darren Ambrose (4) was noted for giving the ball away in dangerous situations, lightweight interventions and shots way off target. He did make a few good moves, but Steve from Sidcup's description of him as a 'poser' is not far from the mark. Jerome Thomas (6) kept drifting inside and seemed reluctant to go past a weak Wednesday defence in the first half, but his play improved considerably as the game went on and he posed a real threat to Wednesday. Reid (7) played well, showing an ability to penetrate the Owls defence. I did not think that Bent (6) played that badly in the first half, even though he fluffed some chances. Zheng Zhi (7) was really up for it when he came on and made all the difference. Tordorov (6) showed some nice touches, but I am not sure this is what is needed in the Championship. Faye had a cameo appearance, possibly his last at The Valley.

Juneau the Soccer Cat likes the good life and felt that the latest economy measure, shutting two turnstiles in the East Stand, was an example of a decision that was not going to save much money but conveyed a cheapskate image.

Crowd rating: The crowd understandably got restive and frustrated in the first half, but I am not sure that booing at the end of the half contributes anything. Their spirits revived in the second half. There were a lot of empty gaps. 5/10.

News on Faye rocks Addickted

The news that midfielder Amdy Faye could be the next Addick to leave the club rocked the Addickted as they prepared for this afternoon's clash against the Owls.

But Pards insisted there is still a place at The Valley for the recruit from Newcastle. The Addicks supremo said: 'There are clubs interested in him - and my view of Amdy is that if his focus is somewhere else then we'll take that opportunity to replace him with somebody else.

'If he stays then we know we've got a player who has been good enough in the past to play in the Premier League. But he has become a Championship player and his focus has to be on that with us.'

In other words, he thinks he is too good to play in the Championship with Charlton. In which case, good riddance.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Match preview

While I am not one of those people who thought that we were better off in the Championship than the Premiership, I thought that one of the consolations of being at a lower level might be that we would win more home games. And with Sheffield Wednesday having made a poor start to the season, I was hopeful of a win on Saturday.

The right back problem which has involved losing one of our key players makes me less optimistic. But all I have done is revise my forecast of 3-1 to 2-1.

We may get the chance of seeing Franny Jeffers doing his best for his latest club, although it has been pointed out that he has a habit of picking up injuries just before he plays a former club. If he does turn out for the Owls, I bet he will score which is something he rarely did when he was with us (other than in New Cross).

Weaver was always a controversial choice as goalkeeper and predictably, once he has made a few mistakes, people are on his back. The call is for Randoloph to be brought in, on the basis of one good performance at Liverpool. I think that he needs more experience. Many Charlton fans like to see former Academy players appearing for the club, but I do not think that he is ready to step up yet. Of course, we were spoilt last year with Scott Carson.

The takeover fuss has died down for now and it may all come to nothing. For me, the debate has revealed a worrying lack of ambition among Charlton fans. The Back to the Valley campaign was a great achievement, but now I wonder if that ethos could be holding the club (or at least its fans) back.

There are, of course, special things about Charlton like its community programme and its anti-racist stance. I am not so sure about the claim to be a family club, as presumably someone like Arsenal could claim that they provide a welcoming and safe environment in which families can watch football.

However, I am under no illusions that Charlton 'belongs' to me. I identify with the club, but at the end of the day I am a paying customer. No more, no less.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Right back dilemma

It seems that we have a right back dilemma for Saturday. Yassin is going to be out for some weeks after being injured at Stoke. Sankofa is also injured. Pulling Fortune into the position on Saturday clearly did not work. Pards is talking of getting someone in on a loan, but I am not sure who could get of the right quality at short notice. Of course, if we still had Kish, he could cover there.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

He Blooming Scores All Night

'When he's at the Windmill, He Blooming Scores All Night.' The Ben Mackey song rang out round the New Windmill as the youngest player ever to feature in Coventry's first team scored a hat trick in Leamington's 5-1 demolition of Stourport Swifts.

A crowd of 513 saw Swifts open the scoring from a free kick on 4 minutes. A minute later great work on the left involving Richard Adams allowed Ben Mackey to equalise. Richard Adams rounded the keeper to make it 2-1 on 12 minutes and that was the score at half time.

Josh Blake turned provider on 57 minutes to allow Mackey to make it 3-1. A goalmouth scramble on 65 minutes allowed the tireless Jacko to open his account with the Brakes. After Richard Adams had hit the post with a corker of a shot, Ben Mackey made it 5-1 from the penalty spot.

Swifts never gave up, but Tom Bates showed the benefit of his Football League experience at the end of last season when he came on, laying off some excellent balls. Mackey was able to show his skill, juggling with the ball as he rounded defenders.

Silver Biscuit Ben Mackey.

Brakes face Swift test

After having drawn their opening Southern League fixture 1-1 Leamington return to the fray tonight at the New Windmill Ground against Stourport Swifts. Swifts lost their opening fixture at home on Saturday.

Brakes have gone up to the next level with pretty much the same team as last year, although sweeper Jamie Towers was lost to Nuneaton Borough. Three players were brought in from Woodford United, but they do not seem to have been at a higher level than the existing players.

There were concerns about the quality of the central midfield on Saturday. Brakes also had difficulty in penetrating the packed Leighton defence. However, the team was weakened by suspensions, injuries and absence for a wedding.

The attendance at Harbury Lane on Saturday was the highest in any of the three divisions in the Southern League and higher than at many matches in the Conference North and South.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

The takeover debate

The case against by Paul May

I am not happy about what is happening to English football and now it's happening to Charlton. Foreign geezers coming in and taking over our clubs. No wonder the English team is in such a mess, our own lads don't get a chance.

If I wanted to support a London club that was going to get silverware regularly, I could support Arsenal as a lot of people do in South-East London. But I have stuck with Charlton thick and thin. Because it's my club.

And then we hear that the prospective buyers are Nigerian or Russian. Both dodgy countries if you ask me. How many of you have had E mail scams from Nigeria? And the country has a terrible reputation for corruption. And Russia isn't much better from what I hear.

I think these geezers are only in it for the money. They'll build houses on Sparrers Lane if they can get the permission and then they'll sell off The Valley. And we'll be ground sharing with Millwall.

And what's going to happen to our free season ticket offer if we got promoted? (Not that that looks likely at the moment). I bet these blokes won't stand by it.

I reckon we are going to lose supporters over this. A lot of people I know have said they will walk away. And where's that going to leave us? People will start watching non-league instead.

Anyway I reckon it's all going to go pear shaped in English football. TV audiences will fall, Sky will walk away and the foreign owners will disappear leaving the clubs with no money.

If we do have to have new owners, let's hope for someone who is British.

The case for by Wyn Grant

My starting point is that economic globalisation is a reality. Football has become a business and that is not entirely a bad thing. Indeed, Simon Kuper makes a persuasive case in the Financial Times for football becoming more businesslike. Amateur management by small businessmen was not a golden age.

I think that Richard Murray and the board consider that they have taken the club as far as they can with their resources and that there is also a need for new thinking. After all, the board did lose the plot last season and the consequences are still with us. Charlton fans were tolerant about this because of the great things that the current board have achieved. But the board themselves may realise that a new chapter in the club's history needs to begin.

There are Charlton owners I have been far from happy with. But that hasn't changed my allegiance to the club. Players come and go, managers come and go even owners. But Charlton remains Charlton. It is the collective identity of the fans that ultimately matters.

I would have quite liked Chinese owners myself because I think the 21st century is China's century. But I am less worried about where they come from rather than their own personal track record and what they can commit in terms of funding (they should also commit to the free season ticket offer). I am confident that the board and their advisers would not sell to the wrong person and attach appropriate conditions.

I don't know Sparrows Lane well enough to know whether we need all of it and whether some of it could be sold for housing. Or whether we can sell it off and relocate. I think that in the present climate of government thinking on housing, permission could be given for developments that would not have been given in the past.

But I do not think thar we should see the new owners as potential asset strippers. What a lot of foreign owners want is prestige and an enjoyable hobby from owning a football club. In the case of Russians it is also an insurance policy against getting locked up at home.

As for losing supporters, aggregate attendance figures conceal a great more churn in the support base than is often realised. There is also a difference between what people say and what they do.

I doubt whether the television product is going to collapse. People like to see some of the best players in the world compete. And I haven't seen a great jump in non-league attendances. I go to non-league matches because they do offer something different. But they don't offer football quality.

Of course, all this may come to nothing. Or there may simply be an injection of capital from someone who took a stake in the company, perhaps with a view to a later takeover. But if we want Charlton be anything more than a yo-yo club at best, we are going to need more resources. And I would like to see the Addicks get some real success at last.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Charlton lose at Stoke

Charlton lost 2-1 to Stoke this evening at the Britannia Stadium. Andy Reid put an excellent shot through the wall from a free kick on 55 minutes to put the Addicks ahead. However, two minutes later former Charlton prospect Ricardo Fuller equalised. He turned well and put in a screamer of the shot to the top corner of the net that left Weaver with no chance.

On 79 minutes the Charlton defence back tracked frantically as Stoke advanced. Weaver came out of his goal, allowing Parkin to advance to score the winner. For both goals, McCarthy (brought on on 56 minutes) appeared to be at fault with Parkin nutmegging him for the winner. Zheng Zhi was an unused substitute.

Stoke's play was on the physical side, but that it is to be expected in the Championship. A lot now rides on next Saturday's home fixture against the Owls.

Brakes fail to accelerate

Despite Leighton Town's keeper being sent off in the first minute of play, Brakes only secured a point in a 1-1 draw in a front of a crowd of 507 at the New Windmill Ground today. Leighton were a young, ugly side who frequently resorted to play acting.

Their keeper unnecessarily brought down an advancing Josh Blake in the first minute and the referee had no hesitation in removing him from the pitch. On 11 minutes the referee awarded a penalty for shirt tugging and Bruce Wilson stepped up to make it 1-0 for the visitors.

Josh Blake picked up a yellow card and we had the bizarre sight of a suited Leighton director emerging from the Sheepside stand to shout instructions to the derision of the Sheepsiders. Blake drew a save on the line and then ex Coventry City player Ben Mackey burst through the Leighton defence and slotted the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-1 on 42 minutes.

Brakes tried to step up the pressure after the break and just missed an open goal. They won three corners in succession, but were not able to find the back of the net. However, by pressing forward, they left themselves vulnerable to counter attack but Richard Morris remained in control of his goal. As the match went on, there was an increasing resort by the home side to the long ball and some desperate hoofing. There is a lot to learn at this level, although Brakes were weakened by injuries and suspensions, while Tom Bates was at a wedding.

Silver Biscuit to the masterful Martin Hier.

Charlton to be first African owned club?

Charlton could become the first African owned top flight club. However, there are a number of sticking points over the deal with a Nigerian businessman, and it could be that a rival Russian consortium will succeed. In any event a deal could be done within weeks: Takeover

Friday, 17 August 2007

Curbs slams Konch

Former Charlton manager Alan Curbishley has described Paul Konchesky as 'bitter and twisted' and is contemplating legal action in response to his remarks which charged Curbs with a lack of banter among other things:
Curbs v Konch

Match previews

Charlton have a tough and important encounter at Stoke tomorrow. Pards has expressed his preference for a settled site, but admits that he was posed a few questions by performances against Swindon. Jon Fortune could have done enough to claim a place in central defence, particularly against the club that he was loaned to. McLeod impressed against Swindon and could replace Todorov who does not seem to be fully match fit.

Confusion abounds about the future of Jerome Thomas. Some reports say that he is having a medical at Derby today, others that he will be in the line up against Stoke tomorrow.

I am going for a draw from this match which admittedly is not good enough. Paul May has been having a few late nights recently, but hopes to make it to the Potteries to file a match report.

The Charlton blogosphere has been expanding, but once again I can confidently predict that this will be the only Charlton blog covering tomorrow's game at the New Windmill Ground. Leamington make their first appearance in the British Gas Business League Midlands Division against Leighton Town (from Leighton Buzzard). I don't know much about them, but I hear they're not very good.

Jason Cadden

Brakes supremo Jason Cadden faces some tough selection choices with Martin Thompson ('Clunesie'), Avun Jephcott ('Avon calling') and key player Andy Gregory all suspended. In addition there has been a rash of ankle injuries, affecting Ryan Parisi and Stuart Herlihy among others.

I am predicting 3-1 to Brakes.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Hasselbaink signs for Cardiff

Former Charlton 'striker' Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is to sign a two year deal with financially troubled Cardiff City, subject to a medical. We await their visit to The Valley with fear and trepidation.

There is no truth in reports that Cardiff have signed a sponsorship agreement with Age Concern.

Dickson out on loan

Both Crewe and the Spanners are claiming that they are about to snap up Chris Dickson on a six month loan. My money is on Crewe, but what is clear is that he is on his way to get some much needed experience. [It was subsequently confirmed that Dickson was going to Crewe, but for one month initially]

Some people think that he should go straight into the first team, but I think that he needs the rough edges of non league knocked off him. Dulwich Hamlet play at the same level as Leamington. I have high regard for Brakes' attacking midfielder Josh Blake but I wouldn't take him straight off his removal van and into a Championship first team.

Getting ready for a takeover

Charlton have hired City football specialists Seymour Pierce to advise the club on funding options which could include a takeover:

The story gives a number of reasons why an early takeover is unlikely, including timing and the fact that the appointment of advisers may simply to be to comply with Aim market rules. Certainly, value would be maximised if a sale took place when the club regained its Premiership place.

Talk of a Middle Eastern takeover earlier in the year came to nothing, although someone must have leaked the story for some motivation.

We owe a great debt to Richard Murray and his fellow directors for the way in which they have rebuilt the club. However, if Charlton is to be more than a yo-you club in the future it will probably need a bigger injection of funds than they can provide. This is most likely to come from outside the UK and possibly from Asia rather than the US. Red Dragons anyone?

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

'Unselfish' Bent

Valley hero Paul Walsh said on Sky that Marcus Bent was almost too unselfish at Swindon last night. Now Pards has weighed in with praise for the striker: 'Manager Alan Pardew was pleased with his side's victory against Swindon Town last night, hailing the performance of Marcus Bent in particular.'

'On target against Scunthorpe United on Saturday, the forward turned provider at the County Ground, creating a goal for Darren Ambrose and helping Izale McLeod to win a penalty. "Marcus knows this is a big, big year for him and I thought he played well," said Pardew. "We worked on him a bit yesterday [?] and it paid dividends tonight. He was very unselfish on both occasions for the goals."

Bent at first wanted to take the penalty himself. As one Addick commented, it's good to see him showing passion on the pitch rather than elsewhere.

Thomas to join Rams

According to unconfirmed reports Derby County are set close the signing of Charlton Athletic winger Jerome Thomas. Thomas is said to be moving to Pride Park for a £3.25million deal to be sealed in the next 48 hours. Derby have agreed a fee with Charlton - after a £2.5m bid was rejected - and Thomas, 24, is due to have a medical today.

We have looked weak on the left. When Reid has been assigned to that position, he tends to drift inside. According to reports, that happened last night at Swindon. Some Addicks think that Christensen would be a worthy replacement for Thomas - and less sulky.

Thomas is undoubtedly talented, but somewhat inconsistent and with a tendency to showboat. I would take the money if some of it could be spent on a good central defender.

I think that the departure of Thomas would make it something like 18 players out and 11 in.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Comfortable victory at Swindon

Charlton were comfortable 2-0 victors against Swindon at the County Ground tonight and go forward to the 2nd round of the Carling Cup.

The Addicks had looked in control from the start of the match. Chris Powell turned provider for Marcus Bent, but the striker unselfishly cushioned the ball and laid it off to Darren Ambrose to make it 1-0.

The second goal came on 64 minutes. Andy Reid burst through and McLeod was brought down. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Reid slotted it into the net, but the referee insisted that it be taken again for encroachment. Reid sent the ball to the same side as before, but managed to get it past the keeper to make it 2-0.

Swindon didn't give up, but it was really automatic pilot for the Addicks from then on. The competition itself is not important to Charlton, but winning tonight was.

Carling Cup strategy

Charlton aren't going to win the Carling Cup. And if we go too far in it, we may pick up injuries or find we have tired players who cannot contribute to the key goal of winning promotion.

On the other hand, losing to Swindon tonight would be a blow to morale after a somewhat faltering start against Scunthorpe on Saturday, although most of the comments I have read by the Addickted feel that there were a lot of positives to take from the game.

Indications are that Pards will play a largely unchanged side tonight. Given the problems we had in central defence at the weekend, I would like to see Fortune being given an opportunity as I think he is good enough at this level. Bougherra worries me more than McCarthy. The latter is at least a 'safety first' player who hacks the ball into Row Z at the first sign of danger which is better than conceding a corner.

Corners are something of a hobby horse for me. I know that statistically not many goals are scored from corners. However, too many of our corners do not even create a half chance. They are either overhit or lack the pace on them needed to create a goal scoring opportunity.

If Zheng Zhi is match fit he may get a try out tonight, if only from the subsitutes' bench. I would be inclined to drop Ambrose for him. Apparently his name means 'Resourceful Warrior' in Mandarin.

I can't make it tonight as I am subject to a Defra inspection today and will probably be declared to have my foot in my mouth and hence subject to a movement restriction order.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Enjoy the rain at Swindon

A Swindon Addick reports, 'Please note that the Town End has been closed at the last minute for safety reasons, as urgent work is required before the stand can be granted its safety certificate for this season.'

'We are located on the uncovered Stratton Bank and tomorrow's local forecast is for rain and plenty of it.' I well remember being on that bank in Monsoon conditions. At least it cleared up in the second half and we won.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

There is much work to be done

Today's 1-1 draw against Scunthorpe at The Valley shows that there is much work to be done before the new Charlton side plays together effectively as a team. Although there is much in the comment of the Bloke Beside Me that the performance was better than the result, a number of deficiencies were evident.

First, with Darren Bent gone, we lack a reliable goal scorer. There were a number of good chances that were not used. This is not just a question of the strikers, although it is far from clear who our best pairing is. We also need to be able to score goals from midfield.

Second, the midfield remains a problem. We were particularly ineffective on the left today with Jerome Thomas out injured. His return, together with the availability of Zheng Zhi and possibly the new French midfielder could give us the control we need in the centre of the park.

Third, the loss of Diawara was a blow and our central defence does look a little suspect.

Referee Mr Kettle was off the boil for much of the match and ignored some shoving and fouling by Scunthorpe, as well as their time wasting, while he was eager to give marginal decisions against us.

The train driver at Charlton said 'change for promotion favourites Charlton' and that is always a dangerous position to be in. I think that there has been a certain amount of lazy journalism of the 'what goes down must come up' type. It's not going to be an easy ride.

Scunthorpe are a side of journeymen, but they played together effectively as a team, although I thought that we were more skilled, and they stuck to their game plan, packing the defence when needed. They are a decent side and just as we should not be too optimistic, we should not be too pessimistic on the basis of one match when the team is still not playing as a unit - although some of the passing was fluent.

The game had a rather ragged start and Charlton's first chance came when Bent turned provider for Reid who put the ball only just over. Weaver was called on to make a save, poking the ball out when perhaps he should have gathered it.

A Charlton corner taken by Ambrose was poor. A Scunthorpe free kick when just past the post with the Addicks defence worryingly caught unaware. Marcus Bent won a corner for Charlton which was taken short by Reid. Sam won Charlton a corner and Bent's effort was just over, ending up in the netting. Then Bent had another chance when he was one on one with the proficient Murphy in the Scunthorpe goal, but he missed the target. Ambrose dithered and failed to make anything of an opportunity.

Bent stormed forward, but didn't pass the ball when he could and sent it well wide. It's fine to be selfish if you then score. Lloyd Sam showed great skill and forced a good save from Murphy on the ground. Good work on the right produced a cross to Ambrose but his header went wide. The half had not lacked chances for Charlton, but they were not taken.

Half time: Addicks 0, Iron 0

Whatever Pards said at the break, it didn't produce an immediate improvement in Charlton's standard of play. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner. Bent was tripped as he advanced on goal, I didn't have a clear enough sight of it to see whether it should have been a dangerous free kick or a penalty. The referee did consult the East Stand lino, but nothing was given.

Charlton won a corner, but it was unproductive. Indeed, nothing much seems to have improved in that respect. On 62 minutes the breakthrough came when Marcus Bent scored. There was some initial doubt about whether the goal was offside, but after consulting his lino, the referee allowed it. Kevan Hurst received a yellow card, presumably for dissent.

Reid put in a good shot which was initially spilled by Murphy, but he was able to gather it. Ambrose had a half chance, but put the ball into the side netting. An Iron goal was correctly ruled offside. Todorov was taken off and replaced by McLeod.

The impressive Moutaouakil gave away a soft corner. The Iron fans became very excited, whereas a Charlton corner provokes cynical indifference. A second corner was won, it was well taken and on 69 minutes the unmarked Iriekpen had a free header to make it 1-1.

Charlton put in a decent cross, but Bent missed. Jonathan Forte was taken off by the Iron and replaced by Martin Paterson. Marcus Bent, who had taken a couple of knocks, was replaced by Iwelumo. Paul Hayes was replaced by Matthew Sparrow for Scunthorpe. An unmarked Iron managed to put the ball just over the crossbar, reinforcing my concerns about the defence.

Reid burst through, but he took his effort on his right foot and it went just wide. Scunthorpe won a succession of corners, one of which I thought was very dubious. Five minutes of time were added on, but Scunthorpe's time wasting ensured that very little of this was available for effective play.

Maggie was able to go back to the pub to collect her winnings for her 1-1 forecast in the jackpot. Inspector Sands also forecast a draw. Hopefully, the game will be a useful reality check.

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Lloyd Sam who showed an ability to penetrate down the wing with real skill and unsettle Scunthorpe. Weaver was not tested that much and was not really to blame for the goal. His distribution from kicks was intelligent and often found a Charlton player. Moutauakil had an excellent game, apart from giving away the soft corner which led to the Scunthorpe goal. But he is a worthy replacement for Luke Young. Thatcher was strong and effective and might be a better captain than Andy Reid. Bougherra was involved a lot, but I have some reservations about his skill level. McCarthy gave a determined impression, but how good is his anticipation? Was he always in the right place at the right time? Semedo showed some nice touches, but perhaps did not stand out as much as I had been led to expect from reports of pre-season matches. Perhaps because he was captain, Reid felt a need to compete for every ball which was perhaps not the best strategy. He should have come out to the left more. Ambrose was as enigmatic as usual, making some useful moves but disappointing in terms of finishing. Bent was much more energetic than I have ever seen him, pity that he could not take more of his chances. Todorov showed some real skill with the ball, but could not find the back of the net. McLeod is a busy player, but I have doubts about whether he is Championship standard. Apparently, he has a record of being sent off a lot. Iwuelemo put himself about a lot, but I remain to be convinced.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given her Hiss of the Match to one economy that was made and one that was not made. We have been hearing a lot about 'economies in all departments', but has that much money been saved by downgrading the big screen? There is no longer a 'time remaining' counter, and even Leamington can afford an electronic scoreboard with time elapsed (sponsored by a local electrician). When Bent scored, I half expected to see a giant hand and appear and put a new slide on. The economy that was not made was getting rid of the ingratiating pitch announcer who he is still informing any unfortunates who thought that they were at Park View Road to see Welling play Bognor Regis that in fact they are at The Valley. Everyone around me wished his services had been dispensed with.

Crowd rating Very quiet at times when expectations were not met. 6/10.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Latest signings good news

Having returned from some of the remoter Azores islands where there was no available internet connection, and where you really needed to speak Portuguese, I was pleased to hear by text message and E mail of the latest signings. The midfield was my one remaining area of concern and although I know that there are understandably mixed views about Zheng Zhi, I think that he will add something we need.

I cannot recall starting a season with a squad with whom I was less familiar, so Saturday is going to be a particularly interesting day. I am confident of a win over Scunthorpe, but do not think it will be easy so will go for 2-1. See you there.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

How to boost crowds

Angra, Azores. Here in Angra there is a big bullfight tonight (unlike Spain the bull cannot be killed). In order to boost crowds, loudspeaker vans have been touring the town playing stirring music and publicising the event.

Surely Rick Everitt must have some loudspeaker equipment left over from his election campaigns and could tour the home boroughs whipping up enthusiasm for the home game against Scunthorpe with his dulcet tones. Or maybe not.

From England it is reported that Hooch the Pooch has invited Ivy the Terrible to join him at his day job to get work experience. Hooch works three days a week at the St.John's Ambulance Warwickshire headquarters and Ivy has gone with him to Stoneleigh Park. Hooch remarked that it would be useful to have a dog with first aid knowledge in the press box.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Who would despise Matt Holland?

I was reading the Four Four Two pre-season preview on the plane to the Azores which has Charlton to be champions of the Championship. But one oddity caught my eye. One of the questions to fans was `who do you despise?` and a Coventry City fan had named Matt Holland. Captain Cleanpants? Who could dislike him? What is it with these Chaventry City fans? Dowie perhaps?