Charlton moved up to the respectable lower mid-table position of 14th after today's 2-1 victory over Ipswich Town which saw own goals scored by both sides. However, they are only two points off the lowest play-off place and five points clear of the relegation zone. The win gave the club a welcome respite ahead of the international break. Although it was an improvement on recent performances, the Tractors were far from impressive and there is a lot to be done if the Addicks are going to mount any sort of challenge for a play off spot. For me this was exemplified by kicking free kicks by the line out of play.
The pitch announcer asked at the beginning of the game, 'Is there anywhere else you would like to be?' which brought wry smiles and a few comments from those around me.
After the referee had stamped his authority on the game by yellow carding Bouazza for a minor foul, he gave us a free kick in front of goal which I thought was a little fortunate, but when we often fail to get these marginal decisions. In any event, Bailey made good use of it, driving the ball along the ground and into the corner of the net to make it 1-0 on five minutes.
What worried me about our play after the opening goal is that we looked too comfortable rather than going all out for the second goal which would have effctively put the match beyond reach.
Varney launched an attack and there was a hand ball shout. Primus provided good defensive work. Bailey was injured, but there was no booking. He had to limp off and was replaced by Holland. Credit to Hudson as captain for giving the referee his views about this piece of ineptness.
Ambrose powered in and was not far wide. Kelly Youga provided good defensive work, clearing to avoid danger. Todorov put in an effort that was way off course. With Ipswich threatening, Primus defended well and took the right safe option by putting the ball out for a corner. This ended in nothing more than an Ipswich throw in.
The East Side lino took an odd offside decision and then gave a throw in the wrong way. As the crowd gave him a piece of their mind, a voice was heard to shout: 'Don't fret lino, they're being nasty to you.'
A Charlton free kick went straight at Wright in the Ipswich goal. Hudson provided good defensive cover. Ipswich took off Paddy Miller and brought on Pablo Courago. Holland controlled the ball well in midfield to prevent an Ipswich attack developing.
Youga managed to miss a header downfield and after a display of inept defending, an under pressure Cranie put the ball in his own net on 33 minutes to make it 1-1. Why is that we can never defend a lead?
Bouazza put in a neat cross in front of an open goal, but there was no one there to connect. A goal from Ambrose was rightly judged offside, but it was a nice move. Ipswich won a corner, a flustered looking Zheng Zhi gave the ball away and Weaver made a good save at the expense of another Ipswich corner. Ipswich won a free kick in direct line with the goal, for what I am not sure and their effort hit the crossbar.
Half time: Addicks 1, Tractors 1
Cranie was replaced by Semedo after the break. Luke Varney put in a shot which tested the keeper and won Charlton a corner, but this was unproductive, ending in an Ipswich throw in.
The Tractors won a corner, the ball was played back in and the ball ended up on the roof of the net. Luke Varney burst through and was brought down on the edge of the area. Many of the Addickted thought that it was inside, but I thought at the time that it was only a free kick. For me it was telling that none of the players claimed a penalty. The free kick was cleared and then the referee awarded Ipswich a free kick for reasons known only to himself.
Semedo put in a good cross which produced a Charlton corner. Ambrose put in an excellent cross and under pressure from Bouazza an Ipswich defender put the ball in his own net to make it 2-1. Pardew by this time was actually becoming a little animated.
Charlton kept falling for the offside trap, Varney in particular needing to watch his positioning. On 67 minutes Todorov was withdrawn and Gray brought on. Quinn and Darren Ambrose were given a long talking to by the referee who clearly likes the sound of his own voice.
The ever popular Ivan Campo was taken off and replaced by Owen Garvan while Stead was replaced by super Kevin Lisbie. Pessimists around me said 'that will be worth at least one goal to them.' Matt Holland provided a good defensive header.
An Ipswich free kick led to an Ipswich corner, but their effort went over. Semedo had a go and it was an effort worth making even if it went wide. Weaver made a good save. Three minutes added on gave the referee the chance to book Gray.
If we had got a point against Wednesday and one against Palace, we would have actually had the same number of points as two of the teams in the play off places. The likes of Burnley, Coventry and Plymouth are far from invincible and we should be able to mount a challenge to them. Whether we can remains to be seen.
Elsewhere, Leamington beat Chesham United 2-0 to go eight points clear at the top of the British Gas Business Midlands Division.
Ivy the Terrible took the unusual step of awarding the Silver Bone to someone who came on as a substitute at half time, Jose Semedo. Even so, the Covered End were singing his name by the end of the game and it was a creditable and lively performance by the out-of-favour player. Weaver had to make a couple of important saves, but was otherwise not troubled too much by the far from sharp shooting tractors. He needs to work on how he puts the ball forward. Youga has some sublime moments, but also makes some basic errors like playing the ball forward to a position no one can reach. Hudson was once again solid and reliable. Cranie once again failed to show the quality he is supposed to have and capped his underwhelming performance with an own goal. He was rightly withdrawn in favour of Semedo. Primus was generally reliable. Bailey scored a great goal and then had to be withdrawn.
Holland who came on for him showed once again that he is reliable and committed. Ambrose had his moments, but was not that involved.Bouazza was lively and involved and set up the winning goal. Zheng Zhi was clearly not match fit and was getting hustled off the ball. He should not have started. Todorov exchanged words with Varney for getting out of position, but did not contribute that much himself. Varney was once again able to break through from time to time, but I remain unconvinced that he will score many goals. Gray was an improvement on Todorov when he came on, but that was about all.
Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to referee Grant Hegley who deserves another suspension for incompetence. He yellow carded Bouazza early in the game for an innocuous foul and yellow carded Gray at the end, presumably because he told him what a wally he had been, but he ignored fouls by the Tractors which were as bad as that committed by Bouazza. His East Stand linesman was also hopeless, although one must make allowance for the fact that his hair kept blowing in his face.