Saturday 8 August 2009

We Make It Hard for Ourselves

Charlton secured their first three points of a season with 3-2 victory over Wycombe Wanderers at The Valley this afternoon. However, they twice surrendered a two goal lead and but for some last minute heroics by keeper Rob Elliott it could have easily ended in a 3-3 draw. Charlton played some neat football, and at times tore the Chairboys apart, but they were too inclined to sit back on their lead and too ready to panic when under pressure.

Gloomsters were forecasting that it would be difficult to reach attendances of 10,000 this season, but despite the fact that many people are still on holiday, there were some of the longest queues I have ever seen outside The Valley for walk up tickets and the final attendance was announced at 16,532. It was certainly an exciting match, but in many ways the kind of excitement I could do without.

When I got to Marylebone the tube train was stuck in the platform and paramedics were attending to an unfortunate individual who had been taken ill. Fortunately, he was able to walk away with them. The driver advised us to hold on tight and I then had the faster tube journey ever which showed how quickly these trains can go if there is nothing in front of them.

I was pleased to see that the tide was in at Deptford Creek. One benefit of being in League 1 was that the Rose of Denmark was far less crowded.

Despite the best efforts of Bream Team, the Big Screen went down before the match. Apparently one of the goldfish jumped out and Big Dave Lockwood was trying to catch it with a net and damaged the screen. I realised how useful a service it was.

The game started at a fast and furious pace and I wonder whether this could be maintained on a warm day. Indeed, Parky said that Charlton got tired in the second half and clearly fitness levels have to be looked at. This is a downside of having two centre backs with a combined age of around seventy.

New wonder player Adam Smith was lacking for the Chairboys despite his illustrious name and his Spurs pedigree. He managed to foul Bailey and then Racon in the first few minutes, leading to free kicks.

Llera and Racon got in decent crosses but they were cleared. Charlton won their first corner and Ronaldo's friend Semedo (see programme) took a shot but it was blocked by Adam Smith who had finally managed to find an equilbrium position. Bailey turned provider for Youga who was bearing down on goal and it looked as if we might score but he put his shot wide of the post. Racon had a go from just outside the area and covered his head in frustration when the shot went just over the bar.

Charlton were getting in some shots, but they were being blocked quite effectively by the Chairboys. Duberry blocked an effort from Burton and then Bailey sent the ball over. Bailey then drew a save from Shearer in the Wycombe goal.

Charlton won a corner, followed by a second. Dailly rose impressively from Shelvey's corner to head the ball in to the back of net. This was a well taken goal by the new signing.

Two minutes later Frazer Richardson turned provider for Bailey who put the ball in the top right hand corner of the net to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, we then started to go a bit mad and fail to use chances which could have finished off the match. We were not helped when Llera was off the pitch for ten minutes or so after a clash of heads. During this period we attempted to slow the game down and play possession football which worked until the Chairboys broke and scored.

One of the best chances came on 26 minutes when Sam shot with his right foot (he should have used his left) from outside the box and saw the ball go wide. Shelvey made a decent headed effort but it went wide. Then another effort by Shelvey went just over the bar. Dailly tried again, but his header went wide.

Then, almost from nowhere, Wycombe scored. They broke down the left side and I think it was Woodman who sent in a high inswinging ball with which Zebroski scored to make it 2-1 on 43 minutes. It was a typical League 1 goal and we have to be alert to that kind of danger.

Half time: Addicks 2, Chairboys 1

At half time Peter Taylor used the Roosevelt analogy of 'You have nothing to fear but fear itself.' He told his squad that they shouldn't come to places like The Valley and show fear. It's hardly the Emirates, but I see what it means. And it seems to have worked. The view of many Addicks is that we did not play as well in the second half, and I think that is true, but the other part of the story is that Wycombe upped the game. It's the familiar story of concentrating on your own failings and ignoring what the other team is doing.

The spirits of the Addickted were raised on 49 minutes when Llera made it 3-1 with a shot into the bottom left-hand corner from a few yards out, the assist coming from Shelvey. Again, we had our chances to put the match beyond doubt and didn't take them.

Wycombe threatened and Youga made a good defensive header in front of goal. The Chairboys made a double substitution, but I wasn't sure about who the players were or what they were likely to do. Once again Wycombe threatened and Charlton provided some good defensive work in front of goal. Wycombe won a corner, but Burton showed his worth in defence by making a decisive clearance.

Parkinson then made a double substitution on 67 minutes, replacing Gray by Burton and Sam by McLeod. I think Sam needed to come off, but it was a mistake to get rid of Burton who was playing an effective role in the game.

Initially, Gray and McLeod looked lively. Gray got a shot in which was blocked for a Charlton corner. Shelvey's inswinging corner was a good one and McLeod's header was just over the bar.

Youga gave away a free kick in a dangerous position, but fortunately it was cleared. Semedo lost the ball in midfield, Wycombe were able to break and Stuart Beavon turned provider for Chris Zebroski who made it 3-2 on 73 minutes.

It was very much game on and Wycombe could see a draw or even a win in their sights. Youga fouled Zebroski in a promising poistion for the visitors and Elliot had to make the save. He was then forced to give a corner away as he saved from danger man Zebrovski. By now it was panic stations in the Charlton defence as Elliot had to save from Zebroski again.

Charlton won a corner, but it was punched out by Shearer in the Wycombe goal. The Chairboys forged forward and Charlton gave away yet another free kick, this time through Racon. The panic was showing as Gray conceded a free kick and then Bailey near the corner flag, the captain receiving a yellow card for his offence.

The referee put in a good block but was injured. The captains were called over and after some delay one of the linos came on as referee. Substitute Pittman put in a header from close range which went just over. Llera received a yellow card for a foul.

Elliot had to make a great save from Phillips. As we went into four minutes of time added on (five played), Charlton were under continuing pressure with the ball again being cleared off the line. Luke Oliver came on for Wycombe and made good use of a corner, putting in a shot from close range that went just over the bar. Finally, the whistle went and the three points were safe.

Clearly, there is much work to do but matters off pitch should stabilise soon. If we don't see a takeover within the next week, I doubt it will happen, but I think odds on it will. It's been a difficult process and it's perfectly understandable that two directors should be concerned about the treatment of the club's financial debt to them (it would concern me if I was in their shoes), but hopefully a resolution of that issue is close.

Match analyst Ivy the Terrible thought that there were a number of candidates for the Silver Bone with strength, skill and determination being displayed by a number of players. However, she gave it to keeper Rob Elliott for his brave last ditch save which ensured that the Addicks got all three points. Admittedly, he let two goals in, but one of these came when we were down to ten men. I thought that Richardson looked like a quality right back at this level. Youga was his usual self despite his change of hairstyle: lively, involved, getting forward, but making some awful mistakes at times. He doesn't give me confidence. Clearly there are still questions about the central defence given that we conceded two easy goals, although both central defenders also scored. We also lack cover in this position (unless you count Mambo) which is why Llera had to go off for treatment and play on when he was probably feeling a little bit groggy. I am therefore not going to make a hasty judgment about him. Dailly I quite like the look of. OK, he is 36, but he has kept himself fit and he is an experienced player. Semedo made a couple of serious errors in giving the ball away, one of which started the move which led to their second goal.
Racon played his part well and was on the short list for the Silver Bone. What took it away from him was an appalling display of dithering in the second half after we had gone 3-1 up and he could have created a fourth goal. Bailey scored and was very involved, but I am not sure how suitable he is for the role of captain. I got the sense that he might yet move on. Shelvey was nowhere near as impressive as he was at times last season, but it is easy to expect too much of a 17-year old. My view on Sam is likely to be controversial. More than one person thought he was Man of the Match, whilst the Bloke Behind Me covered me in a shower of spittle as he shouted abuse at him. I thought that he was very good in the first half, but much less so in the second. He was playing on the East Stand side in the second half. Richardson said in the programme that he had formed a good partnership with Sam, but I was less convinced. Sam needs to get on the wing more and not cut inside, which he was doing much more in the second half, and he needs to move more off the ball rather than standing around waiting for it to be delivered to him. I thought Parky was right to substitute him when he did. Burton gets a lot of stick, but he can actually hold the ball up rather well. It's a Leaburnesque quality, but not one to be despised. McLeod confirmed my view of him when he came on, a lot of running around to very little effect. After one good touch when he first came on Gray also disappointed once again. I heard someone say after the match that we should take Barnsley's offer of £600,000. Well, the new owners may want to decide that.

Hiss of the Match This goes to South-Eastern Trains who provided a completely inadequate service for the crowd after the match.

Crowd rating The Addickted were in good voice 8/10.

Discount voucher at Specsavers This new award was not made. On the whole I thought that referee Darren Deadman had a good game. He kept control of the match, did not dish out excessive numbers of cards, and got most of his decisions right. It was unfortunate that he had to be substituted. The linos also kept up with the game and seemed to understand the offside rule.


Anonymous said...

Rather flattering review and somewhat misleading to anyone who wasn't there... I lost count of the number of goal line clearances we had in the last 10-15 mins. Four was it, or five?

Referee was substituted due to a blood injury - had his thigh/knee bandaged up. Was a good block by him that led to the injury though! Overall he did have a good game, but how he didn't give us a free-kick that left Bailey writhing in the middle, I don't know, and then why he gave him a yellow for what seemed a perfectly good challenge on the linesman say-so when he himself had signalled a corner, I don't know.

But those are the only real gripes. We let Wycombe get back in the game by taking our foot off the pedal after scoring the second. Too much trying to show off skill and not enough doing the basics. Gray and McLeod looked good together when they came on though.

Anonymous said...

Some of our passing football, particularly in the first half, was outstanding. There were moments when I thought we were really going to embarass them. Bailey's goal was at the end of such a move and was special. He nearly scored a second at the end of another.

You could query Parky's judgement in playing with ten men whilst waiting for Llera to be patched up - we looked short at the back then and the goal was probably their second meaningful attack. But i understand why he wanted to get his centre back on the pitch again.

Your previous commentator was right about goal line clearances - I think there were 3, maybe 4. But the Gray move that ended in a nearly goal, and the Lloyd miss, would have wrapped it up for us.

Thought Burton was excellent as lone man up front. But Gray and Izzie did look good didn't they?

MOM for me was Dailly - won so many headers (not sure why he bombed right for their second though).

Wyn - saw you entrance brick at the west stand today- just a few ros from mine.

Pembury Addick

peter b said...

Hello Wyn,

Thanks for your regular posts to your diary.

We were totally dominant in the first half, and its worrying that we didn't score at least 4 from the chances we created.

Did anyone else find Llera's performance scary ? I'm hoping that his second half can be explained by he had a touch of concussion; if not Im very afraid.

WattO said...

Parky lost the plot subbing Deon (outstanding play today and did not put a foot wrong), and Lloyd( one his best games in ages), we also lost our rhythm when we went down to ten men. I hate to say it, but what the f@ck is Andy Gray still doing here? He tries hard but his touch is woefully bad. Still, more positives than negatives.

Anonymous said...

Peter B. Thank God someone else spotted Llera's performance. Wyn, I think you were being kind to him putting his performance down to grogginess. Overall the performance was great barring the last 15 with Dailly looking like an inspired signing, clearly still several leagues above this one. His positional sense is brilliant and his touch is a pleasure to watch from a centre back. Can't remember the last time a Charlton centre back was comfortable on the ball (Andy Todd maybe?).

Going back to Llera though. I will be slightly more bold than Wyn and suggest that he is an absolute carthorse. Positionally all over the place, never goalside of the defender and often ball watching, losing his man, his touch is woeful, hospital balls back to the keeper, not even that good in the air and every time the ball went near him my heart was in my mouth.

One other point on Lloyd Sam. He played well, he is prone to cutting in a lot but I think the reason for this is that he has a bizarre running style with the ball. He struggles to play the ball in front of him and is prone to losing control of the ball when he does. He sort of carries thball between his feet, protecting it with his body which allows him to drag the ball across his body and inside, rather than keeping the ball infront of himself and darting forward with pace. At one point he tried the latter approach in the second half and he immediately ran the ball into touch. Its a technical issue that I think the coaches should have spotted and tried to rectify by now (If its not too late already).

Final point. Best Charlton midfield I can rember for a long time as regards touch and movement off the ball but I agree with you Wyn, depite being handed the captaincy I'm unconvinced that Bailey wants to stay, possibly owing to his proclivity to move on rapidly from previous employers when a better opportunity arrives.

James O'Brien

Anonymous said...

yes PeterB I did find Llera's second half a little scary! He didn't win the ball in the air as much as I thought he would first half either, but I still like the look of him. Its very early yet, and the bloke obviously has bottle from the time he put his injured head in the firing line!

Pembury Addick

Anonymous said...

Great article but i thought you got the mcleod bit wrong! i thought he looked good attacking and running against defenders and made the keeper make a really good safe from a long range shot!

Mike said...

I think Llera might be El Karkouri in disguise.

Brian said...

I bet there aren't many football blogs that slip in jokes about macro-economic theory! I didn't get it, mind, but at least I noticed it.

peter b said...

I've just re read the comment I posted yesterday and realised that I sound a bit like the bloke who sits behind Wyn.

So to balance this:

Christian Daily... looked a class above this league.

Frazer Richardson... promosing debut.

Deon Burton ... good game, mistake to take him off. It may be an unpopular view, but despite a few mistakes I think Sam also ha a good game and the shape of the team suffered after he went off.

Thery Racon... great first half, but missing in the second half after Wycombe stepped up their work levels (theres my pesimism kicking in again)

Rob Eliot. some great saves in teh second half.

Miguel Llera..had the bottle to continue after a serious head injury.. but pace ? positioning? ability ? I'll suspend judgement until next week.

Wyn Grant said...

Thanks for all the comments. We all see different aspects of the game, but they are all interesting. I admit that I didn't include a shot on 87 minutes by McLeod which Shearer had to save, but the article was getting very long by that time.

Finkle said...

It was interesting that Burton was much better at holding the ball up than Gray who is much taller and bigger.