It's a full rink with only standing places left available at the Skydome tonight as table topping Coventry Blaze take on their main rivals Nottingham Panthers in the Elite Ice Hockey League. In the last encounter at the Skydome a couple of weeks ago Panthers run out 3-1 winners. On that occasion Blaze were sapped by a trip to Cardiff the previous evening and this time they have been on the long road trip to Edinburgh where they beat the Capitals 4-3 in what must have been a draining match.
I must say that I have been looking forward to the encounter all weekend. I was too busy trying to catch up with work yesterday to go to Swindon and there was no short trip to the New Windmill Ground to see Leamington as they were away at Truro where they achieved a creditable 2-2 draw in the Cornish county town.
My journeys to The Valley recently have been less fun, partly because the last performace I saw was poor and partly because this understandably feeds the negative mood of Charlton fans.
It wasn't too easy to follow the match at Swindon yesterday with Emma's ve-ry sl-ow commentary with its references to 'Carl' Reid and the 'field of play' (had I tuned into a jousting tournament by mistake?) However, as far as I can make out, we were poor for much of the match with less than 40 per cent of the possession. Once again we were caught out defensively at a set piece and it required a captain's goal by Bailey to get a point (and, more important, take two off Swindon). If recent results at home had not been so poor, we would have probably regarded this as a decent result.
Parky experimented with a 'continental' formation. Sam disappeared altogether from the line up, perhaps as part of Parky's 'resting' policy, although we have too limited resources to permit much in the way of squad rotation. I hope that Parky has not caught 'Pardew's disease' and is starting to resort to tinkering with the side and formation in an attempt to recover form. There is much to be said for a settled side, although admittedly this is difficult at Charlton as one never knows whether some of our better players (Sam being the classic example) are going to have a good day or a bad day.
We are not very good because, a few players aside, we are essentially a League 1 outfit of journeymen and youngsters. However, it is important to remember that we are playing in League 1 and many of the other sides are not that good either. We tend to buy too readily into the view that teams like Leeds or Norwich are invincible or that Swindon are about to sweep all before them. In fact no teams in the starting top five picked up three points yesterday (although the main threat to our 3rd place, Colchester, play their hated rivals Southend on Monday).
Charlton versus Millwall in the play-off final anyone?