I didn't feel like posting last night after another home defeat. I thought we actually played quite well, but at the end of the day what is essentially a League 1 squad with what the Football League Paper described as the 'Championship's tamest attack' was overcome by promotion chasing Derby who do play some neat football. The first goal was the result of a dubious free kick and took a deflection. The second came when we were trying to get an equaliser and had taken our right back off.
Chris Powell makes some mistakes (I wouldn't have started Pritchard and I wouldn't have taken Wilson off) but the 'Powell out' crowd need their head examined. What would you say to a new manager? 'This is largely the squad that got us out of League 1 and we haven't got the money to reinforce it. Oh, and by the way, we are trying to sell the club, but don't expect anything to happen on that front because we aren't charging a realistic price.'
Approaching The Valley I was greeted by the sight of elves selling Voice of the Valley. This issue focuses on the peninsula stadium issue and one thing I learnt was that transport links at the proposed stadium site are nowhere as good as I supposed (it is three-quarters of a mile to the tube). 'Morden Wharf Road' doesn't have the ring of 'Valley Floyd Road', even if we would be nearer the Thames for mist creeping in. Chief Elf Rick Everitt was also there selling copies, although he was distracted by trying to extract his cut out and keep Christmas Chris Powell decoration from the programme. If you missed this or earlier issues you can get them from Rick's workshop at: Voice of the Valley
I thought that we made a positive start to the game in what were very windy conditions. Pritchard won a free kick for the Addicks on the right which led to a Charlton corner. It was cleared, but Morrison protested vociferously to the referee about a hand ball which received a stony faced response from the charm merchant in black. Morrison forced a save from Lee Grant in the Derby goal with a shot from 25 yards out.
The Rams were given a free kick which was fortunate to say the least but the move ended in a goal kick. Stewart put in a good cross but Stephens put the ball over. A Rams shot went just wide and then another attempt went over after dithering by Morrison had let them through. Alnwick had to make a save on the line. Derby charm merchant Keogh got a free kick for a cynical foul on Kermorgant which he protested vigorously. Green's free kick nearly dipped into the goal by the angle of the bar and the upright and Grant had to push the ball out for a Charlton corner which was unproductive.
The Rams were given a free kick in front of the 'D' for an alleged foul by Dervitte. Ward's shot took a deflection and Derby were ahead against the run of play on 32 minutes. Alnwick had to dive to his left to keep out Bryson's angled drive just before the break, Charlton having meanwhile suffered from a harsh offside decision when they had broken through the Derby defence.
Half time: Addicks 0, Rams 1
The exuberance of the Downs Syndrome team on the pitch at half time was a joy to watch. Charlton started the half vigorously and Stephens was just wide with an attempt after good work by Wilson. Stephens got a yellow card and Derby were awarded a dubious free kick which led to a corner, the move eventually ending in a Charlton free kick. Kermorgant won Charlton a corner but it was unproductive.
On 60 minutes Martin got to the byline and cut the ball back to Ward, but his effort came off the crossbar. Chris Powell made a double substitution, taking off the hapless Pritchard and Green (a decision which some booed because of his work rate), bringing on Church and Harriott. On 72 minutes Kermorgant put in a cross into the box, but Morrison put it just wide. As Steve from Petts Wood commented, 'At least he was there.' Kermorgant got a yellow card for dissent. Cousins put in a poor effort. Wilson was taken off and replaced by Sordell. With three minutes left Derby combined well to put Bryson one on one with Alnwick and it was 0-2 and effectively game over, despite four minutes added on.
The Silver Bone has been awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Lawrie Wilson who made some good runs forward and put in some good crosses.Alnwick made a crucial save just before half time, but perhaps could have done better with the second goal. Wiggins dealt well with Ward and got forward well. Morrison didn't take his scoring opportunities, but then he is not a striker. Dervitte gave away too many free kicks, but some of these were harsh decisions by the referee. Green provided some good set pieces and he was better than his usual standard, but that is still not good enough to compete with teams like Derby. Stewart had a below par performance and he looked dejected at the end of the match as well he might. Cousins had a great dribble early on and plays the simple ball which is often the best one. Stephens was another player who was not up to his highest standards. Pritchard had a poor game. Not only does he lack technical skills, but he was muscled off the ball too often. Steve from Petts Wood remarked that Kermorgant has looked less sharp since his return from injury and I think that is right. He was often isolated up front, but did win a lot of aerial challenges. Harriott showed some nice touches when he came on, but nothing that was game changing. Church is simply not an impact player you can bring on from the bench. Sordell managed to make contact with the ball once which says it all.
It might seem that the referee is a clear candidate for the Hiss of the Match. Certainly there were shouts of 'cheat' from the rows behind me. He did make some wrong decisions, they all do, but I don't think he was biased. It might go to the person in the north-west who started trouble with the Upper North, but that is a Facebook report and I didn't see it myself. Instead Rescue Cat Reg has given it to Virgin Trains for bafflingly run diesel Voyagers to and from Coventry, one of them just five coaches, rather than Pendolinos, hence Reg's evening meal was delayed.