Tuesday 30 September 2008

1-0 again - this time to Palace

The pattern of 1-0 results between the Glaziers and the Addicks at Selhurst Park continued this evening, but this time it was Palace who took the three points. Charlton fell back to 17th in the table.

Charlton went for a defensive 4-5-1 formation at Sainsbury's with Ambrose starting in midfield and Varney on his own up front. Zheng Zhi was on the bench, no sign of Moutaoukil.

Palace piled on the pressure in the first quarter of an hour, mainly from corners. Bailey had to clear off the line and McCarthy missed a chance to score against his old club.

Charlton got into the game more as it went on, but still weren't creating chances. Two free kicks from Watson came off the Charlton wall. Palace hit the crossbar in play from a corner, but Charlton cleared.

Charlton's first shot on target came on 40 minutes when Bouazza made use of a great through ball from Ambrose.

Half time: Glaziers 0, Addicks 0

There were chances at both ends in the early part of the second half with Bouazza and Youga firing over for Charlton. An Addicks free kick on the right came into the box and there were calls from the Addickted for a penalty after Mark Hudson was fouled.

On 63 minutes Watson whipped the ball into the far post and Craig Beattie, on loan from the Baggies, took advantage to make it 1-0 for the home side.

After Palace hit the crossbar again, Pardew made a triple substitution, bringing on Gray, Zheng Zhi and Todorov. Charlton then went on the attack more. Their best chance to equalise came when Varney got on the end of a flick on from Gray but Speroni made a great save.

Alan Pardew will be getting his big book of excuses out for Saturday's programme.

Can we do it?

Can we continue our run of 1-0 victories at Selhurst tonight? Who will be our Dennis in the last minute?

I am afraid probably not. The most likely outcome is a low scoring draw, perhaps another 0-0.

The Glaziers look set to be without strikers Alan Lee and James Scowcroft (both hamstring) again. Youngster Calvin Andrew is also missing with a knee injury, as is Neil Danns (groin), though he is nearing a return.

For Charlton, the position of Zheng Zhi remains uncertain, but a bench position is the most we can hope for. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ambrose in the team.

Neil Warnock has blasted off Mark Hudson again for the way in which he left Palace, claiming that he was let down by his captain.

Fans' forum

This is attracting a measure of scepticism from the Addickted. They see it as a poor substitute for the fans' director and part of a broader pattern, of which the delisting of the company was another example, of distancing the club from 'awkward' fans.

The reasons given for getting rid of the fans' director do not entirely stack up. Legal responsibilities and risks are cited, but if these are so onerous, no one would be a non-executive director on any board. And far as I am aware there have been no recent changes in company law. Admittedly, considerations of commercial confidentiality and other legal requirements did constrain what the fans' director could tell the fans. But it was a useful two-way channel of communication. Some fans have asked why we can't have both the forum and the director.

However, the fans' forum is what we have so we need to try and make it work, even if it does degenerate into miscellaneous grumblings about the catering or the finer details of the Rickshaw service. That means that we need good calibre candidates to come forward.

Jordan says sorry - sort of

Simon Jordan has tried to repair relations with Charlton ahead of tonight's game:

Elsewhere, Phil Parkinson has confirmed that he will not be applying for the managerial vacancy at Colchester which leaves him free to step up at The Valley should Pardew leave.

Monday 29 September 2008

Pards to ring the changes

Alan Pardew may make some changes in the Charlton side to face Palace on Tuesday:

I'm not sure his Tinkerman strategy worked last season and I'm confident it will this time. I would drop Cranie at right back and bring in Moutaoukil.

Todorov has put in his bid for a place, but I was far from convinced by his rusty performance on Saturday:

Saturday 27 September 2008

Not more than the sum of the parts

Alan Pardew claimed in today's programme that 'the team now represents what Charlton fans have always demanded - a side that gives 100 per cent, is always fighting, and is more than the sum of the parts.' This was not the side that I saw defeated 2-1 at The Valley today by Sheffield Wednesday. It is one thing to be defeated at home by Wolves, but Wednesday's only advantage over us is that they are organised when we are disorganised.

Once again Charlton surrendered a 1-0 lead. For both goals the Owls were able to power through our midfield and scatter our defence to the winds. Indeed, the midfield was conspicuous by its effective absence for much of the match. Chances to surge forward in the way that Wednesday had were marred by hesitancy.

I thought that we started very hesitantly, illustrated by the fact that we messed up the kick off, conceding possession immediately to the visitors. Youga conceded an avoidable throw in. There was a spell of pressure from the Owls. Linvoy Primus was looking lively and had to act quickly to recover the situation after an error from Hudson.

However, Wednesday were by no means invincible as was shown when they conceded an unnecessary corner. From the corner Primus almost scored with a header. The midfield looked disorganised and Weaver spilled the ball from an attack. Youga was able to put it out for a throw in and the move ended in an offside decision.

Good play saw Bouazza released, but the Wednesday defenders were able to deal with the situation. Bouazza then went in again. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a free kick in a promising position. The ball soared up in the air and in the ensuing scramble Varney managed to get it in the back of the net to make it 1-0. It was a scrappy goal, but they all count.

McMahon was awarded a yellow card for a foul on Bouazza which I thought was rather harsh, but referee Dean Whitestone was a model of inconsistency. Varney put in a shot from distance that tested Lee Grant in the Wednesday goal. Varney burst through, the shot came off the post and Gray sent it soaring over.

Linvoy Primus provided good defensive work. Gray showed that he can be a player of quality, effortlessly shrugging off defenders. It all then went off between Luke Varney and James O'Connor and there was a melée on the pitch. Varney had kicked out at O'Connor, admittedly under provocation, and could have been sent off, but the referee settled for a yellow. For a moment he contemplated booking O'Connor as well, but did not do so.

Wednesday powered through the midfield from their own half and tore apart the defence without being challenged, allowing Small to make it 1-1. Charlton did become more energised and fought back with Holland putting a shot over. However, hapless defending let Charlton down again and Wednesday were able to make it 1-2 through Tudgay. Two soft goals had been conceded in a matter of minutes.

Linvoy Primus was booked. With two minutes added on, O'Connor brought down Varney and this time he was booked. The Charlton free kick came off the wall.

Half time: Addicks 1, Owls

The Addicks dominated possession in the second half, apart from the occasional Wednesday break, and had a number of shots on goal, but were unable to find the back of the net. Varney opened the action with a shot from distance that was not far wide.

Weaver had to make the save and Youga cleared the ball for a Wednesday throw in. The Owls won a corner. Varney went on a good run, but perhaps should have laid the ball off. Sam reminded us that he was on the pitch by drawing a save from the keeper. Jermaine Johnson again held up play by going down and this time he was replaced by Deon Burton.

Tudgay received a yellow card for a foul. A Charlton corner was taken by Bailey, but was eventually cleared. Wednesday had a spell of good passing player. Goal scorer Small was taken off and replaced by the 'E' man, Etienne Esajas.

Some decent build up play ended in Bouazza putting the ball over. Sam put in a good cross, but it was too early for anyone to use it. Pardew decided the time had come to make the changes, taking off Gray and Primus and bringing on Ambrose and Todorov. Wednesday replaced Watson with Jimmy Smith.

A cross from Sam ended up in the side netting. Charlton won a corner, but it was unproductive. Todorov put a poor ball forward that ended up in a goal kick, although arguably someone should have run on to it. Pardew fired the last shot in his locker by taking off Cranie, who did not seem to be fully fit, and bringing on Basey.

Ambrose fired in a shot from distance that was just wide. Youga won a free kick in a promising position just outside the area, but the move ended in nothing more than a Charlton throw in. An Ambrose shot from distance was spilled by the keeper. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner which was taken by Grant Basey.

Varney was fouled, but there was no yellow card. Matt Holland provided good defensive work. Todorov contributed by winning a corner. There were four minutes of time added on and Wednesday had a late corner.

The result put Charlton down to 14th and no one can say that their position is not a true reflection of their performances. If Charlton can beat Palace on Tuesday, confidence and morale will to an extent be restored. It would be good to see Zheng Zhi in the side, or at least on the bench, but apparently he has not been showing well in training.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Matt Holland. He did fit the description in the programme: he gave 100 per cent and was always fighting. And when he was required to switch to centre back, he slotted into the role admirably. Weaver did not distinguish himself for the two goals, particularly the second one, but he was left down by his defence. Hudson seem to be reasonably solid, but I would like to see his positioning for the first Wednesday goal in particular. Primus was certainly actively involved in the first part of the match, but, not surprisingly, he was somewhat rusty and faded as the match went on, leading to his eventual withdrawal. As always Youga made some sublime moves, but also some basic mistakes. Cranie was not that distinguished at right back and I am sure Moutaoukil would have been more decisive coming forward. Bailey did not play as well he has in some games, although he certainly cares, as shown by his bust up with Bouazza after the second goal went in. Sam had a few good moments, but fails to attain a consistently good standard. Bouazza showed his pace on occasion and had inventive flashes but it was a performance that was good in parts and, like the curate's egg, failed to satisfy as a whole. Gray was tepid. Varney scored our goal and was certainly up for any opportunities, but I still have reservations about his finesse. Todorov made little difference when he came on for Gray and seems not to sharp enough, not surprising given his long lay off. But Dickson may have offered more. Ambrose had a couple of pops at goal which were worth the effort.
Basey showed that he is an accomplished player.

Hiss of the Match For the first time ever, Juneau the Soccer Cat has given this to the manager, Alan Pardew. He is normally animated, but his body langauge was very passive as he stood with arms folded. He certainly did not seem to be inspiring the team.

Crowd rating Initially lively and did their best to encourage them in the second half. 7/10.

Fleetwood returns to his native heath

Stuart Fleetwood, on loan to Cheltenham Town, has told the Gloucester Citizen that he did not expect to break into the first team at The Valley straight away given the gap between the Conference and the Championship and the quality of players at The Valley: Fleetwood

Some of the Addickted think that Fleetwood should have been kept at Charlton to come on from the bench or even partner Gray with Varney on the wing.

Friday 26 September 2008

Which is the odder?

The assertion by the Sub-Standard that Nicky Bailey, who did work in a bookies and is lodging with his girl friend's parents in their Forest Hill pub while he looks for a permanent home is being called the new Paul Gascoigne by the Addickted?

Or the comments by Pards on the one month loan deal with Cheltenham Town for Stuart Fleetwood? Pardew said: 'He's in such great form for the reserves that I need to see him scoring goals at a higher level before I can put my hat on him in this team.' The idea of Pards putting his hat on a player sounds a bit odd, particularly as he has never been seen to wear one. What sort of hat would it be? A baseball cap, a wooly one or the revival of the trilby? Answers on a postcard.

As for the actual decision-making involved, one lister put it nicely: 'So to sum up, you buy a 23 year old non-league striker, and because he plays so well for your reserve team, you send him out on loan, so that you can find out if he is any good for your first team.'

You couldn't make it up.

Spoilt for choice

There are three sporting fixtures I could go to this week. Leamington are at home to Stourport Swifts as they seek to maintain their lead at the head of the BGB Midlands Division. I could combine a visit to the New Windmill Ground with an evening at the Coventry Arena watching the Blaze take on Basingstoke Bisons on the ice. But, of course, I will be at The Valley for the mid-table Championship clash against Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls were, of course, the team that ended our first tenure in the Premiership. Since then they have had all sorts of ownership problems which have not been finally resolved. (See Wednesday.) They also top the empty seats league in the Championship with Hillsborough being only 47.7 per cent full in the four home games played there so far. So don't expect too many hooting Owls in the Jimmy Seed stand, but you can guarantee that they will make proportionately more noise than we do.

The attack and the midfield practically picks itself, given that Zheng Zhi will probably be held back to sort out the Glaziers on Tuesday. It is in defence that Pards has big problems. Misfortune has hit Fortune who is now out for six weeks. It looks as if Cranie has recovered sufficiently to join Hudson in central defence. The big question mark, then, is over the right back slot. Most of the Addickted would probably prefer Moutaoukil to get his chance as he gives us an attacking option, but it looks as if Semedo will fill the vacant slot.

Pards told the club website: 'Semedo is, in my opinion, the best character we have at this football club in terms of his attitude. The boys love him, we love him, and he will eventually nail a position down.' Quite what that position will be remains to be seen, although I had thought that he was a defensive midfielder.

Not so. According to Pards, 'Semedo came here as a centre-back but it's very difficult for a foreign player coming over here to play that position. He's played at right-back and centre midfield but I would have no qualms now about playing him at centre-back.'

What is particularly difficult about that particular position for a foreign player? Jorge Costa, also from Portugal, had no problem in settling in. There appears to be some suggestion that it's too risky to have too many foreign players (two French speaking and one Portuguese) in defence, but I would have thought that the communication on the pitch was fairly basic. A few key terms such as 'pass the ball' and a few choice pieces of industrial language should be sufficient, aided by appropriate getures. After all, there isn't going to be the opportunity for a learned discourse about the game: 'When you attempt an angled pass from the left side, could you give it a little more pace?'

Wednesday seem to be in good shape, with star 18-year old centre half Mark Beevers available again after a hamstring injury. Ever optimistic, I will go for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Todorov and Ambrose fit

Svetoslav Todorov and Darren Ambrose took part successfully in a 'closed doors' reseve team run out against Southend United at Sparrows Lane yesterday.

Todorov is working his way back to full fitness following a cruciate knee ligament he suffered last season, while a hamstring problem had hampered his comeback bid. However he came through the behind-closed-doors match against the Shrimpers with no problems.

Darren Ambrose also came through the game unscathed following an opening to the season in which he has been restricted to substitute appearances for the first team following hip surgery over the summer.

Whether either of them will be used in the starting line up on Saturday is open to question. Todorov might be on the bench, although even that is doubtful, while Ambrose is likely to be restricted to an initial bench role.

I welcome the return of Todorov, because I still have doubts about Varney, although how Todorov would combine with Gray is an open question. Varney can certainly prise open defences with his pace, but does he have the clinical precision in front of goal that striker needs? Can he take the kinds of opportunistic chances that Gray turns into goals?

Another player I have doubts about is Lloyd Sam. Someone on the list rather harshly suggested that he had been cyrongenically frozen except for his brain. He does seem to have a problem with walking and chewing gum at the same time in the sense of keeping the ball at his feet and then knowing when and where to cross it. And at 23 he isn't a promising youngster any more so he can't be regarded as a work in progress.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Injury worries for Saturday

Charlton face a number of defensive injury worries before Saturday's clash with The Owls at The Valley. Jonathan Fortune is to have a scan on his injured knee to assess the extent of the damage. Martin Cranie is highly doubtful after developing a hamstring problem.

However, Linvoy Primus looks like he will be fit enough to play, making his debut after his return to The Valley. There may also be a chance for out-of-favour Moutaouakil.

Leyton Orient have denied that Charlton have made an approach to take their highly rated 20-year old midfielder Jason Demetriou on loan.

Blades show their steel

Sheffield United had the mettle to persist in their case against West Ham United and have got their just reward. Quite how much that will be remains to be seen, but the figure of £30m has been widely mentioned, plus anything they can extract from the Premiership. The Hampsters are consulting their lawyers, but it is difficult to see how they can overturn this arbitration decision.

The original decision not to deduct points from West Ham was taking by an independently constituted panel, but the suspicion hung in the air that the Premiership would prefer to have the Irons among their number rather than the less glamorous Blades from gritty Sheffield.

It's not clear when the Blades will get their compensation, but probably not until after the January transfer window which means that this year's competition will not be affected. Mind you, there is evidently quite a lot of work to do on the Sheffield United side, given their 6-0 defeat last night by an Arsenal side with an average age of 19.

Elsewhere, Leamington kept their cup dreams alive at Studley by beating them 1-0 in the Birmingham Senior Cup.

Saturday 20 September 2008

A day for draws

Six matches were drawn in the Championship today, Charlton's match at Forest being among them with the game ending in a 0-0 draw. Charlton slipped to 9th in the table after the result, Coventry City moving above them after defeating Iain Dowie's Super Hoops on the inspired manager's return to the Ricoh.

According to the Nottingham Evening Post 'It took a world-class save from Paul Smith to deny Charlton a late winner at the City Ground, as Nottingham Forest were almost punished for a host of missed chances.' The keeper plunged low to his right to deny a threatening header from Andy Gray.

Earlier in the game, Nicky Weaver made an early save to deny the much travelled Robert Earnshaw. Weaver's services were called on again a number of times in the first half, but the home side looked less threatening after the break.

Forest youngster Matt Thornhill was sent off in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence, a sliding tackle on Grant Basey but it was too late to change the balance of the game. Youga and Bailey were booked for Charlton, the latter in the 90th minute.

Each side had four goal attempts on taregt but Charlton were ahead in the corner tally by seven to four. Gray started on the bench but was brought on in place of Sam in the 72nd minute. Earlier, Ambrose had replaced Fortune.

An increasingly struggling Palace lost at home 1-2 to Plymouth, while Chris Iwelumo was sent off for violent conduct after scoring a hat trick for Wolves at Deepdale. His goals tally does suggest there was something in his complaints about lack of service at Charlton.

Elsewhere, Leamington maintained their 100 per cent league record with a 3-2 win at Soham Town Rangers.

Friday 19 September 2008

Can we achive the 'triptych'?

Can Charlton complete the 'triptych' (to use a new jargon word I have learnt in Hull) by beating Notts Forest on Saturday to follow up on the defeats of newly promoted Swansea and Doncaster?

Apparently we had to dig out a result against Donny, following an early opportunist (in the best sense of the word) goal by digging in. According to some accounts, we followed the traditional Charlton pattern of inviting pressure on ourselves. But we ground out a result.

It is possible that Zheng Zhi will be back at Forest, if only on the bench. This is encouraging news, if not for Matt Holland. Although a win is possible, I think that a draw is a more likely result.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

One Is Enough

A third minute goal from Andy Gray was enough to give an unchanged Charlton side victory at Doncaster Rovers tonight in front of a crowd of 10,483. It was the Addicks first away win of the season and a very useful three points. Charlton made only one change during the match, Grant Basey coming on for Lloyd Sam on 81 minutes.

The Addicks had only one shot on target in the whole game but it's the ones that go in that count. Doncaster had 14 corners to one for Charlton.

Charlton soared eight places to eighth in the Championship. Elsewhere, Crystal Palace lost 2-1 to Wolves at Molineux with a furious Neil Warnock blaming the referee.

Monday 15 September 2008

White kit may absorb football black hole

Doncaster Rovers have no injury worries for tomorrow night's clash against the Addicks, but Charlton will be without Zheng Zhi who has a badly bruised foot picked up in training. At least this put to a rest rumours that he had been the first victim of a black hole generated by the CERN accelerator.

In fact the biggest black hole at The Valley at the moment seems to be in the footballing plans of not so super Alan Pardew. He stated in the programme on Saturday, 'I've been at Charlton for around 18 months now, and I'm beginning to feel the side plays the way I want to, rather than having to play a system that was better suited to the players I inherited.' Hmmm.

Charlton will be turning out for the first time in their new white kit and for those of us who regard white as the classic Addicks change colour, this might be a hopeful sign. Perhaps the white will absorb any footballing black holes.

Talking of kit, I wasn't too keen on the picture of a brooding youth in a gritty urban setting in the programme which screamed 'chav' at me. I'm not sure I'd want to wear something which flaunted the brand name in such large and tasteless lettering but, then, obviously the gear is not aimed at me.

Doncaster come into the game off the back of a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City which looks like a better encounter with a West Midlands side than our 1-3 hammering by Wolves. One of the Donny web sites I looked at was forecasting a narrow home win and unfortunately that doesn't sound unrealistic. Killer is going for a draw which I suppose is a realistic ambition, but I am losing all reason and going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

I'm not going to the match: I have to spend Wednesday to Saturday in Hull which constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment and represents quite enough of that part of the country.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Addicks overwhelmed

Despite an encouraging start when Nicky Bailey put them ahead with a super strike on four minutes, Charlton were simply overwhelmed by Wolves in today's 1-3 defeat at The Valley. The Addicks managed to hold on to their lead until half time, but they were increasingly stretched by Wolves as the game went on. Steve from Croydon thought that only two players had put in really good performances, Bailey and Hudson, and it was difficult to disagree with him. The defence was rickety, Gray was anonymous in attack and Varney missed some great chances to score.

At the beginning of the match we learnt that Chris Iwelumo would not be starting after all as he had injured himself in the warm up. Quite how this happened I have no idea, perhaps it was acknowledging the applause of the Addickted.

Charlton started brightly with an early corner and Bouazza having a punt from distance. The spirits of the Addickted when then lifted by Bailey's cannon shot from distance which put them 1-0 ahead.

Wolves then won a corner which highlighted the uncertainties in the Charlton defence which were to be a feature of the game. The ball was played out and then Weaver made a save. Good work by Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner, but it ended in an offside call, the Addicks playing themselves offside in the game more than they should have done. Hudson made a good clearance in defence. Fortune made a safety first clearance into touch which is better than making no clearance at all.

Bouazza played superbly, evading a number of defenders, but his effort from distance was wide and perhaps he should have passed the ball. Wolves were making a lot of use of their left wing and often looked threatening. Varney was presented with an open goal, but put the ball just wide.

Bouazza burst through and drew a save from distance. After a particularly clumsy clearance, Weaver had to make a save. Hudson was once again called on to show his defensive qualities. Danger loomed as Weaver made a save on the ground, but the offside flag had already been raised. Bouazza powered through again but his shot was wide.

Youga provided a good defensive header. A Fortune error created danger with the ball going across the front of goal. Youga recovered from a mistake which created a one on one situation and managed to get the ball out for a Wolves corner which was cleared. Bouazza was given a good ball by Luke Varney but he put it wide.

Cranie conceded a corner to Wolves which was followed by a second, the move ending n a Wolves throw in. Varney won a corner for the Addicks, but it was poorly taken by Bailey. Wolves were given a lucky free kick. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a free kick in a promising position. A period of frentic play led to a Charlton corner and this was followed by a spell of pressure from the Addicks.

Wolves were given an opportunity to draw level before the break when a free kick was awarded in direct line of the goal for an attempted foul. Their effort came off the Charlton wall. Lloyd Sam received a yellow card.

Half time: Addicks 1, Wolves 0

Lloyd Sam put in a great cross and we thought that Varney was going to score, but somehow he missed. The threatening Ebanks-Blake signalled his intent with a fierce shot which was just wide. Luke Varney powered forward and then passed to Bouazza when he probably should have had a go himself. The West Stand lino was substituted. Bouazza drew a save.

Whilst its easy to blame the officials, I do think Pardew was right to question the free kick which led to the Wolves penalty and their equaliser. I marked it down as highly dubious at the time. Wolves were allowed to take it quickly and in the resulting mayhem Bailey received a yellow card for the foul that gave Wolves a penalty. Ebanks-Blake put the ball decisively into the back of the net.

Fortune received a yellow card. In what proved to be an inspired substitution for them, Wolves pulled off Jarvis and brought on Vokes. A Wolves attack saw a ball go across the front of goal, giving them a corner.

Cranie provided a great long ball to Luke Varney, leading to a free kick on the edge of the area. However, the Charlton effort came off the wall. The East Stand linesman made a very harsh offside decision that ended a promising Charlton attack. Varney had a half chance but sent the ball well over the bar. Varney won the Addicks a corner which was taken short and was unproductive as such corners often are.

Gray was taken off and Chris Dickson brought on and Lloyd Sam was replaced by Grant Basey. Wolves then went ahead through Vokes, Weaver spilling the ball. Jones received a yellow card and Basey won a free kick but once again it came off the wall, suggesting that some more worked is needed on set pieces.

Wolves pulled off Ebanks-Blake and brought on Edwards. Vokes then scored his second to make it 1-3 and much of the Charlton portion of the crowd of 21,542 understandably left. There were four minutes of time added on, but this simply gave the East Stand lino the chance to make another odd offside decision. By far the best team won on the day and on this form Wolves must be firm favourites for promotion.

Pards thought that we should have had a penalty for a foul on Andy Gray, but although I heard the penalty shout I didn't think it was worth noting down at the time. As overnight comments have shown, many of the Addickted are losing faith in Pards. Tuesday's match against Donny now assumes an even greater importance with Charlton 16th in the table. Odds on Parkinson and Kinsella being joint managers before the end of the season have shortened.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone was awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Nicky Bailey not just for his superb goal, but for his effort and commitment throughout the match. Weaver was somewhat below par and was arguably at fault for one of the goals. He seems to have been taking lessons on kicking out from Deano. Hudson was cool and commanding at the heart of defence, but his skill was not matched by Fortune. Although he did make some defensive contributions, a consistently high level of skill was once again lacking. Youga shows some flashes of real skill, but his inexperience also means that he is sometimes caught out. Cranie made a solid start as he adjusted to his new team mates, making some good passes forward, but whether he is a better option that Moutauokil will be a continuing debate. Holland was energetic and committed and did make some good interventions but lacks just enough pace to be a real box-to-box player which is what his position demands. Sam started quite well and put in one excellent cross, but faded as the game went on and was rightly withdrawn. Bouazza was not as impressive as he was against Reading and the combinations with Youga did not always work. Gray seemed to play little part in the match, although admittedly the team's performance if anything declined after he was taken off. Varney lacks the surgical skill which a striker needs to take advantage of opportunities. Dickson did not make a great difference after he came on, although his best opportunity was denied him by the East Stand linesman. Basey looked quite useful but was not on long enough to make a real difference.

The Hiss of the Match has been awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand linesman for his strange and over rigorous interpretations of the offside rule. As one wag shouted to the ageing official, 'you'll make a referee yet.'

Crowd rating: Started well, but faded as the game went on. 6/10.

Not many chances at The Valley

Chris Iwelumo has said that Charlton played 'nice' when he was at The Valley, but created few chances:

Bouazza has been named as 'danger man' by the Black Country Press.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Wolves preview

The latest issue of 4-4-2 has a picture of The Valley in the 1950s with Billy Wright powering through two Charlton players, one of whom I am sure is Derek Ufton. When I started supporting Charlton in the 1950s, the visit of Wolves was always viewed with some trepidation as it invariably met a home defeat.

Judging from some comments by supporters on other blogs, this is an inevitable defeat for the Addicks. Now I know that some fans get most satisfaction from slagging off their own team, but this does seem to me to be overdoing the gloom. I thought that the performance against Reading was generally a good one and they were also supposed to be invincible. It's too early in the season to start that irritating habit of reading results off the table.

Whether the advertised return of Linvoy Primus will actually strengthen our defence remains to be seen. However, I would be reluctant to make a 100 mile return trip on Saturday if I thought we were going to get nothing out of the game. I will go for a 2-2 draw.

This preview is rather early as I have to go to Paris early tomorrow to give a paper at the Sorbonne. But I will be back for the match on Saturday and there will be a full match report as usual.

Iwelumo looks forward to Valley return

With five goals already under his belt this season, striker Chris Iwelumo gives his thoughts on Wolves and their trip to The Valley on Saturday:
Big Chris

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Wolves expect clean sheet

Wolves expect to keep a clean sheet as they pick up three points at The Valley on Saturday. However, their back four may change and whilst this could strengthen them, it could also provide opportunities for the likes of Bouazza if the defenders are unfamiliar with each other. More here: Wolves

Murray coach is Addick

Andy Murray's strength and conditioning coach, Matt Little (nickname 'Treacle') is apparently a fanatical Charlton supporter. His top tip is 'smile' which is something some of the moaners at The Valley might try.

Monday 8 September 2008

The Magnificent Seven

Enjoy Leamington's seven goals on Saturday, each scored by a different player, here (scroll down):
Brakes Accelerate

The lads were trying to set up a penalty for keeper Mozza in the second half, but without success.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Kim Grant slams sacking

Former Charlton striker Kim Grant has slammed his sacking as Woking manager just 97 days into a three-year contract. 'I'm lost for words, he told the Non-League Paper. 'Two months ago, [the chairman] thought I was the best out of 40 applicants, so for him to turn round and say he's made a mistake is very strange. I just feel the board had a knee-jerk reaction. I deserved a bit more respect, a bit more time and some appreciation of the size of the task I was faced with.'

'I had restraints on moeny so I couldn't bringing in the players I wanted. I also inherited a squad who just missed relegation last year. I would've turned it around - I'm 100 per cent sure of that.'

Grant will now take time out of football to concentrate on his wedding planning business, but is not ruling out a return to management. However, first he faces a police investigation after a complaint of common assault made by former Cards' physio Steve Snelling. Snelling alleged that Grant tried to physically remove him from the club's premises at Kingfield as players eating lunch looked on.

Surrey Police confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation and that a few more statements need to be processed before it was complete.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Goal feast at Harbury Lane

The 602 fans in attendance at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon saw nine goals scored, seven of them in the first half, as Leamington beat Marlow 7-2 in the BGB Business League Midlands Division.

Leamington opened their account on ten minutes with a fierce shot along the ground from ex Reading ace Guy Sanders. An attack down the right wing on 17 minutes led to the second goal by Luke Corbett. The third goal came two minutes later with a header from wing back Jamie Towers. On 27 minutes a conversion by Guy Sanders from a free kick made it 4-0 with hapless Marlow keeper Keiron Drake losing it with his defence.

However, the visitors pulled one back two minutes later through Lane. Marlow's Sam Arhin received a yellow card for a foul. The Old Five came on 37 minutes with a run from the halfway line by Mark Bellingham that left him one on one with the keeper. Former Warwick University student James Husband then made it 6-1 on 40 minutes.

Brakes stepped off the accelerator in the second half and Marlow pulled another one back on 48 minutes through Jermaine Roche. Leamington made a series of substitutions between 58 and 64 minutes which destroyed their rhythm to some extent, but there was a great cheer for Stuart Herlihy returning for injury and it was good to see Shay Morgan being given a chance.

Some interest was provided by Bob Marley look alike Philip Nugent who came on for Marlow and proceeded to demonstrate his spitting skills against Adam Cooper.

Brakes skimmed the bar and hit the post, but it was not until the 89th minute that Josh Blake scored their 7th goal, sending the Marlow keeper beserk.

After all the boardroom troubles this week, this result was a great tonic for Brakes fans as Leamington maintained their 100% record this season in decisive fashion.

Stuart cleared of GBH

Former Charlton player Jamie Stuart has been cleared of GBH in a match between Grays Athletic and York City last year. The Sidcup resident argued that the attack was all part of football's 'rough and tumble':

Friday 5 September 2008

Pards to return to West Ham?

The Daily Star is floating a story that Pards is in the frame to return to West Ham. No doubt this was thought up by some journo in between writing a few words to accompany one of their 'Bikini Babes'.

Nevertheless, I don't think the Hampsters will find it too easy to find the quality of manager they want. The transfer season dealings, and the fact that the Icelandic economy is going down the tubes big time, shows that there is not much cash to splash at Upton Park. The way in which Curbs was constrained in transfer dealings would worry many potential managers, although continental ones less so.

And then is the unrealistic expectations of Hampsters fans who favour free flowing, attacking football. 'It's just like watching Charlton' they chanted at Curbs. Well, given the number of injuries he had, it's no surprise that he reverted to the organised, defensive style he favoured at Charlton. I see from his interview on Sky last night that he is keen to manage another Premiership club. I can hardly see Newcastle taking him on, but you never know.

I think that West Ham should cash in on the current fad for the Boleyn sisters, emphasising that they are called the Boleyn Ground. There was a Hollywood film I think and there is the current historical bonkfest showing on BBC 2 (although Anne Boleyn seems to have done a bit of time travel as some of her best lines are borrowed straight from Princess Di). A book on Anne's sister is all over the Americam bookshops. Apparently, she was the Duchess of Rochford, so she must have been the first Essex girl.

No match to preview tomorrow, but we will once again be the only Charlton blog reporting on tomorrow's game between Leamington and Marlow - from a New Windmill Ground shaken by this week's boardroom split.

Apparently, one of our boys in blue is now in charge. This reminds me of the time when they turned out in force for a needle derby against Racing Club Warwick. Called back to a fracas in the town centre, one of them replied, 'I'm at Leamington football club - it could kick off at any minute.' At which point the referee blew his whistle.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Two more shock sackings

It's been a day for sackings/resignations in the world of football: Curbs has gone at West Ham claiming a breach of trust and Kevin Keegan's future at Newcastle remains uncertain. Now the world of non-league football has been rocked by two dramatic departures.

Leamington supremo David Hucker has left the New Windmill Ground. The departure does not seem to have been all that amicable as he was prepared to stay until the end of the month, but was told to clear out his office immediately (not that he had one). The Brakes currently have a 100 per cent record this season.

It was evident at a rather tense annual general meeting of the club that a minority of supporters did not like the way the highly effective public sector management consultant had carried out his duties. Subsequently, the board decided not to re-appoint him as chairman, but to operate without a chairman, an unusual arrangement to say the least.

My view of voluntary organisations is that you get as much hassle as you do at work, indeed more because there are fewer effective constraints on how people conduct themselves. And you don't get any financial compensation.

The other sacking came at Woking, languishing at the bottom of the Conference. After just seven matches in charge, former Charlton striker Kim Grant was given his cards by the Cards.

Zheng Zhi story corrected

We ran this story earlier, then someone pointed out that 'retained' had been replaced by 'regained' on the official website. A typo or a Freudian slip? You decide. Here is the original story:

On the official website the club is celebrating the retention of Zheng Zhi, although in practice this will probably only be until January. In the bloggers' briefing earlier in the 'summer' Richard Murray made it clear he would be going if the price was right - but obviously it wasn't.

However, Steve Waggott has a curious way of presenting his retention: 'He's a fantastic player, and we look forward to a big contribution from him as we try to retain our status in the top flight.'

What the club seems to be doing is admitting that the real objective this year is to stay in the Championship which I suppose is the top flight of the Football League.

Whilst I have always been dubious of 'talk the talk' ambition when the money isn't there to back it up, it does seem to me that the 'Port Fail' strategy of trying to remain a Championship club for many years to come is a risky one - both in terms of achieving it and retaining fans.

Curbs resigns

Alan Curbishley has resigned as manager of West Ham United. Presumably the dream job did not turn out to be a dream after all, particularly with the owners finding it more costly to find success in the Premiership than they had expected.

Now here's a scenario: a Pards-Curbs swop between The Valley and Upton Park. Only joking!

I hear that Jerome Thomas is out for three months at Portsmouth with a stress fracture of the back. Perhaps for once someone else wasn't thorough enough with the medical.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Primus turns out for reserves

Linvoy Primus was among the Charlton players featuring in an Addicks reserve side that drew 1-1 against Queen's Park Rangers in the Football Combination Invitation Cup this afternoon (presumably one of those parties to which everyone is invited). Reports from Loftus Road sources suggest that the loan player (whose paperwork is still being completed) had difficulty in coping with a strong team put out by the Super Hoops.

Darren Ambrose scored the Charlton goal. Stuart Fleetwood also featured, as did Todorov for almost a whole game, an encouraging sign. Rob Elliott acquitted himself well in the Charlton goal.

Monday 1 September 2008

Cranie set to come to The Valley

Portsmouth full back Martin Cranie is set to come to The Valley on loan according to various sources. The Addicks have beaten off attempts to secure his signature by Coventry City and QPR. He will join Linvoy Primus at The Valley, although Primus will only be with us until December 1st. As far as I can gather from reports that reached me in Boston, this was a classic on off saga.

The pleasures of a week in Massachusetts, including a stay on an ex-Brit's 170 acre estate in New Hampshire with its 1790 farmhouse and a very enjoyable reception at the British Consulate, were somewhat offset by the text messages I received about the sacrifice of the 1-0 penalty lead against Preston. Let's hope we're not going to see a pattern of poor away performance.

Leamington, meanwhile, have won all their opening five matches.