Saturday 27 February 2010

'You all stink of coffee'

Leamington fans directed this chant at the home fans in the instant coffee capital of Britain this afternoon as the Brakes beat Banbury United 2-1 at the Spencer Stadium. 'My garden shed is bigger than this and it's got a door and a window' was a reference to the stadium itself. 'Where's your atmosphere?' was directed at the Banbury fans who probably made up less than half of the crowd of 684.

The chants and songs were the most entertaining part of much of the first half. The heavy cow pasture of a pitch did not allow flowing football. On 39 minutes Brakes won a corner and former Reading ace and Leamington captain Guy Sanders headed inside the top corner of the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

In the second half, the Puritans missed an open goal and then Richard Batchelor converted from another corner to make it 2-0. A defensive error allowed Banbury back into the game when they scored through Lewis Hilliard. However, Brakes showed great determination, keeping the ball down the Banbury end of the pitch at the end of the game through a series of corners and throw ins.

Appropriately enough for the Chiltern Railways derby (with cut price tickets available for groups of fans), baffled passengers on the train from Marylebone encountered a Banbury station thronged with chanting Brakes fans. The play offs are very much in sight.

Friday 26 February 2010

Reid wins game for Charlton in time added on

With Deon Burton out injured, Akpo Sodje and David Mooney combine for the Addicks for the first time at Roots Hall tonight reports Paul May. Semedo comes backing into the starting line up at the expense of Kyel Reid and local hero Nicky Bailey moves out to the left once again.

Bailey opened the action with a great cross, but Sam was unable to connect. Racon lost possession with a showboating back heeled flick and Southend won a free kick. Vernon headed the free kick back across the six yard box, but Vernon managed to clear. Richardson put in a good ball, but Mildenhall claimed for Southend.

Neither side was really dominant in a rather scrappy opening phase of play. A good effort by Bailey from just outside the box on his right foot was well saved by Mildenhall to give Charlton the first corner of the game. Southend won a free kick after a challenge by Llera.

Sam made a great run, but a much needed tackle came in from Southend. Elliot had to make a brilliant save after diving to the right to scoop the ball round the post. Southend kept up the pressure after the corner. Mooney went off to have his boots changed, the pitch having proved slippery.

Southend were given a free kick in the D, Bailey went down holding his neck and rolling around and Christophe was given a red card for violent conduct. Bailey got a yellow card for his foul. The free kick was a good one by Francis but Elliot made another fantastic save. There was a scramble in the six yard box after the corner.

A long range drive came in from 35 yards from Paterson and Elliot spilled the ball to concede. Llera and Dailly both went for the same ball. Sam received the ball in a one-two from Mooney but he failed to beat the keeper.

Southend won a corner kick, but Charlton were awarded a free kick for a push. A Charlton corner was unproductive. A shot by Sam was not that strong. Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt was given a yellow card by the referee.

Three minutes were added on. Charlton won a late corner after work by Sam and Mooney. Southend broke, but Richardson made an excellent interception and Southend won a corner kick.

Shrimpers 1, Addicks 0

Paterson made a nasty challenge on Elliot. Bailey put in a cross but Mildenhall was able to intercept at the expense of a corner. The ball went over the goal. Paterson came off. The home side were playing deeper.

Charlton won another corner, but it was unproductive. Sam fluffed a cross. Reid came on. Richardson sent a cross in, Mooney stretched, but it was straight at the keeper. Reid won a corner kick, but Southend cleared.

An effort by Reid was saved by Mildenhall to his right. Racon turned provider for Mooney, but his relatively weak shot was blocked on the line by Baldwin on the floor.
Mooney tried for goal but it went just over. Mooney was caught offside.

Barrett defended on the line as Charlton threatened following good work by Kyel Reid.
Southend won a corner. Bailey provided a good ball across to the left-hand side to Reid and Akpo Sodje slid the ball into the net. Mooney was replaced by McKenzie.

Racon conceded a free kick 22 yards out which was very well struck by Francis. Elliot made a double save after the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced to the edge of the six yard box and the keeper made the save. Sam won a corner kick but it was denied by the linesman.

Another corner kick was signalled as a goal kick. At last Charlton were given a corner kick, but it was unproductive. A long range drive from Bailey went wide. Wagstaff was brought on. Elliot had to save off Francis at the second attempt.

Southend won a corner kick. Six minutes of time were added on. Reid accelerated, composed himself for his shot and drilled in a beautiful finish from a difficult angle to make it 2-1 to the Addicks. The 2,297 Addicks in attendance were sent home happy unlike the Nicky Bailey boo boys among the home fans.

Two demoralised teams

Two demoralised teams face each other at Roots Hall tonight. Southend's players have not been paid for January and the management has banned them from talking to the local newspaper. Charlton were dealt a blow by their home defeat to Brighton.

Football matches can turn on particular moments and we could easily have lost to Yeovil and beaten Brighton. If it hadn't been for Elliot's saves, particularly his first one with his feet, Yeovil could have gone ahead and it would have been a different story. If we had scored in the goalmouth scramble against Brighton we would have gone 1-0 ahead and they wouldn't have scored at the other end.

Football is a game of thin margins especially if you are an average or slightly above average team in your division. But it is still possible for Charlton to get enough points for a play off place and the extra revenue that will bring.

Burton will be out tonight and should really never have started against Brighton, but he insisted that he wanted to play. There have been a lot of calls for 4-5-1 with Shelvey in the hole, but who would one then choose as lone striker? Or can Sodje (A) and Mooney combine successfully? Should Semedo be brought back in so that Bailey can move forward more and hopefully score?

It's decisions like these that Phil Parkinson is paid to make. Meanwhile, I am going for a 2-2 draw at Roots Hall tonight.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Charlton slump to home defeat

Injury fears about Rob Elliot and Frazer Richardson proved to be unjustified as they were both passed fitness tests and were included in an unchanged line up for Charlton at The Valley, writes Phillipa Nicholson. There had been doubts about whether the match would go ahead and the pitch was looking very heavy which does not suit Charlton's style. There was the unusual sight of puddles in the vicinity of the centre circle.

With Glen Murray ill, Brighton lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Nicky Forster up front. The postponement of Colchester's home match due to a flooded beach gave the Addicks a chance to return to third place.

Lua Lua put in a shot that was not far wide. Brighton won an early corner but the move ended in a goal kick. Brighton had a chance but Elliot collected off Forster. Dailly and Llera exchanged views on what had gone wrong.

Burton turned and put in a shot and Brighton's Czech keeper turned it away for the first Charlton corner of the match which was unproductive.

Racon put in a good chip, but it went on to the roof of the Brighton net. Reid won Charlton a second corner. Elliot had to save from a relatively tame effort from Forster. A shot from Racon was easily collected by the Seagulls keeper.

Burton came off after an half hour suffering from a recurrence of his groin injury and was replaced by Akpo Sodje. Sam defended well at the expense of a corner. Bailey cleared at the near post for a second corner.

An effort by Reid went into the Jimmy Seed stand. Brighton won another corner. A strike by Racon was blocked. Brighton counter attacked down the right and a shot from Calderon squeezed into the corner of the net to give the Seagulls the lead on 35 minutes.

A good build up led to a shot by Bailey, who had been playing very deep, on target. Reid won Charlton a corner in the last minute of normal time. Jackson's effort was cleared.

Half time: Addicks 0, Seagulls 1

A strike by Bennett was blocked by Forster who was offside. Reid got past Calderon, but Mooney was not able to take advantage. Sodje found Mooney but Elphick intercepted well. Brighton took off Forster and youngster Chris Holroyd on loan from Cambridge United came on.

Richardson advanced well, but ran out of options. Sodje had a chance from eight yards out but he put it into the side netting. Charlton won a free kick to the left hand side of the Brighton penalty area. Richardson's effort was poor. Charlton won another free kick, but it was unproductive.

Brighton won a corner. Richardson came off and McKenzie came on. Lua Lua came off and was replaced by Gary Hart. Brighton conceded a corner kick. Jackson was replaced by Sam Sodje. Llera won Charlton a free kick. Bennett shot from 25 yards out to give Brighton their second goal as Charlton fans headed for the exit. Elliot should possibly have done better.

Elliot saved well to prevent a third for Brighton. Dailly conceded a corner kick. Reid had a free kick on the left and Llera had a strike on target. Akpo Sodje scored a consolation goal which he put over the Brighton keeper.

Brighton face top team

Brighton are up for it as they face 'top team' Charlton made up [it is said] of Championship level players. They are alert to danger man Lloyd Sam and no doubt intend to mark him out of the match: Albion

Brighton have been undefeated away in six matches and they will have a versatile defender in Adam El Abd returning from injury: EL Abd

Not an easy task

After Saturday's morale boosting win against Yeovil, those who read their results off the table might think it is an easy task against Brighton tonight, particularly given that we beat them away. But then we beat Orient away who were in a similar position in the table when we met them. Brighton showed at Leeds that they are no pushovers.

The Addicks have suffered two injury blows. Elliot is unlikely to be available. Randolph is competent, but I doubt whether he would have made the three saves that Elliot made on Saturday. He also lacks competitive match experience. The absence of a reserve side is a particular drawback for the back up keeper.

Frazer Richardson is also out and Chris Solly will slot in there, showing the wisdom of bringing in Johnnie Jackson to cover the left back slot.

Nicky Bailey had a poor game on Saturday. Having looked at the goal he failed to score, I think that the young Yeovil keeper simply made a good save with his feet, just as Elliot did earlier in the game. What really worried me was when Bailey created a dangerous situation in front of his own goal. He is no doubt one of those players that Parky refers to as trying too hard and he just needs to calm down a bit and think. I would not drop him, however.

Deon Burton has had some stick for failure to score from open play (although no doubt he would have got even more if he had failed to score the two penalties against Millwall). However, he contributes other things by holding up the ball and laying it off. Just possibly the partnership with Mooney is starting to work and they have a better idea how to position themselves. Both of them just need to remember that there is an offside rule.

I am going for a 3-2 win for the Addicks tonight (Llera, Bailey, Burton). Phillipa Nicholson will bring you full coverage of the game.

Izale McLeod has sustained a knee injury in training at Peterborough and will be out for two months following an operation. Chris Dickson's move to Gillingham may become permanent at the end of the season.

Monday 22 February 2010

Seagulls up for it

After nearly taking three points at Leeds on Saturday, Brighton and Hove Albion are hoping that with a bit of luck they will take all three points at The Valley on Tuesday: Seagulls

Injury hit Blaze win in overtime

Injury hit Coventry Blaze managed to beat Edinburgh Capitals at the Skydome in overtime last night after normal time had finished 5-5. The short benched side had to resort once again to deploying a nervous looking middle aged office manager on the ice, while another player was brought in from the reserves where he normally faces the likes of Whitley Bay. Of the office manager, the Bloke Beside Me commented, 'The one thing that can be said about him is that he is a big bloke and gets in the way of the opposition.'

Edinburgh had brought a good number of kilted hordes with them, the Saltaire displayed on their backs and a Bonnie Scotland banner with a lion rampant displayed. Blaze took an early lead, going 2-0 up after just one minute and one second. However, they were not always able to take advantage of their power plays.

Referee Dean Smith, who we seem to see every other week, gave some marginal decisions to the visitors and was booed off the rink at the end of the match. After the end of the second period, experienced coach Tommo, clearly enraged, took the unusual step of remonstrating with him. Admittedly, boarding penalties are a difficult call, but he used his discretion against the home side.

From 2-0 it became 2-2 but then Blaze pulled away to 4-2. But it came back to 5-4 and it looked as if Blaze had won. But then in the last minute of the third period, an unusual error by Blaze net minder Hirsch allowed Capitals to even the score. Fortunately, Blaze were able to score in overtime and maintain a three point lead at the top of the Elite League.

Saturday 20 February 2010

A good win

Even professional moaners will find it difficult to argue that Charlton's win against Yeovil today was not a good one - and much needed. (However, having subsequently looked at the postings on the Glynne Jones list, I see that the search for negatives is on). OK, Yeovil are not that talented, their main asset being that most of their players are very tall, but they kept their pattern and shape well and had a few creative ideas. They were also very difficult to break down and blocked attacking balls well, especially in the first half, which helps to explain why we did not score before we did.

Reid's goal was very well taken, the sort of goal we love to see and the second one was a well worked move finished off neatly by Mooney. Elliot had to make some good saves to keep us in the game in the first half and it may be that the absence of Semedo opened up a gap between our defence and Bailey and Racon pushing forward.

It was noticeable that Yeovil began to tire after 70 minutes but we were unable to score a third goal. One disappointment was at the end of the game when we had a free kick out on the West Stand side, could have put the ball in the box but instead we tried to hang on to it, consequently lost possession and ended up conceding a free kick and earning a yellow card.

Match analysis

There were a number of candidates for the Silver Bone but we like to introduce new players to this well-established Charlton tradition and Ivy the Terrible made the award to Johnnie Jackson. He was involved throughout the game, as someone remarked is clearly a footballer and made some very good moves forward. Elliot had a very good game, making some vital saves, especially in the first half. Dailly made a series of excellent defensive headers at the back. Llera gave us extra height and was generally solid and reliable, it was a good move by Parky to replace Sodje. Richardson made some really good passes forward,
Sam looks more involved at some times than others. He put in none great shot from distance which was just inches over. Bailey had a bit of a 'mare, although he improved as the game went on. But why does he play long balls across the park which the recipient cannot control? Also one fan told me that he lost possession when not under pressure eight times. But he did make a couple of important defensive interventions. Racon showed some nice touches, but I remain unconvinced. Reid had a sparkling game, very energetic and showing real skill. Mooney took his goal well, but he had another opportunity which he could have made something of with more pace. He has some good ball skills, but seems lightweight. I thought that Burton had quite a good game, even if he did get caught offside a few times. Although he is not that tall, he was winning headers quite well. Perhaps he could have made more of one scoring chance. Bringing on Wagstaff was a good idea as Sam was tiring, but he made less of an impact than on some occasions. Semedo seemed bewildered when he came on for his cameo.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has had great difficulty in finding a Hiss of the Match although she did complain about the quality of the cat food this morning. Although the referee was reluctant to penalise pushes by either side, the officials had a good game on the whole with the linos understanding the offside rule. In the end Juneau gave the Hiss to the great big Somerset drum brought by the Glovers.

Crowd rating The nervousness was apparent before we scored our first goal, but spirits rose as it became evident that we were in charge. Even the Bloke Behind Me laughed when someone shouted 'Wake up Charlton' when we were 2-0 up. 6/10.

Friday 19 February 2010

The 12th man

There's been an interesting debate on the Glynne Jones list this week about whether Charlton fans have been moaning too much. One view is that they have been remarkably tolerant in the circumstances, with the complaining being limited to professional moaners and a bit of booing at full time.

My view is that the atmosphere is (perhaps understandably) quite fragile and there is a tendency to pounce on the first misplaced pass or become edgy if we haven't scored after 20 minutes or, even more so, if the other team scores first, as is too often the case. Let's hope they've been working on how you defend from a corner at the training ground this week.

Parky is in no doubt about the importance of the crowd. 'We really need our supporters to get right behind whatever team I pick from the first minute to the last,' he said. 'A few of the lads have almost been trying too hard, so we need to relax everyone and settle down. The crowd can play a massive part. If they want to help get our season back on track, they need to be patient and really get behind us.'

He continued: 'Obviously, we'd like to score first, but if we don't, we've got to react in a calmer fashion than we did against Bristol Rovers.'

There has been some talk of a need for a reversion to 4-5-1 given that that seemed to work in the early part of the season. However, after a while, fans were calling for a Plan B and Parky responded.

It's true that Burton has not seemed happy with his strike partners and has been rather anonymous in recent matches. However, I wonder if his hernia problem is bothering him and if he is fit enough or in sufficient form to play up front on his own, even with Shelvey in the hole? On the other hand, Akpo Sodje has not impressed in recent outings.

Yeovil often look like a Spurs 'A' team, but we have our own answer in the former of Johnnie Jackson, at one time seen as a great hope at White Hart Lane. I wouldn't rely on any of my forecasts, but I am going for a disappointing day for moaners anda 2-1 win for Charlton.

Yo, it's Yoville!

Yeovil Town manager Terry Skiverton celebrates one year as manager of the Glovers today and is looking forward to taking three points at The Valley tomorrow to mark the occasion. He thinks that Bristol Rovers played 'really well' against Charlton, but is hoping for an away win: Yeovil

Phil Parkinson has revealed that Trevor Kettle, Monday night's referee for the game at Bristol Rovers, rang him this week to apologise for not realising the full extent of the horror tackle by Dominic Blizzard on Grant Basey.

'To his credit, the referee, Trevor Kettle, rang me on Tuesday and was distraught,' said Parkinson. 'He'd seen the challenge on the television and said he hadn't realised how horrific it was, and that it should have been a straight red.

'Trevor wanted to know how Grant was, and it was good that the referee accepted his mistake. I have to say it was one of the worst tackles I've seen. It was a terrible challenge and it certainly didn't help us.'

Thursday 18 February 2010

Johnnie Jackson joins Addicks

Can he bring trophies to The Valley?

Johnnie Jackson has joined the Addicks on a month's loan from Notts County and hopes to make the move permanent: Jackson

He is a left-footed midfielder. Apparently he can play left back. Read more here: Jackson

Hammers agree Curbs payout

West Ham have agreed a payout of £2.2m to Alan Curbishely and the former Charlton manager is looking for another Premiership job: Curbs

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Nothing broken for Basey

In the Sheepside stand at Leamington last night I heard supporters discussing the horrendous tackle on Basey and taking the view that Blizzard should have been sent off. Parky put this view firmly on Radio 5 yesterday without doing a Warnock.

Although Basey is likely to be out for some time, the news is not as bad as feared. Charlton head physiotherapist Steve Allen has revealed that Grant Basey suffered ankle ligament damage - and not a broken leg - during last night's 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers.

'It's not as bad as was feared at the time," Allen said. "Grant has soft tissue contusion [bruising] to the inside of his shin from the direct challenge, and subsequently this resulted in him rolling his ankle, causing ligamentous damage'

'Grant was taken to a local hospital, but he came back on the coach with the rest of the squad and is on crutches. We can't put a timescale on the injury, but it could have been a lot worse considering the seriousness of the tackle.'

Tuesday 16 February 2010

The Old Five

Leamington beat Merthyr Tydfil 5-3 this evening at The New Windmill Ground in front of a depleted crowd of 417. Centre back Gary Knight scored the first two goals and Luke Corbett made it 3-0 just before half time.

The Martyrs dominated the opening phase of the second half and scored through Griffiths. Luke Corbett then scored his second with a superb header. Matt Lewis then opened his account with the club to make it 5-1.

New signing from Walsall, the aptly named Charlton Davies, was brought on. Merthyr then scored a second and in the 94th minute the referee awarded them a penalty to make the final scoreline 5-3.

Monday 15 February 2010

Charlton hit by injuries in 2-1 defeat

Reid was dropped to the bench and Racon and Semedo started while Burton partnered Akpo Sodje up front reports Paul May from the Memorial Ground in a stand that would normally be used at a gymkhana. Basey was struggling after a nasty challenge after fifteen seconds which caught him on the left leg and the culprit Dominic Blizzard received a yellow card. A stretcher was called for and he was taken off. Chris Solly came on to replace him.

Racon was hauled over leading to a free kick just outside the D. Bailey's effort went straight into the wall and Rovers were awarded a free kick for handball by the Charlton captain.

Rovers won the first corner of the evening. Campbell's effort curled out of play. An attack by Rovers put Charlton on the back foot and led to another corner. It was driven home at the far post by Rovers central defender Elliott. It was not well defended by Charlton.

Kuffour received a calf injury after a challenge by Racon and was replaced by Andy Williams. Andersen fumbled after a good shot on target by Bailey but was able to gather. Williams advanced as the Addicks defence tried to play offside and Elliot stood up well and blocked the attempt with his chest. Lines put in a shot but was tipped over by Elliot in a brilliant save. Campbell's corner created danger and then Rovers won a free kick 25 yards out. The effort by Lines went over the wall but was well gathered by Elliot from under the crossbar to prevent it going into the top corner.

Rovers won a corner kick off Dailly. Stuart Campbell was shown a yellow card after a foul on Sam. Referee Kettle had played advantage and after Akpo Sodje's effort was deflected, Charlton won their first corner. It was a free header and Akpo Sodje put it wide. The striker put his head in his hands.

Lines went to ground in the area, but the referee waved away the appeals to the indignation of the Rovers fans and their manager. Sam cut inside and put in a great cross but Bailey was unable to connect. Sam put in a decent cross, Bailey tried to advance and Akpo Sodje went down.

Sam Sodje had to clear off the line as Elliot could not deny Heffernan. It was good work by the centre back.

Charlton won a free kick for a handball by Lines in a good position, but it was unproductive. Five minutes of time were added on. An effort from Bailey when the keeper was out of position was just a yard wide. Bailey had been good, but Burton had been relatively anonymous. Bailey made a surging run but dived in the penalty area and received a yellow card.

Half time: Gasheads 1, Addicks 0

Mooney replaced Akpo Sodje. Charlton started quite brightly. A free kick and yellow card was awarded against Semedo. An effort from Blizzard was just wide after the free kick from Lines. Sam won a corner kick off loan player Daniel Jones. Richardson's effort was cleared. Elliot saved comfortably from Campbell.

A second handball from Mooney led to a word from the referee. Sam cut the ball back to Bailey but under pressure he put it over the bar. Semedo came off and was replaced by Reid as 60 minutes was reached.

The ball bounced off Sam Sodje's head and Heffernan on loan from Doncaster raced forward and drove the ball hard and low to make it 2-0, although there was a suspicion of offside. Rovers took off Blizzard and brought on Reece.

Reid showed some skill, but it came to nothing. Racon received a harsh yellow card for preventing a quick free kick. Good work by Reid led to a Charlton corner. Burton tried to connect without success.

Dailly conceded a corner under pressure. A shot by Racon was saved. Lines went down and a stretcher was called for. Lennie Lawrence gave some instructions to Campbell. Lescott came on.

Mooney came off worse with a head injury after a poor challenge by Anthony but the referee took no action. Mooney was taken down the tunnel, reducing Charlton to 10 men.

Sam won Charlton a corner, but it was cleared. Six minutes were added on. A cross by Reid was sliced and went out for a goal kick. An effort by Sam went over the bar. A shot by Racon was straight at Andersen in the Rovers goal. Burton clattered into Andersen who stayed down. The Charlton striker received a yellow card.

A drive by Racon led to a last minute consolation for Charlton, but the 100 minute plus game finally came to an end.

Charlton lacked creativity in the final third, but Solly deserves credit for his performance after coming on as a substitute.

Shipshape and Bristol fashion

A Bristol perspective on tonight's game: Pirates

Rovers will be giving a debut to on loan Wolves defender Daniel Jones.

Chris Dickson was on the train to Gillingham today after he was loaned out to the Gills for the rest of the season, but he will not be able to take part in the return leg of the so-called 'Kent Derby'.

A sporting treble?

Leamington pulled off a last minute victory against Cambridge City on Saturday. Last night Coventry Blaze continued their march towards the Elite League championship with a 5-1 victory over Sheffield Steelers (in a match in which a lino was attacked and a Steeler sent off after a brawl in which a Coventry player was injured). Can Charlton complete a sporting treble over three days against Bristol Rovers tonight?

Saturday's results went quite well for us. Admittedly, Norwich won after going behind at Brighton and Leeds equalised in the 95th minute through Owen Goal. Some had predicted that the game between Stockport and Colchester was a foregone conclusion, but I predicted a draw on the Glynne Jones list and so it turned out to be. Supposedly in form Swindon recorded their third draw in a row, although Millwall continued their home form with a 1-0 win over mighty Exeter.

I'll leave team selection recommendations for tonight to others, although I would start with a 4-4-2. Rovers are recovering from the injury problems that have hit their form, but I am going for a 2-1 win for Charlton, although it has to be admitted that it could be yet another draw.

Paul May will provide his usual comprehensive match report.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Murphy in the 89th minute

Carl Pentney

Substitute Chris Murphy scored the winner for Leamington today in a closely fought battle with Cambridge City at a bitterly cold New Windmill Ground. However, much of the credit must go to loan keeper Carl Pentney, brought in from Leicester City, who made some spectacular saves, particularly at the start of the second half. Read more about him here: Pentney

High flying Cambridge brought a large contingent of their 'shed army' with them and the Light Blues played some fluent, flowing football, particularly through winger Ashley Fuller, a product of the Cambridge United academy. Someone coming late might have been puzzled by the fact that the linos were identical, but in fact they were twins.

Bringing on Jacko in the 59th minute seemed to sharpen Leamington, but it was the arrival of Murphy (who scored last week at Truro) in the 80th minute that proved decisive.

Friday 12 February 2010

Free weekend a respite for Gasheads

Bristol Rovers are hoping that a weekend free of football will hope some of their injured players to recover in time for Monday's televised clash with Charlton: Gasheads

The general tone of the article is that Charlton are a big club going through a sticky patch and potentially there for the taking.

Private chat with Sam

Phil Parkinson revealed yesterday that chairman Richard Murray and he had sat down with Lloyd Sam to talk about the winger's future. The winger is out of contract in the summer, but when quizzed about tabloid speculation suggesting the star could be off to pastures new, Parky said: 'I haven't had one phone call about Lloyd. Speculation in the newspapers often comes from agents trying to drum up interest, but I can assure you I didn't have one call.'

'Myself and Richard Murray have sat down with Lloyd, but that conversation will remain private for now.'

The absence of phone calls does not mean a lack of interest and Leicester, Sheffield United and QPR have been linked with the sometimes frustrating but nevertheless talented player.

Curbs to blame for mess at West Ham?

That's the line taken here: Curbs

It is believed that the writer is a West Ham fan and the article might be seen as not unhelpful in terms of efforts to persuade Curbs to convert what he is owed into equity in the Hammers. As far as blame is concered, it might as well be laid at the door of the Egg.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Varney on the bus

Former Addicks chief executive Peter Varney has resigned as a non-executive director of the club. However, he will continue to help the club to identify investment opportunities, although there are presumably fewer in the offing than there once were. One suggestion is that Varney could become chief executive at West Ham. Another possibility is that he could return in that role at Charlton at some point.

Meanwhile, a frisson of excitement ran through the Addickted as it was revealed that Elliot Omosuzi was still training at Sparrows Lane. The immediate need is to get two players out on loan (Moutaoukil and Dickson) to cover the cost of Akpo Sodje. However, should they be loaned out, and there has been interest, it might be possible to use Omosuzi's far from expensive services for the rest of the season.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Addicks keep an eye on Hall

Former Crystal Palace Academy player and Bromley midfielder Ryan Hall took part in a friendly against Chelsea at Sparrows Lane today. Hall scored one goal and created the other.

This Wikipedia entry does not put him in a favourable light, but one can never be sure of the veracity of such entries: Hall

Promotion imperative, says Murray

Addicks chairman Richard Murray has told the South London Press that the club will almost certainly be forced to sell their star players in the summer if they do not win promotion from League One. Nicky Bailey has recently been the subject of interest from Burnley.

Murray insists making an instant return to the Championship is 'imperative' for the Addicks' medium-term future, since they face losing a number of key men in the summer if they are still in the third tier in six months' time.

The Charlton supremo commented, 'The differential between League One and the Championship in terms of TV money and gate receipts is about £4million per year, and that is not something that can be sustained over a long period. That makes a huge difference to the squad we can run with.'

I understand that the Charlton playing budget is currently around £6.5m a year, a little short of the £7m the directors put in earlier in the year. In contrast the wage bill at Swindon is believed to be £2.8m a year.

Leeds can now concentrate on the league after losing to Carlisle on penalties in the paint drying trophy. Apparently just before the end of the game the referee had to intervene after Leeds players fell out with each other over a misplaced pass. Southampton now look like favourites to win the Johnstones Paint Trophy and they also have their cup match against Pompey on Saturday to look forward to.

Swindon beat Oldham 4-2 last night, suggesting that we did quite well (or were lucky) to hold the scoreline against us to one on Saturday. If Swindon move their two games in hand they will move above Charlton. The fact that they conceded two late goals against Oldham does, however, suggest a somewhat suspect defence.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Some good news about Charlton

A survey in The Times reveals that British people are very gloomy about the state of their country and a discussion on the list run by Glynne Jones suggests that Charlton fans have always been pretty miserable about the team. In an effort to cheer people up, here is a positive story about 'League one minnows Charlton' and the work they have been doing in South Africa through the Community Trust:

But then good news doesn't usually sell newspapers.

Colchester poised to go 3rd

Colchester beat Southend 2-0 last night on a pitch that looked like it had been imported from Clacton beach. It was reminiscent of that pitch we played on at Chelsea. Southend dominated large parts of the game with possession only 51 per cent in favour of the Oystermen, but their first goal was helped by the pitch and they came out top in the Essex derby.

Colchester are away at Stockport on Saturday and, given that they are used to playing on bad pitches, some are saying that the result is a foregone conclusion. I am not so certain, but I have to admit that they do look poised to go 3rd.

Monday 8 February 2010

Table topping Blaze

Coventry Blaze beat championship rivals Nottingham Panthers 5-3 at the Skydome arena last night. It was a closely fought game, but Blaze defended more effectively than usual and the Panthers defence was less secure. Considerable controversy was caused when one Blaze goal was disallowed when the goal was timed at 3-3. The final goal was scored after a last minute timeout and the Panther net minder being pulled off the rink. The game ended in a brawl and a Blaze player being sent down the tunnel. At least one team I support is doing well.

Sunday 7 February 2010

High spirits and low spirits

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?

Saturday 6 February 2010

Charlton win a share of the points

The match had a relatively uneventful start, although Swindon won an early corner writes Paul May. Neither goalkeeper had any work to do in the first ten minutes. Then Swindon attacked with Douglas having the first real chance of the game after a lapse in concentration by Charlton. Elliot did well to get down and stretch out an arm to put the ball round the post. From the corner the ball was headed on to the crossbar by Greer.

Swindon threatened again with the ball bobbling around dangerously until it was put out. Charlton were sitting deep and hoping for a counter attack. Further attacks were blocked by Dailly and Sam Sodje. Charlton were giving the ball away cheaply and Swindon were very much on top. Wagstaff conceded a free kick.

Dailly was obliged to concede a corner as Swindon advanced again. Shelvey played a poor ball. Basey conceded another corner. A free kick gave Lucas in the Swindon goal something to do. Dailly provided a good defensive header under pressure.

Austin went close after some sloppy defending by the Addicks. Racon conceded a corner, but Elliot gathered well. The midfield was not playing well.

Shelvey and Reid linked up well on the left and Shelvey put in a great ball only to be denied by the woodwork. A left footed effort from Reid was on target. Charlton were back in the game. An effort by Wagstaff was tame.

Swindon made a good effort from distance. Three minutes of time were added on. Charlton won a corner in the last minute as Akpo Sodje threatened. Swindon broke, but the whistle blew as Richardson blocked. Charlton had withstood the early pressure and had started to play some decent football.

Half time: Robins 0, Addicks 0

Wagstaff was taken off and Semedo was brought on. Bailey went on the left and Reid switched to the right. Racon had to come off to receive treatment to a head wound, as did Swindon captain Greer after a clash of heads. Greer was bandaged up and returned.

Racon was unable to return and Solly came on to play as left back. Basey was brought down by Amankwaah and the referee stopped play to the annoyance of the home fans who accused the official of being an onanist. Greer fouled Akpo Sodje. Richardson conceded a corner as Swindon advanced down the left wing. The corner was taken short, Elliot threw the ball out and the advancing Shelvey was fouled.

Austin failed to connect when Ward turned provider. Ward advanced again and Bailey had to intercept at the expense of a corner. Bailey got a head to the ball. Solly conceded a corner. The ball came in and the right back Amankwaah put the home side ahead. There was no one guarding the far post.

Basey came off and was replaced by Burton. Dailly made a great run and Bailey made a good effort on goal but it was saved. Elliot came out to stop Austin's run and seemed to be in some pain. It appeared to be his arm that was hurt.

Sam Sodje fouled Austin. The free kick was ineffective. Burton flicked the ball on to Bailey who went down inside the penalty area, but no card was shown for diving.

Reid put in an effort but it was well wide. Austin was withdrawn. Swindon were happy to sit on their lead. Swindon made a rare defensive mistake, but managed to turn the ball out after the hard working Sodje got a touch.

Shelvey gave away possession and Swindon were able to attack. Five minutes were added on. Richardson made a great break and put in a good pass to Akpo Sodje. A Charlton free kick came in from Shelvey, but Bailey's header went over.

Bailey made it all square from inside the area after a great move by the Addicks. Burton picked up a late yellow card.

It was the third 1-1 in a row for the Addicks as we predicted.

Burton dropped in 4-2-3-1 formation

Deon Burton has been dropped from the starting line up for this afternoon's game against Swindon. Akpo Sodje starts up front with Shelvey in the home and Reid and Wagstaff out wide. Bailey and Racon are behind them and then it's Richardson, Sodje, Dailly and Basey (in for Solly) with Elliot in goal.

Subs: Randolph, Llera, Solly, Semedo, Burton, Mooney, McKenzie.

Paul May has arrived at the ground.

Friday 5 February 2010

Hall of fame

I gained the somewhat unwelcome accolade of being placed in the CAFC Picks Hall of Fame for January on the basis of predicting that Charlton would pick up only 7 points during the month. Given the quality of the team, I think that they are performing much as one would expect.

With Charlton reduced to nine men, Swindon managed a 2-2 draw at The Valley. They then went on to beat Leeds 3-0. Looking at the form table, and this particular construction of reality has a lot of followers among Charlton fans, it might therefore seem that there is only possible result tomorrow, a win for Swindon by at least two goals.

I am not going to attempt a detailed match preview, as that has already been done well by Pedro on Charlton Athletic Online. I am not sure, however, that I agree with him about dropping Burton in favour of a Mooney-Sodje (A) pairing. Admittedly particularly if you think penalties don't count (but that still have to be scored, not least against Millwall), Burton's scoring record is not impressive. However, I do think he brings other things to the team such as neat lay offs and an ability, sometimes at least, to hold up the ball.

Pedro reasonably makes the point that three teams come away disappointed from the play offs (although not necessarily in vital cash terms if one makes the final). They are a lottery. However, given my hope at the beginning of the season was that we might just make the No.6 slot, our league position is still well ahead of my expectations.

Although all the signs point to a comfortable win for the home side at the County Ground, bad (or good) form never continues for ever. I would be surprised and delighted if we won at Swindon, but I think that our role as draw specialists may continue and I am going for another 1-1 (Reid).

Sodje foundation

Akpo Sodje will be staying at Charlton after the summer provided he plays a certain percentage of games for the club. Supremo Phil Parkinson said, 'We wanted to get another forward in the building. We haven't got any money to spend on transfer fees so it boiled down to free transfers or loans.'

'Akpo almost comes into both categories as we've agreed a contract with him going into next season if he plays a certain percentage of games for us this term. He's a Greenwich boy, he wants to play for the club, he understands what it's all about and they were key factors in us bringing him back to the club.'

4-4-2 profiled Sodje minor in their last issue and I was interested to learn that he and his brother have set up a Sodje foundation to help youngsters interested in foothall in their country of origin, Nigeria. This looks very worthwhile: Sodje They are holding a fund raising event in Sheffield in April: hopefully there can be later events in London.

The news about Youga is less encouraging. He has been told to rest for another two weeks and then an assessment will be made of what appears to be a complex and serious injury. We could do with him.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Swindon anxious to strengthen squad

As they face up with some trepidation to a meeting with 'big club' Charlton, Swindon are hoping to take emergency measures to shore up their squad: Swindon

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Charlton fail to dominate

Charlton drew with Walsall 1-1 last night, while Colchester managed to turn a 0-1 scoreline at half time into a 2-1 victory over Carlisle. Parky showed some imagination in ringing the changes. The unimpressive Basey was replaced by Solly and Akpo Sodje started up front with Burton. Wagstaff started in place of Sam who replaced him on 80 minutes. Racon replaced the lacklustre Semedo.

Charlton had thirteen corners to one for Walsall, six shots on target to three and eight off target. They also had more of the possession. However, they lack a natural goal scorer from open play.

Deeney thrilled most of the crowd of 3,417 by putting the home side ahead on 32 minutes. Battering ram Akpo Sodje was brought down at the end of the half and Burton converted the penalty.

Deeney was sent off in the 78th minute, but despite the 'ten man Walsall' headlines this was too late to help Charlton all that much.

What this confirms is that the team, in whatever combination, is not good enough to win away against mid-table teams and the reason for that is the financial situation of the club.

It's just like watching Charlton

'It's just like watching Brazil' chanted the Harbury Lane end, presumably with some irony, as Leamington struggled to beat bottom club Rugby Town 2-1 at a wet New Windmill Ground last night in front of a crowd of 530. In fact it was more like watching Charlton with the hoofed balls, misplaced passes and inability to keep possession.

The Charlton effect was intensified by Chris Kiely wearing a tangerine Addicks keeper's outfit supplied by the Leamington-based kit supplier of the two clubs, Joma. Kiely looked nervous in the first half as the egg chasers swept downhill, but he kept his nerve and made some good saves, including one outstanding one in the second half.

On 28 minutes it was inevitably Mark Bellingham who pounced on a chance to put Brakes ahead against the run of play. It is Bello's ability to make something out of very little that we lack at Charlton. Unfortunately he must have picked up a knock as he had to go off six minutes later.

Nevertheless, Luke Corbett put Brakes 2-0 ahead in the second half. They then gave away an unnecessary free kick in a dangerous position and Rugby scored through Brown.
The Sheepside started to cheer ironically every time Brakes managed to put three or four passes together.

The needle derby then became increasingly fractious. The referee was one of those who believe the best way to control a match is by explaining every decision in detail, but eventually he had to resort to a blizzard of yellow cards. Finally, after he charged down the Rugby keeper, Tuohy was shown red. But it was three points in the bag.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Back to winning ways at Walsall?

The contrast between the workmanlike but entirely adequate performance I saw by Charlton at Wycombe and the frankly poor display at The Valley on Saturday was remarkable. One conclusion that I have drawn is that The Valley crowd might actually might have become a negative factor. Tonight's match against Walsall might show whether this straw is worth clutching to.

There seems to be a consensus among many Addicks that now is the time to revert to 4-5-1, bringing the rested Shelvey back in the roaming role. Semedo is clearly a worry, but there might well be a case for bringing back the ever patient Spring: he may not be brilliant, but he is solid. I remain sceptical about Racon who seems to be something of a showboater to me.

If we switch to 4-4-2 at some point, I would bring on Akpo Sodje who at least unsettles the opposition. One could start with this combination. Sam has been having an indifferent spell and there might well be a case for starting with Wagstaff in the right.

The team allows needs to be told that they have now have a useful outlet on the left in the form of Kyel Reid.

The back four remain unchanged. Elliot is to have a late fitness test. Randolph was ok on Saturday except for a nervous punch out when he should have gathered the ball: for a moment I thought I was watching Chris Kiely at The New Windmill Ground.

That is where I shall be tonight for a needle derby between Leamington and Rugby Town. Rugby are bottom of the Zamaretto Premiership but are enjoying a revival, having drawn 1-1 at Nuneaton on Saturday.

At the moment I am enjoying my ice hockey more than my football: it's nice to support a team that is top of a league even if there are only eight clubs in it and the game is played with bent sticks (I had to play grass hockey at school on a playing field next to the girls' high school, you can imagine the comments).

Leamington are at mid-table which is good enough in their first season in the Southern Premiership and the level of moaning is relatively low, at least in the Sheepside stand.

A famous sports historian once said to me that supporting a club was to be endured not enjoyed and I know what he means. Nevertheless, I am going to stick my neck out and forecast a 2-1 win for the Addicks at Walsall tonight (the scene of a famous cup final victory for the Brakes).

Once again this will be the only Charlton blog at Harbury Lane and unfortunately Paul May cannot make it to Walsall from Erith tonight, but we will use wire services to provide a summary.

Monday 1 February 2010

Sodje minor is back

The club has announced that 'A familiar face is back in the Charlton ranks after the Addicks signed Akpo Sodje on loan from Sheffield Wednesday for the remainder of the season on Monday.'

The striker, the younger brother of Charlton defender Sam, scored twice in nine appearances for the Addicks during his initial loan spell at The Valley from mid-November until January 9th. He is out of contract in the summer.

This is good news in my view, as he offers a powerful physical presence to our attack and may be more of a striker than our existing forwards.

Meanwhile, Hull have put in a last ditch offer for Wes Hoolahan, one of Norwich's key players: Hoolahan

McLeod dropped at Posh in disciplinary move

Izale McLeod was dropped from the Peterborough squad for unspecified disciplinary reasons: McLeod

The Peterborough manager has now himself been sacked, goodness knows what is going on there. Mark Cooper was formerly at nearby Conference outfit Kettering Town.

Dr Pangloss writes

A prominent Addick thinks I am taking an excessively optimistic line about the club. I would say that I was a pragmatic realist. However we got there (and we can debate that endlessly) we are in League 1 and we don't have the readies we need to buy, for example, a striker with an eye for goal.

In those circumstances it seems that our best hope this season is to get behind the manager and the team. I don't think Parky is the second Curbs, but I do think he is competent. The team has many limitations, but they are the only team we have. If the crowd is the 12th man, then getting on their back doesn't help. It will be interesting to see how we play now that we are away from The Valley.

As for the idea that the club's management is top heavy, I am not in a position to comment. Even with the team we see the tip of an iceberg: we never see what goes on at the training ground. We hear rumours, for example that Burton and Mooney have had the odd disagreement, but they are just that: unsubstantiated rumours.

The internal structure of the club on the non-playing side might as well be the other side of the moon as far as I am concerned. Other bloggers have suggested that we do have quite a high non-playing staff wage bill, but would redeploying those resources enable us to buy a quality player? I doubt it.

Excessive expectation levels are a big challenge in modern society and they are at The Valley this season. Understandable no doubt, but they can be self-defeating.