Saturday 30 October 2010

One is enough

Madrid: Charlton beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at The Valley today through a 23rd minute goal from Scott Wagstaff. The initial shot from the top scorer was blocked, but he put the rebound into the bottom corner.

At last the Addicks had a clean sheet and the victory put them back in the play off places. Six points out of nine against Brighton, Carlisle and the Owls is good enough. Brighton beat Peterborough 3-0 at their place today, so presumably there will now be demands for the Posh manager to go.

Nicky Weaver was kept busy early on, blocking efforts from Fry and Jackson.

The stats show that Charlton edged the possession. Both sides had just four shots on target, although the Addicks had more off target. They had more corners (eleven to six) but they presumably were not very productive.

Rumours circulating at The Valley today suggest a revived interest from the Dennis Wise consortium in buying Charlton, but I have no confirmation of that. Certainly they weren't talking about it at the bar round the corner.

I notice that Crystal Palace are bottom of the Championship aftera 0-3 home defeat.

Fox in the box

Newcastle Jets are celebrating their recent escape from a financial meltdown by signing the out-of-work fox in the box of happy memory: Jeffers

I will be in meetings in Madrid this afternoon but I hope those who are going enjoy the game. I am fearful of a 1-2 win for the Owls.

Friday 29 October 2010

Weaver expects hot reception

Nicky Weaver is expecting a hot reception at The Valley tomorrow: Weaver

I think we've moved on from there and have more important things to worry about, although any gaffes will be welcome.

One or two people have asked me about a tweet from a BBC sports journalist that a Charlton takeover is imminent. All I can say is that I have heard nothing and for that matter no one here in Madrid has either.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Wednesday 'inconsistent'

Sheffield Wednesday have been too inconsistent this season says winger Gary Teale, but he denies that they are more comfortable playing away where they do not face the high expectations and boo boys of the home crowd: Wednesday

It's quite interesting to look at some of the comments made by fans on this article which say that the wingers are 'awful': so much for Teale. They also claim that Wednesday have the best defence in the division and this leads them to play very defensively. Draw anyone?

Wednesday captain and charm merchant Darren Purse received his fifth yellow card of the season against Bournemouth and cannot play on Saturday.

Monday 25 October 2010

Three wins against top clubs

This weekend saw all three teams I support win against top clubs (and Rushden and Diamonds, whom I still keep an eye on, beat rivals Kettering away in the FA Cup). Now, admittedly, Carlisle weren't exactly a top club, but the last two times we won there, we got promoted.

Last night Coventry Blaze faced Belfast Giants, unbeaten all season, at the Skydome. With a disciplined performance, Blaze came away 2-0 winners.

Leamington put the brakes on Truro's title bid. Expectations at the New Windmill Ground are realistic, as we know that it will be two of the three City clubs that will be promoted: Cambridge, Salisbury or Truro. (I leave aside Oxford who are at the other end of the table as they live in the shadow of Oxford United).

Which leaves Charlton. I have some sympathy with the view put forward in the Hill to the Valley blog that there is so much negativity surrounding the club that it almost becomes an argument for getting rid of Parky. But it is still a very open league.

We are starting to score goals and reports from those who were at Carlisle suggested that Semedo and Racon actually looked effectively together. The worry now is in central defence with Doherty looking a liability and Dailly possibly fading a little. With seven goals conceded in two matches, there must also be some questions about Elliot. He does make some good saves, but he is also inclined to hesitate and lacks confidence in commanding his area.

Sheffield Wednesday are facing a winding up order later this month and a £2m lifeline cheque has not arrived. Centre forward Neil Mellor noted that when the money situation concerned the team 'we went on a bad run. And ever since we got the news that the money was coming, we seemed to have picked up as well.' The money has not come in and manager Alan Irvine said, 'I don't see too many teams who have fantastic runs when there are problems off the pitch.'

The Owls are nor claiming that a takeover deal with a Dubai-based company may be concluded this week - or not as the case may be.

If we can tighten up defensively, we might just be able to beat Wednesday. Unfortunately, I have to attend meetings in Madrid at the weekend. But then given the negative atmosphere at The Valley, that is probably not too bad a place to be.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Barnet away

Charlton have been drawn to Barnet away in the FA Cup. At least it's better than giving some non-league club a chance to do some giant killing.

Ex-Addick Grant Basey plays for the Bees. Bees boss Mark Stimson was formerly youth coach at Charlton.

Saturday 23 October 2010

So what do we make of that?

A 4-0 defeat at home and then a 4-3 away up in Carlisle against another top team. The anti-Parky brigade have been ready with their line, one arguing that it is relegation form.

Of course, you can't make too much of one result, but the same could be said of last week.

Jackson and Anyinsah gave us a 2-0 lead before half time and then Benson made it 3-0 on 47 minutes. But then Carlisle came back to 3-3 and it took a goal from Benson in time added on to give us the three points.

Once again this points to defensive fragility, but at least Benson seems to be paying back the investment made in him.

Leamington beat top club

Leamington beat league leaders Truro City 3-2 at the New Windmill Ground today in front of a crowd of 603.

There is no crowd segregation in non-league football and the Sheepside stand was full of away supporters who had made the long trek from Truro. The woman behind us kept up a long diatribe about how only Truro could play football but they were bullied by the likes of Leamington. Whatever Leamington are, they are not a dirty side and Truro are hardly Manchester United.

It was comedy errors by keeper Tom Brooks that gave the Brakes a 2-0 lead, perhaps revealing why the custodian was released by Plymouth Argyle. After having had a goal disallowed for offside, Brakes scored their first cheeky goal through Richard Batchelor on 12 minutes and then Dailly made a good run on 27 minutes to get the ball in the back of the net, assisted by the keeper.

Truro then replied through Watkins and ex-Fulham ace Barry Hayles. But a minute later Brakes were awarded a penalty (provoking screams of 'diving' from behind us) and Matt Lewis found the back of the net with ease.

The second half was much less eventful with Truro contained by the Brakes, although the referee managed to prolong the game until 5 p.m.

Truro charm merchant and captain Marcus Martin (another ex Argyle player) kept falling over and engaging in other antics, including abusing the linesman, but the referee showed no interest in the bearded wonder.

Friday 22 October 2010

Carlisle are the new Blackpool, says Merv

Ex-Addick Mervyn Day has declared that Carlisle are the new Blackpool and could well be on their way to the Premiership. This is one of the dafter comments about football I have heard for some time.

More relevant is the fact that Carlisle have suffered two injury blows ahead of tomorrow's match: Carlisle

I had this match down as a Charlton defeat at the beginning of the season and I see no reason to change my mind. 2-1 to Carlisle.

The Isles of Scilly football league has now started and after no draws at all last season the first match ended Garrison Gunners 2, Woolpack Wanderers 2. This puts the Gunners top of the table alphabetically and the Wanderers bottom.

No more clangers promises Carlisle keeper

Carlisle's keeper has promised there will be no more clangers as the Cumbrians prepare to move back into the automatic promotion places with a victory over 'struggling big club' Charlton: Keeper

Thursday 21 October 2010

Carlisle defeat could seal Parky's fate

The Carlisle evening newspaper is arguing that a defeat for Charlton on Saturday could seal Parky's fate: Parky

Of course from a psychological point of view this puts greater pressure on Charlton, but it could encourage them to raise their game, given that there is no evidence that Parky has lost the dressing room.

The home match against Sheffield Wednesday is surely more significant.

Reid backs Parky

Apparently the Daily Star is reporting that Phil Parkinson has two more games to prove himself at Charlton. Far be it from me to suggest that this was made up by a journo with space to fill.

Meanwhile, Kyel Reid insists that the players are to blame for last Saturday's night. As for Parky, Reidy insists that he is one of the best gaffers he has worked under and all the players love him: Parky

Anyinsah's return to Carlisle

Joe Anyinsah talks about his return to Carlisle: Anyinsah

He is clearly happy to be at Charlton which he describes as a 'massive club'. However, one consequence is that the expectation level is very high and fans need to stop pushing the panic button.

Personally, I would start him on Saturday.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Dons want Addicks in cup

AFC Wimbledon, currently top of the Blue Square Premiership, would like to play Charlton in the FA Cup: Dons

This is not because they see us as a pushover, but because we are perceived as a big club at lower division level, which we are in terms of attendances - although I would question how many fans would want to pay to see us play a non-league side when it could all end in tears.

One fan remarked half jokingly to me on Saturday that we now ought to concentrate on the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. But the away fixture to Southend will not be easy.

I'm not going to write about the 'Parkinson out' campaign at the moment. All I would say is that I expect Parkinson to stay.

I had a bad sporting weekend (leaving aside the Brakes winning away in the FA Trophy) as Coventry Blaze lost 2-5 at home to Cardiff Devils and one Coventry player had to go to hospital after a particularly nasty fight on the rink.

It was interesting, however, to see the reaction to the defeat. No one called for the coach's head. But the coach did give the players a public blasting and made it very clear that they had to sharpen up. One concern about Parky is whether he has a tough enough streak.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Abject performance

Charlton's performance in the 0-4 defeat at home to Brighton was the worst I have seen for a very long time. That is to take nothing away from the Seagulls who played very well and were deservedly applauded at the end of the game by many Charlton fans.

The defending was woeful, the midfield once again failed to do its job and though we did have some chances, we were unable to take advantage of them. No wonder that there were chants of 'Parky Out!' in the East Stand and no doubt elsewhere in the ground as well. One fan from the West Stand managed to approach the dugout, no doubt to remonstrate with the manager, before he was escorted away by stewards.

I am not going to produce a detailed match report as there are no real positives to take from the game. The Silver Bone has been awarded to Radostin Kishishev as no Charlton player deserved it. Kish was warmly applauded at the beginning of the game and deserves thanks for his efforts for the Addicks which were not always appreciated at the time.

When I saw how low the tide was in Deptford Creek on my way to the ground, I should have known what was coming!

One point that has been already made in the comments but is worth reiterating is how we dealt with the corner that led to the first Brighton goal. Bennett was left unmarked and was able to play the ball back in for Calderon to score.

But then shortly afterwards they used the same routine: the ball played along the touchline and out to the unmarked Bennett. It seems that no football intelligence was being applied and that is down to the players.

As for the Seagulls' chant, 'We hate Palace more than you do'. Well, maybe.

Player ratings

I wouldn't particularly blame Elliot for the four goals as he was let down by his defence, but he is inclined to flap and hesitate. Doherty was at fault for at least one of the goals. Fortune seems to have lost pace and was eventually substituted. Dailly did his best, mounting some good attacks on the touchline, but I am not convinced that he is comfortable in the right back position. Jackson was off the pace, although the foul for which he was booked was no worse than some committed by Brighton players in the first half. Semedo did manage to clear up some potentially dangerous situations.
Racon did relatively little. Once he was advancing on goal and failed to shoot. Why not have a go? As it was, the move broke down. Martin was lightweight and seems unable to tackle. Reid did put in some decent crosses, but many of his balls were poor and in particular were over hit. Nevertheless, it was a worry to see him stretchered off. Abbott has been classified by the Bloke Beside Me (Paul from Bexleyheath) as the 'nearly man' and that just about sums it up. He doesn't have the pace to connect with promising balls. Benson still looks as if he is uncertain how to play in this team. Francis
has attracted a lot of criticism, but he looked reasonably good to me when he came on, even if he did send one free kick straight to the keeper. But he had one shot which the keeper had to tip over. Wagstaff made relatively little impact when he came on. Anyinsah did look lively, but it was too late to make a difference.

Friday 15 October 2010

Supremo warns players

'One or two players' futures are on the line.' This was the stark warning issued by Brakes boss Paul Holleran after Leamington lost 2-0 to Stratford Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup. The derby attracted a crowd of nearly 500.

Holleran had been suffering from diarrhea and vomiting in the run up to the game, but was even more disgusted by what he saw on the pitch. He gave a run out to some squad players, but 'at the end of the game I was thinking release me, release me' (and not because he had got locked in the loo).

Holleran gave all credit to the Bardsmen who include a number of former Brakes players, among them Richard Morris in goal and fans' favourite Stuart Herlihy (Her-le-hee) who was presented with a framed shirt before the game by the Brakes Trust.

The game was played at the superbly appointed, multi-pitch Anne Hathaway Stadium which cost a seven figure sum. In part the stadium was funded by Stratford Town Council who benefit from various activities related to the Bard of Avon who thus posthumously supports his home town club.

Brighton there as of right

Brighton manager Gus Poyet insists that the Seagulls are top of npower League One as of right, but he is less confident they will be there at the end of the season: Poyet

In such interviews most managers usually say something about Charlton on the following lines: big club; difficult game; confident we can take all three points. Poyet is silent about the Addicks.

Youga blow

Kelly Youga will be out for the rest of the season. He is suffering from a chondral defect of the knee. It was a similar problem that kept American signing Cory Gibbs sidelined. Youga is expected to be out of action for 18 months in total.

Youga was developing into a good player. He got forward well in attack. If he had been available throughout last season, there might have been a different outcome. When he does return, it will take him a while to get back to his former standard.

Cory Gibbs is now playing for the New England Revolution, having played for the Colorado Rapids, and is highly rated.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Reading results off the table

One of the things that perplexes me about football fans is their inclination to read results off the table. Let me give an example. When we were in the Premiership we had a game towards the end of the season at Norwich.

The Canaries were the bottom club and were subsequently relegated. We were in our 'mid-table mediocrity' phase. We lost 1-0 through a second half goal by ex-Addick Matt Svenson.

Nevertheless, I thought we had given a reasonably good account of ourselves in a match where there was more at stake for Norwich than us. When I got back home, however, Addicks on line were grumbling about how we could possibly lose to the bottom club.

Simples. Football is a game of fine margins and there is that much of a gap between the bottom club and a lower mid-table club. That is particularly true in League 1 at the moment with the table as congested as the Blackwall Tunnel when one bore is closed.

So I do not think that defeat at home to Brighton on Saturday is 'on the cards'. I must say, however, that I was a bit concerned to read on the excellent Iberian Valley preview that the Seagulls have one of the best records of all visitors to The Valley.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the match on Saturday. As a result of trips to the States and a family wedding, I have not seen Charlton play for some time. How do Abbott and Benson play together? Is Francis as bad as many people say?

Sloppy defending does seem to still be something of a problem, and, to borrow an ice hockey term, our transition play often leaves something to be desired. There is too much lumping the ball up field, albeit encouraged by a not very creative midfield that sometimes seems to be out of position. We also seem to be incapable of delivering a good performance for more than one half of the game.

Albion will be filling the Jimmy Seed end and they seem to be relatively free of injury worries. The conventional forecast would be a 1-1 draw, less than we want, but acceptable if the alternative is a home defeat. My intuition is that we might see a rather odd result, but who knows?

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Jordan: I would buy Charlton to close them down

Charm merchant Simon Jordan says that he would be happy to be involved with any football club apart from Charlton and would only buy the Addicks to close them down:

I have heard some versions of how Richard Murray dealt with Jordan's abusive behaviour towards him on the day we sent the Palace down and I can only say, good for Richard Murray.

Monday 11 October 2010

Lino in middle of mass brawl

Some of the decisions taken by linos in football at the third level are odd to say the least, but they don't get involved in the sorts of incidents that happen in ice hockey. Last night's game between Coventry Blaze and Newcastle Vipers erupted in a msss brawl in the second period.

One of the linos was in the middle of the melée. Two Coventry players were sent off, but one of them wanted to have some afters with the Vipers bench and then manhandled the lino. However, his match ban may be rescinded as the referee did not see a Viper storm off the bench to attack the Coventry player.

It is also alleged that one of the linos and the referee had a major falling out in the dressing room with the lino having to leave to calm down.

BTW, Blaze 3 Vipers 0.

Saturday 9 October 2010

All square at full time

Charlton won their first corner after thirty seconds, but it was unproductive writes Paul May. A long Plymouth throw in went into the area, there was some confusion about the marking and their top scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips put the ball in the net at the far post to make it 1-0 to the Pilgrims after four minutes.

Elliot had to deal with a long-range shot at the expense of a corner. Charlton won a free kick in the ensuing play. Charlton won a second corner out of a long ball pumped forward. The ball was played back in and Fortune clutched his midriff after a downward header.

A poor Plymouth back pass had to be dealt with by a diving header by the keeper and led to a corner, but Jackson's effort was unproductive. A Plymouth header following a free kick went over the bar. The early goal had given the Pilgrims confidence.

Abbott flicked the ball to Wagstaff in the penalty area, but it bounced off Wagstaff's shins. Reid put in a decent cross, but Charlton were unable to take advantage. Wagstaff should not have whacked the ball which went beyond Benson.

A Plymouth attack was dealt with by Dailly, but Charlton were unable to counter attack. Reid put in a good cross, but Benson was unable to connect.

Plymouth won their second corner which went to the far post, Plymouth were given a free header, Elliot scrambled it off the line and Wagstaff partially cleared. Once again the marking was poor.

Benson ran on to a loose ball, got in between two Plymouth defenders and put the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-1.

Plymouth put in another long throw in and won a free header, but it went over. Johnson fell awkwardly and had to be stretchered off in some pain. Parrett replaced him.

Charlton won another corner. Eventually the ball was cleared, but Wright-Phillips was down in a heap, and Wagstaff also needed some attention after a collision. Five minutes of time were added on. Charlton kept up the pressure and won another corner, but it was unproductive.

Half time: Pilgrims 1, Addicks 1

Lee Martin came on to replace Wagstaff. Jackson was shown a yellow card for a badly timed challenge. Lee Martin was lively in the opening minutes and Charlton won a corner. Doherty took away the ball from Jackson and gave Plymouth a chance to counter attack.

Dailly advanced but Benson could only put his header on the roof of the net. Martin put in a cross, Arnason stuck a leg out and the ball hit the post, Larrieu just managing to scramble it clear. Martin put in a cross, Abbott got his header on target, but Larrieu saved. Larrieu had to save well as Martin tried to score.

Benson had a free header from the corner but it drifted well wide. Charlton had a good spell, but then the tempo slowed again. Plymouth put in a shot which Elliot initially spilled.

Jackson cleared well from a Molyneux cross. Reid received a harsh challenge from Stephens. Martin had his legs taken away from him by Molyneux who kicked the ball away. The free kick just drifted beyond Doherty at the far post. Reid broke away well but ran into Ngala.

Racon and Semedo were coming into the game more and getting the ball into wide areas.
Plymouth took off the 16-year old Stephens who was on a yellow card and could not cope with Kyel Reid.

Plymouth put in an unstoppable shot through their substitute Bolasie from 25 yards out to go 2-1 ahead. Martin complained about one of the challenges beforehand and got a yellow card.

Charlton had been the better team in the second half, but they were unable to score.
A Plymouth corner kick was gathered by Elliot. Abbott came off and was replaced by Anyinsah..

A move was started by Semedo, Doherty made a clever back header and Benson tapped the ball in to make it 2-2. Five minutes of time were added on. Reid went down. Benson got caught on the back of his head.

Charlton deserved a share of the spoils. The Addicks slipped down the table, but were still just one point off the play off places. It's also encouraging that Benson found the back of the net twice.

Friday 8 October 2010

Keep your nerve, urges Reid

Plymouth boss Peter Reid has urged his players to keep their nerve in the face of a 'difficult' game against Charlton tomorrow, following the 'terrific' result by the Addicks at MK Dons: Reid

The Pilgrims have three players on international duty, one at Windsor Park tonight in the clash between Northern Ireland and Italy. At one time it was thought this might lead to the match being called off. A request was made to the Football League, but the cash flow position is so desperate at Home Park that the directors insisted that the match should go ahead.

Plymouth's captain, Carl Fletcher, has been training on his own because of jury service. He tried to be excused, but the judge told him he was not famous enough and the charm merchant stormed out of court.

Reid has also urged his players not to be distracted by the financial crisis at the club. The Pilgrims were served with yet another winding up order by Revenue and Customs on Wednesday, but it was withdrawn, presumably because the bill was settled.

Top scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips is expected to start after he was confined to the bench because of an injury. Midfielder Kari Arnason is also back after an injury, but local opinion is that he is useless. Reid may risk 18-year old Dean Parrett, on loan from Spurs, in the hope of injecting some creativity into the midfield (sound familiar?)

Keeper David Button, on loan from Spurs, has been out injured since 11th September. His replacement Roman Larrieu managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time in six games on Wednesday against Cheltenham in the paint drying trophy.

I have pre-recorded a match preview for Radio Scilly and hopefully this will go out in the sports show slot tonight (the sports show has been called off because of a broken helicopter). I am forecasting a 1-1 draw.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Scilly times

Action from the Garrison Field

We haven't so far discussed Charlton on the Radio Scilly sports show, but this Friday evening might be an exception. All sorts of teams are supported on the Isles of Scilly, including Manchester City and Queen's Park Rangers.

In part this reflects where people lived before they came to the islands. However, the team of choice on the islands for native Scillonians is Plymouth Argyle. This is reinforced by their practice and sending players and coaching staff to the islands for training sessions. This is much appreciated given their remoteness.

Of course, there is one distraction as the islands' two team football league is about to get under way again. The squads for the Garrison Gunners and the Woolpack Wanderers have been chosen. This is done on the basis of the old playground practice of each captain choosing a player in turn.

However, before the league gets under way there will probably be some pre-season friendlies and I think there is also an equivalent of the charity shield.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Charlton win in the paint pot

Phil Parkinson put out a strong side against MK Dons in the paint drying trophy last night and was rewarded with a 2-1 victory. The major change was the return of Christian Dailly in place of Jon Fortune, but Fortune came on in place of Doherty after the break. Benson was on the bench with Martin starting up front with Abbott.

The franchisees took the lead after just two minutes, Luke Chadwick making use of a cross from Lewis Guy. At half time some moaners stopped listening to the game, declaring it an 'embarrassment'.

Charlton equalised after the break when Luke Howell lost his footing and allowed Kyel Reid to cross for Pawel Abbott who headed home. Those who were there agreed that Abbott had quite a good game but Racon was less impressive although he showed some nice touches.

Reid turned provider again when he found leading scorer Scott Wagstaff unmarked at the post and he knocked it in to give Charlton the victory. This is the fourth game in the row when Reid has created a goal scoring opportunity and emphasises that he should start when fit. He is the most creative midfield player we have now that Bailey and Sam have left, albeit the first of these players was petulant and the second inconsistent (before we get too nostalgic about them).

Phil Parkinson's critics have said that the result does not change their view of him which is fair enough as my assessment would not be affected one way or another by what happens in this competition. They would be more impressed by a win at Plymouth which is far more important.

However, the victory has taken a little of the momentum out of the 'Parkinson must go' campaign which is not going to succeed during the season.

Winning ways continue

Leamington continued their good run with a 2-1 victory at the New Windmill Ground over moneybags team Brackley Town in front of a good mid-week crowd of 503 on a wet night.

Brackley certainly showed some pace and both sides had their chances in the first half, but it was 0-0 at the break. Play was often halted by the fussy referee who showed one of the Brackley players a yellow card as the teams went to the dressing room.

Luke Corbett unleashed an absolute cannon ball of a shot on 65 minutes at the Harbury Lane end to put Brakes ahead. It is one of the best goals I have seen at the NWG and provoked a chant of 'Where were you when Corbett scored?' from the Harbury Lane end.

Richard Batchelor then put the Brakes 2-0 ahead with an emphatic strike. Brackley managed to score a consolation goal in the dying minutes, but never looked like securing the 2-2 draw they got in the recent FA Cup match.

Jacko had a bit of an off night, but I was impressed by the new signing from Hinckley, Stephan Morley, who came on as a sub put in an instinctive shot from distance that troubled the Brackley keeper. We also saw some more of the new signing from Canvey Island, James Rowe.

Monday 4 October 2010

Up for the cup

Attitudes towards sporting events change over the years. When I was young the Boat Race was a major national event which got small boys taking sides in the playground. Our neighbours in Cheriton Drive got a television before we did and invited us in to watch the occasion.

Similarly, at one time the FA Cup was the major national football event. Winning it was in some ways a more cherished achievement than winning the league. The league, of course, is a much better test of a team's performance over a season which is why cups are of secondary importance elsewhere in Europe. Major teams such as Real Madrid often enter their reserve teams (which admittedly compete in the league at a lower level).

The magic of the Cup was in some ways diluted by the arrival of the League Cup and what was originally the Full Members' Cup and is now the paint drying trophy, but for many years was the Sherpa and then the LDV Vans.

For some years now Charlton have not done cups. This was rather aggravating in the Premiership when the League Cup was a competition in which we could reasonably aspire to do well. In the third division, it is a rational strategy.

The one really worth bothering about in my view is the FA Cup. It still has some prestige attached to it and if you get through to the third round you might get drawn away to a Premier League side and get a big pay day. No one is going to blame you if you lose 3-0 away to a top outfit.

Tomorrow's televised encounter with the MK Dons has turned into something of a test of Phil Parkinson's management. It doesn't seem a very good test one way or the other to me. Supposing Abbott and Benson both score? Is their acquisition then vindicated? Two goals at Plymouth would be more impressive.

Given that MK Dons are something of a home side, it is difficult to see Charlton getting anything out of tomorrow's encounter. But you never know, especially with the Addicks.

The rules require six regular first team players to be used. A number of permutations are possible. My only recommendations would be to give Worner another chance in goal to continue his development and to give Dailly a run out. Clearly it is an opportunity to use some 'two way' players as they are called in ice hockey. Perhaps Sodje could be given a decent amount of pitch time.

We have suffered from some very poor refereeing recently. I see that tomorrow's night ref is from England's smallest county, Rutland. He could well be the No.1 referee in Rutland, but that could mean anything.

If you are going, enjoy the game. I will be at the New Windmill Ground to see Leamington take on Brackley which will be a real test of their recent recovery (Brackley recently knocked them out of the FA Cup).

Were Bees tipped off?

I wouldn't give much credence to anything in the Sub-Standard but they are claiming that ex-Addicks Myles Weston was tipped off about Charlton's game plan before Saturday's match: Bees

If 'stopping Myles Weston' was our game plan, it didn't amount to much, didn't work and perhaps explains the poor performance in the first half.

Sunday 3 October 2010

A tale of two third level clubs

Charlton are one point off the play off places in the third division. They have placed ten league matches and have scored just twelve goals, letting in eleven.

Leamington are one point off the play off places in the third tier of the non-league system. They have played one more match than Charlton, and have two more points, but have only scored three more goals.

Admittedly, they are nine points off the relegation places whereas Charlton are only five. But to me that demonstrates the nature of League 1 this season where any team can beat any other team on the day.

The mood at the New Windmill Ground is sunny and optimistic. The manager is thought to be doing a good job. His new signings are praised. Admittedly, some fifty chronic moaners have decamped to Southam United: the Banbury Road outfit are now claiming to be the No.1 team in Warwickshire (a bit odd when you think about Nuneaton).

At The Valley the prevailing mood is one of doom and gloom. Many are calling for the manager's head. His new signings are described as mediocre.

How does one explain the difference, given that the objective performance of the two clubs is very similar at their levels? One can only put it down to expectations. Not so long ago Charlton was in the Premiership whilst Leamington had to re-form and fight their way up from the eight tier of the non-league system.

The average tenure of a manager is now something like 13/14 months. In my view this is ridiculous. It is too short a period to assess whether a manager is doing a good job or not, but at Leicester City three months is thought to be enough.

If one did replace Phil Parkinson, who would one get? How attractive is a League 1 club with no money to spend and a squad of players now largely chosen by the existing manager and supposedly mediocre, although I think they are just average third division players.

Like any manager, Phil Parkinson makes mistakes. I would have started Reid yesterday because he can really unsettle the opposition, particularly a team like Brentford who were initially short on confidence.

But we simply have to battle on. We will win some games and lose some and might just get a play-off place.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Disappointment at Brentford

I was hoping for at least a point at Brentford today, so the result is a disappointment. Talk about 'bottom club' Brentford is misplaced, however. One should never read results off the table, but this is a very fluid division this season. 'Bottom club' Dagenham and Redbridge won again today and are now out of the relegation positions. The league is tight at the top.

Phil Parkinson has criticised the team's mentality in the first half, but his critics argue that he should have motivated them better. Gary Alexander put the Bees in front with a drive into the roof of the net and Tourmai Diagouraga scored their second with a curling shot.

The returning Rob Elliot prevented Nicky Forster scoring a third before Charlton scored through Wagstaff's volley. Ben Hamer had to make a double save from Sodje who had been brought on in the 86th minute in place of Fortune. Perhaps he should have been introduced sooner.

Given the prevailing gloom, the stats don't look that bad. Possession was 54-46 to Charlton and we had as many shots on target as the Bees (six). However, we did have seven off target to their two and only won two corners to their seven.

As usual after every defeat, there is plenty of criticism of Phil Parkinson. But whatever one's view, he is here for the rest of the season. A club that can't afford an electronic scoreboard can't afford to replace its manager.

A game of two halves

Leamington kept their third clean sheet in three games when they beat Oxford City this afternoon in front of a crowd of 570 at the New Windmill Ground. Three of these consisted of Oxford's 'barmy away' behind the Brakes goal who kept up a chorus of ragged chants.

It has to be said that the first half was pretty dire. The game as a whole was of low quality and Leamington seemed unable to find their rhythm or keep their shape with the midfield often disappearing, although Jacko was his usual energetic self.

Brakes had a chance on 25 minutes from a corner, but Corbett was unable to convert.
Jimmy Husband had a chance from a free kick in a promising position, but sent the ball way over the stand at the Harbury Lane end.

Tuohy had to be taken off injured on 38 minutes and was replaced by Alex Cowley.

Half time: Brakes 0, City 0

Tony Breeden had to make a great save early in the half to prevent the visitors going ahead. On 57 minutes Batchelor controlled the ball well on the right wing and sent in a curling ball. Jamie Hood connected with it decisively to head the ball into the back of the net.

Brakes had a couple of missed chances, but then Matt Lewis scored with a second header to make it 2-0. Breeden had to make a good save and Brakes kept up the pressure with four coreners in succession. Jacko made a great run down the right wing, skinning two defenders, but there was no one to connect with his cross. Daly had a good match in defence, making good use of his head.

With Brakes clearly in charge, James Rowe, a new signing from Canvey Island, was given a run out. The striker looked as if he had plenty of pace, as well as being a battler.

Finally, the officials had a generally good match, especially the linos, who understood the offside rule and flagged for fouls.

Millwall shares 'not worth the paper they are printed on'

The Financial Times has declared Millwall shares 'not worth the paper they are printed on' as the New Cross club finalises plans to convert every 100,000 shares into one new share. The Pink 'Un compares the shares with Reichmark bills from Weimar Germany or Zimbabwean dollars: Millwall

The Spanners have issued twice as many shares as BP. Shareholders who lose their holding will receive 'a certificate of appreciation'. Perhaps it will carry the club's informal slogan: 'No one likes us, we don't care.'

Friday 1 October 2010

Bees looking to end their bad run

I dodn't realise that Epsom was natural Bees territory, but the only preview of tomorrow's match I could find from a Brentford perspective was in the Epsom Guardian: Bees

The line from the Epsom supremo is that the Bees went through a bad spell last season, but they turned it round with one game and this year that game will be against Charlton. They will then head for a play-off place. It sounds a bit like whistling in the dark to me.

I had this down as a score draw at the beginning of the season, but I think we could just nick it. So I am going for a 0-1 to Charlton with the goal scored by a defender.

I will be watching Leamington play Oxford City at the New Windmill Ground tomorrow and at the moment it looks as if this will be the only Charlton blog covering the game.

Benson shares his joy

Paul Benson shares his joy at scoring his first goal for the Addicks: Benson

One point he makes is that at Dagenham there was more use of the long ball and he has had to adapt to the ball being played through the middle rather than waiting for it to come over the top.

Benson has attracted a lot of criticism, but I think he needs to settle in and adapt to the style of play. It is too early to make a definitive judgment about him.