Saturday 31 August 2013

Charlton win at home

With Wyn Grant unexpectedly kept in Leamington by family issues, today’s report is brought to you by Helen Hodgson.

The Jimmy Seed stand was three-quarters full of Foxes. After last week’s water polo, the pitch was in good shape, even at the Deep End (formerly the Covered End), although there was a bare patch in front of Hamer’s goal. Both sides adopted a 3-5-2 formation. Neither team was able to mount a real threat in the opening exchanges.

James received a yellow card for the attention he paid to Pritchard on 12 minutes. Stephens put in a precision ball, but Church was unable to take advantage.

The initial twenty minutes of the game was not particularly exciting and was very much a tactical battle. For a minute or so Stephens was running around with one boot on, but did make a pass with his boot in his hand.

The Foxes won the first corner of the afternoon, after Wiggins made a needed intervention, but it was unproductive. Kermorgant was fouled and Arsenal loan player Miquel was booked, although the referee was struggling with his Spanish. The free kick led to a corner after Schmeichel tried to make a drama out of the save, claiming that he was impeded, and Morrison scored from the corner to make it 1-0.

Hamer made a mistake, but the Foxes were unable to take advantage and simply secured a corner. Jackson was booked for a foul.

Dervitte was under pressure, but Wiggins intervened effectively at the cost of a corner. Hamer managed to collect the ball. Charlton won a corner at the other end through Wiggins. Schmeichel flapped from the effort by Stephens, leading to a second corner. Jackson’s corner went to Church and he scooped it over the bar from three yards out.

HT: Addicks 1, Foxes 0

An early free kick went straight into the hands of Schmeichel who then made a pantomime performance of looking to see if anyone was behind him. Pritchard won the ball off Nugent. Kermorgant went down and Charlton won the free kick 30 yards out. Schmeichel had to spread himself to turn away Kermorgant’s effort for a corner.

Wiggins lost the ball, Drinkwater got the ball off Vardy but Hamer saved. James went down, didn’t get the penalty, ran to the referee and gave him a piece of his mind. He was shown a second yellow and he was reluctant to go off, but eventually the midfielder went for his early shower. The Foxes advised the referee that he was not fit for purpose.

A shot by Nugent was saved by Hamer, although he spilled it and Dervitte got it away. The sending off had lifted the Foxes. Leicester made a tactical substitution, but the formation they had adopted was not clear, but possibly it was 3-5-1.

Charlton won a corner well taken by Jackson and Kermorgant scored with a header to rub it in for his former club. Leicester got themselves a goal back through Drinkwater from eight yards out.

Kermorgant supplied Jackson who put the ball just over the bar. Charlton won another corner which was taken by Stephens and led to an Addicks throw in. Schmeichel had to make a good save from Kermorgant and was left holding his face. The Charlton corner led to a shot by Stephens which was saved.

The Foxes brought on Wood, who scored a hat trick at Carlisle during the week, to replace Vardy who had not made a great impression. A Stephens corner was headed away. Leicester made their third substitution to add some pace through Dyer.

Hunt put in a shot on target which fortunately did not have much power behind it. Gower came on for Jackson and Stephens, who had played well, was replaced by Cousins. Wiggins got a yellow card for time wasting.

Charlton got a corner after an effort by Church, the move had been started by good play by Wiggins. Gower’s corner led to an off target header by Cort. Cousins put in a good effort and Schmeichel put it out for a corner. Pritchard was booked for shirt tugging.

Church was just offside after some good possession football by Charlton. Miquel shot from distance but Hamer collected. Knockaert was shown a yellow card after Pritchard ended up on the ground. Piggott replaced Church.

Six minutes were added on. The Addicks won a corner through Piggott. In subsequent play, Piggott put a shot in on target but it lacked power. Cousins stopped an attempted Foxes break. A shot by Hunt went over the crossbar. Wood scuffed a shot and Hamer collected. The Addicks had won their first game of the season, confounding the form book. Cue the first tunnel jump of the season from Chris Powell.

Solly out with knee injury

Chris Solly is not in this afternoon's team to play Leicester City as he has picked up a knee injury. It should be emphasised that there has been no transfer interest in Solly reported. Wilson replaces Solly. Richard Wood is also not in the squad for the same reason.

Wiggins is retained with Evina on the bench. Cousins and Harriott are both on the bench, while Stephens, presumably temporarily cured of his home sickness, starts. No one has come in for him from northern parts. Johnnie Jackson is back as captain, while Pritchard pretends to be a right winger. It's Kermorgant and Church up front with Sordell and Piggott on the bench. Cort and Morrison have Dervitte to help them try and deal with the on rushing Foxes. Hamer 'keeps' goal.

Friday 30 August 2013

Tally Ho!

I have a friend who is a rabid Fox: she was brought up in Dorset and lives in Sussex, as you do. So far she has refrained from taunting me but I expect she is waiting for 5 p.m. on Saturday. The message coming out of Leicester is that this will be an easy three points, albeit the match will have to be played and the points secured.

Reading the Leicester press, their game plan is to get it done and dusted in the first half. Given that we generally only play well in one half, usually the second, they may well succeed in getting an early lead.

I am not at all confident about the outcome. Of course, it's possible that the Foxes could be over confident, launch an all out attack and then find themselves exposed at the back. I remember a match against Bradford many years ago, I think it was in our promotion year to the Premiership, when a very cocky Bradford turned up but were beaten 4-2, suffering torment from an on form Morts.

Nevertheless, I am worried about the condition of our defence and I also continue to be concerned about our midfield. Mark Gower had a feature interview in The Football League Paper last weekend in which the journo rather oddly claimed that it was his arrival that prevented us being relegated. Gower did, however, point out that we have one of the lowest wage budgets in the Championship and this was bound to have some relationship with performance.

Leicester City are currently second in the Championship, having won both their away matches. Oddly, they only won 3-2 at home against Birmingham City who went 1-0 ahead. Manager Nigel Pearson conceded that the Foxes made heavy weather of it in the first half and that they wasted opportunities to score. He remains concerned about their consistency, arguing that they did not win enough tight games last season.

There was certainly a problem of squad depth last season with players having to play out of position. There was a tendency to tire towards the end of matches which led to late goals being conceded.

The Foxes have played 3-5-2 this season. Against Birmingham they started with an unusual 4-3-1-2 system which clearly did not work and they switched to 4-4-2 at half time with which the team was clearly more comfortable.

Last year the Foxes finished 6th, but then faced disappointment in the play off final. Four Four Two has them finishing 8th year and I think they will at least be in a decent play off position. Kasper Schmeichel in goal has a strong presence in goal which is not Hamer's strong suit. Central midfielder Matty James is well thought of by some fans. Up front, Jamie Vardy got a score of 8 last Saturday.

Last season we did the double over Leicester. The home win was a little fortunate, but there was a sweetness about Kermorgant scoring at what used to be the Crisp Bowl. However, we will be fortunate if we get one point out of the encounters this season. Whilst I like to travel hopefully down to London, I am forecasting a 0-2 win for the Foxes.

Odds are: Charlton 21/10, Draw 23/10, Leicester 13/10. A possible slight hope is that we have won our last two games at home against them at this level, but if we get a draw today, I will be pleased.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Hollands heads down the North Kent Line

Danny Hollands has joined Gillingham on a three month loan, receiving the usual single ticket with Mars bar and sports lucozade for the journey. Gills fans seen to be pleased on the whole and I think it is a good signing for them and makes sense for us: Hollands

Welcome back Emmauel Frimpong?

Reports are circulating this morning that he may come back on a year's loan. It does seem clear that he is likely to leave Arsenal, but that does not mean he will return to Charlton: Frimpong

I wasn't as excited by him as I expected to be first time round, but maybe my expectations were too high. Also, it is evident that we need strengthening from wherever we can get it. However, if it did happen, it could reduce opportunities for Jordan Cousins.

Building from the back

Part of our success in the last two seasons was due to the strength of our defence. We were a difficult team to break down. But two of our key players in defence, Morrison and Wiggins, seemed to have suffered a real loss of form. In the case of Wiggins, his injury last year was a major set back and it is not easy to get back to the former standard. Morro is more of a puzzle, but he looked as sick as a parrot against Donny, as well he might.

However, I want to focus on the keeper question. I first started watching Charlton 60 years ago and my real hero then was Sam Bartram. He had his critics at the time for being too flamboyant and too much of a showman, not qualities that were well regarded in the 1950s.

Ever since I have always been interested in our keepers. It was a great privilege to meet Bob Bolder on more than one occasion and shake his big and blistered hand. But my real hero of recent years was Dean Kiely, a great acquisition who contributed a great deal to our promotion and subsequent success in the Premier League. His exit from Charlton was not entirely a happy one. However, he is a really nice guy. His son Chris was keeper at Leamington for a while and when I saw Deano at the New Windmill Ground, he was always very pleasant to me.

This brings me to a slight digression. Goalkeepers are alleged to be a bit flakey. This certainly applied to a rather good Italian we had at Leamington who had been discovered sleeping rough on the railway station. However, it applies as much to the current keeper, Tony Breeden, for whom the chant is 'Tony Breeden, on the wing, on the wing.

The bearded Breeden ventures way out of his goal. I am not suggesting one could do this at league level, but it often spooks non-league opposition. What is more he has a powerful and accurate shot and I have seen him score from his own half. On Monday, he noticed that the opposition keeper was out of his goal. The City keeper started to back pedal when he saw Breeden advance and unfortunately Breeden's shot came off the crossbar. Nothing daunted, he tried again later from the halfway line and just missed the target.

All this is great fun, but we face a more serious challenge in the Championship What is one to make of Ben Hamer? He is a great shot stopper, but his decision-making can also be poor as we saw in the case of the 'Boro goal. Communication with the defenders does not always seem to work and he does not really dominate his area.

Some Addicks argue that Button kept him on his toes last year by providing some competition for the jersey. Nick Pope was not really tested against Bristol City, but if Hamer was injured (and some say he is carrying an injury) we would have to bring in an emergency loan. If I was the manager and I was short of money, it would make sense to economise on the reserve goalkeeper which is surely the worst job for a player in football. You must need a lot of patience and determination to keep going.

I know this is a controversial suggestion, but I would replace Wiggins by Evina on Saturday.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

We can concentrate on the league

We can concentrate on the league after last night's 3-2 league cup defeat at Huddersfield. And it's only August. There is, of course, the FA Cup which is the more significant competition, but I wouldn't hold out too much hope.

The real concern is that our leaky defence has conceded three more goals, with Hamer thought to be at fault for one of them. Apparently, for the first Town goal a long short rolled under his near post dive. He did, however, deny the home side a fourth with a good save in stoppage time.

Adam Hammill's late goal put Huddersfield into the third round of the Capital One Cup for the first time in 10 years. Dale Stephens, enjoying the northern air, put Charlton ahead with a free-kick. Huddersfield were hardly in it for the first half-hour and it took a soft opening goal from Stephens to wake them up. Huddersfield's Oliver Norwood fouled Evina on the left edge of the box on 32 minutes and Stephens struck the resulting free-kick.It was hit low, went through the wall and then a crowd of players around the six-yard area before creeping in at the far post.

Joel Lynch equalised from Oliver Norwood's pass. Marvin Sordell put Charlton back in front with his first Addicks goal to overcome the nickname 'sodall'. Sordell swept the ball in from close range after 59 minutes after Joe Piggott nodded down Cedric Evina's cross. Sordell was arguably lucky to be still on the field having only been booked for a bad lunge on Town skipper Peter Clarke minutes earlier. Jonathan Hogg netted for the hosts from 25 yards with a deflected shot, his first goal for the club. Hammill slammed in the winner when the ball fell kindly when James Vaughan jostled for Jon Stead's through ball.

One fan has tried to draw up a list of positives:

  • 1.We appeared to be the better side, especially in the first half, creating numerous chances.
  • 2. Piggott was certainly involved and it sounds like he had a good game.
  • 3. Pritchard played well
  • 4. Good run outs for the squad players, especially Wilson, Evina and Wood
  • 5. We scored 2 goals!

Attendance was 6,150. The 159 Charlton fans who went deserve a medal.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Difficult choices face Sir Chris in Huddersfield

Huddersfield, tonight's opponents in the Capita Cup, have had a good start to their season and are currently 7th in the Championship, having demolished Bournemouth 5-1 on Saturday. They claim that the main reason for their success is an unorthodox 3-5-2 system (for a moment I thought they had adopted the 2-3-5 of my youth): Huddersfield. The Yorkshire Post barely mentions Charlton on the assumption that we are simply there to provide an opposition to be defeated. On form, they could well be right.

Will Chris Powell stick with the essentially 2nd XI that defeated Oxford 4-0? Huddersfield are a different proposition and to field a weakened team would simply be an admission of defeat. Whilst 'we don't do cups', or haven't for many years, it would be nice to have a go with a side that combined experience and youth. Of course, another defeat for a version of the first team could simply weaken what already appears to be shattered morale with a number of key players below par, notably in defence. My forecast is a Huddersfield win by two goals to nil (but I never get these things right).

What fortunately appear to be a minority of Charlton fans are now concentrating their fire on Chris Powell. Like any manager, he does make mistakes and still has a lot to learn about how to change tactics and make substitutions within a game, particularly if the agreed plan doesn't work. Nevertheless, he got us promoted as champions of League 1 and to 9th last year. His budget has been restricted this year and this has limited what he has been able to do to strengthen the team, although Simon Church looks like a good acquisition, while Jordan Cousins looks ready for the first team.

Hiss of the Match analyst Juneau the Soccer Cat sadly passed away today. The American pedigree cat's duties will pass to Rescue Cat Reg who has already been providing analysis this season.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Pardew for Palace

Listening to 606 last night, I was quite amused to hear Palace fans arguing with each other about whether Ian Holloway should get the push. My view of Holloway is that he is the kind of loud mouth lacking judgment who is well suited to the Nigels and Nigellas.

However, it appears that Ian Holloway is under real pressure and that Alan Pardew is the favourite to replace him. Indeed, no less an authority than Richard Cawley of the South London Press has tweeted that there is some substance to a story that has appeared in a number of papers: Pardew

Pardew is under real pressure at Newcastle, where his team were booed off after drawing 0-0 with West Ham yesterday. There would be a nice symmetry in Pardew steering Palace to relegation. If we managed to stay up, and he kept his job, we could welcome him to The Valley next season, although it is an interesting speculation who would be Charlton manager by then. Doubtless some of the rumours circulating at The Valley yesterday were no doubt exaggerated in the telling.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Is your business weather proofed?

I don't know whether some wag put that advert up on the big screen at The Valley this afternoon, but the Charlton pitch certainly wasn't as the rain poured down. I had predicted in my preview that the forecast rain would play a big part in the match, but I didn't think it would give the Addicks a 'get out of gaol' card.

The referee suspended the match just after half way through the first half with Charlton 0-3 down. A team of ground staff then came on, but there is no longer a whale of the kind that was available in the Premier League. Instead there was a hand propelled roller which gathered a small fish pond size quantity of water which then had to be tipped away. Eager to double their lead, the Doncaster players started lending a hand.

The referee then deemed the pitch to be playable, despite every move splashing up water. I think that he would have abandoned the game then if it had been 0-0. (He may have taken advice during the suspension). As it was, a Simon Church goal made it 1-3 before the delayed break. The referee then came on the pitch at half time to talk to Colin Powell about his technique with the pitchfork. When the Doncaster players came out with the charm merchant Keegan who had been red carded to salute their fans, we knew that it was all over.

Charlton are now in the relegation positions at 22nd, one place above Millwall who secured a point at Sheffield Wednesday. They had to play in Wednesday's away kit from last year after the kit man forgot their own (or perhaps it was sold off at a motorway stop?) Yeovil lost at home and Barnsley went down 5-2 at Blackburn and are bottom.

I actually thought we played better than we did against 'Boro, although Doncaster played a nice passing game which secured their first goal after two minutes with a good cross and a header that left Hamer with little chance. Some around me thought that the throw in which led to the move should have been given to us. Their goalkeeper made two outstanding saves from Pritchard and Harriott. The conditions did not permit good football, and although one might say it was the same for both teams, it looked wetter in front of the goal we were defending and in front of the East Stand.

We looked better defensively in the second portion of the game, with a Donny goal rightly ruled offside. As one wag said, it was a half of two halves. Nevertheless, the initial defending was woeful and clearly needs attention.

Match analysis

This was supposed to be a first game for trainee match analyst Mustang from Compton Berks. but unusually for a Labrador he hates water and cried off. His cousin Henry was then brought in from Chilton Oxon and had to ring senior match analysts Ivy the Terrible to ask whether a Silver Bone should be awarded. Ivy ruled that it would not be.

I think that the defence rather than Hamer specifically were responsible for the three goals, although he protested strongly that the third one was offside. Morrison had to do some rather desperate defending at times. On one occasion if he had let the ball go out of play Doncaster would have not won a throw in. Cort was solid and put in some strong defensive headers, even if they were directionless at times. Wiggins had a torrid time on the wet ground in front of the East Stand. He was at fault for the first goal. When I made earlier criticisms of him, people said that it was just a dip in form, but it is looking like quite a long one. Solly looked much better than in the 'Boro match. Harriott was prominent in the attack, although on one occasion he should have crossed rather than shot at the keeper. Pritchard put in a good shot on goal which many keepers would not have saved. Cousins showed some nice touches and looks promising, winning the ball with real skill on one occasion despite the conditions. Gower got involved and picked up a rather harsh yellow card after a Doncaster player skidded on the wet surface. Kermorgant battled away and was the target of some fouls, not all of which were recognised by the referee, although one did lead to the first yellow for Keegan. One attempt on goal was way off target, but the keeper had to make a save from a header. Church was always a threat and took his goal well.

Rescue Cat Reg gave the Hiss of the Match to the indecisive referee, who seemed to have got water on the brain, but also spotted proof reading errors in the programme. Apparently we played Oxford City in the League Cup. I know they have been making headway and are only two divisions below their rivals, but non-league teams do not feature in this competition. Fans were also advised that a Mobility coach would be provided to Barnsley, but it is not clear what fans would find when they got there.

Friday 23 August 2013

Dampener at The Valley?

As far as I can make out from the weather forecast, which seems to have more than the usual uncertainty attached to it, there could be quite a bit of rain overnight and in the morning in SE7, and it could extend it to the afternoon. Wet conditions never make for the best football with the risk of a fluke ball leading to a goal, invariably against us.

It is clear that Doncaster will be no pushovers after their 2-2 draw away to Wigan earlier in the week (although I did not pick the Latics for an immediate return to the Premiership and I think they may find the Championship quite testing). Earlier in the week one of the Doncaster players was talking of them being promotion contenders. That does seem quite a large claim, but possibly if you aim for promotion you might end up with mid-table consolidation which would surely be a more realistic aim for the season after promotion.

Four Four Two has them down as finishing 23rd which seems harsh to me even if some describe them as a 'pub team having a laugh'. What they showed last year was they could soak up pressure, work tirelessly and battle out results which was true of the Charlton side last season, especially away from home.

Last Saturday Doncaster certainly didn't chicken out when they beat Blackburn 2-0 at home. Theo Robinson had just had one session training with the team but the former Derby marksman scored on his debut wit a header just before half-time. James Husband was the creator on that occasion and he added a second after the break.

In goal former Chelsea stopper Ross Turnbull was never tested. Former Oldham full back Reece Warba put in a good performance. New South African signing Bongani Khumalo looked promising. Skipper Rob Jones leads by example as centre back and is capable of scoring. David Cotterill scored some wonder goals last season and is always a threat from midfield. Former Leicester midfielder Richie Wellens also performed well. In other words, they have a number of players who could test us. We will be without Johnnie Jackson who is still troubled by his calf injury and I think that the skipper always adds solidity to our performance.

Former Oldham boss Paul Dickov replaced Brian Flynn when he made it clear that he wanted to return to youth development work after securing promotion. Charm merchant Dickov is no favourite of mine as I recall him spitting at the Addickted at Blackpool when he was still playing. Dickov is in confident mood and says that his team are capable of winning every game this season, which would be an incredible feat. He does, however, say that Charlton are a 'good team' which gives him an alibi if Rovers fail to leave with all three points tomorrow: Dickov

We put in a poor performance against Middlesbrough at home and only really played in the second half against Barnsley. Chris Powell would give morale a boost by starting Jordan Cousins.

The boo boys were out in force at the end of the 'Boro game. Apart from a few constant critics of Chris Powell who accuse him of tactical naivety and general incompetence, no one is on the manager's back which is not to say that he is perfect. The squad does need strengthening, particularly in midfield, but this is understandably difficult when the club has made a loss for the last two seasons and is also constrained by the Football League's version of financial fair play which in short mean 'to them that hath shall be given.'

Before the start of the season, I had this down as a home win, but I am less optimistic now and it could well be a draw. It is a match we need to win.

Odds: (Coral) Charlton Evens, Draw 12/5, Doncaster 11/4. The odds on us being relegated have shortened from 7-1 to 5-1 since the beginning of the season.

Assessing Danny Green

An interesting and balanced post here assessing Danny Green: Green. I know that he has some staunch fans, but for me his performance against Middlesbrough confirmed my view that he cannot cut it at this level, a view the article also expresses. There are occasional flashes of quality, but they are too few and far between.

There are many who think that Wagstaff was better, at least as an impact sub and that we shouldn't have let him go. We are, of course, short of options in that position. Pritchard is not a winger and although I admire his commitment and energy, there are technical shortcomings at this level.

Earlier this week there was a rumour about Marc Albrighton of Aston Villa coming in on loan. I didn't cite it because I didn't think it was very credible. Admittedly, Albrighton was plagued with injury last season and there might be sense in loaning him out for a month in the Championship for match fitness purposes. But I see that Stoke City are after him anyway.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Eric Tie Bi could join Charlton

French website L'Equipe is reporting that Ivory Coast international Eric Tie Bi is training with Charlton which they describe as 'le club de l'attaquant français Yann Kermorgant.' The 23-year old defensive midfielder had attracted the interest of Hull City and had a trial there. However, in a pre-season match playing as a holding midfielder the Hull Daily Mail reported that a '45-minute outing littered with fouls did the Evian midfielder few favours.' He is noted for his physical strength.

He has been with Évian since 2010. More about him here: Tie Bi

Dale Stephens injured

Dale Stephens had to be taken off in the match against Barnsley because he picked up a groin injury. Perhaps he might be allowed to recuperate at home 'oop North? It will, however, reduce the chances of a northern club coming in for him.

Monday 19 August 2013

Cousins offers hope

One of the upsides of being stretched for funds is that it gives more space for youngsters to break into the first team. Last season it was Callum Harriott. Now opportunity presents itself for Jordan Cousins. Coming on against Barnsley, he played a key role in salvaging a point for the Addicks.

This year's handbook says 'Highly rated Cousins is looking to make his mark on the first team as he waits for his debut in professional football.' Well, he has made his mark and many fans would like to see him start in midfield on Saturday. Of course, one has to be careful about damaging a player's development by expecting too much of him to soon. But the midfield has been insipid and he could bring some needed sparkle.

As the Financial Times pointed out this weekend Premier League clubs are full of young players on relatively high salaries who never get near the first team and find their development stunted as a result. One of the advantages of playing for Charlton is that you do get your chance if you are good enough.

One of his strengths as a player is his versatility. He can play at right back and in central defence as well as midfield and indeed is formally classified as a defender. However, 'His cool-headed demeanour has served him well in his ability to control the midfield, while he is also capable of explosive bursts down the right, adding a dimension to the club's attacking play.'

Cousins was born in Greenwich (always a recommendation in my book) and joined the club at under-13 level. His leadership skills were evident when he led Charlton to the FA Youth Cup quarter finals in 2011/12. He played a key role in the successful U21 side last season. International honours include leading the England U16s to the Victory Shield in 2009.

He might help us to shed the label of 'Championship strugglers' that is already been attached to us.'

Cousins talks about the experience of scoring on his league debut here: Cousins

Saturday 17 August 2013

Addicks climb out of relegation zone

Charlton climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-2 draw at Barnsley this afternoon. Millwall went bottom with no points after losing at home to Huddersfield. Apparently their fans have left a banner on the gates of the Toolbox urging manager Steve Lomas to go away in no uncertain terms.

The Addicks were 2-0 down by 55 minutes, but goals from Cousins (who had replaced Stephens after the break) on 64 minutes and Church on 72 minutes gave them a share of the points. Cousins pounced on a half clear ball to score with a left foot shot that looped past Luke Steele to give Charlton hope. They were level soon after thanks to Simon Church who latched onto to a ball over the top from Yann Kermorgant to prod the ball past Steele.

Cort had also come on at half time in place of Dervitte, provoking the riddle, 'What is the difference between Charlton and Millwall? Answer: a Cort appearance is a good thing.

Barnsley were on top in the first half. The Tykes almost took the lead when a mistake by Michael Morrison freed Chris Dagnall but Ben Hamer made himself big to keep his effort out. After a good opening spell, Barnsley did take the lead after 16 minutes when Scott Golbourne fired a dangerous ball into the Charlton box, which was missed by Chris Dagnall but was bundled in by Chris O'Grady.

David Flitcroft's side continued to create chances and, but for the resistance of Hamer in the Addicks' goal, could easily have doubled their lead.

An Addick who was there commented, 'Well fought out result. Poor game of football but really entertaining. Wiggins and Kemorgant awful. Stephens so disinterested. Cousins made a huge difference. Superb finish from Church. And Hamer kept us in it. But a very well earned point in the end.'

Friday 16 August 2013

Bent angers Palace

Darren Bent has angered Crystal Palace by joining Fulham. As late as Wednesday, there was confidence at Selhurst Park that they had secured the striker's signature: Darren Bent

Iain Dowie is confident that Palace can stay up and I suppose at least this time they don't have him in charge: Curse of Dowie

According to a tweet from a Charlton fan, Dowie has been talking of a return to Premiership management, but I cannot find corroboration of this fantasy.

Pointless clash

Two teams without any points face each other at Oakwell tomorrow in the clash between Barnsley and Charlton Athletic. Charlton's last outing there saw them win 6-0, but there will be no repeat of that tomorrow. Barnsley boss David Flitcroft has said that the memory will motivate his team. Chris Powell said yesterday that he would settle for 1-0.

Johnnie Jackson will be out because of his injury and that will weaken our midfield. He may lack pace, but we miss him when he isn't there. Simon Church may start up front with Yann Kermorgant.

The Tykes finished 21st last season, making it two seasons in a row ending one place above the drop zone. Things improved a lot last year after Keith Hill was sacked in December and replaced by his assistant David Flitcroft, although he wasn't the board's first choice. Four Four Two has them finishing 20th this time round and that sounds about right to me given that they have one of the lowest wage budgets in the Championship.

Their striking options include former Sheffield Wednesday striker Chris O'Grady and 20-year old forward Dale Jennings who played for the Bayern Munich second team for two seasons. However, former Ipswich striker Jason Scotland is pressing for a starting role. David Perkins provides authority and balance in the midfield. However, their real problem is defensive as last season's result shows. They are taking some encouragement from the news that Wales international centre-back Lewin Nyatanga could be back in the squad.

This is a six pointer, but I suspect that it will be a case of a point each. Odds (Coral) Barnsley 7/5, Draw 23/10, Charlton 19/10.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Powell will let Stephens return 'oop north

Chris Powell will let a homesick Dale Stephens return 'oop north, but so far no suitable offers have come in from northern clubs: Stephens

Ricardo Fuller to join Blackpool

It looks as if Ricardo Fuller is going to join Blackpool as their seventh summer signing: Fuller. The signing has now gone ahead.

Charlton's interest in re-signing the striker has waned in recent weeks. His undoubted talents were outweighed by his tendency to be injury prone and his strike rate per game with us was not that high.

According to Paul Ince on the Blackpool website, 'Speaking to Chris Powell, they wanted to sign him but they are waiting for a takeover to take place so he was disappointed to lose him, but it's a chance for him to come in a show what he can do.'

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Anyone could be sold

Anyone could be sold in a fire sale of Charlton players to raise much needed funds says Chris Powell: Powell

What is even more concerning is that with a year left on their contracts most of them would not command a high price.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Bartlett makes top goal list

The Times is compiling a list of top all-time Premiership goals and Shaun Bartlett comes 3rd for his volley against Leicester City on April 1st 2001: 'The South Africa striker lets Graham Stuart's angled pass fall from the sky and smashes the ball home from the left side of the penalty area.'

As it so happens my commemorative t-shirt is hanging on the washing line at the moment.

Transfer rumours

Anton Ferdinand has been training at Sparrows Lane, after being let go by QPR, but it appears that he may be heading for a Turkish club.

Charlton maintain their interest in getting Jonathan Obika in on loan, but have not made any progress. Rumours about Yann Kermorgant leaving continue to circulate, but seem to be speculative.

A Grade C rumour (Grade D level is Acworth) is that Crystal Palace are interested in Rhoys Wiggins. After Saturday's performance, I would gladly settle for Evina.

Looking for the emergency exit

The latest report on the financial state of football from accountancy firm BDO has interesting implications for Charlton given recent speculation about the future of the club.

‘A New Dawn for Fair Play?’ reveals a growing reliance on benefactors to plug funding gaps at their clubs. In total, 65% of clubs acknowledged a dependence on principal shareholder(s) to finance operating losses compared with 58% last year; for the Championship the figure is 94% and for League One it is 64%.

Faced with the challenge of plugging a funding gap while also keeping the club competitive on the pitch, it is perhaps not surprising that 28% of Championship club owners and 36% of League One club owners are considering a full or partial exit in the next 12 to 18 months. At the same time, a similar proportion of clubs, 33% and 21% respectively, have been approached by potential new external investors in the past year.

Trevor Birch from BDO commented: 'Intense competition for a limited number of promotion places has pushed the majority of Championship and League One clubs into the red and created a dependency on principal shareholders bankrolling trading shortfalls. In this context, we now see around a third of existing owners seeking a full or partial exit. While a similar proportion of clubs are being approached by new external investors, in reality there is a dwindling number of genuine potential owners outside the Premier League.'

Monday 12 August 2013

Moving away from The Valley?

The latest edition of Voice of the Valley contains a number of revelations about the club, but one of the most interesting is that the idea of moving to a stadium on the Greenwich peninsula is still under active consideration. The Valley would then be used for social housing.

Leaving aside the emotional considerations, and the fact that both the moves we made away from The Valley were disastrous, it is difficult to see the logic of such a move. The present stadium has more than enough capacity for the Championship, indeed was just over half full on Saturday. In the unlikely event that we got promoted to the Premiership, it would be adequate for that level. Indeed, no one has raised an eyebrow about what passes for a 'stadium' at Selhurst Park. If we stayed up in the Premiership, plans to expand it which were drawn up towards the end of our Premiership era could be revived.

It is sometimes suggested that a North Greenwich site would have better transport links by which is meant the Jubilee Line. However, Charlton Station is convenient for the many Addicks who come from the Kent direction. Many others travel in the opposite direction to transfer to trains from Waterloo or use the tube at London Bridge to reach other mainline stations, in my case Euston. It is also possible to change at Blackheath or Lewisham for other connections.

As for the social housing idea, this would involve extensive demolition work as the present structures could not be converted. It can be done, of course, as the example of Roker Park shows. But VOTV also points out that the approach roads might not be able to service a major housing development.

Nevertheless, the possibility of a move is included in what amounts to an offer document that was circulated in the City. Perhaps it was thought that the chance to build their own stadium would entice a wealthy investor. But then much about the club at the present time is shrouded in mystery.

If you weren't at the game on Saturday, or missed Rick Everitt's team of elves, VOTV can be bought online at Voice of the Valley

Who is Kevin Cash?

This article has no specific Charlton content, but it is an intriguing look at a wealthy and elusive individual: Kevin Cash

Saturday 10 August 2013

The missing link

I thought that the midfield was particularly poor in today's defeat to Middlesbrough. As one fan commented, 'they parted like the Red Sea' whenever Middlesbrough attacked. They were not linking up well and hence often the only outlet for the back four was a hopeful ball forward which did not result in anything given that Sordell was disappointing and Kermorgant below par. Hamer was throwing out the ball to the backs, which was a good idea, but then the midfield moved forward, leaving a long ball as the only option. Those who think that Green is the answer may have learnt a lesson.

I didn't see how Middlesbrough could score given that their shooting was so wayward, but our defence was in a state of confusion with Morrison well below his usual best. Their goal was down to woeful defending on our part, starting with the corner which should never have been conceded.

It wasn't a good way for my neighbour in the East Stand, Steve from Petts Wood, to celebrate his 50th birthday but as he said philosophically it's what you expect as a Charlton fan. It's a long old season and we're not relegated yet. Six teams have no points and we are actually not in the bottom three while Millwall are.

A good journey down put me in an optimistic mood and I thought that we started playing competitively, but it didn't last. Boro were building quite well and were able to string a series of passes together which we couldn't. On 20 minutes Dean Whitehead got a yellow card for elbowing Kermorgant. Chris Powell thought it ought to have been a red and he had a case.

Harriott made a good run which won Charlton a corner, one of his few contributions to the game. Just before the break, Boro had a free kick on the 'D' but put it over the bar.

In the second half an early Boro free kick went off the Charlton wall. Kermorgant went down and required treatment after a collision with Sordell. Friend put a dangerous ball across the front of goal, but fortunately no one was able to connect. We then had the goal conceded and I couldn't see us getting back into the game, even with five minutes added on.

The attendance was not announced. It was 14,882 which suggests not much walk up traffic given 10,000 season ticket holders and the number of comps.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has considered the award of the Silver Bone. No one had a great game, but Dorian Dervite didn't do anything wrong and did a lot of things right. Hamer was at fault for the goal and it was really the only save he had to make. Wiggins was below his usual standard. I thought that Solly largely did what was required, but many were more critical. If the team is not playing well, it may be difficult to play to your best standard. However, his distribution was not as good as usual and he allowed Carayol too much space. Morrison was poor by his standards. Jackson did contribute in the first half, but some have argued that he should never have started in the first place. Harriott was energetic, but not very effective and seems to have gone backwards since last season. The free kicks and corners contributed by Green were poor and apart from one shot on goal he didn't contribute very much else. Gower was anonymous for much of the game apart from one burst of skill on the touchline in the second half. Kermorgant should never have had his hair cut, he seems to have lost something, but then it is no good lumping balls up to him. Sordell was energetic, but not able to make much impact. Stephens did look quite classy when he first came on. Church has pace and bothered the reserve goalkeeper when he came on. There is surely a case for starting him. Wilson was marginally better than the players who had been on the pitch before him.

Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to chairman Martin Slater for a disingenuous statement in the programme.

One well informed fan commented, 'the atmosphere among staff at The Valley is absolutely toxic and I suspect it extends to Sparrows Lane. The club is in a very bad place internally and I wouldn't be surprised if that's affecting what we are seeing on the pitch.'

Come in No.99

Bradley Wright-Phillips isn't going to be making his fortune at New York Red Bulls. His baseline salary will be $50,000.04 with a 'guaranteed' $92,500.04. Don't ask me what the four cents is for, but given that New York is an expensive place he won't have that much to live on: Wright-Phillips.

According to a tweet, his squad number is going to be 99!

Friday 9 August 2013

Bring on the Boro

Middlesbrough haven't had the best of starts to their season, losing 1-2 at home to Leicester last Saturday and then 1-2 at home to Accrington Stanley in the Capital One Cup. Manager Tony Mowbray admits that it will be a tough match at The Valley tomorrow.

Boro will be boosted by the arrival of Ghana international Albert Adomah from Bristol City for a fee of around £1m. Mowbray sees him as a wide creative player rather than the goal scorer they are still searching for.

Last season 'Boro started strongly and topped the table in November, but slumped in the New Year, eventually finishing 16th. Four Four Two forecasts a 13th place finish this year.

Johnnie Jackson is expected to the back from injury for the Addicks. Danny Green may replaced the suspended Bradley Pritchard. Simon Church may be favoured up front over Marin Sordell who has not impressed so far.

Possible line up: Hamer; Solly, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins; Green, Jackson, Gower, Harriott; Kermogrant, Church.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Kevin Feely out on loan

Charlton central defender and Ireland Under 21 international Kevin Feely is going on a 28-day loan to Carlisle United. This makes sense as he is effectively No.5 in the pecking order. More here: Feely

The Addicks have got scant reward for trouncing Oxford in the Capital One cup with an away fixture at Huddersfield. The last thing we wanted was an away fixture against a team in the same division. Johnnie Jackson has tweeted that the person who made the draw should be given a straight red.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Piggott's delight

Joe Piggott talks about his delight in scoring for Charlton in his debut first team match at The Valley: Piggott

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Convincing cup win for Addicks

The Charlton side for this evening’s league cup match against Oxford United was entirely changed from the one that started against Bournemouth apart from Hamer in goal. 4,935 were in attendance, nearly 800 from Oxford.

Danny Green took the first corner of the evening for Charlton, but it was punched away. Piggott put in a good long-range ball finding Church. Richard Wood had to deal with an Oxford attack. Evina and Cook combined well on the left, but they suffered from a tight offside decision. Oxford won a corner. The referee blew for a free kick.

Simon Church scored his first goal for the Addicks on 18 minutes to take the lead against Oxford. A Green effort from distance went over the bar. Oxford made a good run down the right and Hamer had to make the save. An effort from Fulham loan player Williams went wide. A free kick from Green went over the crossbar.

A good run from Cook set up a corner for Charlton, but Wood was unable to score from six yards out with Oxford defenders in his way.

HT: 1-0

Hollands headed the ball just over. Green took a free kick for Charlton through the wall to make it 2-0. Oxford won a corner which was taken short. Piggott did all the hard work, there was an open goal, but Church put it wide from six yards out. Church made no mistake when he got the opportunity to make it 3-0. Cort won Charlton a corner, but it was punched away. Oxford made two attacking substitutions.

Hamer made a good save off Williams. Cort did enough to block Potter at the expense of a corner. Cort stayed down, but may have been winded and got up. Church was taken off and replaced by Sordell. Cook received a yellow card for a foul on Hunt. Hamer punched away the free kick and fell awkwardly, hurting his right shoulder. Cook went down and needed some treatment. Cook was replaced by Harriott.

The Oxford fans claimed that Wood had used his hand and an Oxford player received a yellow card for dissent. The referee gave Hollands a yellow card for sliding in.

Sordell tried to make it 4-0, but it went wide after a deflection. The ball almost went in from the corner.

Five minutes were added on. Another Oxford player got a yellow for dissent. A Charlton corner was punched away, but the referee blew up anyway. Charlton were given a penalty. Piggott put it in the back of the net. Charlton were in the draw for the second round.

Do we do cups?

Charlton's record in cups has not been good in recent years. Indeed, when were in the Premiership it seemed to me to be a realistic ambition to have a go at the League Cup, but we never did. Swansea City showed last year that it can be done from mid-table.

Tonight the Addicks face Oxford United at The Valley. We last played Oxford in this competition in 2002 when after a 0-0 draw they won 6-5 on penalties. Odds are(Coral) Charlton 8/13, Draw 11/4, Oxford United 9/2. Charlton are 125-1 to win the competition.

Oxford won an impressive 4-1 victory at Pompey last week, albeit that Portsmouth have been hyped up by the media. Oxford's star player was Alfie Potter. He may be vertically challenged, but he gave Portsmouth's defenders nightmares every time he got on the ball. Deane Smalley took his two goals in clinical fashion, Andrew Whing made a lot of vital tackles in midfield to protect his back four while Johnny Mullins was a threat in both boxes and marshalled his defence well. Jake Wright is also highly rated as a defender. They also have ex-Reading goal getter and former Sainsbury's shelf stacker Dave Kitson who cost Stoke £5.5m in 2208.

Oxford are claiming that they may get a 'shock' result, although it wouldn't be that much of a shock. They are relying on momentum from the Pompey result, although it seems that they may also blood one or two younger players: Shock tactics

Chris Powell has said that he will make some changes tonight. What those will be remains to be seen, but Yann Kermorgant took a knock at Bournemouth and may need to be rested. Simon Church is expected to make his first start for Charlton and Danny Green and Dale Stephens look likely to be in the starting line up.

The performance at Bournemouth does seem to have been lacklustre. Following this 2-1 away defeat, some ultra pessimists were saying that we were as good as relegated. A win tonight would be a morale boost and I am going for 2-1 to the Addicks.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Club and players for sale?

According to the Currant Bun Charlton are on sale for £40m. If this is the price, given the losses and the level of debt, it seems too high to attract much interest. No wonder Acworth has had trouble with his billionaires.

The report claims that all Charlton players are available for transfer because of the club's financial problems. There have been persistent rumours of financial difficulties, but the real situation is not really known.

Saturday 3 August 2013

Addicks don't like sea air

Charlton went down 2-1 at Bournemouth in their first league match of the season. Two goals from Lewis Grabban gave newly-promoted Bournemouth the win. The hosts took the lead when Grabban headed in from Harry Arter's cross.

But Charlton equalised through Yann Kermorgant's acrobatic volley. However, Grabban spun a marker and shot in from 25 yards to make it 2-1 before Charlton ended with 10 men following Bradley Pritchard's dismissal. Those who were there question whether it was a red card, but I predicted that d'Urso would send someone off for making a tackle.

The absence of Johnnie Jackson through injury didn't help us.

Friday 2 August 2013

Bookies favour Bournemouth

Bournemouth are expected to mark their first Championship match with an easy three points against Charlton tomorrow, at least according to the bookies. The odds are 5/4 a home win, 23/10 draw and 11/5 away win. Coral also have us at 7-1 to be relegated against 10-1 for promotion. Whilst I think we will be neither promoted nor relegated, I think that our chances of promotion are similar to those of relegation.

A possible cloud over tomorrow's match is the referee, Andy D'Urso, the banker from Billericay. We can expect some baffling decisions and they may well favour the home side. It is conceivable that a Charlton player will be sent off for putting in a tackle.

There has been a certain amount of bigging up of Bournemouth as the Championship dark horses, but I think the Four Four Two prediction of a finish in 18th place is about right. Eddie Howe has got them playing well with a combination of brisk passing and dynamic attacking down both flanks, so a lot will depend on Solly and Wiggins. They can pass the ball out from the back well, but I think we may be able to counter attack quite well. In any event I don't think they are invincible and I am expecting an entertaining and closely contested game between two sides who both have strong team spirit. I am going for a 2-2 draw.

Hopefully the Addickted who are going will be in good heart, even if the rapid retreat of the tidal wave of pessimism and negativity experienced earlier in the weekend has left some fans stunned. I am confident that Chris Powell and his team will improve Church and Sordell as players.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Charlton predicted to finish 4th

Charlton Athletic are forecast to finish 4th in the Sky Bet Championship in this year's Four Four Two season preview. Reading and Bolton Wanderers take the automatic promotion places and the Addicks finish behind Leeds in 3rd. Doncaster Rovers, Yeovil Town and Millwall are tipped to be relegated.

Admittedly the magazine does not have the best of prediction records. In our promotion year from League 1 they had us finishing just above the relegation positions on the grounds that rookie manager Chris Powell wouldn't be able to manage his new signings. Powell had the cover framed and auctioned and it was bought by the magazine.

Their logic this year is that if we can get our home form to match our away form last year, we will be on our way to the Premiership. My fear would be that our away form will fall away and our home form won't improve that much. Interestingly fan Danny Stephens is quoted as saying, 'I'd be happy avoiding a relegation scrap.' Perhaps we would all benefit from some of what the Four Four Two office is on?

Millwall fan Danny Ash provides this helpful tip for away fans visiting the New Den: 'Don't expect your team to be given an easy ride. It's not a nice place to come.'

The assessment says that the Addicks build from the back with a tidy midfield. Johnnie Jackson is named as key player, described as a 'versatile grafter.' It concludes 'what an Addicks unit bursting with organisation, discipline and team spirit really lacks is a good 20-goal-a-season forward.' Amen to that.

Marvin Sordell in on loan reports

It is being reported that Bolton Wanderers have accepted a loan offer from Charlton Athletic for striker Marvin Sordell. The 22-year-old from Harrow signed for the Trotters for £3.2m during last year's January transfer window but has failed to settle 'oop North, perhaps explaining why he has the name of 'Marvin Sod-All at the Reebok.

According to the Bolton News, the Addicks have offered Sordell the opportunity to play in London, although the length of the deal has not yet been made clear. The England Under-21 international, who scored just four goals in 22 appearances last season, was also approached by Bournemouth.

More about the striker here: Sordell

Sordell has now signed on a one year loan while Simon Church has joined on a two year contract. This has caused some difficulty to pessimists who were forecasting an immediate relegation struggle because we had just one striker.

Sordell talks about racism in football here: Sordell