Saturday 30 November 2013

Valley of frustration

There was hardly cause for celebration on the 21st anniversary of the return to The Valley when Charlton went down 0-1 to Ipswich Town through a goal scored from a corner in the fourth minute of the game. Although Charlton's performance improved in the second half of the game, they never really looked like scoring an equaliser, let alone a winner. Admittedly, there was a late incident when Cameron Stewart was bearing down on goal and the referee did not play the advantage but called for a free kick near the halfway line, but whether Stewart would have scored is an open question, although it would have been nice to have the chance.

A QPR fan who was giving it large to me during the week said that we were a hard working team, but lacked a cutting edge and you can see his point. It also has to be said that we lacked ideas compared to Ipswich who played a fluent, passing game. Moreover, they were hard to break down at the back.

I always feel uneasy when the teams change ends at the beginning of the match. Ipswich stepped up the pressure from the beginning of the match and won a succession of corners. Indeed, Mick McCarthy said later that we brought the pressure on ourselves by playing back to Morrison from the kick off who was the unable to clear. Alnwick made two excellent stops, but was unable to stop them from scoring through Smith.

We kept up the pressure after a Charlton corner and a shot went in that was just wide. A later Charlton corner was unproductive. The keeper spilled a Charlton corner. Lawrie Wilson, who was not having a good game, did put in a good block. The Ipswich fans were singing 'The greatest team the world has ever seen' which is fine if you are Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but not otherwise.

After the break Charlton did try to get in the game more. Following a Charlton corner, the ball was saved on the line. Stephens had a go, but to no effect. On 67 minutes we made our double substitution. Stewart tested the Ipswich keeper. Tabb got a yellow card for a foul on Kermorgant. As normal time came to an end, Kermorgant put in a good ball to Morrison, but he put it wide. The four minutes add on saw a scuffle by the Ipswich goal which saw Morrison and big lump Nouble get yellow cards.

Match Analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Ben Alnwick. Before the goal went in, which came through a crowded area, he made two super saves and also made some other good saves during the game. Looks like Hamer may have some competition. Morrison was solid, even if his headers are often directionless. Dervitte was lively and involved, although some of his clearances went straight to the opposition. Wiggins made some good runs down the left and even managed to hit the post with a cross, but was unable to break down the massed ranks of Tractors. Wilson had a bit of a mare. Although he did put in one or two good crosses, most of them were well below his usual standard and he ballooned a shot over. He was eventually substituted. Stephens put in a spectacular bicycle kick pass to Wiggins, but generally did not shine. Cousins persevered, usually with safe balls, but nothing wrong with that. Stewart attracted the derision of the row behind me. He is not perfect, but he came close to being decisive. One of the benefits of Green coming on was that he was freed up to play on the left. Jackson had a generally poor game and was eventually substituted. Church was energetic, but often put himself in an offside position, although one time when he was in a potential scoring position, the decision against him was marginal. Kermorgant tried to get involved. One question is whether his presence encourages us to play long balls. However, I did think that he was more or less back to fitness. Green made no great difference when he came on, which was no surprise to me. Pigott tried his best, but was unable to make the breakthrough. Sordell made no perceptible difference when he came on.

Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to Ipswich charm merchant Jay Tabb for his dirty play.

Friday 29 November 2013

Ipswich seek traction

Ipswich Town come to The Valley tomorrow seeking traction for their youthful squad tomorrow: Tractors

A mixed season currently sees them placed 12th in the Championship, although they would rather look up than down. Four Four Two saw them finishing sixth at the beginning of the season. Last year their problem was scoring goals on their travels. They scored just 14, the lowest total in the league.

However, they have already scored 11 goals away this season. They have emerged as something of away draw specialists, drawing four, winning one and losing three.

Mick McCarthy will be looking for an improved return from his Tractor Boys, who have won one of their last seven, although they are unbeaten in four away. The dramatic 3-2 win over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on 9 November was Ipswich's first away win of the season, and sets up the possibility of their first back-to-back on the road victories in this calendar year. They are one of four sides without an away clean sheet this term in the second tier.

Charlton and Ipswich first met in 1957 and since then each side has won 15 of the 38 fixtures.

Ben Alnwick will be in goal for the Addicks with Ben Hamer out for at least two weeks with ligament damage. Alnwick did everything he was required to do against Doncaster, but was not tested that much. Chris Solly is now training, but some way off playing.

Odds: Charlton 6/4, Draw 23/10, Ipswich 7/4. I am going for a 2-1 win for Charlton.

American billionaire to take over Charlton?

The Daily Mail is reporting that an American billionaire is poised to take over Charlton with negotiations at an advanced stage after he and his associates came over for the Leeds game: Josh Harris

Josh Harris already owns sports franchises in terms of ice hockey team New Jersey Devils and a basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers. He spent £500m on their acquisition so the Charlton asking price should be affordable.

I have no independent evidence of the veracity of this report. What I do understand is that the original stories in the South London Press were a plant from a relatively reliable source. They, of course, referred to a property company, but the intention may have been to put pressure on another bidder.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Rovers return empty handed

Charlton are now 17th in the table, ahead of Millwall on goal difference, after last night's 2-0 victory against Doncaster Rovers. The attendance was depleted after a signal box fire at London Bridge disrupted travel by train. There was also chaos at North Greenwich with 7,000 waiting for buses.

Yann Kermorgant’s cross was only half-cleared by Khumalo and Dale Stephens opened the scoring this time with a spectacular volley before Simon Church slid home to seal the victory. The Addicks also hit the woodwork twice while Doncaster failed to test home keeper Ben Alnwick.

The win was only Charlton's second at home this season but they dominated throughout despite being forced into a late change. Goalkeeper Ben Hamer was injured in the warm-up, so Alnwick came in for what turned out to be a quiet debut.

Charlton's first chance came after just two minutes when Church should have given them the lead, before Yann Kermorgant scuffed a shot against the post. Johnnie Jackson then forced Ross Turnbull into a stunning save before the Doncaster keeper was finally beaten by Stephens. The visitors' only real chance fell to on-loan Manchester United striker Federico Macheda, who blazed a shot over the crossbar. Turnbull saved well from Lawrie Wilson but could do nothing when Church was sent clean through by Jackson and slid the ball home. Cameron Stewart went close to adding a third, striking the crossbar with a 25-yard shot.

Monday 25 November 2013

Three points required

Charlton have won only one home game all season, but three points are badly needed in tomorrow night's replay against Doncaster Rovers. Three points could move the Addicks into a more comfortable 16th place ahead of Millwall (whose goal difference is inferior).

Doncaster will be without suspended midfielder Dean Furman. Paul Dickov's side are still without captain Rob Jones, as well as fellow defenders James Husband and Yun Suk-Young, plus forward Harry Forrester. Doncaster have won only one game on the road, but have drawn three.

Yann Kermorgant and Richard Wood could both return for Charlton, although on previous returns from the bench Kermorgant has seemed to be less than fully fit.

Odds are Charlton, 10/11; draw, 11/5; Doncaster 3/1.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Premiership clubs watch Cousins

Scouts from Premiership clubs have been watching Jordan Cousins in the past few weeks. Hull City and West Bromwich Albion are clubs considering making a move for him in the January transfer window.

Charlton keeper Nick Pope made his debut for York City yesterday in their 1-1 draw against Southend. The Football League Paper gave him a score of 7, noting 'Looked very solid between the sticks and confidently claimed a number of crosses.'

Saturday 23 November 2013

Addicks lose to Super Hoops

A solitary goal from Charlie Austin gave Queens Park Rangers a 1-0 win over the Addicks this afternoon. Austin struck five minutes before half-time, finding the corner of the net with a 30-yard shot. Defeat leaves Charlton just one place above the relegation zone.

Hoops boss 'arry Redknapp, celebrating 30 years in management - the club produced a special-edition matchday programme to mark the occasion - saw his team struggle to create clear-cut chances before Austin emphatically broke the deadlock. They had plenty of possession early on, with Niko Kranjcar firing over the Charlton bar before Ben Hamer saved low shots from Austin and Gary O'Neil. Hamer also dived to his right to keep out Matt Phillips' 20-yard effort just after the half-hour mark.

The Addicks rarely threatened, although award winning midfielder Jordan Cousins tested Hoops keeper Rob Green with a long-range effort shortly before Austin's goal sent the home side in ahead at the break. With his team looking unlikely to find an equaliser, Charlton boss Chris Powell made a double substitution 13 minutes into the second half, sending Yann Kermorgant and Callum Harriott on in place of Simon Church and Bradley Pritchard. But Rangers continued to dominate and the impressive Hamer tipped away a free-kick from Joey Barton before seeing O'Neil's deflected shot bounce harmlessly wide.

Hamer was also down quickly to stop Wright-Phillips' attempt from just outside the penalty area as Powell's men were forced to defend in numbers. Austin fluffed a late chance to score a second, miscuing from 15 yards out following good work by substitute Andy Johnson. Johnnie Jackson's wayward free-kick two minutes from time summed up a frustrating afternoon for Charlton. QPR would have doubled their lead in injury time had O'Neil not missed a decent opportunity before Wright-Phillips came within inches of scoring.

Friday 22 November 2013

Jordan Cousins wins award

Congratulations to Jordan Cousins on being named Football League young Player of the Month for October. There is an interview with him and Chris Powell here: Cousins

£18m price tag for club

A price of £18 million has been agreed between Charlton's current board and the property company which is set to buy the club, reveals the South London Press. The prospective new owners, whose identity has not yet been revealed, are also thought to be ready to take on the club's £4million bank debts, plus £7m owed to former directors when the Addicks return to the Premier League. This is a much more realistic figure than the £40m+ that has been talked about before.

The SLP states, 'There has also been little opposition to a move the Greenwich Peninsula in the long run - as long as other aspects of the club's identity are not changed. [My view is that there has not been time for such opposition to develop]. Some fans have, though expressed anger that a move could be suggested after the Return to The Valley campaign brought, the club back to its original home in 1992.' [Which in my view is fit for purpose].

The Valley board has in the past produced an appraisal that it could deliver a "40,000-seat stadium on the Morden Wharf site on the Greenwich peninsula at no cost. That would mean making housing a part of the development on the 19 acre site. But crucially The Valley plot could satisfy the council's requirement that a portion of any new development be composed of social housing. [Not a cheap or easy site to develop in my view, but perhaps the West Stand offices and hospitality suites could be converted into apartments].

The wharf site, next to the O2 Arena and with 500m of river frontage, is currently owned by Morden College, a Blackheath-based company which runs homes for the elderly - but the lease is held by developers Cathedral.The Council's Peninsula West Master plan envisages turning the area into London's premier entertainment zone by "focusing regeneration around multi-purpose sports, entertainment and education facilities".

Thursday 21 November 2013

Addicks interested in loan deal for United defender

Charlton are interested in a loan deal for Manchester United defender and Under 21 international Michael Keane, but they also have other targets in mind: Loan deals

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Charlton takeover close

Charlton Athletic are close to takeover by a British property company, reports the South London Press. The sum involved will not be disclosed. Apparently they were attracted by the low level of debt associated with the club which was a surprise to me: Takeover

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Sunderland renew interest in Poyet

Sunderland have renewed their interest in Diego Poyet and there is talk of a £500,000 bid in the January transfer window. However, Chris Powell is more sceptical about the strength of this interest. According to Richard Cawley of the SLP, Powell has said, 'I know Gus and if he wanted something he would give me a call.' In any case Sir Chris would like to keep the holding midfielder at The Valley as a first team prospect. The player is, however, getting frustrated at a lack of action and may be loaned out: Poyet

Dowie's son in Twitter row

Iain Dowie's son Oliver has been in a row on Twitter with comedian James Buckley after the latter had called Dowie Snr. 'a tried and tested failure': Dowie

It looks as if Dowie might be back in the frame as Palace have been unable to meet Dan Petrescu's wage demands of £30,000 a week: Petrescu

Monday 18 November 2013

Movement in and out expected

Movement in and out of the Addicks squad is expected before next Thursday's emergency loan deadline. Danny Green is one player who may go out on loan while Jordan Cook is another candidate. Chris Powell also has to consider his striking options with Yann Kermorgant troubled by a persistent injury. Will this mean a revival of Obika speculation? More here: Loans

On the staff side, the Head of Communications post has now been advertised: Comms

An appraisal of Alan Curbishley

The failure of Alan Curbishley to return to football as a manager is appraised in an interesting article here: Curbs

Mind you, I do think we had some better results against top sides than this article allows.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Powell wants to sign new contract.

Chris Powell wants to sign a new contract at Charlton. His contract expires at the end of the season and he feels that the uncertainty is unsettling players and staff: Powell

Super Hoops in financial morass

Next Saturday's opponents Queens Park Rangers are in a financial morass that make our problems look trivial. With many players, some of them quite useless, on contracts of up to £100,000 a week, they could make losses of £80m in 2012-13. That would then lead to a fine of over £60m under financial fair play arrangements which could wipe out their additional Premier League income: Super Hoops

The CASC Trust's efforts to get The Valley declared an Asset of Community Value appear to have run into some difficulty in the sense that Greenwich Council are taking much longer than the stipulated time to reach a decision. This could just be inefficiency on the part of the Royal Borough, which would not be unknown, but one could speculate that there is opposition in some quarters. Read more here: CAS Trust

Thursday 14 November 2013

Dowie in Palace talks

Iain Dowie has been interviewed for the vacant managerial job at Crystal Palace. He is understood to be keen on a return to Selhurst: Dowie

It might be said that Palace and Dowie deserve each other.

Monday 11 November 2013

The question of the pitch

Charlton Live calculated last night that it would take fans holding up 4,212 umbrellas to protect the pitch. It is, of course, rather embarrassing to have one match abandoned and another delayed, albeit it we are at the foot of a steep hill.

The Dome cover we had in the Premiership days has gone as has The Whale/ Blotter. All The Valley has for protection is frost covers. It is being claimed that the pitch budget has been reduced over the last four seasons with particularly heavy cuts over the last two years.

The pitch has the top taken off it and re -seeded every season but it is thought that with the reduced budget they can only afford to take off the bare minimum whereas Premiership days they would dig deep and take all the silt etc. out. Hence, the pitch does not drain as well as it used to.

Apparently there has also been some concrete filling done outside the stadium on the north side, which seems to have impacted on the drainage of the playing surface, particularly on the East Stand side.

Sunday 10 November 2013

We were hard done by

I wasn't anticipating a win against Leeds United yesterday, but I was left with a sense of grievance about the way in which were defeated. We played some good football, but decisions by the referee and two grievous errors by Hamer left us defeated 2-4. Kenny also made two excellent saves.

When I saw water being swept from the underpass at London Bridge, I realised that there had been a lot of rain and fans on the platform were talking about a pitch inspection. The start of the game was postponed by half an hour and the pitch certainly looked very wet and splashed up water. The match at Park View Road seems to have started without difficulty. Admittedly, we are at the bottom of a steep hill, but it does seem that the drainage needs attention.

An early effort by Harriott was not far wide. Harriott then burst through and put in another effort which was not far wide. Charlton then won a corner which was unproductive. Then Lees thumped a pass from the halfway line, Blackstock outwitted Morrison and McCormack brought Charlton's run of clean sheets to an end.

We had a penalty call which was at least as justified as the one given at the start of the second half. Wootton for Leeds kept falling over and breaking up the momentum of the game. Stewart won Charlton a promising free kick. Stephens over hit the free kick, possibly because he was going for glory. Morrison's momentum carried him forward and he was given a yellow card for a foul on Michael Brown. Greeted by shouts of 'cheat', the charm merchant laughed at the East Stand crowd.

Simon Church put in a stunning run down the wing, but ultimately it was unproductive. The referee finally got fed up with Kenny's time wasting tactics and gave him a yellow card. This was greeted with sarcastic applause by the keeper.

Church put in a great volley, but Kenny made an excellent save. Blackstock received a yellow card after he kicked the ball away. Charlton won a corner. Stewart scored with a volley on the stroke of half time after Leeds half cleared to the edge of the box.

Half time: 1-1

I felt that just before half time we were developing momentum and really putting some pressure on Leeds, but the break gave them the chance to regroup. The hapless Wootton was replaced by Zaliukas. In the first minute of the second half the decisive blow came. Callum Harriott felled Danny Pugh and McCormack drove the ball into the roof of the net.

Kenny had to tip the ball over from Harriott. From a subsequent corner, Dervitte put the ball over when he had a chance to score. Hamer managed to put a free kick out of play. Harriott was taken off and replaced by Kermorgant. Excellent work from Church set up Jackson who made no mistake in equalising. Three minutes later McCormack scored his third after Hamer failed to act decisively. Blackstock was replaced by the giant Smith. Chris Powell made a double substitution, taking off Stewart and Wilson and bringing on Sordell and Pritchard. In injury time McCormack got his fourth, swinging a free kick inside the far post.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Lawrie Wilson who was involved all the time and made some excellent runs. Hamer trudged off the pitch on his own at the end of the game and well he might. Especially in wet conditions, you have to command your area and go for the ball. His kicking out was also poor. Morrison was always active, and although his distribution is not always great, I would not fault his performance. Dervitte was less involved and missed one chance to score, but generally he was competent. Wiggins showed some real skill in advancing the ball. Stephens did not maintain his recent improvement and his free kicks disappointed. Cousins was solid without really sparkling. Harriott did an excellent job on the wing had a number of attempts on goal. Stewart did not start well, over hitting the ball, but his equalising goal was excellent. Jackson played his part, although he was tiring towards the end. His goal was a relatively easy one to score, but it is still possible to mess them up and he didn't. Church did excellent work for the assist for Jackson's goal. He may not score many goals, but he plays his part. Kermorgant still looked far from fit when he came on and did not really contribute. Pritchard tried to be busy as always, but did not add much. Sordell added less.

Rescue Cat Reg had no hesitation in awarding the Hiss of the Match to vertically challenged referee Kevin Stroud.

Friday 8 November 2013

'Going to places like Charlton'

The need at Leeds United is for consistency of performance and, in particular, an ability to 'go to places like Charlton and pick up points': Leeds United

Charlton have certainly been consistent in recent matches: consistent in keeping a clean sheet, and consistent in failing to score goals in the absence of Yann Kermorgant who is 32 today. In the form table, Leeds are one place above Charlton in 7th. In the real table, they are 8th and Charlton are 17th with a gap of six points. Away from home, Leeds have won two, lost one and drawn four.

Four Four Two had Leeds finishing 3rd this season, but there is really no sign of that form yet. Having suffered the depredations of Ken Bates, the Bahrain-based International Investment Bank have not really come up with the goods. A city with the football history, size and dynamism of Leeds really ought to be in the top flight, but it is now ten years since they came down.

In their 2-0 home win against Yeovil last week, Ross McCormack, now with eight goals to his credit, was the key difference between the two sides. He provided two clinical finishes with Rodolph Austin, the driving force in midfield, setting up both goals. However, the Football League Paper gave Matt Smith a score of 4 and reckoned that the 'Big striker looked totally one dimensional and missed a great first half chance.' He was replaced by Blackstock on 57 minutes.

At right wing-back Lee Peliter did well as he replaced 19-year old starlet Sam Byram. Scott Wootton 'marshalled the defence well and kept the side organised at the back.' Paddy Kenny in goal 'looked shaky when dealing with high balls but otherwise sound.' Although performances have been inconsistent, this is not a team with any weak links.

It's undoubtedly going to be a competitive game tomorrow and when the odds appear I would expect Leeds to be favourites. In fact, they indicate a game that could go one of three ways: (Coral) Charlton 6/4, Draw 23/10, Leeds 7/4. Leeds fans seem to be expecting a 2-1 win, which is what I expect myself, but it does imply that the Charlton defence will crack: Predictions

Chris Powell has missed out on being manager of the month which is probably just as well, given the curse associated with that award. However, it was nice to see him nominated.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Jackson confident about Leeds game

Charlton skipper Johnnie Jackson is confident about Saturday's game against Leeds. He appreciates that there have been a lack of goals, but thinks those are coming: Jackson

This piece recalls a Charlton victory against Spurs when their manager evaded the curse of Charlton by resigning before the game: Spurs

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Richard Rufus declared bankrupt

Former Charlton Athletic footballer Richard Rufus, who later began a career as a 'financial consultant', has been declared bankrupt. Rufus, who played almost 300 games for Charlton in ten years with the club, was officially declared bankrupt at Croydon County Court on 22 October under his full name, Richard Raymond Rufus.

He is listed as inactive in the financial services register, having had a CF30 customer controlled function at Surrey-based stockbroker SI Capital between June 2009 and February 2011.

Rufus had previously entered into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement in November 2011, after a bankruptcy petition was served by the FSA. He had reportedly incorporated Monopoly Trading and Investments in January 2005 and became a director in the firm. The firm, which dissolved in September 2013, undertook 'activities auxiliary to financial services, except insurance and pension funding.' In his bankruptcy report, Rufus is listed as a 'financial consultant'.

This is a very sad day for one of our greatest players of recent times. My wife was his kit sponsor for several years and we have a number of signed shirts.

It is not easy for footballers to build careers after they leave the game. Only so many can be absorbed into football, even as non-league managers or academy coaches. Each week the Football League Paper runs are 'where are they now' feature about a particular team that did well in one year and invariably every week at least one player is now a postman. But at least it gives you a steady income.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Auction of Colin Cameron memorabilia

Collections of Charlton memorabilia from the estate of the late Colin Cameron are being auctioned at Sotheby's today by sports specialist Graham Budd. The catalogue is online with good quality illustrations of the programmes on offer. The Cameron lots can be found on pp.189-94: Colin Cameron.

Twelve Charlton Athletic programmes from the 1929-30 season have a guide price of £1,400-£1,800. The programme was then black print on a dark red background. Later programmes had a stylised sketch on the cover and there are a number of examples from the 1930s, as well as one from a friendly versus Partick Thistle in 1939, accompanied by one for a Subsidiary Competition fixture against Chelsea in February 1940.

An official photograph of the team in 1907-0 with the Lewisham league and Woolwich League trophies is billed as one of the earliest original photographs of the club and is expected to fetch £400 to £600. It is believed that the total raised was around £16,000.

It is unfortunate that some of these items could not be obtained from the new Charlton museum, but the funding is not really available yet. However, it is understood that a wealthy Charlton fan purchased some of the items to secure them for the club.

Hong Kong billionaire completes Peninsula buy out

Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-Shun has completed his acquisition of the Greenwich Peninsula scheme. He bought a 60 per cent stake from Quintain last year through his Knight Dragon group and has now bought the remaining 40 per cent. A Charlton fan argues in his blog that Knight Dragon have taken a more aggressive stance towards development on the peninsula since they arrived on the scene: Knight Dragon

Mr Kar-Shun has no known interest in football and none of the news reports make any reference to a stadium project envisaged for the industrial western side of the peninsula. However, with the site now in the ownership of one person, one wonders if interest in a possible stadium project will revive.

An interesting review of the stadium proposal and its possible implications for Charlton is to be found here: Stadium

Saturday 2 November 2013

Three points for Charlton

Charlton beat Birmingham 1-0 for the first time since 2005/6 in a determined performance this afternoon. 7 hours 27 minutes without conceding. Charlton are 17th, one place above Millwall.

As the Charlton team came on to the pitch, the 855 Addickted in a crowd of 14.070 burst into a chorus of Valley Floyd Road at St. Andrews this afternoon. It was a cold and windy day. Johnnie Jackson was in the starting line up and Dorian Dervitte replaced the injured Richard Wood. It was a 4-5-1 line up with Church on his own up front. Lennon was on the bench.

Stewart floated an early ball in, but Jackson’s header was saved by former Addick Randolph in the Birmingham goal. Wilson defended well as Gray threatened at the expense of a corner. Hamer collected from the corner. Dervitte cut out a cross from Novak.

Jackson took a corner for Charlton, but Randolph was able to claim the ball. A rather dubious corner was given to Birmingham. Burn put the ball in the net, but there was a push on Hamer and it was disallowed.

Charlton won a free kick right on the edge of the area after Pritchard was brought down. Unfortunately, Jackson’s free kick went over the top.

Jackson put in a good ball, but Church needed to hit it first time and he was dispossessed. Cousins put in a great tackle on Burke. Church gave the ball to Jackson who hit with his left foot but it went wide. Chris Powell was urging his players up the pitch as they were defending too deep. However, they were creating more than Birmingham.

Hamer had to make a great save diving to his right from Novak. Two minutes were added on. Michael Morrison made a good stop.

Neither side had been able to keep possession for any length of time, but Dale Stephens had been creative.

Half time: Blues 0, Addicks 0

Jordan Cousins headed a Birmingham free kick clear. Novak went down far too easily for a free kick. Church tried to break away, but didn’t have the pace to get away from the defender. Simon Church was clattered and had problems with his right ankle. After great work by Stewart, Randolph parried his shot, the ball was bouncing around in the box and Dale Stephens scored from close range to make it 0-1.

Adeyemi shot but it was blocked on the line by Morrison. The Blues made a double substitution with the youthful Gray replaced by Ferguson and Novak replaced by Levenkrands. Simon Church seemed to have recovered.

Wilson was brought down on the edge of the box but nothing was given. An effort by Stephens went over the bar. Church was fouled right in front of the referee’s assistant, but nothing was given.

Wiggins, back to his best, defended well. Church won Charlton a corner which was headed clear. In the final minute of normal time, Birmingham had a chance but Levenkrands put the ball over.

Jackson was taken off to warm applause from the Addickted and replaced by Cook. Three minutes were added on. Jordan Cousins cleared the ball. Morrison headed the ball clear. Hamer was brave and dealt well with the threat.

Friday 1 November 2013

'Must win' match for Blues

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark has declared that tomorrow's match against Charlton is a 'must win' game for his side. He concedes that Charlton are 'very solid' and very strong defensively: Blues

Blues have been hampered by financial problems. Their majority shareholder and one time celebrity hairdresser, Carson Yeung, has just been standing trial in Hong Kong for money laundering. There will not be a verdict until next year and in the meantime the club is in limbo. Rumours of takeovers have come to nothing and it may be that prospective purchasers hope that the club will go into administration, ensuring a reduced price.

Scottish winger Chris Burke returns to contention for Birmingham. Striker Jesse Lingard and left-back David Murphy (both knee injuries) are not yet ready to return, while new signing Dariusz Dudka needs to build up his match fitness. Yann Kermorgant and Richard Wood are injury doubts for Charlton. Kermorgant landed on his ankle against Wigan, while defender Wood is struggling to overcome a dead leg.

It's certainly a six pointer for both clubs, but the outcome may well be one point each. Last season the game ended in a 1-1 draw and another stalemate is certainly a possibility. Odds are: Birmingham 11/8; draw 9/4; Charlton 2/1.