Wednesday 30 April 2014

We are staying up!

That was the chant of Charlton fans after the Addicks secured an emphatic 3-1 victory over Watford at The Valley last night through two goals from Callum Harriott and one from captain Johnnie Jackson to secure Championship survival.

Early on, Hamer had to slide out to block Deeney after a long ball caught out the defence. Harriott had fired over an early chance from eight yards, although it probably took a deflection. Jonathan Bond, the youthful Hornets keeper, palmed away a Jackson header before Harriott opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, gathering a pass from Jordan Cousins out on the left before hitting a 20-yard drive across keeper Jonathan Bond and into the far corner. Harriott had a swarm of Hornet defenders around him but persevered to put the ball in the net. Sceptics said that he would not have scored with Almunia in the Watford goal, but Almunia wasn't there and Harriott did score, so I am not too bothered about that 'what if' scenario. It was a powerful low drive from the 20 year old.

Hamer had to deflect a Bekalem header from a corner on to the bar. The charm merchant was lucky to still be on the pitch at half time after he had floored Wilson with an elbow.

A patched-up Watford side, struggling with injuries and suspension, drew level after the break when Deeney smashed in his 24th goal of the season with a spectacular volley which left Hamer with no chance. This move started when the referee failed to notice a blatant handball against Charlton. Two Watford fans managed to get out of the Jimmy Seed stand and were ejected. The Hornet fans were noisy all evening, even chanting on the way to the station as they celebrated their mid-table finish.

But 10 minutes later Charlton were back in front when Jackson took Morgan Fox's left-wing cross on his chest - and although the midfielder's initial effort was blocked by keeper Bond, he managed to nudge in the rebound, a typical Jackson effort, just when it was needed. Seven minutes later, Harriott volleyed in his second goal, the best goal of the evening, a great effort along the ground.

Charm merchant Riera had been engaged in a tussle with Lawrie Wilson all evening and a foul on Poyet led to a red card, but he was very reluctant to leave the pitch, arguing with the referee. There was quite a lot of cynical fouling by Watford with substitute Ranegie fouling Solly more than once, but it was not noticed by the officials who seemed a bit out of their depth.

Watford got the ball in the net in time added on, but it was disallowed.

Watford manager Beppe Sannino said before the match that all his players were 'under exam' in this match, but it was the Charlton players who passed with flying colours. Addicks fans going to Blackpool on Saturday can now enjoy a day by the seaside.

What the fate of José Riga will be remains uncertain, but he has done a decent job for us and deserves our thanks. I think that he has got the team playing better with less hoofing of the ball and more precision passing. Roland's message in the programme was singularly uninformative, simply repeating what he has said before.

My luck held when after the train from Charlton was delayed by 'disruptive passengers', I managed to just catch the last northbound Bakerloo Line train with a sprint down the long corridor at Charing Cross.

Sadly someone in the East Stand required urgent medical attention for a heart attack and the concourse had to be closed at half time while efforts at resuscitation continued. Quick instinctive action by an off duty fireman helped him initially and I understand that he is now in intensive care. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Player ratings

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Callum Harriott. A lot of the Watford shots went high and wide, but when he was called into action Hamer did well. However, I wish he wouldn't keep blaming his defenders. Morrison was solid, except when a header put Charlton into trouble when he should have headed back to Hamer. Dervite played well, once again getting the ball out of defence effectively. Solly had another good game and received warm applause on his late substitution. Fox once again showed what an accomplished youngster he is. Jackson played his part well. Cousins got muscled out on occasions. Wilson was the target of cynical fouling which is a kind of tribute to the threat he poses. Poyet was targeted for fouling, but once again showed his sublime skill. Unfortunately, I do not think I will see him playing for Charlton again. Sordell tried hard, but was often the lone man up front surrounded by three defenders. He got warm applause when he was substituted. Obika livened things up and contributed to the Harriott goal. Piggott put himself about in the short time he was on. Hughes got a cameo to say goodbye to the Valley pitch as a first team member (no doubt he will have a continuing role at the club) but got a harsh yellow card for his trouble.

Rescue Cat Reg has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the obnoxious Riera who is on loan from Galatasary.

Rick Everitt gives his appraisal of last week's game and a surprisingly generous tribute to José Riga here: Rick from Ramsgate. But then the Rickster was forecasting relegation earlier in the season.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Interest in Wiggins

Richard Cawley of the SLP has reported that there is transfer interest in currently injured left back Rhoys Wiggins, particularly from Bolton Wanderers. Wiggins has a buy out clause in his contract in the event of relegation.

Morgan Fox is shaping up well at left back, but Wiggins has a great ability to get forward and penetrate opposition defences which is something we need.

Will Hornets have a sting?

Charlton badly need a win or at the very least a point against Watford at The Valley tonight. The Hornets are currently 13th in the table and 12th in the form table. The match is meaningless to them, but in the same situation we would go out and try to play and we would expect Watford to do so if they were away at Millwall.

Watford's away record in terms of wins is actually worse than ours, four against five, but they have secured more draws (ten against six). They have also scored a lot of goals away from hone, 34, which is more than Burnley. No doubt top scorer Troy Deeney played a part there with 23 goals to his credit this season.

Our record against the Hornets is not good. Charlton have won only one of the last 10 meetings in all competitions, drawing five and losing four. Their only win since 1996 was 4-3 at Vicarage Road in the Championship last season. Watford are unbeaten in the last four meetings at The Valley, winning the last two. Charlton's last home win was 2-1 in the old Division One in August 1995.

I hope that Chris Solly is able to play, and if he is, I would want to see Lawrie Wilson in front of him.

Odds are: Charlton 5/4; Draw, 12/5; Watford, 21/10.

Despite tube strike disruption, I plan to be there (goodness knows when I will get home). Come on you Reds!

Monday 28 April 2014

Pope gets manager's blessing

York City have kept fourteen clean sheets in their last sixteen games and a lot of the credit goes to Charlton loan keeper Nick Pope. The Minstermen have enjoyed a revival which has put them in the play off places after Pope arrived in the nick of time in January.

Manager Nigel Worthington commented, 'Nick's been an absolute revelation to us. At 22 he's barely started his career, but his performances for such a young man have been exceptional, really authoritative. That's a big part of why we crossed that fine line of turning draws into wins.'

Could Pope take over in the Championship next season if Hamer leaves? Probably not, although he would arguably be up to League 1 standard if the Addicks were relegated. But would he want to be No.2 to Hamer or a new keeper?

Sunday 27 April 2014

Not the best of days

Not only did Charlton lose 1-3 at home to Blackburn, but signalling problems at Watford (a bad omen?) meant that I didn't get home until 9.30 p.m., hence no report last night. The various permutations of our fate are now difficult to work out. It really depends on whether Doncaster can secure a point away at Leicester and whether we can get a point from our last two games. It might be possible to lose both to Watford and at Blackpool and survive, but really we need at least a point on Tuesday evening.

Up until Blackburn's first goal, I thought that we were playing quite well and at least holding our own, although across the match as a whole we tended to be out muscled. I thought that Hamer could have done better to stop the ball going between the post and his hand. We then had a chance to get back in the game through the penalty. There was some confusion about who was going to take it, in part I think because Paul Robinson saved one from Jacko last year. Marvin Sordell stepped up and sent the ball down the middle, which would work with your average keeper who tends to dive to left or right, but not with a former England keeper. It wasn't a great penalty, but it was also a good save.

In the second half the first of two goals from headers went in, then Sordell gave us some hope with what was a good goal. However, when Blackburn's second goal went in, we had a mountain to climb and the players looked increasingly demoralised and tired.

I also thought that throughout the games we wasted our set pieces. Our corners never led to scoring opportunities and our free kicks never threatened. More later.

Match analysis

Once again Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Diego Poyet. It wasn't his best performance, but he used the ball wisely and was active in defence and in setting up attacks. Understandably enough, he is waiting until the end of the season before deciding whether to commit to Charlton. Hamer could not have done anything about two of the goals, but was often too slow and hesitant in kicking the ball out. Fortunately I rarely dream at Charlton, but last night I dreamt that he had kicked the ball out of touch, a realistic enough dream. He made one excellent save from a point blank header from Gestede on 92 minutes. Morrison found the Rovers forward line a handful, but dealt well with Gesteede. Dervite brought the ball out of defence well to start attacks. On 21 minutes he dealt with Olsson's teasing cross well, clearing it to safety. He also cleared a strike from Rhodes off the line, but Cairney was then able to convert. He must be signed up for next season. Fox was constrained by a rather harsh yellow card, but his quick throw in provided the assist for the goal. Solly played well, but was tested by Craig Conway. Cousins was uncomfortable out of position but provided a good pass in the build up to the penalty. Harriott was quite lively and useful and I was surprised that José Riga substituted him, even if there were instances of poor decision-making. Ajdarevic put one good shot in on goal, but seemed uncertain where to position himself. He is not as good as he thinks he is. Jackson tried hard, but not always to great effect. Sordell, now our leading scorer, put in a determined and energetic performance. Reza is too selfish with the ball, he needs to pass to others. Church was energetic and relatively ineffective as always. Petrucci made no perceptible difference.

The officials had a good game, so Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to Network Rail for delaying his evening meal.

Friday 25 April 2014

'Must win' fixture for Blackburn

If they are to sneak into the play offs, where they are three points behind Reading, tomorrow's fixture at The Valley is a 'must win' game for Blackburn Rovers. However, they have been beset with inconsistency all season which reflects the challenge of rebuilding with a young squad: Rovers

Blackburn are currently 2nd in the form table while Charlton are 16th. This reflects a good run of away form for Rovers who have been unbeaten in their last five away games.

Charlton have, however, started to find the back of the net. One can speculate about the reasons for Marvin Sordell's recovery of form. I would agree with those who say he is not a very good player, but I am quite happy if he starts scoring for us at this stage of the season. Fans from Charlton and Bolton were engaging in mutual appreciation of the player on the way back from the Bolton gave as they formed a Marvin Sordell fan club.

If Charlton could win tomorrow, they would be as good as safe. Even a draw would be helpful, given the games that teams around us have. Reading will want to win at Doncaster to sustain their play off challenge and it is difficult to see Barnsley winning at Boro or Blackpool at Wigan. QPR versus Millwall could be a draw as could Birmingham versus Leeds.

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

The final Voice of the Valley of the season will be on sale around the ground: Voice of the Valley

Thursday 24 April 2014

New pitch application

The club has made an application to Greenwich Council to install a new pitch which would have under soil heating. 3G appears to be being considered, but this may be just for the pitch surrounds as it cannot currently be used for the playing surface. However, it is likely to be approved by the football authorities in the longer run.

The full application is here: Pitch

This is a welcome sign of investment by the new regime.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Charlton fan runs for mayor

No.1 Charlton fan Jonathan Acworth has declared his candidacy for Mayor of London - if he can find enough mugs to stump up for his deposit. Others have suggested a fund to send him to a deserted island.

Acworth was last heard of asking for a 'high up' job in the club after his claimed role in brokering the takeover, but no one has seen him in the floodlights yet.

Monday 21 April 2014

Sordell hat trick secures vital win for Charlton

A hat trick from the much criticised Marvin Sordell gave Charlton a 3-2 victory at Sheffield Wednesday today and put them in 18th place at the top of the Championship Relegation League given generally favourable results elsewhere. Sordell had previously only scored four goals this season.

Wednesday's Atdhe Nuhiu put the Owls ahead after two minutes and Chris Maguire added a second from Nuhiu's pass five minutes later. But Sordell finished from Callum Harriott's cross in the 10th minute and equalised two minutes before the break.

The Addicks got off to a poor start in the third minute when Nuhiu volleyed in from a tight angle from Miguel Llera's cross. The hosts doubled their advantage when Nuhiu broke down the right and crossed for Maguire to curl in from the edge of the area. But Sordell pulled one back soon after when he made the most of defensive hesitancy from the Owls to guide a shot into the bottom corner.

Sordell pulled the Addicks level just before half-time when he latched on to Harriott's pass and beat Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.

After the break, Sordell continued to cause Wednesday’s defence problems, shooting wide from distance before forcing Kirkland into a smart save at his near post after shrugging off Oguchi Onyewu’s tackle. Wednesday failed to heed those warnings as Sordell completed his hat-trick and a remarkable turnaround in the 63rd minute. He intercepted Nuhiu’s sloppy back pass, broke between two Owls defenders and dribbled forward at pace before coolly stroking in a right foot effort.

Interesting to note that five of the players who started for Charlton had come through the Academy.

Another challenge on the road

Charlton's punishing schedule continues with another tough away game at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon. The Owls won 4-2 at Bournemouth on Saturday. Their home record is rather mixed, having won nine, drawn four and lost eight. However, they can score goals, 36 at home, compared with Charlton's away tally of 14. They are currently 13th in the form table with Charlton at 16th.

The game at The Valley in December ended in a 1-1 draw. Charlton then won 2-1 at Hillsborough in the FA Cup in February - their only win in the last four meetings in all competitions. However, the Addicks have won two of the last three meetings at Hillsborough in all competitions, losing one.

Blackpool are away at Brighton and Barnsley are at Derby, encounters at which they are unlikely to secure any points. There are three teams one point ahead of Charlton, and two of them, Millwall and Doncaster are playing each other. If Charlton won, Birmingham failed to beat Blackburn and Millwall and Doncaster drew, the Addicks could overtake all three. The permutations are quite complex to calculate if Charlton draw. However, the most likely scenario is that Charlton will remain in 21st place this evening.

The scale of the task is shown by the odds: Wednesday, 21/20, draw 12/5, Charlton 5/2.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Fox up for Massive challenge

Morgan Fox made his first team debut for Charlton in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday in February. He told today's Football League Paper 'Wednesday were physical when we played them and it turned into a bit of a dog fight in the end and we scrapped the win. We have got to stay confident, everyone is fine and we all feel we are good enough to stay in the league.'

'José Riga says play with no fear, and the pressure is off because I and the rest of the boys all trust in you. It is the chance I have been waiting for. I didn't expect to be in the team before the end of the season as Rhoys has been playing well. I have great memories from my previous game [at Hillsborough] so I am looking forward to it.'

Friday 18 April 2014

A useful point?

Charlton drew 0-0 with Bolton at The Valley this afternoon to secure what might have been a useful point if they had beaten Barnsley on Tuesday. As it is, they have gone ahead of Blackpool on goal difference. The Seasiders lost 0-1 at home to Burnley and sound as if they are in free fall. Their assistant coach was sent to the stands after he shoved a substitute in the face as he was about to go on the pitch and fans halted the match by throwing hundreds of tennis balls on the pitch in protest at owner Karl Oyston.

By contrast at Charlton fans got behind the 'sea of red' day. I paid the price for wearing an old CASC top by being stopped by someone at London Bridge with a question about the CAS Trust. Director Katrien Meire came on to the pitch before the game to address fans and was listened to respectfully and was politely applauded, although in the excitement she almost left her capacious handbag by the dugout.

In the first half I felt that we were giving Bolton too much space to attack, especially down their right. Our own efforts to score were way off target. We started to get on target more in the second half, but the key moment was when Church took the ball off the keeper and appeared to be ready to score when the keeper brought him down with his leg. However, the portly referee did not award a penalty and his linesman rubbed it in by repeatedly shaking his head in front of the East Stand.

Astrit Ajdarevic, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Simon Church and Johnnie Jackson all squandered first-half opportunities. David Wheater volleyed over for Bolton and Matt Mills had a header cleared off the line for the visitors. Ajdarevic fired wide and keeper Adam Bogdan did well to block Ghoochannejhad from having a shot. Church also missed a header and Ajdarevic, Ghoochannejhad and Jackson all failed with poor efforts.

Wheater and Mills had chances for Bolton either side of half-time, with Diego Poyet clearing the latter's effort on the goalline. It took 63 minutes for Charlton to have a shot on target, with Bogdan saving Ghoochannejhad's weak shot, and moments later the keeper had to make his second save, this time from Church. Ajdarevic had another effort saved and Jordan Cousins, Jon Obika and Michael Morrison all missed the target. The Addicks would have been made to really pay had Danns done better after Bolton charged down the pitch to find space in front of goal but he scooped his effort over the bar.

Once again we played some neat football, but failed to find the back of the net.

Match analysis

There were a number of strong contenders for the Silver Bone but Ivy the Terrible finally awarded it to Michael Morrison. It was good to see him back and he was strong when he needed to be. Hamer did not have a lot to do, although he did dither unnecessarily once or twice. Dervite was very solid, although one or two attempted passes were poor. Fox had an excellent debut at The Valley, dealing with his opposite number well, making himself available and putting in some good crosses. Wilson got forward well and put in some good passes. One Addick commented rather cruelly that watching Jackson was like seeing a family pet at the end of his life. He did try his best, but he is slowing down markedly. Cousins is knackered, having played too many games at his age at this level. It showed, for example by giving away an unnecessary free kick in a dangerous position. But he did make some good contributions. Poyet once again displayed his natural talents. Astrit is clearly affected by his chest infection, but put in a good shift and was warmly applauded when he was substituted. Reza is disappointing in terms of speed and reaction for someone who is an international player. Church was very involved and was unlucky not to win a penalty. Green seemed to be peeing in the dugout before he came on. He was completely clueless, wandering out of position and making no real contribution. Obika changed very little when he came on. Hughes is often a substitute, but rarely makes it on to the pitch. This was one of the exceptions and he was brought on to shore up the defence and hang on to the point.

Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to the East Stand linesman who displayed some poor decision-making. The referee was also reluctant to notice pushes in the back.

Some of that old black magic

Charlton face an in form Bolton at The Valley today as they continue their struggle against relegation. The Trotters, as they were once known, are currently 2nd in the form table and have secured a comfortable mid-table position having been in danger of being drawn into the relegation places earlier in the season.

Something special is going to be needed and one helpful suggestion has come from a supporter in Nairobi: 'I'm a Charlton fc supporter in Nairobi kenya. I'm very concerned about the position of the club in the tables where we are at risk of relegation. It's time we should offer to perform anything that can help rescue the club from this danger. I've got an idea here that I believe can help the club win all the remaining games and help survive although it will require the support of willing fans. I've organised with a local and famous traditional magician whose work is very powerful and has made wonders. He has accepted to perform a magic to the club but at a small fee. What do you think about this idea?'

Meanwhile, the club is trying to weave its own brand of magic by getting fans to wear red today. I have a big collection of shirts to choose from but may settle for an old CASC top.

With Yeovil away at Blackburn and Barnsley and Millwall not playing, this is our last game in hand and a chance to make some ground on relegation rivals. Bolton have won only one of the last six meetings between the two clubs in all competitions, drawing two and losing three. Their only win since 2006 was 2-0 at home in the Championship last season. Charlton have won the last three meetings at The Valley in all competitions, since Bolton's 1-0 win there in the Premier League in October 2005. However, it has to be said that the Addicks were putting out better sides in those games.

Odds are Charlton 17/10, Draw 9/4, Bolton 13/8.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Morrison may leave

The following report has been carried by Sky Sports.

Sky Sports understands Charlton face a battle to hang on to star defender Michael Morrison this summer. Morrison has been one of Charlton's shining lights this season and he is out of contract at the end of the season. Charlton are yet to tie down Morrison to a new deal and a number of clubs are monitoring his contract situation.

The 26-year-old is regarded as one of the best defenders outside the Premier League, having made over 300 league appearances already in his career. Morrison, who has only missed three league games since 2011, has played a key role in helping the club climb out of the bottom three in the Championship in recent weeks their last ten games.

Charlton are expected to offer Morrison a new deal, but they may struggle to match offers from elsewhere as his suitors look to lure him away from The Valley.

It's not over until the fat lady sings

So they say, but Charlton made the task of staying in the Championship by losing 1-2 at home to Barnsley in front of a crowd of 16,320. We have another chance to redeem ourselves against Bolton on Friday, but I am not holding my breath, as we have strikers that can't score and defenders that are prone to lapses of concentration that give the opposition the chance to score. As the BBC put it, 'The home side were dominant, but struggled again in front of goal.' Possession was 54-46 in our favour, but two of our seventeen (that many?) shots were on target, whereas for Barnsley four were on target out of nine attempts.

I must say that I was a bit worried when I heard the team selection. I would have played Wilson in front of Solly. Although Wood is competent, I would have retained Morrison who can help us to defend from set pieces and can be a nuisance to the opposition when we have them. However, I have been told that he had illness problems. Reza has his limitations, but I would have preferred him to Sordell up front.

I thought that the first half was even, although Barnsley started to edge it a bit before their goal. Shortly beforehand Harriott had fluffed a great chance to score. Barnsley then advanced through a series of throw ins, won a corner and scored from it. Only once this season have we come back to win when we have gone behind.

We started the second half in storming fashion as we searched for the equaliser, but poor communication between Dervite and Hamer gifted Barnsley a throw near the corner flag. From there they scored what looked an impossible shot which went in off the corner of the bar and the post.

The game was then effectively lost with Astrid scoring a late consolation, but not enough time or opportunity to make it 2-2. By this time we were down to ten men, having used all our substitutes and Rhoys Wiggins have been helped off. The word is that it is a broken bone in his foot, another blow, as he has been one of our better players.

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Jordan Cousins who had an excellent game and did try to get through on goal and put in a shot. He was unlucky not to win a foul late on. Hamer set up the chance for the second goal by dithering and then let the ball sail over his head, although admittedly it is difficult to defend a cross that turns into a fluke goal. Otherwise, he didn't have much to do. Dervite was involved in the mix up that led to the first goal. Wood was competent. Wiggins was one of our better players, his injury is a big blow. Solly looked as if he had never been away. Jackson worked hard, but his effort on goal did not succeed. Harriott had a great chance to score, but put the header wide. Some of his other contributions were poor and he was eventually substituted. To be fair to him, he can't play on the right and looked better on the left in the second half. Poyet was serenaded by the Covered End when he walked past them after his substitution. Once again signs of real class, although the odd error which reflects inexperience. Sordell once again showed that he is not much of a striker, he gets into good positions, but isn't decisive or quick enough. Obika has pace, but he needs to do more with what he creates. Reza showed some nice touches and it was his shot that rebounded for Astrid to score. However, he isn't physical enough to cope with a team like Barnsley. Even so, I would have preferred him to start rather than Sordell. Wilson added something when he came on. It would have been good to see Ajdarevic from the start, but he is not well enough. He took his goal well.

Rescue Cat Reg agrees that we can't blame the referee for our own failings, but he was inclined to not award a foul in Charlton's favour and then give a free kick a minute later to Barnsley for a similar offence. He also created an opportunity for Barnsley by playing the ball, but at least had the decency to blow up for a free kick from the resulting corner. Nevertheless, the Hiss of the Match goes to Iain Williamson. A supplementary one for the drunk who woke me on the train to say 'Up the Addicks.'

Tuesday 15 April 2014

More than a six pointer

A crucial game that could determine Charlton's fate takes place at The Valley tonight against bottom club Barnsley. Win their game in hand and the Addicks could breathe more easily in their relegation battle, moving ahead of Blackpool and Doncaster, and leaving them looking forward with confidence to the Good Friday game against Bolton. Lose and relegation to League 1 beckons. A draw would put them ahead of Blackpool could leave everything relying on the outcome of the last match of the season against the Tangerines.

Charlton are currently 11th in the form table and Barnsley are 16th. They have lost more games away from home than any team in the Championship, 13 in all, winning just three and drawing four.

The away fixture ended in a 2-2 draw at Oakwell in August. Charlton have won only one of the last eight meetings between the two clubs, drawing four and losing three. Their only win since 1999 was 6-0 at Oakwell last season. Barnsley are unbeaten in the last three meetings at The Valley, winning the last two. Charlton's last win at home was 3-1 in the old Division One in August 1999.

Chris Solly may make a start for Charlton, depending on whether he is judged to be fully fit. This would allow Lawrie Wilson to push forward more and use his creativity which we badly need. Even Diego Poyet seemed to below his usual standard in what was generally seen as a dire performance against Brighton, but Charlton always have difficulty with highly mobile sides that outwit them in counter attacks.

One fan is coming to a game for the first time since 2007. He had a row with his mates before a game in 2007 and left without going to the game. He bought a season ticket for the 2007-8 campaign and never used it! Let's hope his return is a lucky omen.

Odds are: Charlton 11/10, Draw 12/5, Barnsley 13/5

Saturday 12 April 2014

Wipe out at Brighton

Chris Solly was on the bench as Charlton faced Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium. The masked Wilson replaced Wood and Obika was left out altogether. The attendance was 28,670 with 1,869 Addickted.

Brighton tried early snap shots, but to little effect. They also tried balls over the top. Unfortunately, a terrible mistake by Poyet gave Lua Lua a free run on goal giving Ben Hamer no chance and putting Brighton 1-0 ahead on 12 minutes through Lingard. Hamer saved as LuaLua threatened again.

Charlton won their first corner after a mix up between Brighton defenders, but it was ineffective. The Addicks tried to keep up the pressure, but nothing came of it in the end. Poyet fed Sordell, but the tackle came in. Nevertheless, Charlton were having a go.

The crowd quietened as the match entered something of a lull on the 30 minute mark. The Brighton fans sang an uncomplimentary song about Palace and the Addickted joined in. Brighton won a corner after a shot deflected off Wiggins. Brighton kept up the pressure after the corner and Hamer had to read the chip well.

Dervite put in a great run and ball, but Sordell’s control was appalling. Brighton advanced, but Poyet won the ball. Jordan Cousins got past three men, but Reza hit the bar in the 42nd minute after a deflection. Brighton counter attacked, they were way offside but made it 2-0 through top scorer Ulloa.

HT: Seagulls 2, Addicks 0

Astrid was brought off for the second half and Harriott came on. The keeper dropped a cross from Harriott, but there was no one there to take advantage. A cross from Lingard was blocked by Dervite.

Ben Hamer read a long ball forward well and made the claim. Lua Lua put in a shot that went just wide after a deflection off Morrison leading to a corner take by Dale Stephens. Ben Hamer put the ball behind for a second corner. Hamer punched not too convincingly. The ball was provided for Lingard, but with only Hamer to beat he swept it over the bar.

Brighton won another corner after Lingard beat the offside trap. Morrison got his head to Lingard’s corner and Reza completed the clearance. Wilson conceded a corner. Ben Hamer deflected the ball away. Lua Lua was taken off by Brighton. Of more importance to the Addickted, Solly came on in place of Reza.

A Jackson free kick went out of play for a goal kick. Solly defended well for Charlton as the Seagulls threatened. Dervite conceded a free kick on the edge of the ‘D’. Hamer injured his shoulder when he defended the free kick. Jackson came off and Church came on.

Charlton won a late corner, but it was unproductive. Cousins won the ball off Stephens and was then fouled. Sordell almost got to a free kick. Brighton counter attacked and made it 3-0 with the ball taking a deflection off Dervite.

Millwall got a last minute equaliser to salvage a point and are now just one point behind us. However, we are just one point behind Blackpool, who lost at Leeds, and Doncaster also lost. It's a crucial game on Tuesday.

Friday 11 April 2014

Big task on the coast

Charlton face a big task on the south coast tomorrow when they face Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium. The Seagulls are just two points off a play off place and play Charlton on the back of a 4-1 in at league leaders Leicester. However, that was their win in six games and Charlton are 10th in the form table while Brighton are 20th.

Brighton's home form is a bit mixed, having won eight, drawn six and lost six. Charlton have quite a good record against them away. Charlton are unbeaten in the last four meetings at Brighton, winning two. Last year's encounter ended 0-0. Brighton's last home win was 3-2 in the old Division Two in September 1990.

Dale Stephens is expected to be available for Brighton. Lawrie Wilson should be able to play with a mask after he injured his eye socket.

Odds are Brighton 8/11; draw, 13/5; away win, 4/1.

Leicester in for Hamer

Leicester City are considering signing Ben Hamer in the summer as a No.2 to Schmeichel if he stays or to back up Speroni if he comes in from Crystal Palace: Hamer

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Is José Charlton's special one?

This is the question posed by the Evening Standard which discusses the bond he has built with his players (although French speaker Dervite does seem to have received quite a lot of attention from the coach): Riga

José Riga's Red Army

That was the chant of the Covered End yesterday evening as they celebrated Charlton's 3-2 win over Yeovil at The Valley. The crowd set up a 'Chris Powell' roar and Johnnie Jackson responded by jumping out of the tunnel.

The win puts the Addicks six points ahead of Yeovil and five ahead of Barnsley who lost at home to Burnley. Millwall's surprise win at Wigan means that they are only two points behind Charlton, but the Addicks are only one point behind Birmingham and two behind Blackpool and Doncaster. They have two games in hand over all these three clubs and play Blackpool away in the last game of the season.

Charlton lived dangerously at times and the two goals conceded were down to poor defensive mistakes. The five minutes of time added on were an agony.

The starting line up did not include Lawrie Wilson who has injured his eye socket, but may be able to play as a 'masked man' against Brighton. The absence of a proper right back did cost us as Morrison is really not any good in that role. Ideally, Chris Solly would be available and our season might have been very different if he had not been injured. I would have considered Hughes or ever Nego who is a right back, but Riga does not seem to favour him.

Astrit Ajdarevic opened the scoring for Charlton on nine minutes when he collected a loose ball on the halfway line, beat one Yeovil challenge and fired past keeper Chris Dunn into the bottom corner. However, Charlton are often vulnerable when they have scored and Yeovil were level within two minutes, as James Hayter found Grant, whose shot was deflected in off Richard Wood after what looked like amateurish defending.

Hayter then scuffed a chance from eight yards out, before Reza Ghoochannejhad missed a good chance from close range. Joe Ralls had two chances in as many minutes for Yeovil, fizzing a shot just over from 20 yards and forcing keeper Ben Hamer to stop his left-footed drive, before Tom Lawrence hit the bar direct from a corner.

At the other end Dunn made a superb save to tip a Sordell shot around the post before half-time when the striker was one on one with the keeper. Dunn was helpless when Dervite powered home a 48th-minute header from Johnnie Jackson's corner. Sordell then added a third, tapping in after Dunn failed to hold Ghoochannejhad's right-wing cross.

Yeovil substitute Moore ensured a tense finish when he slotted into an empty net following a defensive mix-up on 74 minutes. Hamer came charging out of his goal and there was insufficient cover behind him when he left the goal exposed. This goal came at a time when I thought Charlton were on top and it made for some anxious closing minutes.

Charlton played a more direct game of a rather old fashioned English style than they did against Reading, with less pretty passing, but it seems to have worked.

Ivy the Terrible has once again awarded the Silver Bone to Diego Poyet who showed real skill and determination, but this time it has been engraved with 'Diego Poyet: he's better than Gus' in honour of the Covered End chant. Hamer couldn't do much about the two goals, although he shouldn't have rushed out for the second one. His distribution came in for some criticism from the row behind me. Morrison was played out of position and can't even do throw ins, getting caught out once for a foul throw. Dervite scored an excellent goal and was generally solid, he can be forgiven for putting a free kick way over the bar, however he and Wood seemed to have some difficulty in playing effectively together. Wiggins had a sparking performance and was a real threat going forward. Ajdarevic scored a great goal from distance, but clearly is not fully fit which is why he had to be substituted, earning warm applause when he went off. Cousins is a great battling midfield player and had one excellent run down the right. Jackson put in some good corners, although one of his free kicks was disappointing Reza showed some good touches, providing the assist for the third goal. A shame that he bottled out from a challenge on the halfway line. I told those around me that Sordell would score, they were not convinced, but he did It was a better performance. His shot at the tunnel was dire, but he had few options. Obika earned some boos from the Glovers when he came on as a substitute, but didn't offer very much. Harriott looked lightweight when he came on. Great to see Cort returning for a cameo.

Rescue Cat Reg came in from a night on the tiles when I returned shortly before 1 a.m. He considered giving the Hiss of the Match to the referee who was reluctant to hand out yellow cards in response to persistent fouling by the Glovers, but instead Reg has given it to Yeovil's lime green fluorescent kit with horizontal stripes. This is the first time the hiss has been given to a team's kit and the style police are investigating, starting with those Yeovil supporters wearing it in the Jimmy Seed.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Tensions mount ahead of six pointer

Tension is building ahead of tonight's six pointer with Yeovil Town at The Valley. The Glovers can score goals, something Charlton have difficulty in doing. The Addicks really need to score first. The last time they came from behind to win a game was against Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day.

Reza Ghoochanneijhad and Jon Obika could return to the forward line. The strikers started the 1-0 defeat by Reading on the bench with boss Jose Riga admitting he had one eye on Tuesday night's relegation six-pointer.

Yeovil will assess goalkeeper Marek Stech before naming their team. Chris Dunn deputised in the 2-1 win at Blackpool while the Czech recovered from illness and will keep his place if Stech does not recover.

Top scorer Ishmael Miller is no longer at the club following a bust up with manager Gary Johnson, but the Glovers boss is placing his faith in Manchester United loan player who scored the winning goal at Blackpool on Saturday.

The away fixture was a 2-2 draw. Charlton are unbeaten in the last seven meetings, winning five. Yeovil's only win in nine meetings in all competitions was 1-0 at The Valley in the League Cup in August 2008, meaning that The Addicks have won four out of five meetings at The Valley.

Yeovil have won four games away this season, drawn six and lost ten. They have scored 23 goals away from home, 10 more than the Addicks have scored at The Valley. Charlton are currently 13th in the form table and Yeovil 19th.

Odds are: Charlton 19/20, Draw 5/2, Yeovil 11/4.

Saturday 5 April 2014

A game of thin margins

Rhoys Wiggins outlined the hoped for scenario for today's game against Reading in the programme: 'If we can keep it tight for 60 or 70 minutes then you can give it a real push in the last 20 and, hopefully, win the game like we did at Forest and Leeds. That's what we're aiming for at the moment.'

Unfortunately, it was Reading who kept it tight and then scored a second half goal to emerge 1-0 victors. As Steve from Petts Wood remarked, 'How often have we seen a goal scored against us on a fast counter attack like that.' Charlton have lost seven games by a margin of 1-0 this season and won six by the same margin. With Barnsley drawing we remain two points ahead of them, although Yeovil and Millwall won. Tuesday's game against Barnsley is a real six pointer, although we seem to be winning on Tuesdays at the moment.

The first half was even between the two sides with neither posing a real threat. Certainly Charlton didn't with Simon Church up front. We were playing some neat, passing football but never looked like scoring. Reading stepped up a gear after the break and looked increasingly like scoring. José Riga tried to change things around by a series of substitutions, but they did not have the desired effect. He set us up for a draw and the strategy didn't work. Possession was 53-47 in favour of Charlton and our pass completion rate has been improving.

Match analysis

Yet again Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Diego Poyet for his intelligent passes and the way in which he anchored the midfield. Ben Hamer made a good save from Danny Guthrie's free kick on 62 minutes and then had to be alert to deny McCleary after he evaded a challenge from Morrison. He had no chance for the goal. Morrison dealt with Pogrebynak well and picked up a rather harsh yellow card. Dervite brought the ball out from the back well and was generally solid. Wilson was solid defensively and looked at times as if he might create something. Wiggins controlled Drenthe well and picked up a rather harsh yellow card. Harriott put in a couple of good balls when there was no one there to connect with them, but other efforts were woeful. Ajdarevic started well and got past Reading a number of time, although to no eventual effect. As the game wore on, his recent bout of 'flu affected him and he had to be withdrawn, looking very disconsolate. Jackson tried his best and it's a shame he wasn't available after his substitution for what could have been a promising free kick. Cousins was energetic as always. He had a half chance on 21 minutes when he got past Gorkas, but his shot went straight to the keeper. Church couldn't be faulted for his work rate, but he was isolated up front and had problems with the two man mountain centre backs. On the train before the match I heard two Reading fans trying to work out when he had scored for them. Reza has difficulty doing the simple things like making a decent pass. Petrucci looked lightweight and some fans blamed him for an error leading to the goal. Obika came on too late to make a difference.

There were plenty of candidates for the Hiss of the Match, including Reading charm merchant Gunter and Danny Williams for his haircut. However, Rescue Cat Reg has awarded it to referee Andrew Madley who seemed less concerned about the fouls and diving antics of Reading than giving out yellow cards to the home side.

Friday 4 April 2014

It's a confidence game

Hopefully Tuesday night's audacious win against Leeds will give Charlton confidence as they go into another crucial Championship clash with Reading at The Valley tomorrow. Under Jose Riga, Charlton have moved up to 8th in the form table whereas Reading are 13th. However, the Royals have a good away record, indeed it is better than their record at home. On their travels they have won nine games, drawn four and lost just six.

Reading are 6th in the Championship and will want to boost their chances of securing a play off place. However, their record against Charlton at The Valley is not that good. Reading won the earlier meeting 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium in December - their only win in the last five meetings in all competitions. Charlton have won five of the last six meetings at The Valley in all competitions, drawing the other one. Reading's last win there was 2-1 in the old Division One in October 1994.

Odds are: Charlton 9/5, Draw 9/4, Reading 6/4

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Latest accounts show extent of financial challenge

The latest accounts for Charlton Athletic demonstrate the size of the financial challenge facing a medium-sized club trying to compete in the Championship against clubs with wealthy benefactors and parachute payments. The accounts are analysed here by Rick Everitt: Finances

Of particular concern is the fact that wages accounted for 101 per cent of turnover, twice the level recommended by Deloitte.

It is difficult to see how the club could move to anywhere near a break even position in the short to medium term even if stays up in the Championship which brings clear benefits in terms of higher television payments and more substantial away support.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Great victory at Leeds

Leeds commentators praised his 'suave' suit, but later it was in some disarray. 'We wanted it more,' said the coach.

A penalty save in time added on by Ben Hamer and a stunning goal by the Gooch saw Charlton win 1-0 at Elland Road tonight to move three points clear of Barnsley.

The Addicks started with Pigott as the striker up front in a 4-1-4-1, a formation that attracted some criticism (he was replaced by Obika in the second half). The first half was fairly even, although Leeds had the better chances. In the last five to ten minutes Charlton started to dominate and piled on the pressure.

In the second half Hamer made a key save by tipping the ball on to the crossbar. Then Reza beat two defenders and the keeper with a curling shot into the right of the net. McCormack spooned the ball over the net for Leeds under pressure from Morrison.

Poyet was at the heart of the play but was subject to a lot of fouls, having his hair pulled on one occasion. A tiring Astrit was replaced by Harriott. A free kick fed to Dervitte, who had been stalwart in defence, saw him put in a fierce shot which Butland did well to palm away for a corner.

Leeds started to apply more pressure in the closing minutes. Five minutes were added on and a long ball unsettled the back four, Poyet being judged to have committed a foul with a push in the box. Hamer dived to the right to deny McCormack.

Crucial game at Elland Road

Charlton face a crucial test at Elland Road tonight. It is one of their games in hand and none of their relegation rivals are playing. With all their off pitch concerns, Leeds are currently bottom of the Championship form table. They gave Doncaster their first away victory since September on Saturday. Charlton are unbeaten in the last five meetings at Elland Road, although they won only one of them.

Coach José Riga was criticised for putting out to attacking a formation at Derby County, but always the question is where are Charlton's goals going to come from?

Astrit is doubtful and will have to undergo a late fitness test after a bout of flu.

A friend who is a Leeds fan reckons we will win tonight, but I think that a draw is a more likely outcome. Odds are: Leeds 6/5, Draw 11/5, Charlton 13/5.

Thuram Ulien refuses to go to Leeds

Back up goalkeeper Yohan Thuram-Ulien has refused to travel to Leeds for tonight's crucial match, not because he doesn't like it 'oop North but because he has the hump because of a lack of first team chances at Charlton, reports Richard Cawley of the South London Press: Keeper

The reason he has not had more first team chances is because he disappointed when he did. It is not very professional conduct. Nick Pope cannot be recalled from York, so we have to hope that Hamer takes the warm up cautiously.

Relegation worries over as Charlton join new league

Charlton’s concerns about relegation to League 1 have ended with the news that the club will be leaving the Football League and joining a new competition, the Atlantic League, next season. The idea of an Atlantic League has been around for about fifteen years as a means of boosting football in smaller European countries, but it has now been brought to fruition by Charlton owner Roland Duchâtelet . It is more ambitious than his plan to merge the Belgian and Dutch leagues.

The new league will take six of the top teams from the Belgian and Dutch leagues. It will also be joined two teams from Scotland: not Celtic or Rangers, but probably one of the Edinburgh clubs and Aberdeen. Both cities have good links with Schipol Airport for players and fans.

How to bring Luxembourg, as a Benelux country, into the new league was a challenge as the Grand Duchy’s clubs are semi-professional at best. However, a solution copied from Guernsey has been adopted. The successful non-league team, Guernsey FC, draws the best players from all the island’s teams. Luxembourg FC will operate in a similar fashion, using one of the Luxembourg City grounds.

Charlton will be the sole English team competing in the new league. The proximity of London City Airport, which even has services to Luxembourg, will be a great help for away matches. It also planned to start a ‘reverse Rickshaw’ service using the Channel Tunnel for some of the most attractive games in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Two mysteries solved

Two years ago during the London mayoral election plans were announced to build a Jubilee line spur from North Greenwich to The Valley. Jubilee Line Unfortunately, funding was not available, but a start was made at the Charlton end on the stabling siding under The Valley pitch. Unfortunately, during this work the drains under the pitch were damaged, leading to the problems this season.

The new owners decided to see what use could be made of this tunnel, given that some additional Northern Line tunnels that were never utilised were recently converted to grow crops. Tunnels

However, when an inspection party went down to the tunnel, they had something of a surprise. There has been speculation about the whereabouts of midfielder Mark Gower, but no one realised he had a fully equipped bedsit under the pitch, complete with a periscope that came up by the touchline to allow him to watch games.

An even bigger surprise was the discovery of a chamber containing a printing press and two of Rick Everitt’s helpers working on the second edition of Back to the Valley. In relation to the latter discovery, a club spokesman commented, ‘We have always said that Everitt was trying to undermine the club, but now we have proof positive.'