Wednesday 31 March 2021

Lincoln game off?

Tuesday's game with Lincoln City at The Valley is in doubt after the Imps postponed their Good Friday game against MK Dons because of a Covid-19 outbreak:

Monday 29 March 2021

'Don't fear change' Sandgaard tells fans

CAS Trust have had a meeting with Thomas Sandgaard.  He said that fans should not fear change, but he would take things one step at a time:

Mick Jagger came to games incognito

A good obituary of Derek Ufton in The Times this morning and one revelation that was new to me. Ufton was encouraged by his PE teacher at Dartford Grammar School, one Joe Jagger.

Mick Jagger remained a fan of Ufton even after his ascent to Rolling Stones fame, arriving incognito at games and meeting Ufton and his team-mates on their travels.

'My claim to fame', joked Ufton, is that 'Mick Jagger asked for my autograph before I asked for his.'  Ufton recalled that 'Jagger was a really likeable bloke but also surprisingly shy.'

The wording of the obituary is a bit ambiguous so it may refer to the fact that Jagger was a big cricket fan.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Adkins' positivity is already paying off

Benjy Nurick takes an in depth look at the methods used by Nigel Adkins based on interviews with those who played under him:

Apparently the view inside Charlton is that his positivity has already had an infectious impact on players and staff.  With Adkins what you see is what you get.

RIP Derek Ufton

I was saddened to hear of the death of Derek Ufton who died in his sleep at the age of 92.  He was one of my boyhood heroes.

Here is a tribute I wrote in 2020.

Unfortunately I missed the 7-6 win over Huddersfield because we were Christmas shopping in Woolwich. However, this is surely an appropriate time for a tribute to Derek Ufton, one of the Charlton team I admired in the 1950s:

Derek often suffered a dislocated shoulder, but he is still going strong at 92, even after some ups and downs in his life.

He came from an era when in the summer quite a few players also played cricket (or baseball) while others earned a crust doing maintenance work on the ground.   Wages were reduced in the summer and in any case were no more than a skilled worker would earn which is how owners saw them.

Derek played 277 games for Charlton, scoring no goals.

Voice of the Valley tribute here:

Captain Gunter is first Wales centurion

In his 100th appearance for his country, Chris Gunter will captain Wales in their friendly against Mexico.  He is their first centurion:

Friday 26 March 2021

Former striker praises Adkins

Former Charlton striker Paul Hayes reckons that Nigel Adkins is the best manager he played for bar none. 'He understands a team's strengths and weaknesses':

Monday 22 March 2021

The challenges facing Adkins

Benjy Nurick assesses the challenges facing Nigel Adkins at Charlton, including some in depth illustrated analysis of key points in Saturday's game:

Saturday 20 March 2021

Basic error costs Charlton again

Whoever the manager is he is not on the pitch and he can't prevent players making basic errors and a misunderstanding between Famewo and Amos allowed Wimbledon to equalise when the Addicks were 2-1 ahead.   Curbs said it was one of the worst goals he had ever seen, an absolute disaster.

The first half showing was strong, the second half less so.   Curbs thought we looked tired in the second half.  He also thought there were too many changes in the formation.   We never looked settled, we never looked comfortable.   We looked dangerous in the first half with Millar on the left.

Conor Washington coming off with a hamstring injury after a few minutes was a blow.

Nigel Adkins said roller coaster was the right word.  We scored a couple of two goals, conceded two horrendous ones.  We started the second half quite brightly, the second goal was really disappointing.   It's a great opportunity for me to have a consideration of everybody.   I have to get to know all the players and their strengths.  You can't be conceding two goals a game if you want to win things consistently.  The lads will have Sunday and Monday off.  I will be able to watch the under 23s.  It was good to be in the dugout again.

Wimbledon started the game at a frantic pace and Charlton gave the ball away three times.  Washington had to be replaced by DJ on four minutes.   On nine minutes Amos got the ball out well, Morgan picked it up and fed Millar who turned provider for Stockley who scored with a header.

On 14 minutes after Millar gave the ball away when had options, Amos and Pearce both slipped, Gunter was out of position and Pigott fed Longman who scored with a shot along the ground.

On 20 minutes Millar made a run and passed to DJ who put in a powerful left strike to score his first Charlton goal.

Amos claimed a Wimbledon corner.  The game entered a scrappy period, but the keeper had to save from Millar.  Shinnie was way over.  In time added on Gunter had to concede a corner and Stockley cleared with a header.

HT: 1-2

An early Charlton corner was cleared at the near post again.   On 55 minutes a Charlton corner allowed Wimbledo to break and a dangerous ball was put across the goal.  Shinnie was just wide on 59 minutes.

On 64 minutes Charlton gifted the equaliser.   Amos played the ball to Famewo, he played a short ball back and Longman pounced to score.

On 73 minutes Pigott hit the post.   On 77 minutes Pratley replaced DJ and Schwartz replaced Morgan. Schwartz did very little as far as I could tell.

Aneke got a harsh yellow card on 80 minutes.  Charlton were finding it difficult to mount attacks. On 84 minutes Wimbledon were awarded a free kick in the D.  Amos had to make a great save from Pigott, punching the ball away.

Aneke hit the post in three minutes added on.

Charlton remain in 6th place.

Charlton Retro

This week I recall when Charlton beat Liverpool 6-0:

Bowyer's exit had been on the cards for a while

Lee Bowyer's departure from Charlton had been on the cards for some time with him attracting interest from a number of clubs, writes Richard Cawley of the SLP.   The judicious journalist provides a balanced assessment of Bowyer's time as manager:

Some fans have seen a conspiracy in the fact that Thomas Sandgaard had been looking at who was available for a couple of months, but it was just sensible contingency planning of a kind we didn't see when Curbs left and we got Dowie.   We didn't recover for years from that failed rocket launch.

Friday 19 March 2021

Flagging a win?

Our flag signed by Curbs is in pride of place

AFC Wimbledon head coach Mark Robinson says he does not focus too much on the opposition as Charlton prepare to make their first visit to the Wombles' new stadium:

One might question whether that is a winning formula with the Wombles in the relegation positions and without a win their last five matches, although they are something of draw specialists. especially away from home.   At home they have won three, drawn three and lost nine.

In their 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic earlier in the week they were notable for missing chances.  Danger man and ex-Addick Joe Piggott was narrowly wide early on.  Ryan Longman was their bright spark, providing a regular source of crosses as well as being a threat on the ball himself.  

In their 0-0 draw with Bristol Rovers last Saturday Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev was the star man with a series of outstanding saves.

The CAS Trust preview notes their tendency to score late in the game when Charlton are often at their most vulnerable:

In my Badger League prediction at the beginning of the year, I had this down as a 3-1 win which may be hoping for too much.

Bowyer's 'choked up' exit

Lee Bowyer was 'choked up' when he gave his farewell speech at Charlton, but deep down he knew it was the right thing to do.  A number of former players have been in contact:

Absence of crowd a shame for Jacko

Richard Cawley of the SLP revisits Tuesday's match against the Gas and says that it was a shame that Johnnie Jackson's one match in charge was in front of an empty stadium:

Thursday 18 March 2021

Cometh the hour, cometh the Nigel

Nigel Adkins has been appointed as Charlton manager:

Johnnie Jackson stays as assistant manager.   Thomas Sandgaard told Richard Cawley: 'Just had a call from Thomas Sandgaard who says the hope is that one day Johnnie Jackson will be ready for a managerial position, and hopefully that is CAFC.'

Adkins has won four promotions in his managerial career and will take charge against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday:

In my view this is a sensible and realistic appointment.

Is Jacko the man?

Benjy Nurick reviews an emotional week at Charlton and puts the case for and against Johnnie Jackson as manager.  He argues against a rushed decision, which would imply that Jackson would be caretaker for the rest of the season:

I think he is very likely to go to Birmingham where a side reinvigorated under Lee Bowyer beat Reading 2-1 last night.

In any case I think the problem is that Jackson knows the players too well and some of them needed the shake up and fresh perspective a new manager from outside the club can provide.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

New manager race

It appears that Danny Cowley, who had been sounded out by Charlton, is going to Portsmouth, but the odds are shortening on Nigel Adkins.

Adkins certainly justifies the 'experienced' tag, his most successful spell was at Southampton:

I have some doubts about whether goalkeepers are the best managers, but that may not have any basis in evidence.

Some fans think that an Adkins appointment would show a lack of ambition, others that it would be underwhelming but realistic.

I suppose I take the latter view.   Someone like Howe or Wilder is not going to drop two divisions.  Sandgaard is rich, but not super rich,   I really like Johnnie Jackson, but I think this is a chance for a reset.

Will Jacko join Blues?

Johnnie Jackson has said that Lee Bowyer's departure was a 'real shock' and he has not yet talked to him about joining him at Birmingham City: 

It is not unusual for new managers to bring in their own team, but in some ways I would miss Jacko more.

Richard Cawley has stated that Lee Bowyer wants Johnnie Jackson as his assistant manager.

Bowyer confident as he joins 'massive' club

Lee Bowyer has said that it was tough to leave Charlton, but he told Blues TV that Birmingham City are a 'massive' club and he is confident that he can restore their fortunes:

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Charlton fight back to win

Charlton fought back from being 0-2 down to beat Bristol Rovers 3-2 at The Valley tonight.  It was 2-2 at the break after goals from Shinnie and Forster-Caskey.  Washington scored the winner on 83 minutes after a battling second half.

This was the first time Charlton have conceded the first goal and gone on to win the game since the play off final in 2019.

Conor Washington said: 'We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, but we showed great character.   We showed fight, determination and grit.  The last fifteen minutes we were right on top.  Jacko is really pleased with the come back.'

Jacko said: 'Unbelievable.   The effort and the spirit that they have shown has made me ever so proud.  I was disappointed with the two goals, not necessarily a fair reflection of the game so far.  They stepped up, they dug themselves back into that game.   We just needed to be a little bit calmer in our play, we showed that towards the end of the first half.'

Jacko said he did not know what would happen beyond tonight.

The game started at a high tempo.  Maatsen made an unnecessary shoulder charge in the area and the referee awarded a penalty.  Amos went the wrong way in response to Leahy's shot and it was 0-1.

A cheeky Rovers chip after a break saw Amos stranded, but the ball went just wide of the post.  Amos made a good save off Nicholson.   Charlton were struggling and were caught in possession.  Amos could not save a fierce shot from distance by Upson and it was 0-2.

Then Shinnie scored a crucial goal with a great finish to make it 1-2.  Stockley was fouled on the edge of the area and Forster-Caskey scored the equaliser from the free kick.

HT: 2-2

Upson got a yellow card.  Maatsen fed Millar but Washington shot straight at the keeper.  On 60 minutes a somewhat annoyed Millar was replaced by DJ.

Shinnie got a yellow card.   On 73 minutes Aneke replaced Stockley.  Hargreaves got a yellow card.

Rovers were running out of gas and Washington was causing them problems.   An Aneke header set up Washington and he scored from the rebound.   Morgan got a yellow card.

Five minutes were added on.  Keeper Day bought down Aneke and was sent off.   Pratley came on for Shinnie.   A last minute Rovers free kick spelt danger with their keeper up but they failed to threaten.

Charlton are in 6th place and look likely to stay there with Fleetwood 2-0 up against Ipswich.

Blues fans angry with the Orange One

Simon Jordan has managed to upset Birmingham City fans by questioning why Lee Bowyer would want to leave a London club for the second city:

Birmingham City are yet to announce the appointment which says something about the state of the club.  I wish Lee Bowyer well, but it is a bit of a poisoned chalice.  At least we don't have two stands that can't be opened because of structural problems.

Karen Hills gets coaching role

Former Charlton player Karen Hills has been appointed as the new coach of the women's team as they go full time from the summer:

Step on the Gas

Johnnie Jackson takes charge of Charlton tonight for the game against Bristol Rovers.  After Chris Wilder left Sheffield United, his 'emotional' side lost 5-0 at Leicester on Sunday.   The mood in the Charlton dressing room is doubtless more mixed and at least Jackson knows the few strengths and many limitations of the squad.

Rovers and Charlton are two places apart in the form table.  It looks as if Rovers may be without former Leamington ace Alex Rodman who is one of their better players.   He strained a muscle on Saturday.  Former Leamington striker Colby Bishop scored two against us for Accrington and we can do without any more encounters with the Brakes' Football League production line.

Away from home, the Gas have won three, drawn five and lost eight.   They have not won at The Valley for sixty years.

I had this down as a 2-0 win at the start of the year and we may still be able to achieve that, but these are uncertain times.

Sandgaard: what I want from new manager

Thomas Sandgaard has said that he wants the new Charlton manager to have an even greater focus on developing talent from the Academy:

Monday 15 March 2021

Few tears in Ramsgate as Bowyer departs

There will be few tears at Lee Bowyer's departure but at least he leaves with his dignity intact says VOTV editor Rick Everitt:

The Ramsgate-based fan warns that what the club cannot afford is another series of unsuccessful managers.

New manager in by the end of the week

Thomas Sandgaard plans to make a long-term appointment of a new manager by the end of the week.  Plan B would be a caretaker until the end of the season:

Johnnie Jackson will be in charge for tomorrow night's match.

Bowyer gone report

The usually reliable Richard Cawley of the SLP has had it suggested to him that Lee Bowyer has resigned as Charlton manager.  He is following the report up and I will update.

Lee Bowyer told the whole squad that he was resigning this morning.   He has got the Blews with Charlton and is going to Birmingham City.  Midlands sources are confirming that Karanka has gone and Bowyer is a former Blues player.

Nearly three years in charge, 157 games in charge, win percentage 41 per cent.

Louis Mendez has commented: 'Personally sad to see Bowyer go, think overall his time in charge was very positive for the club. Will never forget Wembley.'

If it is true, one group of fans will be rending their shirts, others will be opening a celebratory battle and some of us will be asking, who next?

That is the crucial question now.   As VOTV editor Rick Everitt has commented: 'Unfortunately, Lee Bowyer’s departure from #cafc had become inevitable. He’ll be remembered fondly for his first two years in charge, but it was evident he wasn’t going to turn things round. All such changes judged on what happens next, though.'

Presumably Johnnie Jackson will have to prepare the team for tomorrow night, but I do not see him as a long term solution.  This is an opportunity for a fresh start.

However, one does not want a rushed appointment.   It has been suggested that Curbs and Steve Brown could see out the season and perhaps they could do something with this group of players, but they may not want it.

As for a permanent replacement, one has to be realistic about who would come to a League One club.  A foreign (Danish or American?) manager is one possibility.   The Cowley brothers are available and might come.

April return for Inniss

Ryan Inniss should be back after the international break for the match against Doncaster Rovers on April 2nd.  Presumably this will initially be in a bench warming capacity, but his availability will help in the key end of season games:

Saturday 13 March 2021

Result as predicted

When I filled in my Badger League chart at the start of the year I forecast this as a 1-1 draw and that was the result between Charlton and Shrewsbury Town at The Valley this afternoon.  It was a 1-1 double with Shropshire's finest.

Charlton remain in 8th place on the same number of points as Portsmouth but they have two games in hand over us.  Ipswich are now in the play off places.

It was not a good quality performance by the Addicks and sometimes I wonder whether it is a good use of a Saturday afternoon, but at least Steve Brown is forensic in pointing out where we are going wrong.

In the first half in particular watching the Shrews was just like watching San Marino with the number of players they had behind the ball but we didn't have the quality to break them down.

The visitors went ahead on 55 minutes with a well-taken header by danger man Goss after Gunter had failed to respond to the threat.

Conor Washington equalised with a really skilled goal which saw him taking three touches.

I think we missed Jake Forster-Caskey today, but we can't rely too much on him.

Lee Bowyer said 'pros and cons.  First half we started really well, we should have gone in leading.  Second half we stopped doing the things that caused them problems, we slowed down.  We just looked dead, sluggish.  We changed it, we became the better game.  If Chuks' chance had gone in, we could have won the game.  At the end we could have lost it, they could have nicked it.  A point's better than nothing, I am a bit disappointed.   The players looked a bit fatigued second half.'

Minto asked if it was physical or mental tiredness  Bowyer said that a lot of them looked tired.  Everything was slow, the passing.  'I think there was a lot of positives first half.   If Chuks had gone in, we would be standing here with three points.  I think it's like two dropped, you have to give them credit.  Sometimes you have to accept you don't get what you want.'

Conditions at The Valley were not good with hail before the game, a high wind and periods of heavy rain. The pitch was soft in places, but then it's the same for both sides.

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who played some football, said: 'In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.'   Even Steve Brown had difficulty working out what Shrewsbury's formation was, but it was clear they had a plan and were executing it.  It was designed to stop us playing, particularly down the centre of the park.  They were happy to leave the wings exposed, but our pass completion rate was poor.

The first decent bit of play from Charlton came just after the quarter hour when Amos fed Washington and with Maatsen on the overlap the Addicks were able to sustain an attack and win a corner.  Like all our corners it was unproductive.

Darren Pratley received his customary yellow card for grabbing a player.  The visitors continued to be well organised defensively, working hard with a good shape.

On 33 minutes Charlton had their one shot on target of the half when Maatsen turned provider for Stockley, but he shot straight at the keeper.  An angled shot would have beaten him.

Charlton were playing patiently, but they need to be quicker on the ball.

HT: 0-0

Steve Brown rightly criticised the poor Charlton kick off which ended in a throw in for the opposition.  The Addicks looked flat and uninspired.  Maatsen received a somewhat harsh yellow card.

Gross was given a lot of space to score his goal.   The visitors had their tails up and on 62 minutes Bowyer made his usual triple substitution.   As Curbs said afterwards, Bowyer gets criticised for changing the team around but perhaps today was a day to change it from the start.  Pratley (doing little); Millar (needs better awareness of where the opponent is), and Stockley (rather flat) all came off. On came Aneke, Shinnie and Smith.

Amos had to make a finger tip save.  Aneke didn't connect with the ball as he should have done and hit the crossbar rather than scoring.   Charlton won a couple of corners, but the second one sailed over the seven players wanting to connect with it.  We need to work on our corners.

Washington then scored his excellent goal, even if the keeper got a touch.   Washington deserves a bit more praise than he gets.

As the visitors broke, Pearce and Maatsen had to defend, Pearce was excellent.   Shrewsbury at last got a yellow card for time wasting after Ogbeto delayed a throw in, but it was action taken too late.

There was danger with a loose ball in the box and Amos stranded, not through any fault of his own. Fortunately, Edwards missed the chance to score and sent the ball over.

In five minutes added on, another Shrews shot went just past the post.  Steve Brown said that these were fundamental errors that could have cost us the game.

DJ shot wide and Shinnie shot straight at the keeper.

Curbs said afterwards that in trying to tighten up defensively, we had lost the offensive side.  But then a better side than Shrewsbury could have made more of our defensive errors.

Charlton Retro

This week's article looks back at a somewhat more successful season in 1953/4:

Shrewd Shrews on their way from Salop

Shrewsbury Town have a good away record, in fact they have won more matches than they have lost or drawn:

More than I like often depends on the referee and the man in the middle today is a young rookie from Nottinghamshire, Declan Bourne.   He is known for his reluctance to give out red cards which will be good news for Darren Pratley.

My start of the year forecast for this game was 1-1.

Friday 12 March 2021

Charlton are 'staying buoyant'

The SLP's Richard Cawley takes a relatively optimistic view of Charlton's prospects which will annoy the many pessimists and negativists among fans:

They might point to the tough opposition that the Addicks face in the last phase of the season, but often Charlton play better against skilled opposition rather than teams that resort to random hoofballs in an imitation of the worst of non-league football.

Admittedly we did get a lucky break on Tuesday from the young, London-based referee.  The head of the Referee's Association has now apologised to Norhampton Town for the award of a penalty to Charlton.

However, we have suffered quite a lot from referees determined to prove they are not 'homers' at The Valley, so perhaps we deserved a lucky break.

Meanwhile, Jake Forster-Caskey has told Richard Cawley that he reckons he is playing the best football of his career:

The story of a dramatic night at The Valley

One year ago three Charlton employees put their jobs on the line to stand up for the club and its fans.  We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.  Now for the first time we have a detailed account of what happened that night and the events leading up to it:

The team managed from a hospital bed

Shrewsbury are currently being managed from the hospital bed of Steve Cotterill.  After an initial spell in hospital with Covod-19, he was readmitted with pneumonia.  His pre-match and half time talks are delivered remotely.

At Rochdale on Tuesday night, Shrewsbury improved after the break and won thanks to two goals of varying style: the first after some patient build-up which resulted in right wing-back Joshua Daniels arriving at the far post, “where he was told to be” by Cotterill. The second involved a counter-attacking move and a cool finish from Josh Vela. “The gaffer got his team talk spot on at half-time,” assistant manager Aaron Wilbraham concluded.

Cotterill became more involved in the second half. “It varies from game to game and it depends how it’s going,” Wilbraham explained. “Watching on the TV, he can see things that we can’t see from pitchside. He’s still the manager and makes all of the decisions: the shape of the team, team selection and the substitutions, as well as training.”

Cotterill’s managerial career in England began at Cheltenham 24 years ago. Michael Duff was a player in that team and last year, from his position as the current manager, he told The Athletic that the team’s rise out of non-League would not have been possible without Cotterill. “The driving force behind promotion was Steve,” Duff said. “He was intense, fiery and he got the best out of the players. It was his attention to detail and him being a Cheltenham man — his stature in the town will always be legendary.”

Between Cheltenham and Shrewsbury, Cotterill took charge of seven clubs, most of them in the Championship. While the best of those spells was at Bristol City with Wilbraham, his experiences at Portsmouth, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City counted for more when Shrews chairman Roland Wycherley came to consider his options because each of those clubs were in distressed states and Shrewsbury were facing relegation

Officially, Cotterill has been in charge of 21 games but only nine of those have been in person. There is no expectation from inside the club that he’ll return to full-time work this season but it sounds as though nobody will be able to stop him from operating remotely. For the time being, this is his new normal.

Cotterill has been through a tough time and I hope he recovers soon.

Watson to stay

Ben Watson is to activate a clause in his contract that will enable him to stay at The Valley next season, having played in the required percentage of matches:

Watson has his detractors, like most of the squad, but has performed well in front of the back four in recent games.

Unfortunately it looks as if Jake Forster-Caskey will not be available for tomorrow's match against Shrewsbury Town.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Back to basics?

Benjy Nurick reckons that Charlton are getting back to basics (which is what Curbs has been calling for) in his latest SLP column:

He gives a lot of credit to Jason Pearce.  The skipper did go through a bad patch when he was making basic errors, but it is good to see him back in form and making some good interventions.

Why so negative?

The ability of Charlton fans to complain about anything is legendary.   Complaints about some performances on the pitch are understandable, but I must say I was surprised to see some fans complaining on social media about the appointment of a top ranking lawyer to the Charlton board:

Rifkind works for Freshfields, one of the top London lawyers, and has extensive legal experience in the United States as well.  With Roland still having a stake in the club and various sharks (shurely businessmen of the highest probity, ed) lurking in the background there is surely value in having a first class lawyer on tap.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Victory at The Valley

Charlton beat Northampton Town 2-1 at The Valley tonight with a Washington brace, one from the penalty spot, one from open play.  Unfortunately a goal was conceded in time added on, but it's seven points from nine and only one goal conceded.

Northampton defended in numbers in the first half and we lacked the quality to unlock them, while Amos had to make two good claims when they counter attacked.

Lee Bowyer said: 'The back four looked solid, Pratley stepped up there.  You need someone like Conor to do the running.  Do the basics right and you can win every game, we've got some good players.'  Bowyer also praised Albie Morgan's contribution.

Further comments from Bowyer here:

Morgan fed Stockley on two minutes, but his header was saved.   Charlton started well, but then the game became more scrappy.  Ben Watson won Charlton a corner which was delivered well by Morgan, but Pearce was wide.

Pearce received an elbow from Kioso who received a yellow card.   Morgan got booked for a foul.

HT: 0-0

In the second half the Cobblers continued their strategy of soaking up pressure and waiting for a Charlton mistake, but the sucker punch didn't come.   On 48 minutes Millar won a free kick and Forster-Caskey was just wide.

On 65 minutes Forster-Caskey was taken out in the area.  The Cobblers argued the toss and tried to delay things as much as possible, but Washington kept his nerve and beat the keeper.  On 68 minutes Aneke replaced Stockley.   Edmundson fouled Pratley off the ball and was shown a yellow card.

A double Northampton change on 72 minutes saw former Addick Mark Marshall came on. Millar put in some good defensive work.  Shinnie replaced Forster-Caskey on 75 minutes.  Ben Watson was booked for a foul.

Shinnie won Charlton a corner, took it and then played the ball in again.  The keeper tipped Aneke's effort over the bar.

On 84 minutes, Millar started a move with a good run.  Shinnie's effort was parried but Washington put the ball through the keeper's legs to make it 2-0.

On 86 minutes Morgan and Washington were withdrawn in favour of Smith and Schwartz.

Four minutes were added on and Northampton won a corner after panic in the defence.  Their first shot on target went over Amos to make it 2-1.

After the resumption Aneke got a yellow card for a foul which enabled the keeper to punt the ball down the pitch.  Amos only jusr claimed it, but the three points went to Charlton.

Northampton Town have complained that they were on the wrong end of decision after decision by referee Paul Howard, but to me he seemed to be fair and competent.   This is his first season in the EFL after just two years in the National League.

Promising youngster leaves Charlton

Promising Academy product Ifeoluwa Oni is to join Birmingham City.   There were great hopes for the central midfielder, but the lure of the Championship club (for now) was too great:

Underdogs? Cobblers!

Following their reset under inspirational manager Jon Brady, Northampton Town are looking forward to their visit to The Valley tonight.   However, are they really underdogs as their claim given Charlton's home record?

To talk of Charlton as an ex-Premier League team is really stretching a point.  Babes in arms when we left the top flight are now teenagers.

I originally had this down as a 3-1 win for Charlton at the start of the year.   Now they will have to cope with on form Ryan Watson who scored a brace against Portsmouth on Tuesday.

What we must not do is concede another early goal and end up chasing the game.   As Curbs has said, we need to be defensive to start with and work out what the Cobblers are trying to do.

Maddison was not 'having a kip'

The Bolton Wanderers supremo has denied reports that Marcus Maddison missed training because he overslept as claimed by the Daily Mail.  In fact the 'playmaker' was ill:

Monday 8 March 2021

Time on the buses harms hamstring

Ryan Inniss is back in full training and will play an under 23s match next week:

Meanwhile hours spent on the team bus might have affected Akin Famewo's hamstring (I must say this is a new explanation for me):

Adam Matthews will not be available tomorrow, but Darren Pratley will have served his two match ban.

Elsewhere, Omar Bogle is finding his shooting boots again with another goal for Doncaster on Saturday.   However, Lyle Taylor was caught offside when he thought he had scored for Forest.   Josh Davison managed ton race clear of the Grimsby defence for the Vegans, but his effort hit the post.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Beware teams coming into form

When Charlton were beaten at home by Burton the chorus of moaners focused on them being the bottom club.  The Brewers are now second in the form table, having won five of their last six matches.  Yesterday they beat table topping Peterborough 2-1.   They have pulled out of the relegation zone.

Tuesday's opponents Northampton beat Portsmouth 4-1 yesterday.  Admittedly Portsmouth have been faltering: the only victory they have been able to find recently is in the Royal Dockyard.  They are even below Charlton in the form table.  Manager Kenny Jacket is under pressure.

Even so, take nothing away from Northampton.   They owe a lot to manager Jon Brady who has been placed in charge until the end of the season.   I knew him as a player at Rushden and Diamonds where he made 185 appearances.   From 2009 to 2015 he managed Brackley Town.  He then returned to the county town to look after the under 16s for the Cobblers and has worked his way up from there.

He was interviewed for The Football League Show this morning and what came across was his passion for the task he faced.    He has already got the Cobblers out of the relegation zone and they are way ahead of Charlton in the form table.

So no 'it's only Northampton' on Tuesday.   This is not the team we beat away earlier in the season. Charlton will need to be well shod and defensively alert.  The first three goals for Northampton came from set pieces.  Our own set pieces often leave something to be desired, especially corners.

We were denied a penalty claims 'Gobby'

Oxford supremo Karl Robinson showed that he can still talk the talk when he claimed in this morning's Football League Paper that his 'better team' were denied a penalty at the Kassim Stadium yesterday.

Referring to the Charlton penalty he said: 'If that's a penalty I wish the ref would tell me why he didn't award one for an identical challenge of Olimade Shodipo in the first half.'

However, the referee was not impressed by Gobby's shout of 'Matron!'  'When I asked him about it, he said it was just a coming together of players.  But they were identical.  It just shows the inconsistency.' [I saw a trip on Stockley, I can't recall the first incident but perhaps I was distracted by the cars moving about behind the Charlton goal.

It was Oxford's third successive draw but Robinson had his well thumbed book of excuses ready.  'When you think Charlton came down from the Championship last year, it's a great credit to my players.   We've been playing the big boys.'   If only.

Charlton Retro

The latest article looks at what happened at Charlton when the Second World War broke out which has some parallels with recent events in football:

Saturday 6 March 2021

Last minute penalty save denies Charlton

The Oxford keeper saved a Ronnie Schwartz penalty to deny Charlton all three points at the Kassim Stadium this afternoon.  It was difficult to argue, however, that 0-0 was an unfair result.  Both mid-table sides showed a lack of quality.

Personally I would have had Shinnie or Stockley take the penalty, but I suppose that Schwartz was the designated penalty taker.

As for the game as a whole, it wasn't a question of watching paint dry, but one could watch cars drive behind the empty end of the Kassim Stadium.  Come to think of I should have invited Oxford Pet Whisperers, in which I have an interest, to sponsor the game.

Lee Bowyer said it was mixed emotions, 'the game's crazy.'   He continued, 'They battled, they looked solid defensively, there wasn't much in the game at all.'   He added, 'Connor is the penalty taker, he came off,  I know that Ronnie has taken a lot of penalties, he's very good in practice.  He normally goes a bit higher than he did there.  I would trust him to take another one.'

Bowyer said that if he had one criticism it was that Charlton got into some good areas but the next pass or the second pass was sloppy, ''we should have done better in the final third.'

Curbs said that the need was to get the balance right between the defensive mentality and that aggressiveness.

Charlton remain 9th, four points behind Portsmouth in 6th place.

Match report

The side was unchanged from Wigan and Lee Bowyer said that it was the easiest decision he had made all season.

Millar received an early yellow card for stopping a promising attack.  With the keeper way out of his goal, Washington needed a better touch to control the ball.

On 16 minutes Matthews had to be replaced by Gunter because of a muscle injury.

On 22 minutes Forster-Caskey (making his 100th appearance for Charlton) was fed by Millar, but it was an acute angle and his effort went over.

Oxford were finding some space on their right while Steve Brown said our crosses and finishes had to be better.

Just after the half hour a Forster-Caskey header was just over after good work by Gunter.

From the 40 minute mark there was a spell of sustained Oxford pressure and Steve Brown noted that our marking was not good.  Aneke got a yellow card for making contact with Atkinson.

The half time stats showed one shot on target for Oxford and none for Charlton.   Curbs noted on half time, 'We've got our defensive heads on, but it may take away from our attacking side.'

Aneke was sensibly replaced by Stockley after the break.   On 61 minutes Ford hit the inside of the post for Oxford.   Charlton then had a break, but Millar's effort was wide.

On 77 minutes Bowyer made a triple substitution.  Washington (not making a real difference), Smith (tiring) and Watson (yellow card) went off.  Shinnie, Schwartz and DJ came on.

Oxford had another late flurry.  Then in the three minutes added on, we won the penalty after Gorrin tripped Stockley - before the game 'Gobby' had been urging his players to press for a penalty.  But it was to no avail.

We got another clean sheet and we go again Tuesday.

Oxford Mail report here:

Friday 5 March 2021

Saturday stalemate?

Oxford United supremo Karl Robinson has been complaining about a mounting injury list and a four match winless run, but the Oxford Mail reckons it is an opportunity for bit part players to make their mark:

Oxford have a good home record, having won seven, drawn three and lost four.  Away from home, Charlton have won nine, drawn four and lost four.

We have only won at the Kassim Stadium in the FA Cup.  I remember us playing at the Manor Ground which still had something of a 'Headington United' atmosphere with its Meccano stands.

CAS Trust reckons that a 0-0 draw would be a good result:

My original forecast was a 2-1 win for Charlton, but that now looks optimistic even if Oxford's run, which had the pundits tipping them for the top, has faltered somewhat.

'Gobby' has been talking about pressure on the referee to award penalties, but Tom Nield looks like a man who can cope with pressure given what he has had to deal with during the pandemic as a senior nursing officer:

No contract talks for key players

Chuks Aneke and Jake Forster-Caskey are two of Charlton's best players and they are free agents in the summer.  However, contract talks cannot start until it is known which division the club will be in:

As it  is likely to be League One, the salary offers may not be attractive enough for players likely to be in demand elsewhere.

Thursday 4 March 2021

'Gobby' wants more penalties

When he was at Charlton, Karl Robinson complained that he was the victim of a referees' conspiracy.  Now he thinks that Oxford are not getting enough penalties and he wants pressure put on referees to award them:

Why we do better when Forster-Caskey plays

I think Jake Forster-Caskey is a key ingredient in the side and it is interesting to learn that our points per game ratio is better when he plays at least a full half.   He pops up all over the pitch in good positions.  Benjy Nurick gives a fuller and more informed analysis of his contribution:

Tough times for Schwartz

Ronnie Schwartz is finding the transition from the more technical football played in Denmark compared with the robustness of League One.  Lockdown is not helping with his family in Denmark where his wife is pregnant:

One family I know play a 'how many touches?' game when Schwartz comes on.  The winning figure is always less than ten and often close to zero.   Admittedly, he is often a late substitute.  

Chuks Aneke was checked over yesterday after coming off at Wigan and is fine.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Looking on the bright side of life

Still plenty of complaints this morning about last night, mostly on the lines of 'it's only Wigan.'  As the old cliché says, you have to play who is in front of you.

There were lots of defects in Charlton's performance and Steve Brown was very skilled in pointing them out.  He could play a useful backroom role.  The normal commentary is far too biased in favour of Charlton and is difficult to reconcile with what we are seeing on our screens.

What I do think the result shows is that talk of a relegation struggle which has been suggested to me by normally sensible fans has no basis in reality.   I still think it is unlikely that we will make the play offs or, if we do, progress beyond the semi-finals.

Perhaps we need to recall once again what happened to the club in recent years.  Roland Duchatelet, for all his skill as a businessman, showed poor judgment in relation to football.   We then went through a phase of owners or purported owners whose commitment to the club seemed to be related to its potential financial value.   Some of them had complex business histories.

As a consequence we had a transfer ban then were caught by the salary cap.  As Curbs has pointed out, recruitment was largely on the basis of getting bodies in.  The salary cap constrained us again in January, although Jayden Stockley looks like a smart acquisition which should be made permanent.

Even a manager of calibre of Eddie Howe, who wouldn't come to a League One club, would find this group of players a challenge.

That is not to say that Bowyer is not open to criticism.  All managers make mistakes but sometimes his relative inexperience shows.   It is also claimed that he is not on the best of terms with the technical director.

The last thing we want (and we won't get it with Sandgaard) is a rushed decision about the future.  There needs to be careful consideration of the available candidates and how they would fit with Charlton - and would they be better than Bowyer?   There are not many good managers out there ready to join a League One club.

Sometimes you just need a bit of a luck.   The other week I was doing some consultancy for a body that had hit a bit of a road block with someone in Cardiff.   I happened to know them from way back, and I also know they had learned Welsh (not an easy language to learn).   So I emailed them partially in Welsh (my nephews are fluent in their first language) and got a result.  The client was delighted, but it was just good fortune.

Sometimes I think that the Sporting Life view that Charlton fans are among the most negative and pessimistic in football is correct, but the reality is that all fans have excessive expectations and like nothing more than criticising their own club - although usually the manager rather than the players (apart from a 'scapegoat player').

Before lockdown I went to see an away match between Gloucester City and Leamington.  The Brakes had won the home match 3-0.  After 70 minutes Gloucester were 3-2 ahead.  Marshalled by their centre back, a former Leamington player (now with Barnet) it was clear what their game plan was.   Their priority was to stop Leamington equalising: if they scored a fourth, it would be a bonus, but it was not the main objective.

From behind me came a chorus of abuse unfitting for a cathedral city directed at the home side (albeit then playing at Evesham).  The general argument was that Leamington were all over them (they weren't) and were going to win (they lost).

As for Charlton, I don't think this is the start of a run, but we at least have a fighting chance against Gobby on Saturday.

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Three points for Charlton

It wasn't polished or pretty, but Charlton secured three points tonight with a 1-0 victory at Wigan.  As Curbs said afterwards, 'They dug in.  It was an all round effort.'

Chuks Aneke secured the points with a first half goal in which he shrugged off two Wigan central defenders pursuing him.  Washington was the provider.   He then should have had a penalty when he was rugby tackled, but the referee ruled that he had lost his balance.

Wigan upped the tempo in the second half and applied pressure to Charlton, but a lot of their efforts were wild and Ben Amos was only really called into action a couple of times.

Millar came closest to scoring in the second half when his effort was cleared off the line.

On the downside, as Steve Brown noted, too often a Charlton attack was turned into defence ten seconds later.  More quality was need in finishing.

It was good to see Jake Forster-Caskey back and he led Charlton with 46 passes, four tackles and seven crosses.

The Charlton clean sheet owed a lot to Jason Pearce, who made one crucial defensive header and Akin Famewo.

Curbs praised Ben Watson's work in the middle of the park where he operated as a defensive midfielder.

Charlton are now 9th, ahead of Gobby's Oxford United whom they play on Saturday.

Sandgaard faces his first big call as owner

Benjy Nurick has written his latest analysis of Charlton's problems and it is certainly a comprehensive treatment:

Nurick puts the arguments for and against retaining Bowyer.   Essentially what he says if that we think Bowyer is the person to rebuild the makeshift squad in the summer, he should stay.  If not, he might as well go now.

Owners need to be ruthless, but it is easy to get into a destructive cycle of sacking manager after manager in a search for 'the one'.

At the end of the day he doesn't give an opinion and says it is up to us as fans.   We are often told that football is all about 'opinions' and that is certainly the case at Charlton.

Tonight we head for Wigan Pier

During the Duchatelet regime at The Valley I made the mistake of booking a pre-match curry for a home game with Wigan as I had had work appointments in London earlier in the day.   I was greeted as 'Wayne' and asked if I had travelled down from Wigan that day.  No doubt my northern accent was the give away.

My indirect connection with Wigan continues.   One of George Orwell's best known non-fiction books is The Road to Wigan Pier, the pier actually being a jetty on a local canal.  The other week I received a request for a zoom conversation with 'Eric Blair' (Orwell's real name) who turned out to be a young woman.  

The upshot is that the Orwell Foundation have asked me to write up some football materials for them, a slight paradox as Orwell was not keen on organised games.

I only went to Wigan with Charlton once when we were in the Premier League and the core support seemed to be lippy 12 year olds.

Wigan are currently second from bottom in League One, but two palaces ahead of Charlton in the form table. At home they have won two games, drawn four and lost nine.  Away from home Charlton have won eight, drawn four and lost four.

Over time our record with the Lactics has been even: won five, drawn three, lost five.

Wigan lost 2-1 to Peterborough on the ploughed field last Saturday and caretaker chief Leam Richardson felt aggrieved by a penalty awarded against them.  He said that 'we were a threat from set pieces all day.'

He continued, 'We know where we are as a football club and a group of people.  We came together late as a squad and are finding our feet as we go.  Our energy levels can drop after 75 minutes in a game due to not many of the lads having a pre-season.' 

Wigan still don't have an owner - they were one of the clubs Thomas Sandgaard looked at.  The events that happened at the club last year are rather murky, but I have better say no more as I have already been warned that I may have made defamatory remarks about a previous owner.

I hope that Lee Bowyer will start Aneke as I think we need to score the first goal and he is a real threat to opposition defences.  However, I don't see the players in training, nor do I have access to the medical reports which now carry great weight.

We would probably have lost without the officials' decisions on Saturday, but nevertheless their mistakes certainly contributed to the scale of the defeat.   Tonight Sam Allison is the referee and Lisa Rashid is running the line.

Allison is a fire fighter from Wiltshire and played semi-professional football.  He was promoted to the EFL list last summer.   Interview with him here:   Lisa Rashid officiated in the women's World Cup:

At the start of the year I predicted a 2-1 win at Wigan and that now looks unlikely.   However, we might be able to get a useful away point.

Please note that the match starts at 6 pm so Scotty, Curbs and Steve Brown will be online from 5.15.

Monday 1 March 2021

Morgan out of favour with Bowyer

Albie Morgan has not been in the squad for the last three Charlton matches and it's not because he has been injured.   Once again he appears to be out of favour with the somewhat mercurial supremo who says he is 'still learning his game':

I have to say that I am never quite sure what to make of Morgan who sometimes looks quite good and at other times makes little impact.   It may be that his contemporary George Lapslie was the better player.

It is still uncertain whether Akin Famewo will make the journey to Wigan Pier tomorrow.  Bowyer is waiting for the medics.   

Charlton are to appeal the red card for Chuks Aneke, while Bowyer has defended Darren Pratley:

Curbs thought that we should appeal the Aneke red card, but the pundits on The Football League Show thought it was justified.  Personally I doubt whether it will succeed, although I think the referee had a mare (but according to him his worst game changing mistake was down to the linesman).  I was wrong: the card has been overturned.

As for Pratley, he is committed, but the problem is that he is too committed for the modern game.  One might also argue that commitment is a substitute for skill.

Bowyer and Sandgaard talk

Lee Bowyer talked to Thomas Sandgaard on Sunday and reckons that the team are low on confidence and a win would set them on the right path:

That is true, but the question is where is it going to come from.  It will be another tough match at Wigan tomorrow night.

I do think that a play off place is now very unlikely.   However, those who talk about a relegation battle are succumbing to the typical pessimism and negativity of Charlton supporters.   This team, poor though is, can scrape together enough points to get a respectable midtable position.

However, those people talking about alternative managers are really wasting their time because Sandgaard is fortunately not a rush to judgment person.   There needs to be a major rebuild of a much weakened squad in the summer and whether that should be done by Bowyer or someone else needs careful reflection.   Remember that Charlton have only had three really outstanding managers - Seed, Lawrence and Curbishley - and some really awful ones have been recruited in a hurry.

One Addick who has been with us through many difficult times said: 'It’s entirely possible that Bowyer’s seemingly irrational behaviour, both in terms of team selection/tactics and post match comments are down to a all the stress he’s been under since taking the job. After all, it can’t have been easy dealing with RD, ESI etc and still having to churn a team out.'

In another interview with Richard Cawley, Bowyer has rejected suggestions that his public criticisms of some player have lessened their willingness to play for him: