Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

Home from a near perfect fortnight's holiday in the Cypriot sunshine. Very hard to beat a clean white villa with a large sparkling pool and wall-to-wall warm sunshine and clear blue skies. Sea views from the hills, agricultural back-drop, gentle breezes and country roads lined with laden olive, pomegranate and fig trees. Difficult to improve on all this and simple Greek food - but I managed it yesterday.

After getting into bed at 4am, I got four hours heavy sleep before rising and preparing for my favourite away venue in the Championship - Brighton on a Saturday at 3pm. Mate and I were on the 11.05 from Blackfriars which seemed to move at 15 miles-per-hour until well past Croydon but we were still in at Brighton on-time for 12.25pm where local Pete met us (thanks for guesting on this blog Pete). A swift couple of pints of West Pier in the station bar before a stroll down into the town for a few more Sussex ales. It may not have been Mediterranean-hot but the sun was shining and it was short-sleeve order.

For the first time on a Brighton trip we braved the train to Falmer and I have to say it was a breeze. Well organised and efficient we were quickly at the ground and managed a pint of Harveys from the cask in the ground before taking our padded, leg-room seats for the action. Could it get better? Well, obviously it could and it soon was.

I said after watching Igor Vetekole at Brentford that he looked every inch the Killer and I stand by that this morning. Not because he notched his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign and heads the inaugural scoring charts, but because of the manner and style of his play and, more importantly, his finishing. It took him four minutes to create chaos among the visiting 2000 Addicks by picking up a loose ball from a Tucudean charge and with a second to spare he shaped and drove a low shot beyond Stockdale.

After that it was pretty much all Brighton up to the break as they passed and probed around our back four. In spite of the pre-match threat of Mackhail-Smith, O'Grady and Baldock, they only fielded the Scotsman alongside another double-barrelled target man in Forster-Caskey. Neither could make any impression on Bikey and Ben Haim, so it was left to Colunga and Teixera in particular to try and hurt us. Joao Texeira caught the eye throughout the match and was the home sides' man-of-the-match by a country mile although Lewis Dunk did everything that could be expected of him including both Brighton goals. Wiggins and Solly haven't yet recaptured their best form but were solid enough and we looked comfortable at the back for most of the match. 

Brighton did manage a couple of back post volleys which were sent high and wide and they did force a fine save from Henderson but could have few complaints at being one-down at the break. The second period was really more of the same and I thought we had it won although the clock seemed to move very slowly. Church had come on for Tucudean at the break and we looked poised to move further upfield if necessary at any time. That came after Lewis Dunk headed home a disappointingly routine corner after 67 minutes.

Nine minutes later and after building some midfield momentum with Wilson now on the right and Gudmundsson having shifted left, we broke and Simon Church was rewarded when Igor seized on the pull back to dart goalward and squeeze a shot wide of Stockdale and in off the post twenty yards in front of me. Cue joyous pandemonium again and booming chants of I-gor, I-gor, I-gor, I-gor. With fifteen minutes left we really should have taken the three points but Brighton had worked their socks off and they continued to play football and press us. Their equaliser was a carbon-copy of the opener from Lewis Dunk and it took the wind from our sails coming in the last minute of the match.

On reflection it was still a very good point and the nature of their goal was only similar to a couple of own recently. We had the luck at Huddersfield when Ben Haim got away with a penalty shout which would have cost us the game and we survived that to snatch a point. We sit pretty in sixth and along with table-toppers Forest are the only unbeaten sides in the division. We have beaten two of the best teams at the Valley and drawn three away games at tough venues. We can be proud of our start and confident that there is more to come. 

It was good to see old-face Southampton Addick, Nick Blendon and his Jihadi son as well as my old schoolmate, Big Pete Roberts.

Final word to B&HAFC for another great day. Win, draw or lose, they make a big effort to welcome visitors to the Amex and for that they deserve to do well. The posters pictured here are typical of the careful consideration given to welcoming visitors. I will be back.




Monday, 25 August 2014

Huddersfield Town 1 Charlton Athletic 1

Bob Peeters less than impressed with his side but happy with result in the end.


As mentioned previously, I wasn't ever going to be there on Saturday and only saw progress whilst in the pub entertaining friends down for the weekend. I'm sure you have done so already, but a full report is obviously available on the official club website.
Wasn't looking good throughout the second half according to the BBC Sport website and I didn't realise Huddersfield were down to 10 throughout that half until finding out the result. It sounded like we were second best throughout much of the match and I wonder whether our neat passing football, which should be very effective against a side down to 10 for half a game, actually works against us if we continue to play that way rather than bombarding a tiring defence towards the end of such a game. I think we always need a plan B and possibly a C and D to cope with the changed game situation. As I said, I wasn't there so I'm probably not qualified to comment, but I can have an opinion, Can't I?
Anyway, another point away from home which keeps us in 5th place in table and as yet undefeated, we can't complain too much can we? Another toughie Saturday, this time away to Brighton and Dave will return from his holiday and join me at the Amex, so normal service resumed next week. In the meantime there's a Capital One Cup fixture away to last weeks defeated opponents Derby County. Not for me this one, so any report will be second hand once again. I wonder if Peeters will put out a strong side this time around? In the last round he would have been looking to get some first choicers a bit of early season game time, this time around that's not necessary and some will surely get a rest. I would expect Morro to get a start, Gomez will come in for Solly and perhaps JJ will get a well deserved rest. Anyway, expect a much changed side from Saturday.
I expect Wednesdays report will be my last for a while (unless an influx of signings before deadline day!!). It's been good fun doing this blog, and thanks Dave for the opportunity, but I don't think I could do it more regularly, takes up far to much time, so much respect to all those that write regularly.
Apart from the time consuming element, writing this blog has also sent me mental with constant thinking about what to write and a particular bug bear has been trying to come up with a witty poetic and amusing headline for when we eventually sign Andy Delort from Tours. I've come up with a right doozy. I won't share it now, I'll leave you in delicious anticipation for what is to come. And, if we don't sign him (v. likely in my opinion), I'll leave you wondering what might have been.


A Bientot.


Pete

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Charlton Athletic 3 Derby County 2

We're By Far The Greatest Team, the World Has Ever Seen!


We're not! In my opinion that would be Brazil in 1970 or Spain in the last 6 years or so (before this years World Cup anyway). But, make no mistake, the owner and the manager have built something special here that we can all get excited about, evidenced by last nights win over one of the top sides in the division. The second such victory in 4 days.


I got to the ground earlier last night than I have ever got to The Valley before, thanks to a work meeting having been called off, and a diet meaning no pre match pub for me. So an hour before the game I'm in my seat. Luckily, on the way in I purchased a copy (from the man himself) of Rick Everitts "Battle For The Valley" which has just been updated and re-released, so plenty of reading material before the 7.45pm kick off.


Team news was that the side remained largely unchanged from Saturday except Pope in goal as predicted, but more unexpectedly, Gomez made his debut in place of Solly, who's knees I assume can't manage two games in a week.


We looked lively from the off, kicking towards the away fans (about 1200 of them, fair play for a midweek game) Our neat passing play was evident and effective, with Derby chasing shadows for much of the opening 5 minutes, a shot from Gudmundsson being the only effort though, and even that only confirmed my suspicions that for all of his great wingplay, we have another spongefoot on our hands .Derby got into the game after that but were undone on 10 when a neat pass out left to Cousins was followed by the now customary cut inside, a slide rule pass to Tucudean on or about the penalty spot, who turned sharply and angled the ball perfectly into the bottom left corner. To note Tucudean was lucky not to have been booked for a cynical shirt pull/grab early in the half when it was completely unnecessary. That sort of petulance could cost. Also slightly worrying was Popes tendency to take on the striker after a back pass and having to rush his clearances a couple of times. He is young, he will learn.
Following the goal Derby gained the ascendency without too much threat to Popes goal, a couple of weak or wayward shots being all they had to show. Buyens tried from range but blasted way high. A period of stalemate ensued with both sides reluctant to surrender possession, but Derby broke back following a couple of shots when Ward fired top right to level.
A couple of injuries meant 4 minutes of added time in the first half and it was during this extra period that Tucudean found himself dinking this way and that and bearing down on goal, when an outstretched foot toppled him and the ref pointed to the spot. Surprisingly no card of any colour for the defender Keogh, but my old fashioned senses say that the penalty was punishment enough. Buyens duly stepped up and lashed the pen high and far left into the goal and the Addicks went into the break 2-1 to the good.
Worryingly, Tucudean didn't appear for the second half having been replaced by Moussa, winning goalscorer from Saturdays game.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the previous 45 with both sides passing to feet effectively, if I'm honest I think Derby were shading it and an equaliser would not have been a surprise. However, this Charlton team are made of stern stuff and Derby goalscoring chances were few, with Pope dealing effectively with those that came his way, or the defence tidying up nicely when required. We also had a couple of chances, Vetokele had another one on one which was well saved, Moussa was also set free but tripped embarrassingly, we also had a couple of chances when the ball just would not get out from under first Vetokeles feet then Moussa once again (I think).
With about 10 minutes left, a long cross from the left  flew over everyones head and was collected near the Covered End byline by Jackson who turned and crossed superbly for Wilson to flick on to an unmarked Vetokele who duly dispatched his header into the back of the net.  Job done, game over you'd think, but this being Charlton, things are never that simple and a firm but seemingly innocuous shot from Ward, with 5 minutes to go will haunt Pope for some time, as the ball went through his legs and into the net. Wards second then and squeaky bum time for the Addicks for the remaining 5, plus 4 minutes extra time. Understandably Derby pressed to try and get an equaliser, but I can't recall too much trouble for the defence or Pope, and in the end we held out for another impressive victory.
We find ourselves 4th in the table at the moment and it wouldn't surprise me if we remain in a similar lofty position for some time yet, given how well we are playing.
Atmosphere wise, the crowd was pretty small but Derby created decent noise, and the North Stand and east Stand a block responded well. Strange to hear "Since I was Young" being sung by the DCFC support, was it their song in the first place? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?
All in all a great evening, spoiled only by the fact that I got flashed on the M25 doing 90 mph on the way home, so can expect a nick, and having busted a gut to get back to West Sussex at a reasonable hour, the A24 was shut 10 miles from home, meaning a 10 mile detour, hey ho!
A couple of shout outs. Before the game I saw a group of junior footballers from Seattle in their club tracksuits, hope they enjoyed the "soccer" game and were well entertained. Also regards to Chicago Addick who was there tonight with his son. I hope that when he gets to read this he has a had a safe and pleasant journey home. see you next time CA.
Not sure what sort of report you'll get Saturday as I'm not going to Huddersfield and may not get a chance to listen to the game Maybe I'll just cut and paste the official sites report! (Am I allowed to do that? - No? Oh well, sue me Charlton, I've just been nicked for speeding, probably, I'm a proper wrong un!)





Sunday, 17 August 2014

AY AY AY AY Moussa

Athletically Charlton 2 - Athletico Wigan 1 
At last a deflection goes our way.!!!

Dave's on hols so your stuck with me for a couple of weeks.
If you've read when I've done this before, you'll know that I'm not big on stats, tactics, timings and names so apologies if this report is lacking a bit of detail, but I hope you find it at least a little entertaining.

I'll be honest, watching this lot last season, and Englands dismal performance in Brazil has meant that I've fallen out of love with football a little bit. Given that and the fact that I've recently moved 70 miles away from The Valley has meant that my enthusiasm for attending games has waned somewhat in recent times (although I've maschostically continued going).
However,  with a new manager, a new look team, The Valley all spruced up and good reports from the last two games, I thought I ought to make the effort and attend the first home league game of the season. In the end I was actually looking forward to it. Fickle eh?


First of all The Valley. The old girls looking mighty impressive, what with stripey grass, very red seats, and bright yellow walkways and all. The 400 odd visiting fans (surely there won't be a worse away attendance at a Saturday league game this season?) Were lively from the start and must have thought they were back in the Premiership with the facilities on offer...oh wait! They were in the away end, perhaps not.


Big shout out to Vitos boys Max and Harry, Max was making his debut at The Valley at 2 years old and managed to sit through the whole 90 minutes without fuss, Respect! Plenty of old faces too, it was good to see them.


A quick word about the catering outlets, looked like a decent menu on offer and few queues inside the ground, unfortunately being on a diet means I was unable to partake. Oh well perhaps when I've shifted another couple of stone. I did notice that the normal burger and chip van outside the family stand has been replaced with a stall flogging some tasty looking savoury pastries and SALAD!! Salad at a football match? For crying out loud! I also noticed on leaving the ground, that very little stock had shifted so perhaps a lesson learned eh lads? This is SE7 not N whatever (insert Arsenals post code).

To the game then. I think we were unchanged from last week. In front of Henderson were Bikey-Amougou and Ben-Haim with Solly and Wiggins full backs. Midfield comprised of Gudmundsson, Jacko, Buyens and Cousins, with Tucudean and Vetokele up top. Danger signs in the first couple of minutes as Wiggins got skinned and Bikey gave the ball away in dangerous positions, luckily these came to nowt for the visitors. It was evident to all that Peeters has us playing proper football in training with balls to feet aplenty and very little hoofball. The passing game is fantastic to watch but I'm sure we are going to get caught out this season if we continue the tactic of playing triangles just outside our own box. I should say though that Wigan are are a very good side with some Premiership class still shining through and they were able to stop us playing decent balls out if defence. That said, joy for the Addicks on eight minutes as the ball WAS played out and sent wide left to cousins who ran the flank for a while before cutting inside, passing the defender and unleashing a Curler into the top right corner. Goal of the season contender already?? One nil up and a little confidence was bestowed upon the team in red and the game settled into a more even contest. Cousins tried again from the same position but this time shot high and wide. Wiggins was still worrying me, as he appeared to be getting outpaced on a number of occasions and on 22 minutes, he was passed again, leading to a Wigan equaliser, with  the impressive Mcmanaman slotting home past the diving Henderson. The half was played out without much further incident, Cousins tried the cut inside and shot once more with no end result, there was a goalmouth scramble in the Charlton box. An intruiging half if not one filled with goalmouth incident.
To the second 45 then and much of the same as we played possession football and Wigan showed thier class, make no mistake, they will be up there at the end of the season, and we'll do well to match their achievement. The slightly ineffective Tucudean was replaced by Moussa 15 minutes in, and on 65 Henderson worried the Addicks faithful when he went down under no apparent pressure with what appeared to be ankle damage. As he was led off the field to a chorus of "You're just a soft southern bastard" from the travelling fans, he was replaced by Nick Pope, was Popey making his league debut? I can't remember. I got the impression that there was nervousness on both keeper and defences part in the first few minutes but Pope grew as further minutes ticked by. A decent punch (which appeared to take out two Wigan players), a couple of aerial claims and some very fine kicking, which may be a potent weapon should the need arise, augur very well. The rest of the half went by in much the same way as the rest of the game with both sides playing to strengths and cancelling each other out to some degree. Gudmundsson demonstrated he has all the power of a Simon Church with a weak shot worthy of old spongefoot.  In the last 5 minutes of normal time, The Addicks upped their game and should have scored at least once more especially when good work sent Vetokele clear but Igor couldn't get past the keeper. 5 minutes added on due to the injury to Henderson and more Charlton pressure finally led to a winner on 93 when Moussa collected the ball, shot goalwards and a wicked deflection saw the ball loop exquisitely over the hapless Scott Carson and into the net. After last weeks deflected goal against us at Brentford and numerous similar last season, it was about time one went our way. Two more minutes remained and the Addicks did pretty much everything right to kill the game with Pope especially showing that he knows what its about with a decent claim in the air and then going to ground to waste a few seconds. D'urso blew the whistle and the Addicks faithful were sent into raptures.
Before the game it was worrying to see Andy D'urso as ref, a fussy little man with a penchant for calling games off, but overall I thought he had a half decent game but fussy as I said.
Perch looked impressive for them at right back as did Mcmanaman further forward. For us, my first view of Bikey in a red shirt left me impressed at least after the first five minutes, although wearing one pink and one blue boot, I do wonder whether he has a pair exactly the same at home? Buyens looked classy and can pick a pass, Cousins impressed, the jurys out for me on Tucudean. Wiggins unusually had a poor game but overall we look a physically strong side who can play football, we also have a bit of pace, vital at this level. Credit to Bob Peeters and the owner due too I think. Nice to hear big Bobs name being chanted by the way. The crowd was vocal throughout, all 13 thousand of them, although I'm sure the official attendance will be higher.
So, a drive back to the south coast and a chance to reflect further, I still think we'll finish upper mid table this season, but with a fair wind and further signings, could do even better.
We do it all again on Tuesday evening against further tough oppo in the shape of Derby, a similar performance and the same result would do very nicely Thank You! I'm actually looking forward to it again, dare I say it I've fallen back in love (a little bit) with the footy again!


Thanks for reading my ramblings, we'll do it all again maybe on Tuesday.




Pete

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Charlton Athletic 4 v Colchester United 0

I doff my cap to Bob Peeters this evening and say a big thank you. I am too tired to look through the records but this was one of the most enjoyable League Cup wins I can remember for quite some time and Bob proved me wrong by playing a strong side with a strong bench which he used to the full. 

Peeters appears to be a man who really gets it. I think he understands what is important at football clubs like a fan and not necessarily as a player. He knows we don't want to spend a Summer evening watch a reserve side struggle to beat a weaker league team, even if the admission price has been reduced. He also knows that Cup runs can have positive league benefits and that winning breeds confidence. He probably also knows that fans pay closer attention to these things than they may be given credit for. This evening he was rewarded for being bold with his team selection and for seeing it through the supporters eyes.

The ground may have been restricted to the lower North, lower West and Jimmy Seed this evening but it was unusually full for a league cup first rounder and the attendance of 5752 was a vote of confidence for the ground improvements and the team rebuilding. It was great to see the side lining up and to realise that Henderson was being given another important early opportunity in goal when a cop-out might have been to play Pope. Good too to see Morrison paired with Bikey at centre-half. This was what most wanted to see after Saturday. Joe Gomez was entrusted with his debut at right-back and Morgan Fox was flawless on the left.

Cousins was back in centre-mid, again reflecting the supporters views from Saturday and Yoni Buyens was given the berth alongside to further test our best options. Lawrie Wilson was started out right and Callum Harriott on the left. Moussa and Tucudean were the front paring although they played like a one and one for most of the match. If that wasn't positive enough, we had a strong bench including Vetokele, Gudmundssen and Simon Church, all of whom came on with good game time.

Colchester started brightly and their optimism and determination looked for twenty minutes or so like it might give them some reward. However, Okuanghoe handled in the six yard area to deflect a Charlton effort that was goal-bound and he saw red. Buyens scored from the spot and after that Colchester gradually retreated into their shells as Charlton took control of the match. 

Early in the second-half the lively Lawrie Wilson was played in on the overlap and fired across Lewington to make things safe. He repeated the move five minutes later and it was time for some show-boatring from the Addicks who really impressed after that. Peeters didn't let up and actually brought Vetokele on for Moussa who had a debut he will want to forget - trying too much and his first touch was poor for the most part. Gudmundsson came on for Buyens with 25 to go and we tightened our grip on the game and might have added a couple to the scoreline. Simon Church also got on after 72 minutes and it was he who added the finishing touch to a spilled ball from another raking Gudmunsson shot minutes before the final whistle.

All in all a comfortable evening for long suffering Addicks and for once the vast majority left the stadium talking of returning, not refusing to return. One Swallow doesn't a Summer make, but this was two good performances from two and there is clearly more to come from this side. Confidence will be high going into the next two home games and come what may, Peeters needs a big pat on the back for the way he has approached both matches so far. As the players left the field he called the first ones to disappear down the tunnel back onto the field of play and to either lap up the applause or to applaud the fans. Either way it was the right thing to do and as I said at the top, he really seems to get it. I will take the next round much more seriously knowing Bob Peeters is likely to.

Only negatives for me were Mousa's first touch as I have said and the general lack of contribution fro Callum Harriott who was almost absent first-half. I won't read too much into these performances and look forward to improvements next time out.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Oh go on then..

Colchester United visit the Valley tonight in the first round League Cup. Not exactly one to get the pulse racing but I will be there to see the new look ground and because I will miss the next three league matches. 

The stock of the League Cup has never really been that strong but in recent years it has become weaker still. Bigger clubs have now taken to fielding reserve sides and we invariably feature as a bigger club and a not-too-difficult scalp as a result. Successive managers have failed to change policy or heed the warning and I fully expect BP to do the same this evening.

I watched Derby walk all over Carlisle United last night in an easy 2-0 victory in front of a smattering of fans (3481) and suspect we might struggle to improve on that this evening. For those who aren't still on holiday, they also face two more home league games within the next week. This match really doesn't prioritise...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Brentford 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Bob Peeters was denied a winning start by yet another deflected goal. We must
have conceded a dozen deflections last season and have another to kick-off this season. Other than that it was a positive day for the travelling Addicks after weeks of worry about whether or not the new look side would be competitive.

It was a cracking day to kick the season off. The pubs were doing a roaring trade before the match as Charlton and Brentford fans mixed happily, sharing hopes and fears for the season ahead. Griffin Park will soon be gone so it was good to saviour an old fashioned football ground for once.

We were located in the former home end which is now a small two-tiered affair (not unlike QPR's but obviously better). I wondered what view we might be afforded given that the seats were only a pound more than standing but I shouldn't have worried. We were perched what seemed like only fifteen feet above the crossbar.

Stephen Henderson was in goal in his day-glo orange outfit and was fairly imposing all afternoon. He made a good save from the impressive Pritchard mid-way through the first-half but could do nothing after being wrong footed by a big deflection for the Bees late equaliser. In between he didn't have too much to 
do.

After the doubts about who would start at full-back, both first choices were in position and Chris Solly took the man-of-the-match accolade. Rhoys Wiggins might have been better on the wing than Jordan Cousins and I would have been tempted to play him ahead of Morgan Fox. The only real surprise of the day was no Michael Morrison. BP decided to start with Tal Ben Haim and Andre Bikey-Amougou. Neither of them let him down but for my money, Morrison would represent less risk than Haim. Jackson and Buyens were paired in the centre and Gudmundsson out right.

Mohican Vetokele and George Tucudean lead the attack and gave Brentford's back-line an uncomfortable afternoon.

It was an even first half although Brentford's midfield dominated possession without really being able to put any pressure on us. McCormack had a fine match and saw more of the ball than any else. He was efficient and the midfield passing with Pritchard, Judge and Douglas was impressive but too much of it was sideways and backwards as the black-shirted Addicks pushed forward. Charlton were good value for 0-0 at the break and you sensed there was a goal to come in the second-half.

Igor Vetokele nearly broke the deadlock soon after the restart but his lancing header was superbly parried onto a post by Button and scrambled clear. George Tucudean was then played in one-on-one against David Button in front of 1500 clamouring Charlton fans. Unfortunately, George wasn't decisive enough and his low shot was saved. Charlton fans were now expectant and they didn't have long to wait. From a corner on our left I counted four rows of two red-shirted home players carefully spacing the box and only three lurking Addicks on the edge of the box. I hadn't spotted Igor Vetokele pacing the six yard line and unsettling his markers. The corner was driven into the six yard box and amid a flurry players and the goalkeeper, a black head was thrust fastest to meet the ball and crash it home. Igor had struck and there was unbridled joy behind the goal as Charlton fans celebrated with a mixture of genuine excitement and some relief. The ground then resounded to deafening burst of "Ee-gor, Ee-gor, Ee-gor," shouted rapidly I might add and not in a lame "Ea-gles" kind of way (take note everyone).

We still had almost half-an-hour to go and we looked very comfortable for most of it. We should have scored a second which would have killed the match off. Vetokele beat Button to a back-pass (I think) but couldn't get a clear shot on goal. He managed to spoon a pass wide which found the sub Harriott (on after the hour mark for a tiring Tucudean) in space but under pressure. Callum's snapped shot looked like it would find the unguarded net but instead it thudded off the bar. Brentford looked beaten at that point but with five minutes left Tommy Smith scored with that deflection to take a little bit of gloss off the performance. 

All-in-all a bright start and there was plenty to discuss in O-Riordan's garden, high above the swaying Thames, not least the impression made by the new boys and Vetokele in particular. I'm trying not to get too carried away but there is definitely more than a whiff of Killer about him. Please let it prove so...