Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Colchester United 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

Our unbeaten run wasn't going to last to forever and it went last night at the depressingly small and sparsely attended Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester. That was bad enough but the manor of the defeat was more worrying, both in terms of the way we looked unable to compete and a couple of serious managerial mistakes to my mind.

I have read Phil Parkinson's comments and reactions to last nights defeat and I have to say I think I was watching a different game. He says we had four or five clear chances to take the lead before half-time; we didn't - we had one half-chance that Bailey slammed wide. He went on to say that 3-o "totally flattered" the U's. Again I have to disagree - they looked good value for their three goal margin.

Parkinson blamed three individual mistakes for the goals and that might be true enough but Colchester dominated the play and created far more than we did. We started with the same team that took on Exeter and that meant Spring and Racon in the middle and that's where the problems started for us. Spirng was completely anonymous and I actually didn't notice him touch the ball until we were two nil down, well after the half hour mark. As a consequence, every Racon touch was a tackle and he isn't built to compete here.

Colchester are a huge side and crosses into Burton looked more pointless than usual. He stood no chance against their bears at the back and with no middle, Sam and Bailey were only really ploughing the channels. Jonjo Shelvey was completely out of sorts and I lost count of the number of times he flailed his arms in frustration with himself.

Colchester look like they can only play one way; neat triangles and forward play on the flanks in order to generate crosses for the monsters Platt and Odejayi bearing down on goal. To be fair to them they play well as a pair and gave Llera major problems all night. I say Llera because it was invariably him who was left to contest everything in the air, while Dailly appeared to be doing the interceptions and distribution from the back.

The first goal was a simple own goal and a misunderstanding. A harmless forward ball that was too long for the Colchester front men fell between Llera and the advancing Elliot. Not sure if there was a call but Llera headed back right to where Elliot had been standing but he was now forward left and the bounce beat his despairing attempts to prevent it going in. Llera was quick to haul his keeper up and thump the ball back down in a move that looked like we were going to shake this mistake off. Unfortunately, Colchester scored with their next attack it looked a lost cause from there on. With Charlton pressing forward, Shelvey was caught in possession and the ball was pumped downfield to the monsters who split around Llera. Platt headed on and Odejayi galloped on to the ball and smashed a cross shot past the stranded Elliot.

The Charlton support was relatively quiet all night and there was a strange atmosphere in the visiting end, not helped by the continual arrival of fans who had obviously been held up in traffic jams that had hampered the journey from late afternoon fire in Thames Road, Erith to heavy traffic on the A12. The mood was not helped by the two goal deficit and within twenty minutes of the restart it was 3-0 as Elliot and Bailey collided going for the same ball leaving Odejayi to pass in the third.

Minutes after this and obviously too late, the first substituion saw the obvious introduction of McLeod for the very poor Matthew Spring but the second was a dire decision in my mind to bring Sodje on for Llera. It was a move that pointed the finger clearly at Llera and you knew he knew it as he threw his headguard down in disgust after leaving the field. Sodje may be a safer option but we needed to change things in midfield and upfront to get the game away from our defence. Sodje is also disappearing off with Nigeria for a fortnight as I understand it, so a baffling decision when Llera will presumably be called upon again shortly. The fickle Charlton following probably didn't help with a chorus of "Sodje, Sodje" after the third goal.

That was enough for our car-load and we had seen enough, deciding to head back in the hope of a late curry to salvage something from the evening. To cap it all I was pulled over by the Essex constabulary on the way back. Assuming a speeding fine I was surprised to be told it was because I had no MOT (which I got two months ago!) and was also breathalysed. A small moment of panic was allayed with a "Pass" and we were quickly on our way and managed the Curry house despite driving the rest of the way within the speed limit.

On reflection, the thorny question of "what's Plan B" will be resonating again today. We didn't have one yesterday and to my mind that's down to the fact that we don't have the front men to play two together. I wouldn't be at all surprised if step into the loan market quite soon to address this.

Leeds looks like a mountain to climb on Saturday but they were unconvincing again yesterday and lost their keeper and Snodgrass last night in their 1-1 home draw with Carlisle. We need to clutch at all the straws we can this week.

Monday, 28 September 2009

League One midweek preview, game 10

A swathe of draws cut through my predictions this week as I look at Tuesday's league programme. It is interesting to see that only three points separate 9th placed Gillingham from Brighton in 21st. Or put another way, there are 13 clubs within a win of each other. It's great news for us , of course, because they are all taking points from each other helps build that gap to the play-off places and to us and Leeds as we set the pace.

Big week, of course for us as we face two away matches in succession at 5th and 1st placed clubs, Colchester and Leeds. Lose both and we might find ourselves a massive 8 points behind Leeds and possibly being caught by the play-off pack. Two wins however and we would go back to the top of the table with two home games to come and the prospect of hanging on to top spot during October.

We look like being well supported at Colchester with in excess of 1600 supporters making the short trip into Essex and the 800 booked for Leeds might swell to over a 1,000 if we get a result at the U's. I am heading to Colchester but really need to spend the weekend decorating in preparation for new carpets being laid next week, so Leeds is not currently on my agenda.

Here's who's got who on Tuesday and my wild guess at outcome...

Brentford v Southend United
Both of these sides were beaten on Saturday, Southend at home by Oldham and Brentford at Yeovil. Brentford should see the Shrimpers off under the floodlights.
Prediction; 2-1

Colchester United v Charlton Athletic
I am hoping for the talisman Semedo to be re-united in midfield with Therry Racon for this one and for a strong Charlton showing. Colchester have won the three home games in which they didn't play Leeds United and this one should be a very close affair. I think we need need a slice of good fortune to win this but should have enough for another good point.
Prediction; 1-1

Exeter City v Swindon Town
A south-west derby and Exeter will be looking for third win of the season here after a reasonable performance at the Valley. Swindon, though harbour hopes of a play-off finish at the moment and will be under pressure to do better than their 1-1 at home to Wycombe on Saturday.
Prediction; 1-0

Leeds United v Carlisle United
Carlisle have won more points away from home that at Brunton Park and have conceded only five goals in the process. Try as I might, I can't see beyond another conclusive Leeds win.
Prediction; 2-0

Millwall v Yeovil Town
The Lions are struggling this season with a whopping injury list but are unbeaten at home and with two winnable home games coming up, Kenny Jackett will see this as his chance to get back in the race.
Prediction; 2-0

Norwich City v Leyton Orient
Good derby win for the O's over Millwall but this might be a step too far. City forced a late point at Gillingham on Saturday and will be itching to record another home win here.
Prediction; 3-0

Oldham Athletic v MK Dons
MK Dons have yet to lose on the road and might have the appetite to get another result here after a last minute slip against Leeds. They will need to do it with Jason Puncheon who was red-carded on Saturday, so I'll plump for the draw.
Prediction; 1-1

Southampton v Bristol Rovers
You know you are in trouble when Alan Pardew tells you he still believes you can make the play-offs. Only a 90th minute equaliser at Carlisle on Saturday prevented defeat and here they will need to contend with the boy Dickson. Chris to score again as Rovers get back to winning ways.
Prediction; 1-2

Stockport County v Hartlepool
hartlepool finally won at home on Saturday when they put three past Walsall. I fancy them to get carried away here too.
prediction; 0-2

Walsall v Huddersfield Town
Walsall will be feeling bruised after Saturday and Town will be out for points to atone for the two that they dropped at home in order to keep themselves in the hunt. Look a draw to me.
Prediction; 1-1

Wycombe Wanderers v Tranmere Rovers
Tranny steadied the ship on Saturday with a point at home to Colchester but they have yet to record anything away from Prenton Park. Wycombe got a late point at Swindon at the weekend and this is a great chance for them to climb out of the drop places.
Prediction; 2-0

Parky, Parky give us a wave....

Sunday, 27 September 2009

On reflection

Sunday morning and I have had more time to ponder on the events of yesterday than my hurried post-match report allowed. We had to be at a surprise 40th by 7.30pm so were racing against the clock....

I received interesting feedback from readers last night;

Daggs disagreed with my assessment of the second half and thought we were lucky not to draw. He is concerned that we don't have a "Plan B" and that was a question posed to Phil Parkinson on a couple of occasions at the recent Q & A. I'll concede we weren't as good in the second period yesterday but Exeter would have been fortunate to leave SE7 with a point and their manager said much after the game. In terms of Plan B, we do look fairly limited but that's largely down to the quality of the strikers we have. To be fair to PP he did change it yesterday by bringing McLeod on and, lucky or not, it was McLeod who put away the second goal to win the game even if the formation remained the same. The introduction of Wagstaff also allowed Bailey to play in the middle and Sam to swap wings. I guess what Daggs (and an Anonymous commentator) was really getting at was our ability to go to 4-4-2. This is definitely my preferred formation and one that I am desperate to see again but you need the players to do it well, and we are simply too good in midfield and well short upfront with the squad we have. Parkinson was at pains to point out that Shelvey does operate as a second striker and that we are more often than not playing a 4-4-1-1 as opposed to a 4-5-1 that it looks on paper. Having said all that, Burton and McLeod probably deserve a good run together but I think we need to choose our moments for this. When we did it earlier in the season against Wycombe (albeit with McLeod and Gray) it nearly cost us the lead. We are unbeaten with the current formation and the time for 4-4-2 will come either when we are safe (two up late on, or three up) or when we are chasing a game and running out of ideas.

Chicago Addick expressed a concern that we are not closing games out and I guess at the late goals being conceded as invariably defend deep towards the end of games. Again a good point and I think we have the players to attack for larger periods of games than we are doing (particularly once we are in front) and particularly towards the end of matches when opposing players may be tiring and as vulnerable as we appear to be. We slow down in the second half but maybe that's inevitable after our typical first half exertions to take control in games. I think the need to attack is even greater away from home where it's difficult to keep a clean sheet if you go out looking to defend and rely on the counter-attack.

Mike then made the most sensible comment of all, in that Leeds winning at MK Dons shouldn't be seen as bad news for us as it denied MK Dons vital points and helped widen the gap between the top two and the play-off chasers. My blinkers here are because of a longstanding dislike of Leeds United and the fact that I have an armchair-supporting Leeds mate whose match-day texts manage to annoy me intensely and who won't allow me to forget the thrashing they gave us at the Valley the last time we met. What I wouldn't give for a win at Elland Road next week. I am also of the opinion that we need to be front runners this season in order to survive a late season loss of form so I don't want to see us look like we are settling for second place after such a solid start. If the pursuit of Leeds and top spot means we build up a healthy lead over third, then maybe that will be good enough.

I also forgot yesterday to mention Craig Noone who played on the left wing for Exeter in the first half and the right in the second (although Blackheath Addick noticed him too which reminded me). He gave Fraser Richardson a hard forty-five and beat him comprehensively on a couple of occasions, so it was a surprise to see him switched over although Richardson was giving as good as he good by the break. It was also Noone who slipped through for the disallowed goal which looked ok to me at the time.

I should also say that it was another surprisingly decent crowd at the Valley of 16,867, the biggest in League One yesterday and more than Coventry got in the Championship for the visit of ex-Premier league Boro. A full 50% more than QPR-ha-ha managed at home to Barnsley. Exeter also brought a few hundred more than I had given them credit for.

Leeds' last gasp winner wasn't the only one in our division with fewer than six goals arriving with the last two minutes of matches; Kuffour scored Bristol Rovers late equaliser that I missed when posting yesterday; Radhi earned Pardew a late point at Carlisle; Daryl Russell netted late for Norwich to take a point at Gillingham and Chambers did the same for Wycombe at Swindon. maybe it'll be our turn on Tuesday. I am going to the game and we should have a good vocal backing with over 1600 tickets sold up to yesterday.

Come on you Reds!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Charlton Athletic 2 v Exeter City 1

The talk as everyone left the ground today was of having gone back to the top of the table with Leeds only managing a draw in Milton Keynes. Disappointing to see then that Yorkshire's finest managed a late, late goal to win and retain their top slot. Not to worry, as Bristol Rovers failed to score at home to Brighton and lost 1-0 which means the gap over third has increased to four points. Us and Leeds are now the only unbeaten sides in the top four divisions after Chelsea slipped up at Wigan and Palace won at the Hawthorns.

We thoroughly deserved to beat an unambitious Exeter side today who, according to the programme, have an enormous squad of 46 professionals! The first 45 minutes was largely played in their half and they were fortunate to go in only one down. The game opened up in the second period as the Grecians tried to make a game of it but they were eventually undone by a fumble from the unimpressive Oscar Jansson in his luminous kit. Even then we managed to invite City forward at the end and score what was an almost inevitable consolation.

Phil Parkinson was forced into a change of starting line-up for the first time this season as Jose Semedo was replaced in the middle by Matthew Spring. To be honest you could hardly tell during the opening half an hour as Charlton got to work. Once again we dominated the midfield with Sam and Bailey running the flanks and Racon and Spring orchestrating things in the centre.

Exeter looked content just to hang on and were lucky to survive until the 43rd minute before conceding. Nicky Bailey had put a good header on target after stretching backwards to reach a Burton cross only to see Jansson save well high to his left. Burton should then have applied the touch to guide home a Bailey shot straight at goal but his crouching header a yard out was too much and he somehow steered it up and over the bar. It might well have beaten the man on the line if Burton had left it. There was no escape before the break though, as Charlton worked a short corner and the low resulting cross was flicked in by the ginger menace.

One nil at half-time and kicking towards the Covered End in the second period, it looked all over. Once again, however, we didn't do enough and a number of players drifted out of the game. Nicky Bailey went missing for half and hour and it was left to Kelly Youga to do the attacking down the left wing. Matthew Spring also looked to be feeling the pace of the game. Youga has been tearing forward at will in recent games and whilst he is having some success, there were moments in the second half where he was left far behind when he lost possession and City countered. They didn't really create much and many of their attacking forays broke down as they passed the ball out or over-hit crosses. A mark of how ineffective they had been upfront was when Marcus Stewart was substituted after an hour; I hadn't even noticed he was playing. Deon Burton made reluctant way for Izale McLeod with twenty minutes left and I had a feeling this might be McLeod's lucky day. It certainly was because with Exeter beginning to chase the game, he was given an early Christmas present as Jansson spilled a regulation cross out to him in space ten yards out. He looked to have panicked to me as he lashed at the ball but even Izale couldn't miss from here. PhilParkinson won't be too pleased with the booking he volunteered for by removing his shirt in celebration.

So to the last few crazy minutes then when Exeter scored only to have their goal disallowed for offside and a bare-chested visiting fan to run on in premature celebration. He had obviously enjoyed his lunch as he had already fallen down the stairs earlier in the game and fell in the goalmouth as he struggled to remain upright. As he left the stadium, the remaining Exeter supporters watched in amazement as Rob Elliot somehow got a touch on a fierce low shot that looked to have gone passed him. The strength of the contact was enough to carry the ball over the bar and into the disbelieving City fans behind the goal. They weren't to be denied however and scored from the resulting corner although there was barely anytime left for the Addicks to worry about conceding another late equaliser.

I am pleased for McLeod to score only his second Charlton goal since arriving a couple of seasons ago. Deon Burton needs some competition. It was good to see Wagstaff get another 15 minutes and he teamed up with Bailey in the centre as Spring trudged off. Sam Sodje also joined the fray for the final few minutes. Kelly Youga was my man of the match although Lloyd Sam was a close second. The back four were solid and Therry Racon looked peerless in spells. Burton worked hard upfront as usual and Jonjo was busy without playing particularly well.

If we can avoid defeat on Tuesday we get the chance to win at Elland Road on Saturday which would make us the only unbeaten side in the league. Leeds, of course, will also have that opportunity if they don't slip up at home to Carlisle when we are at Colchester in the week. Things are looking good.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Lympne Castle

Off to an in-law wedding today at Lympne Castle. We're staying overnight on the coast nearby and Granny has the kids for the day/night. Whoopee!

Rest assured, I will be back up the motorway after breakfast tomorrow and be back in SE7 in plenty of time for the visit of the Grecians (and to relieve Granny and Grandpa,who will be as keen as me to get to the Valley). Stuart Fleetwood has spoken of the "gulf in class" between Charlton, Leeds and the rest of the division. Maybe a little exaggerated in my book but I suspect it may be true in the case of Exeter City. They were the first ever league opposition for Charlton 90 years ago and we beat them 1-0 at the Valley. I'd take that now although the Valley faithful will be expecting some fireworks and a bigger winning margin.

I am already thinking about Tuesday's tester at Colchesters' new ground which is dangerous when we have first to dispose of the nothing-to-lose Grecians. The crowdshould be interesting; the holiday season is well and truly over, so most season ticket holders should be in their seats.exeter probably won't bring more than 500, so an additional 5,000 pay-on-the day would be a decent gate of c 15,500...

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Next managerial casualty of note?

In the shark infested waters of professional football, managers of under-performing teams last as long today as ice cream on a hot day. I have been awaiting the sacking of one of several managers and am surprised they are still hanging on.

Paul Hart at Pompey has been my prime candidate since the season started. Seemingly doomed by an impending financial meltdown, he has clung on as the club has gone into new ownership although results on the pitch have certainly not helped him. Six straight league defeats is as bad as it gets,although he was handed a lifeline with a League Cup win at Carlisle on Tuesday. They face Everton at home in the early televised game on Saturday and I fear it could be Hart's farewell if the Toffees do what they did at Hull last night (won 4-0).

That brings me neatly on to head-in-the-noose number two in Phil Brown at Hull City. Phil was skating on thin managerial ice last season at times. His man-management skills were publicly called into question after leaving his team out on the pitch at half-time after a public rollicking for their first half display. Agree with that or not,r immediately depressing set of results which followed saw they plummet into the relegation race and the Hull publics' love affair with Brown was being questioned. City have managed four points this season but they are joint second bottom of the Premier League and they took that spanking last night at home. They will find it very hard at Anfield on Saturday and another heavy defeat to Scouse opposition might leave brown Phil under unbearable pressure to beat Wigan in their home game that follows.

Outside the top flight, the finger points at Paul Sturrock and John Barnes. Sturrock may get a sympathy vote at Argyle for his previous good work and the fact that he is suffering from a long term illness, but Plymouth are stuck fast at the bottom of the table and he has to get a result at home to lowly Forest on Monday evening.

That leaves John Barnes who appears to have had an immediately negative influence at Tranmere Rovers. They have lost seven of the eight league matches he has overseen and will need a result against Colchester United at Prenton Park on Saturday. The financial commitment to getting Barnes and side-kick Jason McAteer may mean that Rovers need to persevere but they have been getting booed off the field in recent weeks and something has to give.

It's really good to be writing this piece eight games in without having to mention Phil Parkinson. If we had lost Bailey and Shelvey in pre-season I suspect that may have been the case. Perhaps we will have something to thank the unsuccessful takeover consortia at the end of the season.

Finally, we will have to hope that the match report from Steve Tanner at Carrow Road is not too damning on any of the Addick players following a fracas in the tunnel at half-time. It happened shortly after a very bad Bailey tackle on Grant Holt which smacked of retribution for a straight arm across the throat which Bailey was given moments earlier. As I reported after the game, I was amazed Bailey escaped with only a word from Tanner as I would have expected a red card for a Charlton opponent in reverse circumstances. The visible fury of the Norwich bench on the touchline would suggest that they were the aggressors in the tunnel but the FA may also want to even it up by punishing Bailey as Steve Tanner failed to do so on the pitch.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Lennie- the book

I have a reminder in my diary for 28th September to look for Lennie Lawrence's autobiography in the shops. No need, it's on sale in the Club Shop now and Lennie will be pumping it at his various clubs in the run up to Christmas.

I bought a copy this afternoon and have worked my way through to page 90 (of 198) which takes us from Lennie's brief start at Plymouth and Lincoln before running through his nine seasons with the Addicks.

Books about people and books by people are (along with history and military) are my preferred reading, so I have been waiting on this one with some anticipation. I should say at this point that sporting autobiographies, especially football ones, are largely disappointing, usually limiting themselves to well-worn chronologies and rehashed tales that have been told better elsewhere.

I am sorry to report, therefore, that this one is no different. Lennie tells us on multiple occasions through the Charlton chapters how much of a roller-coaster it was as Charlton boss and the fact that he packed in as much in his nine years as others managers could experience in a lifetime. Sir Alex also does it in his generous foreward. Trouble is, I learnt next to nothing from his telling. It reads like one of the other books - Battle for the Valley or Richard Reddens' history and frankly, I am frightened to check for comparisons. We get very little insight from Lennie other than the obvious and the book is almost devoid of anecdotes or surprises. The style doesn't help and, if I am honest, it's a bit boring to read even for someone like me who lived through every game of his reign.

I always knew that Lennie's real name was Robin which I thought was actually a bonus for a Charlton manager but that he didn't like it and preferred the monica "Lennie." What is strange is that he confirms his real name as "Robin Michael Lawrence" and then goes on to say, that his christian name used by his family and him on cheques and official papers, is therefore Michael?

The comings and goings of players are dealt with largely matter-of-factly. The best we get is that he fancied this one or that someone had come in for that one. I have heard him say before that Peter Shirtliff was his best ever Charlton signing and he actually puts Peter in his "Top Ten" which puts that statement into perspective. The only other Charlton signing afforded this accolade is Bob Bolder which was a little surprising but I guess he goes on to bigger and better things in the rest of the book? (Middlesborough, Bradford, Grimsby, Luton, Cardiff and Bristol Rovers...). Maybe I'll finish off the book to see who the superstars are.

The only other point of interest for me was how much praise he lavishes on Paul Miller. Miller was 28 when we signed him from Spurs and was deemed to be passed his best when we got him. He was an experienced First Division pro but we only got 52 games out of him before Lennie sold him on for spitting at a Newcastle player. He went from us to Watford and then Bournemouth before his career fizzled out. He had one very memorable match at Chelsea when he lead a defiant team performance in a dirty game and scored our precious equaliser which sent Chelsea into the play-offs to avoid the drop. Strange the way Lennie bigs him up before the sentence "when I sold him after he was sent off for spitting" with no other comment.

I really hope it sells well because Michael deserves it and that you are not too disappointed if it turns up in your Christmas stocking.

League One Preview,Game 9

Good to see Leeds United finally beaten this season, if only narrowly at home by a reserve Liverpool side in the League Cup last night. I watched most of the game and have to say that Leeds are very well organised and played with the confidence you would expect from a side that has gone unbeaten all season. They will now need to pick themselves up and get motivated for a hard trip to MK Dons whilst we should face the much easier task of beating Exeter at the Valley.

Bristol Rovers v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton will be pleased to be getting a game away from the Withdean after their latest defeat there but might find it hard going at the Memorial Stadium against a Rovers side firing on all cylinders. Chris Dickson will fancy his chances of getting on the score sheet again.
Prediction; 2-0

Carlisle United v Southampton
A second successive home game against a south coast club as Saints follow Pompey's victory in last night's League Cup game. Brighton have already won at Brunton Park, so Southampton go looking for an unlikely treble. They got their first win of the season last week and might be strong enough to make it two in-a-row which would put them on a positive points total for the first time this season.

Charlton Athletic v Exeter City
Our players should be out to win this game with something to spare after letting the lead slip in the table last week. I think we will need to stretch the play and to keep up the momentum for the 90 minutes. We need to break the cycle of slowing games down where we invariably hand the initiative to the other side. You can't always go at pell-mell and need to be professional at times but it would also be good to thrash a few sides this season for the goal difference and the confidence.I am expecting Exeter to come and defend in depth so we may need to be patient and to concentrate in defence for the ninety minutes.
Prediction; 2-0

Gillingham v Norwich City
City will be buoyed by a big turnout in Kent but the Gills took a four-goal at Elland Road last week and need a win here to stay in touch with the pack. Looks like a draw to me.

Hartlepool v Walsall
Pools have yet to win at home and they face a Walsall side playing much better away from home. In Deeney Walsall have a match-winner and he could do the damage again.
Prediction; 0-1

Huddersfield Town v Stockport County
Town were rolled over surprisingly easily at the New Den last week and will expect to recover here. Stockport look solidly mid-table at the moment but might find this difficult.
Prediction; 3-1

Leyton Orient v Millwall
The East End derby is back and an early opportunity for Millwall hooligans to throw their weight around in an East London postcode after coming second best at Upton Park recently. Lots of overtime for her majesty's finest on Saturday. Surprisingly, the O's have yet to win at home and the Lions yet to win away.

MK Dons v Leeds United
Leeds' toughest game yet on paper. I expect the Dons to get after them and try to capitalise on tired legs. Leeds have a big squad though and may cope well with the additional game this week.
Prediction; 1-1

Southend United v Oldham Athletic
The Shrimpers will want to follow-upon their last minute 3-2 win at the Withdean by keeping their unbeaten home form going. Oldham will struggle here methinks.
Prediction; 3-0

Swindon Town v Wycombe Wanderers
Swindon have made a decent start to the season and entertain a Wycombe side who have only managed a point away from home. Hard to see beyond a home win.

Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United
It never rains but it pours. John Barnes finds himself second bottom only to Southampton with the worst goal difference in the division. Colchester have slowed down of late but Kevin Lisbie will be tipping himself to score here.
Prediction; 1-2

Yeovil Town v Brentford
The Bees will be disappointed after conceding three at home last week but face a Yeovil side who went down at St Mary's last week. A point would probably do both sides.
Prediction; 1-1

Come on Charlton, let's keep our unbeaten run intact and let Leeds know we are going to chase them all the way.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Murray resumes control in £7m boost

Finally some very good news in terms of the future of our club. The rumour of an investment from Sir Maurice Hatter has been confirmed as part of a wider shift in control of the club as seven of the existing money men have invested a further total of £7m to safeguard the immediate future. It also confirms what Phil Parkinson told us last week in terms of him being given assurances about this season.

The seven are all on the new plc Board which now assumes all control for running of the football club from the "limited company" and the "holdings limited." The previous decision for Murray and Whitehand to invest in the purchase of the training ground also appears to have been reversed and this now returns to ownership of the club which many will see as a sign of good intent. A number of other existing Directors have agreed to resign their directorships and are now made vice presidents losing influence over the direct running of the club; these include Roger Alwyn, Richard Collins, Michael Grade, Martin Simons, Michael Stevens, Gideon Franklin and Derek Ufton.

What does it really mean? Well for starters, the takeover that never was is clearly dead and buried for now. The club statement confirms interest from a number of different parties but goes on to say that they have all "failed to result in any tangible benefit." Reads to me like they wanted control of the club on the cheap and didn't have the funds to really offer us a better future than the current Board. Better the devil you know in those circumstances. Our bright start to the season has obviously had a significant impact on matters.

I also see this as a determination of the new plc Board to take closer control of any future takeover talks and to ensure that any deal delivers both a fair price for the Club and that any new investor has the means with which to manage the club properly going forward.

Richard Murray's recently tarnished image gets a polishing in all this. He has obviously dug deep again to resume chairmanship of the plc and has answered the cynics who said that his purchase of the training ground was Machiavellian. It's a move would also simplify and future sale of the club.

Perhaps one or more of the prospective takeover groups will break cover and comment, although silence would be the right move if they have ongoing intentions of one day controlling the club. With our current success on the pitch, this moves draws a line under our recent decline and should give us the all-round platform on which to hope for a bit of prosperity and a return to progress. I'll drink to that.

Monday, 21 September 2009


It seems the behaviour of some of our fans at the match on Saturday wasn't appreciated by the locals and they may have a point. A number of reports have complained about the aggressive attitude shown by some visiting fans and of small numbers of our fans provoking fights after the match. If these are true, then it really is a shame because it's tantamount to bullying at a club like Norwich. As a club whose fans have been the victims of bullies over the years (and we all know which clubs and when), it's sickeningly hypocritical to be seen to be doing it yourselves.

There was certainly a Charlton-inspired surge towards the home fans at the top of the stand as they celebrated their late equaliser, although it looked half-hearted and hot-headed to me and certainly not serious. The vast majority of our supporters looked to have enjoyed a good day out and a draw wasn't the end of the world, especially if you had actually watched the second half.

The "Adams Family" song was funny when I first heard it about four years ago and it may be appropriate at certain places (ironically Norwich might still be one of them), but it's a bit moronic at every away ground and shows a lack of class. So, it doesn't help improve our reputation when it's belted out throughout the game on a day when we have wannabee Millwall fans with us.

If you want to show how hard you are, there will be a number of excellent opportunities this season for plenty of kudos, but you don't get it by bullying people, especially at a club like Norwich. A town which makes visiting football fans welcome and whose own fans have more self-respect. Frankly, it's embarrassing on every level.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Norwich City 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

Charlton were denied all three points by a last minute goal from Grant Holt in which Rob Elliot had an appeal for a foul on him ignored. I will need to see it again but I would have given it at the time. Ultimately no complaints from me as Norwich were probably worth their point. We remain unbeaten and a draw at Carrow Road will not look a bad result in May.

Once again it was a case of two halves; in the first we were very much in the box seat and played some delightful football, typified by our second goal and in the second half we handed Norwich the initiative. Before then though we matched up to City and our midfield asserted a familiar control. Semedo was everywhere and Norwich were working overtime trying to cope with Shelvey and Sam. From a corner in front of the 1800 visiting supporters, Jonjo Shelvey sent a raking cross into the box which eluded the first challengers but not the arriving Burton who powered his header down and it hurtled off the turf and into the back of the City goal.That was after 17 minutes and we dominated the play until an inevitable second arrived twenty odd minutes later. Lloyd Sam went very close having been played in but he screwed his shot across the face of the goal with the target opening for him.

Nicky Bailey then seized the ball and slipped it out to Lloyd Sam. Sam teased the full-back inside and out as he scampered down the line. Just when you thought he had missed his chance to cross, he surged to the line and wrapped his right foot around the ball to chip it into the box. It was a quality ball which seemed to float across the area. Shelvey reacted first and was there to meet it. What he did next was so good that there was a full second of complete silence and Forster in the Norwich goal stood rooted and watched mouth open. Shelvey cushioned a perfect header back inside the far post and it was the movement of the net that alerted everyone as to the outcome.

At that point it really did look game over. The Charlton fans were chanting "we want seven." Norwich had missed a great chance when put through on goal and they had forced a few corners but were struggling to beat Dailly and Llera. Then on 43 minutes they scored to give themselves a lifeline. They took a quick throw-in from a covering Dailly clearance and nemesis Wes Hoolahan got goal-side of Llera and ran in to hammer a fine drive high and wide of Elliot. I had groaned when Hoolahan's name was read-out on local radio in the taxi on the way to the ground. The Liverpool-supporting cabbie said he was "nothing to worry about." What did he know.

Bailey was very lucky not to see a straight red after he had seen red when clothes-lined in a challenge by Grant Holt. He bounced up and flew at Holt and went right through him. He was saved by the fact that the ball had just been played back to Holt and made it look like a legitimate if clumsy challenge. It wasn't and the Norwich management team were right to feel aggrieved, especially as Bailey didn't even get a yellow.

Into the second half and we managed to slow the game down but at the expense of our fluidity and movement going forward. Norwich created a number of decent chances and the noise from the home fans increased towards the end. Elliot seems to make at least one outstanding save per game and he did it again from a Smith volley.That seemed like it might be the decisive moment but City weren't finished and continued to plug away. They got their reward in the third minute of added time when a deflected cross from the left was met by Holt. Elliot had come out but was flapping and Holt was challenged in the air but he got a touch and it bounced up and goalward. It looked for a moment like it might go wide or that it might be caught on the line but the bounce took it over the line. City suddenly thought they could win it and it took a fine stretching challenge from Christian Dailly to stop Jon Otsemobor as ran in on goal and was just about to shoot.

Wagstaff and McLeod had come on for Sam and Shelvey but did not make any impact. McLeod did get put through by Kelly Youga but he dragged his shot wide. All-in-all, it was a decent showing. My man-of-the match was probably Christian Dailly.

It was a surprisingly warm day in Norwich and it was eye-opening to see so many people in shorts and vests. We managed to seek out a few real ale pubs behind the cathedral and a perfect day was only tarnished by the late equaliser and the fact that dirty Leeds put four past the Gills to go above us. Chris Dickson also scored twice on his Bristol Rovers debut as they won at Brentford and are now only two points behind us. The pressure is on.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Parkinson bourne out...

A couple of things Phil Parkinson said at Thursday's Q & A with supporters were amplified yesterday; first of all, the club moved to extend Rob Elliot's contract until 2012 and then the Guardian lead with a teasing piece about the current Board receiving a cash injection to help maintain the current progress and avoid the need to sell during the season.

There is an evident feel-good factor amongst the squad. In addition the the new faces who have arrived on new contracts, the younger players are being rewarded with improved and lengthened deals. This is the proof "writ large" for academy players that ours is a club (certainly whilst we are outside the top flight and unable to splash the cash) where you will get your chance if you are good enough and persevere. Jonjo Shelvey's refreshing example will shine for along time and Rob Elliot's extended deal yesterday adds to that. Wagstaff, Solly and Tuna will be keen to follow suit in due course.

I can't find a link to the Guardian piece on-line but it was reported yesterday that Richard Murray has secured additional funding from Director Sir Maurice Hatter to safeguard us this season and avoid the disastrous possibility of needing to sell a key player at January - something Parky was admanat about. No sums are specified and Sir Maurice has been around for a long time at Charlton without really stepping into the breach before (not publicly at least). His personal fortune is estimated at £40m (The Sunday Times) which is not bank-rolling money for a professional football club but clearly sufficient to give the club the helping hand needed. The cynic in me, also wonders whether there might not be a bit of brinkmanship in this leak. It would appear to send a message to any prospective takeover bids that the current Board have a strong hand and are preparing to play the long game. Just a thought.

Must fly, I need to catch the Norwich express. C'mon you REDS!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Parky upbeat

A confident Phil Parkinson fielded quick-fire questions from a 200 strong gathering of fans last at the Valley. He was backed by Tim Breacker, although Mark Kinsella was not there as advertised. It was explained that Kins will be attending a separate session with Damian Matthews at some point in the future to talk about the reserves and youth business.

Phil played many of the more obvious questions with a straight bat but he was as honest and as open as could be expected. Highlights for me were as follows:

Relegation; Phil was fairly candid about a poor attitude in the camp last season caused mainly by some bad apples and it was clearly very hard to address mid-season. He spoke about wanting players who want to play first and collect their wages second and believes he now has a squad in that vein. Fitness would also appear to have been something of a problem last year as he attributes the improvement in a number of players to a better focus in training and simple weight loss. Finally, he said that he was determined to stick around and prove everyone wrong in terms of his managerial ability following his disastrous start at the Valley.

The Takeover; surprisingly, no direct questions on this but I guess the audience have been well drilled over the Summer to know what answer to expect. Parky did refer to it a couple of times when talking about possible Summer transfer targets e.g. he was very keen on MK Dons' Jason Pucheon but the Board told him that if he hung on, the takeover should provide funds for bigger targets.

New players; Phil gave a rationale for each of the new players which I think we all understood (centre-half, left-sided and forward) but there was very clear logic and planning for the type of player we needed from capability, experience, attitude etc e.g. he was keen on a big, strong centre-half (think he said Swindon or Southend's), but the player was French and they felt very strongly that Miguel Llera needed an English speaker alongside him. Cue the laughter when he qualified that it was Christian Dailly that then fitted the bill.

The threat of selling: I thought Phil might leave this one open, but he was fairly adamant that he's been told that we don't need to sell this season, particularly if we are doing well at Christmas. This would indicate that the Board have cleared their funding lines for the season and have plans to manage their way forward in the absence of a takeover.

Chris Dickson; I think Parky was as clear as he could be that Chris Dickson isn't viewed as Charlton's striking future. He gave the example of Dickson being in his office the first day after not being picked to play Crawley Town pre-season and asking for a move. The Bristol Rovers loan is attractive because they have cash from the Ricky Lambert sale to Southampton, so we are hoping he scores goals for the Pirates and earns us a reasonable transfer fee. Gillingham simply don't have the money....

Yassin Moutaoukil; the rumours of Yassin's poor attitude were hinted at if not directly labelled and Parky felt we needed a better defender right now in his position. He hopes Yassin's speed and undeniable ability come to the fore at Motherwell and that he represents a better asset come January when his loan finishes.

Lloyd Sam; plenty of praise for the way Lloyd has approached this season so far, although there was a suggestion that he needed to train better and that he is one of the players who is in better shape than previously.

Jose Semedo; apparently he's shed three quarters of a stone and the management team recognised early on that his strength would be a major asset in League One.

Nicky Bailey; big compliments about Bailey's attitude. He has never once asked about any other club's interest in him, although there was some pre-season and he would likely have known about it. He could easily be at a club like Middlesboro but is committed to the club. He has also never mentioned the fact that he's being played out of his preferred central role and is happy just to be in the side on merit.

Jonjo Shelvey; the Chelsea interest in Jonjo was real enough but he was asked if he wanted to be the next John Bostock. Clearly he wants to play and that has guided his decision. The recent addition of an extra year to his contract was about recognising his emergence as a regular first-teamer this season and a reward for his loyalty. In practice it's a pay rise.

Deon Burton; another of those who Parky felt needed to be fitter and he too was complimented for his attitude during the close season for staying in shape and being better prepared for the kick-off.

Miguel Llera; very keen to play in every game and was told by the Hartlepool doctor that he would definitely miss the next match for his head wound to heal. Llera replied "I play." Parkinson was disappointed that headguards are not yet available in the Club Shop!

Christian Dailly; as discussed, his acquisition was given careful consideration and he is being credited for helping Llera settle so quickly as well as his own professionalism.

Fraser Richardson; attitude was again the key criteria here and Fraser is another one of those who has helped turn the dressing room.

Promotion; early days obviously but Phil and Tim see no reason why we can't do it at the first time of asking. Whilst we haven't got a squad of Leeds' size and quality, they are comfortable that we do have sufficient cover and flexibility as well as the Board backing to keep the side together through the season.

Tim Breacker; the focus was obviously on the manager but Tim fielded a number of questions related to training and tactics. He also told us that his Dad has always been a keen Charlton fan! (What went wrong Tim?).

All-in-all a good evening but timing couldn't be better and I hope we might get a repeat version towards the end of the season.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

League One Weekend Preview, Game 8

Norwich City is one of my favourite away games and I am looking forward to the trip on Saturday. Early-booked first class returns for £24 represents great value-for-money and we will be up there for 12.30 in time for a few pints of local before making our way to Carrow Road and a Delia Smith pie. We have everything to play for and I think we might be facing them at just the right time as they continue to find their feet under Paul Lambert and whilst they have a mini injury crisis.

It's a rare Saturday when all of the games in our league kick-off at 3pm which is somehow so much more satisfying than having one on Friday, one at lunchtime on Saturday and one on Monday etc. Here's who's playing who and my take on the games...

Brentford v Bristol Rovers
Both of these sides have made decent starts to the season and Brentford will be out to defend their unbeaten home start. Rovers needed a last minute goal at home to Oldham last week to take the points and I can see them being pipped here.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Southend
Class war of the seaside towns. Brighton sunk my accumulator last week by winning at Carlisle although their home form has seen them win one and lose two. They will be up for this but Southend may be strong enough to take a point.
Prediction; 1-1

Colchester United v Hartlepool
The Pools are unbeaten away from home so far but this may present their toughest test yet. Colchester got a good point at Swindon last week and I fancy them to win here.
Prediction; 2-0

Exeter City v Tranmere Rovers
Something's got to give here. Tranmere have been poor so far under Barnes & McAteer and have lost all three on the road. Exeter have yet to win at home but won't get better chances than this.
Prediction; 2-0

Leeds United v Gillingham
This is just the sort of game that Gillingham get results in. They have a bit of a Wimbledon tendency when it comes to playing bigger clubs and in Simeon Jackson they appear to have a striker who is quickly building a reputation and who may be really up for this. The easy money is on a home win but I will stick my neck out here and go for a surprise reversal.
Prediction; 1-2

Millwall v Huddersfield
Ouch! You have to feel for Millwall, don't you? They are battling a worrying injury crisis and are playing are the wrong teams at the wrong time. Just when you want Tranmere at home, you get Huddersfield. Ordinarily I would have the Lions down here for a routine win but the Terriers might give them trouble here.
Prediction; 2-2

Norwich City v Charlton Athletic
Match of the Day for me. A Championship fixture less than five months ago, both sides will be determined to get the result here. A draw would be a decent result for the Addicks but Norwich are having to field very young sides right now and it's a great chance for us to capitalise and get the result which would set us up for Exeter and the tougher away games that follow at Colchester and Leeds.
Prediction; 1-2

Oldham Athletic v Carlisle United
Oldham yet to win at home and Carlisle yet to win away. However, last week's capitulation at home to Brighton won't have left Carlisle in fine fettle and Oldham tails should be up here.
Prediction; 2-0

Southampton v Yeovil Town
Ooh-ar! If Southampton are to get their first win of the season then they won't get many better opportunities than this. Yeovil have only managed one point away so far and Southampton looked like a side on the mend last week.
Prediction; 2-0

Stockport County v Leyton Orient
Both of these sides drew last week against lowly opposition. Stockport have yet to win at home and I can see the O's making hay here.
Prediction; 0-2

Walsall v Swindon Town
Swindon have had a fine start to the season with two wins and two draws at home and a win, draw and defeat away. They will fancy this at the other end of the M5. Walsall have yet to win at home but have shown good away form with two wins and a draw since losing at the Valley. Deeney and Byfield scored the goals to sink Tranmere last week and the same here should be enough to send Swindon packing.
Prediction; 2-1

Wycombe Wanderers v Milton Keynes Dons
A derby of sorts I suppose. MK Dons fought back well on Monday from an early Norwich goal to win and should put up a big fight here, although Wycombe looked capable when we played them at the Valley recently and should have enough to share the spoils.
Prediction; 1-1

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Fans give nod to Supporters Trust

On a damp autumnal evening in SE7, Charlton diehards came together for Round 2 in the process to establish a Supporters Trust. The turnout was well down on the inaugral session and for a brief moment there was an air of defeatism. At the death, however, there was near unamimous agreement to push on with a third meeting that will look for ratification of the early aims as well as seeking initial candidates with the time and skillsets needed to get the Trust up and running. There were seven early volunteers, so already enough to get things moving.

The initial aim of the Trust will be deliberately high-level and will focus upon working to improve communication between the club and it's supporters as well as looking to pool minority supporter shareholdings in order to gain credibility. Working to ensure the Club continues to thrive in Greenwich remains a central theme. More from Ben Hayes on Charlton Life shortly...

Little voice...

Just in case you have somehow managed to miss it, the second "Supporters Trust"meeting is being held this evening in the Conservative Club in Charlton Church Lane. I will go to learn more but the big news on this front was the decision of one supporter (and his wife I think) to donate the voting proxy to their 500,000+ shares.

Donating your voting proxy costs you nothing and it means the ST (when established) will be able to leverage your share when it comes to decision-making. You can always withdraw your proxy if the ST is advocating something you don't support. Clearly, the larger number of shares it controls by proxy then the bigger it's little voice. It will only work on the basis that it's views are largely representative of what the fans want although that wouldn't appear to be a problem in the recent climate. The ST is welcome to my vote when the time comes (500 shares).

The immediate target would appear to be to garner 1 million votes which could come from 1000 supporters donating c 500 shares each and adding these to the half-a-million already pledged. Whilst an impressive sounding target, we ought to remind ourselves that there are c 64 million shares issued, so even that would represent less than 2%. However, there are likely to be a number of larger single investors who aren't on the Board who feel relatively powerless today and who might similarly donate their voting proxy to the ST.

The Board control c 80% of the club's shares, so, theoretically at least, it might be possible for the ST to eventually control a good share of the other 20%. If they could establish a proxy on 10 million shares, then they would begin to have a say, albeit still a minor one. However, just like minority political parties in hung parliaments, little voices can become very loud when their vote swings the balance of power. In reality this is still very unlikely at our football club as enough of the majority shareholders are always likely to vote together. The difference is that a voice controlling 5%+ would need to be listened to.

Elsewhere, it was interesting to watch the Norwich performance at MK Dons last night. The Canaries probably scored too early (17 seconds) because there was an inevitability to the result after that as Milton Keynes eventually fought back to win 2-1 albeit thanks to a controversial penalty - the referee appeared to signal that the Norwich player had got the ball but then over-ruled himself in favour of the lino. If you were looking for scraps of encouragement, Norwich fielded a young side containing three 17 year-olds and lost two players to injury early on.

First time I have seen the MK Dons stadium (albeit on telly). It looked impressive enough, especially with a top tier that looks like it has been built for expansion when they might need to install additional seating.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Norwich tonight

Saturday's opponents Norwich face a tough game at MK Dons tonight in a Sky televised match. As manager Paul Lambert finds his feet, he appears to have steadied the ship after their opening day mauling at home to Colchester when he was the visiting boss.

Norwich were as poor a side as us last year and I am not expecting them to do much other than finish in the top-half this season. It will be interesting to see how they go tonight but my money's on a home win. I am looking forward to the trip to Norwich on Saturday and am confident we can maintain our unbeaten run after the apparent disappointment of drawing on Saturday which felt like a defeat, especially with the sickener of having two "winning goals" disallowed.

I'm really pleased for Parky picking up the Manager of the Month award and it's a nice double with Lloyd Sam getting the Player of the Month gong. Hopefully the curse that goes with these will be limited to dropping two points to the Saints. Talking of whom, I thought their fans were pretty quiet on Saturday, especially in the second half.

I said in my after-match post that I was surprised that Pardew got off so lightly, but have been told that there were several unflattering, loud chants from the Covered End during the game which I obviously missed. Either way, he had the decency or the temerity, depending on how you view it, to applaud the home fans as he left at the end and I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt here i.e. a genuine acknowledgement. Perhaps we can move on now and want to beat Southampton sinmply for who they are in future, rather than who their manager is.

Finally, as we smart from a home draw, it's worth reminding ourselves that Palace got thumped 4-0 at Selhurst by Scunthorpe in what Neil Warnock called a "a complete embarrassment." That, and there were over 6,000 less at the game to see the Championship giants. Early days it may be, but I am looking at the tables and wondering if our respective end-of-seasons may once again be linked, this time by a game of leap-frog.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Charlton Athletic 1 v Southampton 1

So the soothsayers and historians were right after all, our 100% record has gone.

Alan Pardew escaped a humiliation at the Valley and I thought our fans behaved with a dignity beyond him. There was plenty of atmosphere early on as the 19,441 crowd got behind the Addicks but we were slow to start and Southampton stood up to us very well during the opening forty-five minutes. We were unchanged and they weren't fielding either Jaidi or Papa whateverhisnameis. They pushed up on our midfield and we were stifled for most of the first half. We struggled to hold the ball in the middle and Bailey and Sam hardly got a touch. The Saints forced the play but apart from an effort from the impressive Joseph Mills which Elliot did superbly well to paw away, they didn't look like scoring. Their persistence however paid off before the break when Lallana finally got on the end of a cross and knocked it back beyond the stranded Elliot. We could hardly complain.

We expected more from the early league leaders and we got it after the restart. Within minutes we were level. A long throw from Elliot freed Shelvey in space and his cross was bundled home by top-scorer Deon Burton. Southampton then went into their shell and visibly shrank. We scored twice more after this but both were ruled out for offside a yard or two out. I will need to see the replays but the second Burton goal looked good to me.

Kelly Youga waltzed into the box before pinging a shot off the foot of a post as we continued to harry but we lacked some of the poise and supporting play of recent weeks. Mr Wright, the referee, didn't help the flow of the game either, especially in the second-half and it looked a draw with twenty minutes to go. Tempers flared a bit towards the end and it finished with five bookings (three Charlton and two Southampton).

Phil Parkinson will be disappointed but we are still unbeaten after a sub-standard performance and have moved back to the top of the table. For their part, Southampton will be glad to have got a draw but they must be aware that draws are relegation form and they need to start winning matches if they are to overcome their ten point handicap.

The gate of 19,441 might be our best well into the New Year as we are unlikely to see anyone other than Millwall bring the 2,000 fans that Southampton did. I bought two guest tickets today at £25 a pop and have to say that it's too much to expect fans to pay for third division football, even if you are leading the table. The club have been proved right so far on their ticketing policy, so I won't push this but the commitment to ensure season-ticket holder value for money means their options are limited for discounting.

I am expecting a more complete performance at Carrow Road next week when we should attack with much more purpose when we do get forward. In the meantime, hold your heads, we're still the team to beat and have all before us.

Two points clear?

That's the incentive this afternoon to beat Southampton after Leeds scraped a goaless draw at Roots Hall last night. We would also be the only side left in League One with a 100% record. The goal really is gaping.

Come on Charlton, lets see the Saints off and fill that allocation for Carrow Road!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Johnstone's Paint Trophy qualifier a fiver!

Charlton have today announced that it will cost only a fiver to watch the Addicks on 6th October as they dismiss Barnet en route to Wembley in the mighty Johnstone's Paint Trophy. I have never come across Johnstone's paint before but I will be looking from now on.

Hats off to those responsible for the pricing decision (Rick Everitt largely I assume). I will be making an extra special effort to get my friends and family off their arses for this one, even if I buy all the tickets.


Thursday, 10 September 2009

League One Weekend Preview, Game 7

Saturday is a pivotal day for Phil Parkinson in terms of his relationship with Charlton fans. If his buoyant side can maintain their 100% start to the season his redemption in the eyes of the Addick faithful will take a step nearer completion as will the ongoing exorcism of the last three seasons. There is no higher price that can be put on beating Southampton on Saturday and sending Alan Pardew away with an emphatic message.

Before that, we get to see if Leeds can take advantage of their Friday evening match at Roots Hall and leapfrog us in the table. The announcement on the League One Manager of the Month is due on Saturday and I suspect a result for Leeds tomorrow might sway the decision, even if we are now into September!

Whilst we pontificate over which of our clubs' manager deserves the award, we are being linked again with Leeds' out-of-favour Tresor Kandol. He did ok for us last year but on the basis that those around him did no better and yet appear to be thriving this season, he's probably worth another shot. His height could be a significant addition and give us other forward options as the need arises. Here's how I see the other League One encounters this weekend...

Southend United v Leeds United
A Barnard hat-trick gave the Shrimpers a good win last week over the O's at Roots Hall. Leeds will come looking for the three points but I will stick my neck out here and favour the home side. They might have to share the spoils but I'm going for them to edge it. Addicks still on top!
Prediction; 3-2

Bristol Rovers v Oldham Athletic
The Pirates have slid into third position and saw off an injury-ravaged Millwall last week. They have the chance to consolidate their early-season start and I expect them to be too busy for Oldham.
Prediction; 3-1

Carlislie United v Brighton and Hove Albion
Carlisle have slipped up twice at home already but their away form has seen them into 9th spot. Brighton have found it hard going so far and might not fancy the long trek from the South Coast. Carlisle too strong.
Prediction; 2-0

Charlton Athletic v Southampton
I could focus on the Saints new signings or their experienced backbone or the fact that we are due a slip. Instead I am going to remind myself that we are just where we deserve to be and this should be a game our team are rubbing their hands for. Lloyd Sam should feel he can do anything after his wonder goal last week and his League one Player of the Month award this week.
Prediction; 3-1

Gillingham v Millwall
Keeny Jackett is struggling to get a side out at the moment and Millwall's funds means he will need to use loan signings to ease the pain. The Gills have a decent record against the Lions and I suspect this game will come at just the right time for them.
Prediction; 2-0

Hartlepool v Wycombe Wanderers
The Pools stuck three passed Oldham at Boundary Park last week and will be itching to record another win. Wycombe went down at Brighton last week and this won't be any easier.
Prediction; 1-0

Huddersfield v Brentford
This would be the match I'd like to be at if we weren't playing on Saturday. The Bees were well organised and well-motivated last week and will be hoping to go one better here. Town though are riding high and have been impressive at home.
Prediction; 2-1

Leyton Orient v Exeter City
Both of these sides have only managed one win so far this season but Orient must be confident of registering their second tomorrow. A long and fruitless trip in prospect for the Grecians.
Prediction; 1-0

Swindon Town v Colchester United
After their impressive start, Colchester have been spluttering recently and find themselves a point behind Swindon going into this one. They have won, drawn and lost on the road so far and my money's on another draw here inspired by Super Kev.
Prediction; 1-1

Tranmere Rovers v Walsall
Tranmere are struggling badly and shipping goals. I can't imagine it's a happy ship with John Barnes and Jason McAteer shouting the odds. This is a great opportunity for Walsall to be expansive and win away for the second time so far.
Prediction; 1-2

Yeovil Town v Stockport
Basement scrap in prospect here and I'll go with Yeovil to recover from their home defeat to locals Swindon last week.
Prediction; 2-1

If we can make it seventh heaven on Saturday, Norwich promises to be an awayday to remember.