Thursday, 31 December 2009

Farewell Darren Randolph

It looks like Darren Randolph's time at the Valley is finally coming to an end. Parky is being linked with Freddy Hall, a Bermuda international, as back-up for Rob Elliot.

Darren's had mixed fortunes during his time with us but I wish him well and would expect someone to snap him up. He's certainly seen enough loan action to have visibility with lower league clubs.

He has fallen out of favour with Phil Parkinson and the decision to bring in Carl Ikeme when Elliot was injured recently and play him ahead of Randolph was the final nail in the coffin.

Good football management is a harsh world and Parky's decision to prefer Ikeme was a kick in the teeth, especially when he was promptly dropped after having to be played in the F A Cup defeat at Hereford, where he nearly earned us a draw after pulling off a series of superb saves.

I saw him in W H Smith's at Peninsula Park, Charlton, before Christmas and was struck by just how big he actually is. At 22, he has time on his side and at least he can console himself with the beautiful Rochelle Wiseman.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Hopes & Fears for 2010

As the New Year approaches I have found myself thinking about what I would like for 2010 and almost inevitably I contemplate what I wouldn't want......


1) Automatic Promotion; obvious for all Addicks, I guess, but interesting that my highest hopes didn't include the title. Perhaps that's a Freudian acknowledgement that it's out-of-our-reach? Maybe us Charlton fans will just be grateful for small mercies...

2) Promotion via the Play-Offs; we would all settle for second best but it's not something you want to consider when you are second in the table and have been there for most of the season. If we get toppled by Norwich, then it will obviously become much more acceptable and our track record here is decent.

3) Financial Stability; the takeover trail appears to have gone cold again. Gold and Sullivan look like they have had the knock-back at West Ham, possibly until late 2010 and yet there has been no further speculation of their supposed Plan B. I've laid out my theory on this before and will be very surprised if anything comes from them which is why I think we are back to square one. Promotion this season might improve our financial status to the extent that we can cope in the Championship but anything better than that is clearly beyond the means of the current Board and Richard Murray has gone on record to that effect. Without promotion we face another tough Summer where it's hard to see how we could avoid selling players off and starting next year with a much weaker side than we have today.

4) A decent Pub in Charlton; matchday drinking has become an increasing problem. My once beloved Royal Oak has failed to recover from the loss of Ray and Penny. The current incumbents are having a go but the character of the pub went with the disastrous re-fit and no-one has since come close to getting the right staff and the right level of staff. Local trade has also been all but killed off. My views on the other remaining drinking venues is well known but we are in desperate need of some investment and I can't see it coming in the current climate.

5) Palace and/or Millwall to go into Administration; this might appear a little negative but it would be a major boost to morale for the boot to be on the other foot after several years of us being the whipping boys.


1) Another year in League One; failure to go up this year with no improvement in the financial position of the club could see us consolidate as a League One club. It doesn't bear thinking about although I guess the likes of Leeds have survived it...

2) Millwall in the Play-Offs; it's the nightmare scenario, especially at Wembley. We would be outnumbered 2-1 as many of our supporters decided the risk of violence wasn't worth it and they would probably beat us on the pitch as well as on the way to the stadium.

3) Losing Bailey in the January transfer window (or to long-term injury); I don't think we'll let that happen but a determined big money bid from someone desperate to avoid the drop from the PL might be impossible to refuse. Without him we would lose our driving force....thinks of Robert Lee and Scott Parker.

4) Failing to make the Play-Offs; unlikely though that looks at the moment, it's not impossible and could have a catastrophic effect on the club. If we are to drop down to third or fourth, much will depend on our response, especially if we were to lose any key players in January. The consequences for season ticket renewals etc in 2010-11 would be grim. All those comparisons with seasons tailing off under previous management etc would be very hard to live with.

5) Walsall being off; I don't subscribe to the "it would be good to postpone this one" view. We need a win and we are probably in the right frame of mind for it right now. We also need the points to hang on to second. I have also bought three match and train tickets and don't to contemplate the hassle of looking for refunds etc.

All thoughts and comments welcomed!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Brentford 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

A third successive draw has opened the door for Norwich and Colchester to finally climb level with us on points should they win their respective games in hand (Norwich's match at Walsall was a late casualty to a frozen pitch). In doing so, we would probably slip to 3rd or 4th on goal difference. The bookmakers now have Norwich odds-on for automatic promotion whilst we have moved to odds-against.

However, I believe there is plenty of room for optimism for Charlton fans; we are unbeaten in eight and have a run of very winnable matches approaching which includes six home games against lower-half of the table opposition, three of whom are in the relegation places and who we have already beaten away (Orient, Tranmere and Brighton). More importantly, our squad has belief and they are displaying a never-say-die attitude that could yet make our season. We just need a bit of good fortune on Saturday at Walsall and then we have the prospect of a number of our first choice players returning from injury to strengthen the side and our attacking options.

It was largely a second string that took the field at Griffin Park yesterday. The make-shift back four had most Addicks fans worried beforehand but they coped admirably. I was pleased to see Phil Parkinson start Chris Dickson in a two-man attack with Akpo and it nearly paid off during the first half where we took the match to Brentford and were perhaps unfortunate not to go in at half-time with a lead. We played some good stuff through midfield and Lloyd Sam was busy down the wing. Brentford held firm and only had two Chris Dickson efforts to really worry about.

Nicky Bailey again played the captain's role alongside a disappointing Matt Spring. Matt's a grafter and has plenty of experience, so he rarely lets the side down but he doesn't have the legs for ninety minutes and rarely creates anything. I believe we have better starting options, one of whom, Racon was on the bench.

I felt confident we would score first after the break attacking the goal with 1800 Charlton fans behind it but we fell behind within minutes of the restart to what was the Bees first dangerous attack of the match. The useful Marcus Bean managed to get through our defence and pull a cross back to half-time sub Carl Cort who beat Elliot with a quickly-taken, crisp, low finish from close in.

Brentford tried to up the ante after taking the lead but we stuck at it and continued to break quickly when we could which forced them onto the back-foot. Within ten minutes Shelvey was on for Wagstaff and we had levelled.Nicky Bailey hit a superb pass down the middle which beat the Brentford defence and Chris Dickson managed to stay onside to catch the pass as he hurtled into the box. Lewis Price was already rushing out to try to avert the danger and the inevitable clash sent Dickson sprawling for as clear a penalty as you are likely to see. Dicko's first touch had turned him away from goal because if he had taken it inwards then Price would surely have been dismissed. As it was D'Urso got it right in only showing a yellow but Nicky Bailey stepped up to plant the ball firmly in the back of the net to even things up.

Brentford came back at us after this and had their best spell of the match and nearly restored their lead when Sam Saunders, a second-half sub, curled a beauty of a free-kick over the red wall only to see his shot come down off the bar and be driven clear. McKenzie came on for Dickson with ten to go as Parky rolled the last dice. McKenzie did manage one effort after wriggling free in the box but his shot was deflected wide. Nicky Bailey also put a late free-kick over the bar. At the other end we stopped a couple of late Brentford efforts as well to ensure the game finished a deserved 1-1 draw.

Brentford's stadium is not unlike a visit to the Valley 25 years ago. It sits packed tightly into the neighbouring streets of small terraced houses and there are still plenty of local pubs plying their trade. Most seemed full with Charlton fans beforehand and it added to a rowdy atmosphere in the first -half although it quietened down predictably during the second period. A number of Charlton fans were evicted predictably enough from the home areas closest to the away end after making their presence known and we enjoyed the spectacle of a rotund aggro-Grandad gesturing throughout the match when he wasn't tending to a number of children two rows in front of him. He earned an excellent chant of "saying goodbye to your kids" but from the puzzled look on his face it was lost on him.

Elsewhere, Leeds managed another late win at Stockport who had, admirably taken the lead twice and Colchester saw off Southampton to keep alive their own chances of automatic promotion. Steve Morison scored again as Millwall moved up to seventh and Brighton hit five at Wycombe Wanderers to haul themselves out of the bottom four.

So, one more big effort at Walsall on Saturday and we can look forward to some easier looking fixtures and what should be a side returning to full strength for the run-in. With only three League One fixtures taking place on Saturday due to the F A Cup - someone remind me why we aren't in it - the focus will definitely be on us and Norwich as they go to Wycombe Wanderers who were softened -up yesterday. Maybe there will be a response at Adams Park? We will need more of the same at the Bescot and our fans could play their part too.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

League One Preview, Game 24

At the half-way stage then and we find ourselves a modest four points behind the promotion campaign from this division in 1980-81 which is my yardstick for the season. We started the second half of the 80-81 season with a home win against Carlisle followed by a defeat at Oxford United before a home draw with Fulham and another home win over Hull City. So the immediate target in my minds' eye is 7 points from the next 12.

We beat Brentford earlier this season in a televised game at the Valley in which Brentford forced a lot of corners but lacked any cutting edge. They will start tomorrow without Charlie MacDonald but will probably have swapped that for the Charlton loss of Sam Sodje and Deon Burton. Ordinarily I would have fancied our chances of a decent away win here but am concerned that we might just not be strong enough tomorrow to get a result. Without our first-choice back-four tomorrow (Youga, Sodje, Dailly and Richardson) or our top scorer, we will need a steely performance of concentration and any chances that come our way will need to be taken. Brentford have a decent home record of 4-5-2 which matches that of next Saturday's opponents Walsall.

Having won at Gillingham on Saturday, I fear we may be up against it tomorrow and am going to suggest a rare defeat could be on the cards. Perhaps referring decisions or a late goal or something might get us a share?

Brentford v Charlton Athletic
I travel in hope. We will need a big performance from our midfield where we might miss Jose Semedo. I would like to see Therry Racon alongside Nicky Bailey but suspect Matt Spring gets Parky's nod over Racon at the moment. Lloyd Sam should be back on the right and hopefully Scott Wagstaff did enough as a substitute against Swindon to earn a start. Akpo must be nailed on to start and I would be inclined to play Dickson from the off as he has already netted twice at Griffin Park for Rovers this term. I don't think Parky will agree with my logic so expect McKenzie to start and Dickson to be sub. Our fans might play twelfth man tomorrow...
Prediction; 2-1

Colchester United v Southampton
For once I won't be disappointed to see Southampton win, although this would be an impressive away result. Colchester won well against Southend on Saturday and this would cement their Christmas.
Prediction; 2-0

Exeter City v Gillingham
The Gills couldn't get back on level terms against the Bees on Saturday despite a late barrage of attacks and their away record is so poor I suspect this will be their second defeat in succession.
Prediction; 2-0

Hartlepool v Oldham Athletic
Hartlepool gave us brief hope yesterday of derailing the Leeds train but they were undone by Jermaine Beckford. This should be eminently easier for them.
Prediction; 2-1

Huddersfield Town v MK Dons
A feisty encounter in prospect here. MK won well yesterday but this should be a much harder game.
Prediction; 2-1

Leyton Orient v Southend United
An east London v east Essex encounter here and I fancy the O's to see off an indifferent Southend.
Prediction; 2-1

Millwall v Bristol Rovers
After failing to get anything from the Hoolihan and Holt show yesterday, Millwall are back on familiar territory and this should be a home banker.
Prediction; 2-0

Stockport County v Leeds United
Leeds continue to look impressive and with fixtures like this it's hard to see them slowing down against bottom of the table Stockport.
Prediction; 0-3

Swindon Town v Yeovil Town
Can't say I was particularly impressed with Swindon yesterday although I suspect they are a different proposition at home. Charlie Austin has a goal-a-game record in non-league and now league football and will be itching to maintain his run.
Prediction; 2-0

Tranmere Rovers v Carlisle United
Neither of these sides played yesterday. Tranmere need to get wins under the belt and Prenton Park will be key to their survival chances. This could be their sixth home win of the campaign.
Prediction; 2-1

Walsall v Norwich City
It will be interesting to compare our result next Saturday against Norwich's own tomorrow. Walsall are no slouches at home and Norwich are due to drop points.

Wycombe Wanderers v Brighton & Hove Albion
Relegation six-pointer at Adams Park and it might be hard to separate these two. A point isn't much use to either but they might have to settle for it.
Prediction; 1-1

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Charlton Athletic 2 v Swindon Town 2

If last week's home draw with Millwall felt like a defeat, today's home draw certainly felt like a victory. The irony of course is that we have collected two points as opposed to the three if we had won one of them. However you look at it, come the end of the season, if one point makes a difference, then this will be the one.

It was a day that started unusually early with a pre-12 drink in the Oak. We all turned up expecting to see replacements for Lloyd Sam and David Mooney yet saw no recognised wingers and Miguel Llera was in for Christian Dailly. Jonjo Shelvey was back out wide and Matt Spring was the surprise choice on the other side. Dailly was at least missing through illness but Scott Wagstaff will be disappointed to have been dropped to the bench. More predictably, Akpo Sodje made his first Charlton start alongside Deon Burton.

Charlton started this game well and it looked only a matter of time before we took the lead. Matt Spring took aim within a minute as Charlton made their intentions clear and we should have gone one up when Burton was picked out deep in the visitor's box with only the keeper to beat but he headed over.

Sam Sodje was left prone after Swindon's first serious attack and he left the field for ten minutes to receive stitches in a head-wound. Even then Charlton looked in complete control and were knocking the ball around waiting to be back at full force. Unfortunately, Sam Sodje was only back on the field for a matter of minutes before the picky My Miller harshly showed him a straight red for a two-footed tackle. It was well into the Swindon half and Sodje was very low to the ground when he made it. I will need to see it again but he looked no more than ball-height to me and I think he should have survived with a yellow. However, there was no great protest from the players and I was the only complaining voice around me in the East. I was left wondering whether the tackle was on the same player who had left Sodje needing treatment in his own area. That might have made the referee's mind up if it was.

Down to ten men, but no matter, we carried on regardless and the opener duly arrived before the break. Akpo Sodje flicked a header on to Burton whose cushioned header fell for Jonjo Shelvey to make his first telling contribution of the game. He swept a 20 yard shot beyond Lucas in the Swindon goal in much the same way Danny Murphy had done for Fulham against Man U last weekend. Seven minutes to go to the break and we looked comfortable in spite of being down to ten men.

Deon Burton had been booked needlessly several minutes before for dissent and it was to cost him his match and Charlton two points when he foolishly earned his second yellow for attempting a Maradona as he went up with Lucas for an aerial ball.

Down to nine men with 50 minutes to go, things were looking ominous and you knew what the second-half was going to look like. Danny Wilson's charges came out like a different team and set about getting the two goals they needed for victory. We were defending in depth and it was all hands to the pumps. Wilson wasted no time in introducing fresh legs after six minutes of the restart and the impressive Alan O'Brien came on to lead the fightback. He looked just like Craig Bellamy on the left wing and his running style and crossing were faithful to the original.

We were looking to break when we had the chance but Akpo was struggling on his own with two markers to beat just to get the ball. Shelvey managed a fine solo effort having got down the left and having twisted past two defenders to get his shot in on goal.

Swindon got the equaliser their pressure deserved on 57 minutes when Charlie Austin was first to an Amankwaah pass and squeezed a shot across Elliot and into the far side netting. The disappointing Swindon following celebrated and more was to come following the introduction of Hutchinson up front. Austin latched onto another through ball but this time his cross was to the back post where Billy Paynter was lurking to apply the finish.

Swindon sat back on their lead and Charlton tried everything they could although it looked impossible with nine men. Scott Wagstaff was on for Omozusi and McKenzie had already replaced the tiring Akpo before Chris Dickosn was unleashed in place of Jonjo Shelvey. Amazingly we almost levelled matters towards the end when Dickson played a quick ball out to Wagstaff. Waggy galloped down the right before driving a low cross to the near post which Bailey got a touch on as Lucas came out. The ball beat Lucas but was cleared off the line by a covering defender and our goose looked cooked.

Having played most of the four added minutes, Jose Semedo picked up a ball in the centre-half spot and played it across to the leggy Matt Spring. Spring launched a final ball forward and the Valley held it's breath as the ball dropped deep into the Swindon box on the left. There on the charge was Miguel Llera who controlled the dropping ball before lifting it over the on-rushing Lucas for the most unlikely looking equaliser. I am convinced that Swindon could have come down and scored again if there had been more than twenty seconds left, so maybe it was the only way we were going to get anything from this game having been reduced to nine men.

With Leeds, Norwich and Colchester winning the heat is well and truly on, however, this point was very important because I believe we can now go unbeaten at home this season and we should enjoy the luxury of playing with eleven men at Brentford and Walsall.

The crowd was give as 17,977 which was pretty disappointing for a mild Boxing Day. Swindon's travelling contingent was poor at about 700 maximum, but there were plenty of red seats all around the stadium. We may have done well to hold onto 11,000 season ticket holders and to maintain a home following of 15-17,000 but the four or five thousand Championship deserters look like they have packed their bags until we are once again in a position to challenge for the Premier League.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Festive Greetings...

One and all. Merry Christmas to everyone who takes the time to read this blog and who encourage me to keep doing it - especially all of those of you who point out the deliberate mistakes and who enhance the debate with comments. A special mention too for my follow Bloggers and to all of the Charlton Lifers who collectively provide therapy for the Addickted.

As we look forward to our home match at the Valley tomorrow, in the words of Dave Allen, "may your God go with you."

Charlton forever!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

League One Weekend Preview, Game 23

We go again on Saturday in what's becoming a personal weekly battle with Leeds and Norwich. Having lost the two points last week that we gained the week previously, maybe it's our turn again this week? To do that we will need to overcome sixth-place Swindon Town who have won four matches away from home and who should present more of a threat on paper than Millwall. However, the match is unlikely to be played at derby-pace and Swindon's away record flatters to deceive as I have pointed out before. I think we will get a hard-fought match but believe we will see it through and go to Brentford in fine fettle.

The freezing temperatures are due to rise a few critical degrees on Christmas Day and the forecast in London for Saturday means the game should be on. The fixture list elsewhere may well be in doubt, so it could be an opportunity to build on our lead....

Brighton & Hove Albion v Leyton Orient
The Seagulls have been going quite nicely away from home in recent weeks but invariably return home only to slump to defeat. TheO's aren't great travellers, and surely Brighton won't lose at home for a ninth time before the half-way stage in the season?
Prediction; 2-1

Bristol Rovers v Walsall
Rovers have leap-frogged Walsall in the table and are back on the fringe of the play-offs. They are going well at home and I can't see them slipping up at home here.
Prediction; 3-0

Carlisle United v Huddersfield Town
I'm guessing this match might be more vulnerable to the freeze than many others. If it goes ahead Huddersfield might find it a harder going than respective league table positions suggest.
Prediction; 2-0

Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town
After the drama of our last home game we are possibly due a quieter match and perhaps another clean sheet. My Christmas wish is that we can put out a largely unchanged side (Mooney apart) and that we put in a professional shift throughout the team. That should be enough for a one or two goal win. I really hope some of the stay-at-homes this season get off their backsides for this one and swell the gate. There's no reason why we shouldn't better last weeks 19,000 attendance although I suspect we will fall short of that.
Prediction; 2-0

Gillingham v Brentford
Brentford and Gillingham appear evenly matched although the Gills home form is at complete odds with their away. They won't win every match at the Priestfield this season and if they draw or lose many more than the four games they have failed to win so far, they could be in relegation trouble yet. If Brentford are up for this, they might just catch the Gills napping.
Prediction; 1-2

Leeds United v Hartlepool
It's probably too much to ask for but funny things happen over Christmas. Pool have nothing to lose here.
Prediction; 0-0

MK Dons v Stockport County
Surely MK will not trip up again at home after conceding a late winning goal to Charlie McDonald at the weekend? I can't see Stockport even scoring.
Prediction; 3-0

Norwich City v Millwall
Come on you Lions! Actually, a draw is probably as good a result for us. Millwall have managed only one win away from home this season but have been good enough for six draws. I fancy them to win four or five away before the season ends and they might come close here.
Prediction; 2-2

Oldham Athletic v Tranmere Rovers
Having given Les Parry the manager's job on a full-time basis,his side responded with a good home win last week over Bristol Rovers. Their away form isn't good and the honeymoon could be short-lived.
Prediction; 2-0

Southampton v Exeter City
Much as 'd love to see it, I can't see the Saints failing here after going down to the only goal at Elland Road on Saturday.
Prediction; 3-0

Southend United v Colchester United
Tough match this for Colchester. Essex pride at stake and Southend will need no motivation for this one. It could be the only goalin three and I fancy Sarfend.
Prediction; 2-1

Yeovil Town v Wycombe Wanderers
Home banker for me. Wycombe continue to struggle and this will be three cabs too far.
Prediction; 2-0

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Striking fortune

After a relatively settled and healthy striking spell, things may be about to change. David Mooney has struck up a best-of-season strike partnership with Deon Burton these last couple of months. The fact that we are unbeaten in seven league games and have scored in them all hints at the increasing effectiveness of their double-act. We have also scored close to three a game during that spell.

It may be all change, however, as Mooney goes for a scan on his injured knee. If he's unlikely to play for even a couple of weeks he will return to Reading as his loan expires after the swindon game. Let us hope that his probable return does not mean that Parky has second thoughts about off-loading Izale Mcleod to Hearts. I am sure big Izale might find his his form amongst the smaller sides in the SPL. A Christmas wish too that it's a permanent deal.

As two doors close then, one looks like it may re-open for Chris Dickson and my bet would be on another loan striker joining to boost the second-half of the season. With McKenzie fit again, Chris might have to do with the bench again but he might get a final opportunity to score the goals he's always threatened to. I am guessing any January transfer activity might focus on bringing in another forward to boost our front line (if not a left winger). There may be a Championship or even Premier League striker who is firmly out-of-favour at their clubs who would welcome the chance of first team football and participating in a promotion charge rather than sitting the rest of the season out in the stiffs.

I've put this on my Christmas list, so let's hope Santa's listening.

Monday, 21 December 2009

We have to go for it on Saturday

This Saturday should see a bumper Boxing Day crowd at the Valley for the 1pm kick-off with Swindon Town. It's the half-way match from which we can assess our season so far and take time to make some predictions about how we will fare second-half.

As I have said before, we needed to win the five games up to and including Swindon to match the 51 points we gained in the 80-81 promotion season from this division. We are, obviously, now at least two short of that total but a win on Saturday and we will be left looking for 35 points in the second-half to match that historic promotion achievement.

Swindon have been hard to beat on their travels having lost only three times (Gills,Norwich and Bristol Rovers) but the rest of their away games have been against opposition 10th or lower, so we should be confident about beating them.

I firmly believe we have the squad to win most of the matches we play in this division but I have reservations about our approach in many games which seems to be that we want to hold onto leads rather than extend them. That was true again on Saturday when a more positive approach when we were twice in front might have got us the two-goal lead that would have killed Millwall off. For a top side we aren't handing out enough thumpings either. MK Dons at home and Tranmere away are the only two games we have won by a three goal margin and two of those at Tranmere were a touch freaky. Maybe I am being unrealistic or selfish here but I believe we need the added confidence that comes with big wins to take us through some of the nail-biters will will inevitably get before the end of the season, particular from the Millwall away game onwards (13th March).

Swindon would be a good place to start. Boxing Day matches can be unusually one-sided and often throw up big line-up surprises that question what's gone on in the days immediately beforehand. I am trusting our players won't be jetting off to Dublin for a booze-up or anything that unprofessional and that they will all be present and ready on Saturday to kick-start the holiday programme. It would make a pleasant change to be two-up at half-time and kill the game with a third early into the second-half and then go hammer and tongs for more. I don't think that's asking too much from promotion contenders. Norwich are doing it quite regularly even if Leeds have been as reliant on their parsimonious defence as on Robert Snodgrass and Jason Beckford's goals.

I'll settle for the odd-goal victory at Brentford and Walsall, but can we please take the game to Swindon, Hartlepool, Orient, Tranmere, Yeovil, Brighton and Stockport in our next seven home games. We've yet to play Swindon but we've already beaten five of the others at their place and drawn with the remaining one.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Charlton Athletic 4 v Millwall 4

An astonishing match at the Valley this afternoon saw us share an improbable 8 goals with the Auld Enemy. I am just back from the Oak after 8pm and the Charlton mood would appear to be one of disappointment and frustration. The consensus is that we were second best and scraped the draw but I have to say I disagree quite strongly.

Millwall raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of a poor back pass and a referee-assisted goal from a corner that was a goal-kick. Steve Morison finished very well from both chances. We hadn't looked bad at this point but we were two-nil down with a humiliation in prospect.We ploughed on and just after the half-hour David Mooney was brought down in the box on the charge and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Mooney was the only rushing forward and there were no other defenders so it was hard to comprehend how we were awarded the penalty without any action being taken against the offender. No matter, Deon Burton hammered home and we had a lifeline.

Just before the break we got forward with urgency again and there was a clash of players in the Millwall box. Lloyd Sam went sprawling and the ref raced in to officiate. I thought he was about to show a yellow for a dive but he flashed red to Jimmy Abdou and we had the penalty. I wasn't clear over what happened, so will need to see a replay, although a mate in Cyprus was quick to tell me that Sky had ruled it a dive. Deon Burton did superbly well to beat the keeper once again, this time low to his right and the match was set for a storming second-half.

Within minutes of the restart Charlton scored a third that was good enough to win the match. It was one of the best goals I have ever seen at the Valley. Lloyd Sam streaked down the right, delivered a deep cross with Millwall back-pedalling. Mooney headed the ball back to Bailey 20 yards out and he swivelled onto his left foot before connecting beautifully. His shot went like a missile into the roof of the net and stunned the 3000 Millwall fans behind the goal. We almost made it 4-2 moments later when Deon Burton got on the end of a cross but his effort was touched onto the post and out to safety.

We looked comfortable for 15 minutes or so after this but Millwall came back into the match and there was a horrible familiarity with the way they ran through our defence at times. Their equaliser came in due course from son of Charlton stalwart, Kenny Martin, and I thought that was it. Minutes later, however, we forced a corner and the cross was headed back onto the post by a Millwall player. The rebound struck another blue shirt and rolled in for 4-3. Cue pandemonium in the stadium and surely we had secured the most astonishing win over Millwall in our history? The ninety minutes were up and five additional minutes were announced. Almost immediately Millwall surged forward and a succession of passes found their way to Schofield charging in from the right flank and he beat Elliot all ends up for a remarkable draw.

It was a cracking derby and a point gained when three were within our grasp. We remain unbeaten at home and our run continues. We will play better than this and win better than this in coming weeks.

By and large the visiting Millwall fans were well behaved but there were confrontations before the game in Floyd Road and some of the arseholes who made their presence known in the East Stand during the first half assaulted a number of innocent visitors to the toilets before half-time. The security response was sadly lacking and I suspect there will be a Stewards Enquiry in the strictest sense. The Police were conspicuous by their absence and the Steward's response was far too slow and half-hearted.

Nonetheless, we battled back into this game and we forced the issue. It was disappointing to concede the final equaliser but we took them all the way and there are precious few previous Millwall derbies when I can say the same. I am confident of a positive Christmas.

My final comment is reserved for Kent Regional Building Society who let their box (the last one in the East Stand, just behind me) to Millwall fans. Whilst their behaviour was no worse than borderline, it's sad that KRBS felt the need to let it to Millwall fans for our derby game.

Friday, 18 December 2009

In the balance

Our match at the Valley tomorrow shouldn't be postponed looking at the inch or two of snow dropped in Charlton Lane overnight. Just need to hope that we don't get anymore today and that the midday temperatures clear the roads and back-streets. We really need to get this game played if we are going to maintain the pressure at the top.

Sorry to learn of the Administration threat at Watford. Can't say I am surprised as they have been dicing with it for several seasons now. It looks like a Boardroom split has forced one of their Directors to call his £5m loan in and he could force the Administration next week. Imagine having that on your conscience? Presumably he's working on the fact that Watford could probably manage the points deduction without seriously being troubled by relegation but if they were to be raided for cheap players in January, the threat of relegation could be real.

I am left wondering how long it will be before three or more sides in one division are forced into Administration during a season which might provoke a host of others to follow suit because the effect of the 10 point deduction would be neutralised and they could write down debts in the process. Simon Jordan must be following events closely...

I see that Simon Royce was indeed the Gills players injured in last week's car crash and that his injuries are more severe than first thought, although he's not expected to be out for more than a month or so. He'll certainly hope it's no longer than that because at 38 his playing days are already limited.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

League One Weekend Preview, Game 22

'Twas the week before Christmas and all was quiet. Not at the Valley on Saturday though, where there should be some atmosphere as the roar of the home crowd competes with 3,200 bellowing Millwall fans. Let us hope that this is one of the home games where we have excelled this season rather than competed. We have earned a six point cushion over our nearest rivals which should enable us to play with confidence and take the game to Millwall. They will miss Harris and Alexander and despite the form of Morison (four goals in as many games) I think we have the personnel to limit their opportunities and make them play on the back foot, at which they are at their weakest. Results from elsewhere promise to be almost as interesting as our own...

Charlton Athletic v Millwall
Bearing in mind that this is a London derby and our horrible record against our closest rivals, a 1-1 draw might be the bookies bet. However, I have already stuck my neck out and said I see us winning this and I see no reason to change that view. Nicky Bailey is due a goal and local boys Burton or a Sodje might fancy another.
Prediction; 2-0

Colchester United v Carlisle United
Looking through my rose-coloured glasses I would say that Carlisle have been hard to beat away from home winning twice and forcing five draws. They are improved of late too but surely Colchester will be too strong at home.
Prediction; 2-1

Exeter City v Southend United
All of a sudden the Grecians find themselves hovering above the drop zone. I think they have been better than that so far but I guess the table doesn't lie. This is as good an opportunity as they will get for three points against a side above them in the table.
Prediction; 2-1

Gillingham v Stockport County
This looks like a foregone conclusion. After losing away the Gills return to their hidey-hole fired-up for three points. Can't see Stockport holding them for more than twenty minutes.
Prediction; 3-0

Hartlepool v Yeovil Town
A lowest crowd of the season in prospect here for Hartlepool. They should at least have something to cheer against a Yeovil side who don't travel too well.
Prediction; 2-0

Leeds United v Southampton
Cracker in prospect at Elland Road. These sides look likely to be disputing the JPT final, so there may be added bite to this one. Southampton are on a roll but Leeds fans will argue they have been on one since the first day of the season. I really can see this one going either way, so a draw would probably be the best call.
Prediction; 1-1

MK Dons v Brentford
Six points out of a possible 30 is all the Bees have mustered away and this looks like another blank to me.
Prediction; 3-0

Norwich City v Huddersfield Town
The third intriguing fixture of the weekend. City were pipped on penalties at Southampton in the JPT last night and Paul Lambert will hoping there's no sign of tired legs here. Huddersfield will come under pressure here and I can see it being very close.
Prediction; 1-0

Swindon Town v Brighton & Hove Albion
Given their appalling home form; they lost their eighth game at the Withdean last Friday, Brighton play much better away from home although this will be a tough test against a Swindon side who have only been beaten once at home. They have drawn four though, so there might be some encouragement for the Seagulls.
Prediction; 1-1

Tranmere Rovers v Bristol Rovers
As good a chance as Chris Dickson will get to sway the doubters in Bristol. It looks like time's up for cocky Chris and he might not even get on here. Tranmere have finally managed a win or two in recent weeks at home but remain favourites for the drop. Bristol will expect something here.
Prediction; 1-2

Walsall v Leyton Orient
Walsall will see this as the perfect opportunity to recover from their set-back at the New Den last week and threaten the play-off places again. The O's invariably struggle away from home and I can't see this being any different.
Prediction; 2-0

Wycombe Wanderers v Oldham Athletic
A great opportunity for Wycombe to pick up three precious points here against an Oldham side who look like mid-table fare this year. Oldham won routinely at home to Exeter last week whilst Wycombe succombed to the only goal of the match at Carlisle. Christmas cheer for the Chairboys.
Prediction; 2-0

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

You make your own history

When you’re young time passes slowly in much the same way that everything appears much larger than it will do in later life. As a young boy in Greenwich in the late 60’s, there were reminders of the war all around you – bombsites abounded and nearly everyone’s Grandad was a veteran if they hadn’t actually died during the war – and yet the war seemed like it was so far away.

Charlton Athletic appeared in both F A Cup finals immediately after the war and we had actually won it only twenty years ago (1947). We had narrowly missed out on an automatic return to the First Division barely ten years earlier (1957-58). The Valley was still the largest league ground in England with an enormous capacity of 66,000. Grown men spoke wisely of sleeping giants and we clung to the hope. Trouble was we were firmly second division and any ambition the Board of Directors may once have had was long since gone and the next fifteen years would see us flirt with Division 3 more than once and never come close to challenging to regain our top flight status.

Some real characters and the occasional swashbuckling performances aside, the 70’s were a dark period in the history of our club and nothing summed up the depression for me more than matches against Millwall. Trips to the Den were dreaded as you plotted your day and took your chances. In addition to always being intimidated and occasionally being punched or chased as fans, our side hardly ever turned up. Perhaps we weren’t alone at this time when the Den was such a grim prospect for visitors but our record against them was dire and we didn’t do much better at the Valley.

Millwall’s staunchly working class following was increasingly moving out into our traditional heartlands and this was their annual opportunity to lord it over us and their side rarely let them down. Passion, determination and physicality played a much bigger part in football matches in those days at the expense of skill, pace and creativity and we were often lacking against Millwall. At the open Valley their bully boys had the run of the ground and the intimidation could be as evident as it was at the Den.

However, things changed in the 80’s and more so in the 90’s. The gap between our respective clubs has grown so large that our game against them on Saturday will be the first for 13 years. The last time we played them, we did the double. Both wins were relatively straightforward. The game has also moved on and players are so much more professional than they ever were. Bullying is far less effective a tactic and assaults like the Van den Hauwe one on a teenage Sean Newton simply aren’t tolerated anymore. Matches are better policed and the penalties for violent behaviour are finally a deterent. Grounds are segregated and matches all-ticket. In today’s environment Millwall fans can still be peasants but they are no longer the threat they once were on or off the pitch.

Whilst we face them as League One sides they again get fleeting parity but we are looking down on them and we might have to wait a few years yet before we play them again. There is no reason why we can’t better them over the two games this season and begin to make up a little of the lost ground. No doubt some Millwall fans will be unable to control themselves, especially if we beat them, but we won’t be intimidated like in years gone by. It might only be another five or six seasons before we are the old men talking about sleeping giants. Wouldn’t it be great if we have started to adjust that terrible record against the Lions in the meantime.

As the decades have marched on, I have learnt that things change and that we make our own history. Saturday is just another day and just another football match but we should look forward to playing our part, supporting our team and getting the result we need to continue to influence our history. Our players will turn-up and so should we.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Charlton Athletic 1 v Chelsea 2 (F A Youth Cup)

Charlton's youth went out of the F A Cup this evening in an evenly contested game against Chelsea at the Valley in front of 1000 fans. A goal in each half was enough to put Chelsea through to the fourth round although Charlton did manage a late consolation which better reflected the balance of play.

Jeffrey Bruma opened the scoring after half an hour when he got on the end of a penetrating free kick from Gokhan Tore. Charlton nearly equalised immediately afterwards when Walker in the Chelsea goal spilled a cross but Tamer Tuna couldn't force it through the scramble of legs. He should have equalised however minutes later when the best ball of the game (from Lewis Perkins I think) split the Chelsea back-line and put him in one-on-one against Sam Walker but Tamer took a touch he didn't need to and his shot was blocked.

If Chelsea shaded the first-half, Charlton edged the second. We had far more possession with the tall Harry Pell looking and playing the Steven Gerrard role in midfield but we struggled to beat Bruma and Deen-Conteh at the back for the Blues. Liam Bellamy lead most of the Charlton breaks on the right flank and he was well supported by Perkins. Indeed, Perkins fired over from 25 yards after a fine five man move which Harry Pell orchestrated midway through the second half. Marko Mitrovic should have wrapped it up for Chelsea when he picked up the loose ball from another Binks save. He stepped inside the covering challenge but with the goal gaping he put his shot over the bar. Chelsea came close again from two more set pieces taken by Tore but Mambo, Jenkinson and Pell weren't going to be caught out again. The killer second goal came fifteen minutes from the end after a goalmouth scramble.

Charlton kept coming but it looked half-hearted after that until Jordan Cousins pick up a clearance from a Charlton corner 25 yards out and drilled a low shot into the box. It wasn't particularly hard but it took a slight deflection a few yards out from Sam Walker and wrong footed him. Too little too late and and Chelsea deserved to go through.

Hurrah for Ryan Giggs

Perhaps this post should be entitled "Hurrah for Ant & Dec" and whoever else has been caught fiddling the results of television phone-in programmes. Last night's elaborate BBC Sports Personality of the Year show was decided by popular public voting and not brown-nosing or politically correct TV Executives.

This show lost all credibility for me a few years back when Zara Phillips "won" for some Horse-riding event. That was then of course, when lip-service could be paid to Joe Public and an Executive decision could be taken. My cynical head was telling me that Jenson Button would take the prize yesterday, so I was delighted to see Giggsy get it for 20 years of sporting contribution rather than last year's performances per se. The Manchester United fan-base obviously played it's part in this and the organisers will probably be more careful about the shortlist in future years to avoid the result becoming unreasonably distorted, but at least it looks like it will be democratic.

The look on Jenson's Button face as he was awarded runner-up was a classic. Fine performance though his was last year, he started in a car with a technical advantage and had practically sown the title up by the time rival teams had made the modifications they needed to match the Brawn cars and start to race on a level playing field. Formula One has also had a disproportionate number of winners in the past, so Jenson will need to do it again to make it stick.

David Haye was in with a shout but it's too early for him and he needs to learn to be a little more humble and perhaps more gracious, although I remain a big fan. Jessica Ennis grabbed third spot for her Heptathlon Gold and undoubtedly benefitted from the show being beamed live from her home city of Sheffield. Speaking of which, the venue (Sheffield Arena) looked far to big for a television programme and the people at the back must have been bored stiff. It was bad enough that the BBC felt the need to get Beth Tweddle to tumble her way down the isle to be interviewed but Eddie Jordan playing drums on the intro to their sales-pitch for Jenson Button was really scraping the barrel.

The video links were a bit hit and miss as well. The England cricket team looked like they had been assembled at the point of a gun to listen to them get the Team of the Year! If the Ireland rugby team were good enough to be considered in the running for it, it's a traversty that they didn't get it for a long overdue and triumphant Grand Slam. The cricketers got the award for beating a below par Australia. We did at least get some entertainment when Jose-Maria Olazabal presented the Lifetine Achievement award to his friend Seve Ballesteros. Olazabal gave a long and very sincere speech before the pair stood up from what looked like a three-piece suite in Ballesteros' home. Seve is battling with brain cancer which I took to mean he is still very ill - I had thought he had made a complete recovery from having had a tumour removed well over a year ago.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Stockport County 1 v Charlton Athletic 2

Charlton ground out their fifth away win of the season at Stockport this afternoon, but once again didn't have things all their own way. The three points gained moves us to within two points of Leeds and six clear of third-placed Norwich after they both only managed draws at Brentford and Yeovil respectively.

The side was as expected with Omozusi back in for the injured Richardson at right-back and Basey continuing at left-back whilst Youga gets fit enough to return. Our four man midfield of Wagstaff, Semedo, Bailey and Sam were supporting Burton and Mooney as Charlton made a positive start on the sanded Edgeley Road pitch. I was following the game on CAFC TV/Radio and had to switch to the Stockport commentary to escape the drone of that woman who somehow fails to realise that listeners can't actually see what's going on and need it to be explained.

David Mooney had an early effort and was to see plenty of the ball during the game as well as missing a couple of glorious opportunities. But first, Sam Sodje opened the scoring after 13 minutes when he stooped to head home from a Grant Basey corner. That settled the nerves but Stockport had plenty of possession and were to hit the bar before the break. Semedo had to make a last-ditch tackle to prevent Nicholas Bignall from scoring whilst Deon Burton put a diving header wide with the target at his mercy. Just before half-time Mooney got away with an off-side break but couldn't beat Fon Williams from close in and he followed that by lobbing Fon Williams only to see a covering defender clear in front of goal.

After the break Stockport upped the ante and we came under a lot more pressure conceding a number of corners but held firm and Mooney forced another save from Fon Williams at the other end. On 66 minutes Burton was taken off as Akpo Sodje came on to bolster the front-line. Within a couple of minutes Mooney got another shooting opportunity and this time Fon Williams got a foot to the shot. The deflection dropped for Wagstaff in front of goal but he blazed over.

Stockport came straight back down to our end and Grant Basey made a great sliding tackle to deny Pilkington. The game was described on Five Live as a "cracking end-to-end game" at this point and it was clear we needed a second goal. It came minutes later when Scott Wagstaff finished off a good move by firing past Fon Williams. I can't tell you much more than this because the commentary had switched from a Stockport attack within seconds and the goal was just announced in a monotone voice by the home commentator as "and Wagstaff has scored!"

That was pretty much it although Stockport managed a late consolation as a cross-cum-shot hit the woodwork and bounced down off Elliot over the line. There was time for a melee that saw Baker shown a red before the final whistle blew.

Elsewhere, Millwall recovered from one-down at home to see off Walsall and Huddersfield did the same to beat Gillingham but the points dropped by Leeds and Norwich make all the difference at the top. Perhaps we will soon be concentrating on Leeds' results instead of Norwich's? Millwall won't be easy next week but Leeds entertain Southampton (who won 3-0 again) and Norwich face the fiesty Huddersfield. Results today mean we are near certainties to reach the half-way point in an automatic place and with a run of very winnable games after Millwall and Swindon at the Valley, there is every chance we could take top spot and throw down the gauntlet.

The Soothsayers will tell you that we haven't been playing particularly well in winning the last three and could arguably have lost any of them, so a defeat is probably on the cards at some point soon. However, we are just as likely to put in a performance like we did against MK Dons at the Valley and blow someone away. It's certainly easier to play relaxed football when you have a six point cushion.

What is wrong with the Club's Website?

Something strange is going on with the Official Site. In recent weeks it would appear to be down more often than it's up. My heart sinks every time I want to check something because I know I am likely to see spinning wheels and then a shell of the site loading with no content available. The "Match" section in particularly is hard to get to recently.

This comes on the back of what looks like a concerted effort to up the level of communication with fans over the last few months. The volume of new articles appearing every day has been impressive and has reached information overload at times. Maybe this has something to do with the site's availability problems? Too many people are dabbling perhaps or the hosting technology is creaking. What's the chance that we've trimmed our support to the bone and this is the result?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Take time to smell the flowers

With the half-way stage of the season approaching, it looks like we will be firmly in contention for promotion, if not clinging on to an automatic berth come the New Year. That's something that only the most optimistic 20% were expecting in June and July (I wasn't one of them).

Whilst the long-term financial security of the club is uncertain, we do have cover for the second-half of the season and money that the Board invested in October demonstrates their medium term commitment to ensuring the club does not suffer unduly between now and it passing on to new ownership. Sullivan and Gold may be interested in taking over and investing although it's just as likely that they are using us for leverage in their negotiations to gain control of the club they really want. If you were worth £750m and the purchase price of the club you support was somewhere between £42m and £80m and it was your last realistic opportunity to live the dream, would you be deterred on price and have a genuine Plan B that could see you owning a rival club instead? Irrespective, the publicity we are receiving over this will do our prospects of finding more wealthy backers no harm.

On the pitch few can doubt that the side are playing with new found confidence and the value of a number of players has risen since our relegation in May. In the stands things have livened up too with season ticket holders yet to see the Addicks lose at home and die-hard fans enjoying visits to old favourite haunts as well as a good few new experiences.

So I think we should look around us and reflect that maybe things are much better than we might be giving ourselves credit for. Notts County have been put up for sale. This a club bought by the unlikely sounding Munto Finance in the Summer who promised great things for County's future. They are actually in contention for promotion and home gates have doubled but something is obviously not right and you can see the whole thing collapsing like a pack of cards and County being left hugely exposed with their newly extended squad.

Portsmouth finally sacked poor Paul Hart last month and they lurch from one payday crisis to the next. Rumours of Administration abound and their Sky TV money may be diverted to creditors by the PL. Prospects for avoiding relegation don't look great either, as they sit rock bottom four points adrift of West Ham in 17th. Oh and their next five matches look horrendous as they entertain Liverpool and Arsenal and have to travel to Sunderland, Chelsea and West Ham. If they do go down, odds on relegation from the Championship will likely be better than on their promotion. There's every prospect of us playing them next season and finishing above them.

Along the way, we should take time to smell the flowers whilst we can.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Muck and brass

Looks like the rain may have held off from Edgeley Park in the last day or two and confidence oop north is growing that they can get the game on. Things must be desperate for Stockport with this pitch because they have taken the decision to re-lay much of it next week. I guess with gate revenue being critical, the last thing they want is postponed revenue-generating matches for the football and Sale rugby, especially when they are under pressure to play their twice postponed F A Cup tie with Torquay at Macclesfield now.

It seems like the latest takeover rumour about Gold and Sullivan is maturing. The Telegraph did a piece yesterday which Chicago Addick summarises perfectly here. I think I have already said that the financial stability and relative ambition of Gold and Sullivan must be seen as beneficial when compared to the alternatives; doing nothing looks like it will see us continue to whither on the vine and there are plenty of potential buyers out there without the nouse or backing of the Davids. I have to say though, that if the Telegraph story is accurate, I feel like a proud father whose only daughter has become engaged to a man who was rejected by his true love. That doesn't settle well with the soul and will seed doubts over their motives for the future.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

League One Weekend Preview, Game 21

We really need our match at Stockport to go ahead this week to help maintain the gap over Norwich City. I am a firm believer that it's easier to stay in front than play catch-up as we have been proving so far. The pitch at Stockport is a sanded bog by all accounts and it needs a few rainless days if there is any hope of the game being played. If it does get played then we must have high expectations of a relatively straightforward win. Stockport are bottom and have lost seven straight league matches. They will also be without defender Mullins through suspension.

Here's who everyone else faces...

Brighton & Hove Albion v Colchester United
Colchester take their place in the distant golfing stand on Friday night at the Withdean. The side with the worst home record in the division (next to Stockport) look like they will lose their eighth home game of the season. How depressing if you are a season ticket holder down there? It really is relegation form.
Prediction; 1-2

Brentford v Leeds United
If I had more Brownie points, I would happily swan off to west London to cheer on the Bees but I need them for our visit on 28th December. Leeds' marathon season rolled on last night with an extra-time F A Cup win over Kettering at Elland Road. Tired they may be but there's no sign of it so far. Brentford should be good enough at home for a point but I suspect Leeds will go close to another win. What price another 89th minute goal?
Prediction; 1-1

Bristol Rovers v Swindon Town
M4 derby and with both sides level on 31 points in 7th and 6th respectively, this could be a cracker. Chris Dickson's goal glut has dried up and he will probably not make the starting eleven. I expect him to return with his tail between his legs in January until he is loaned out again. If Gillingham drop another few places by then I suspect they will eat humble pie and offer us a fee for him in an attempt to ensure they avoid the drop. Back at the decrepit Millenium Stadium I would hedge my bets on this one.
Prediction; 2-2

Carlisle United v Wycombe Wanderers
Carlisle's mini-revival has seen them elevated to 12th whilst the Chairboys remain firmly ensconced in the drop zone. Wycombe have managed only six points away from Adams Park and I don't see them adding to that here after the long trek north.
Prediction; 3-0

Huddersfield Town v Gillingham
Pathetic as Wycombe's efforts have been away from home, no-one comes close to Gillingham's solitary point on the road. One point in ten attempts? Oh dear, they won't like this. Ironically, I think their style would be suited to an upright and attacking Huddersfield but I see them conceding too many goals.
Prediction; 3-1

Leyton Orient v MK Dons
The O's have been scoring more of late but will need to do that and defend without Mkandiwire who was sent-off at Swindon last week. MK Dons have slipped out of the play-off frame and will go for it here. A draw looks like the best bet.
Prediction; 1-1

Millwall v Walsall
Walsall have climbed above the Lions and will be quietly confident of getting something at the New Den against a Millwall side depleted by injuries. The 3-0 first-half collapse at Hartlepool will have worried Kenny Jackett and he really needs something before he takes his troops into the Valley. A goal might settle this either way.
Prediction; 1-0

Oldham Athletic v Exeter City
Exeter lost at home to Brighton in the last minute on Saturday whilst Oldham went down to two first-half goals at Norwich. I can see this being a tight game and maybe a draw would suit both sides.
Prediction; 1-1

Southampton v Tranmere Rovers
Tranmere sneaked a home win past Brentford last time out but will surely find the goal-scoring Saints too tough a proposition at St Mary's. Pardew's play-off claims have been strengthened again in recent weeks although I remain confident they will miss out.
Prediction; 3-0

Southend United v Hartlepool
Well-balanced match in prospect here. Southend looked decent at the Valley last week without really threatening us. They will need to do more at home to beat a durable Hartlepool who are up to 11th after seeing off Millwall. I think Tilson's men might amend for their shortcomings at the Valley.
Prediction; 2-0

Stockport County v Charlton Athletic
If this goes ahead I expect us to cruise to a 2-0 win which would set us up for two important home games against Millwall and Swindon which could define our season.
Prediction; match postponed

Yeovil Town v Norwich City
Come on Yeovil. I think they will need the sort of weather they got against us if they are to get something against a rampant Canaries. Wind like we faced is very unlikely but expect the pitch to be heavy and there's every prospect of rain. Yeovil have only been beaten twice at home this season.
Prediction; 1-1

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Stockport a risk

Looks like the incessant national rain is once again threatening to postpone a Charlton game. The fact that the Yeovil match went ahead gives me hope but Stockport's Edgeley Park pitch is currently struggling to cope with the deluge.

There is a pitch inspection at 11am today ahead of their already postponed F A Cup match with Torquay. Fingers-crossed this goes ahead as it should favour us on Saturday if they are a bit leggier. Who knows, they could even lose a player or two to suspension as well! Not that I am clutching at straws you understand - this photo from yesteryear shows you that a Charlton omen hovers (if it still does) over the away end. Just a shame it didn't say Curbishley for my last visit when we were outplayed and 3-0 down on the hour which was the signal to return to the pub.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ambrose to save Palace (for a month or two)

I don't usually have enough spare time to waste it trawling through the message-boards of other clubs save for a quick look prior to playing us. So I haven't been on a Palace one for quite a while. I usually satisfy myself with Budgie's (and a few others) contributions on Charlton Life which are normally bearable and confined to debates involving Palace.

However, it would seem that Palace's ever-worsening financial situation is beginning to create some genuine fear and loathing amongst their fans following the news of their third transfer embargo of the season, the wage deferrals for staff and their poor showing at home to Doncaster on Saturday (which cost me a big win with Mr Coombes). The talk is of an impending fire-sale in January and the threat of dropping into the relegation scrap if they are forced into Administration. Amazing then to think that the jewel in the crown appears to be Darren Ambrose and they are predicting all sorts of ludicrous sums for him. Sorry but I can't see it. He may have finally realised he's in The Last Chance saloon but prospective buyers will see from his CV that he is someone content to muddle along when given any security of tenure.

The fact that Palace are in this mess is because Simon Jordan decided a couple of years ago to stop investing his own money and to effectively run the club at a loss against it's value. It looks like the value has all but gone and there hasn't exactly been a queue of volunteers forming to take on the task of doner. I am even more surprised that Jordan is allowing the club to continue to sink as the personal embarrassment must be excruciating for a prima dona who was once so keen to flash his new found wealth and status following the sale of his mobile phone business. The kudos he gained early on from becoming king at the palace has long since disappeared and he is in danger of joining the ranks of failed Palace Chairmen, Goldberg and Noades.

As we wallow in this, I realise that I would much rather see Simon Jordan skint than Crystal Palace. However, the man doesn't possess the personal integrity of other Chairman I can think of, and it certainly looks like Simes has cut his financial exposure to save what remains of his personal fortune. In the circumstances maybe I'll just have to make do with watching his reputation be trampled in the fire and Palace lurch from one crisis to the next. If that means Gold and Sullivan investing at the Valley rather than Selhurst Park, then so be it.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Charlton Athletic 1 v Southend United 0

This match was, in many ways, very similar to the performance at Brighton on Tuesday. Having taken the lead we were content to sit back and defend against a Southend side who didn't stop coming forward even if they lacked any obvious cutting edge. Surprising then that their number included Lee Barnard the division's second top scorer.

On the balance of play, Steve Tilson will no doubt claim that his side deserved a point but, like Brighton, all they could manage was a couple of chances throughout the ninety minutes which would suggest that our first half goal deserved to win the match. I think we had the capacity to have responded to a Southend goal but that begs the question why we weren't more attack-minded in a sterile second half.

Parkinson sent Fraser Richardson out for the first half but he obviously suffered a reaction to his recent injury because Omozusi started the second period. Sam and Dailly were joined again in the central defensive pairing and once again shut out pretty much everything that was thrown at them. Basey had another good game although his lack of pace means he needs to get his positioning near to perfect if he's to avoid being left trailing as he was for Southend's best chance of the match early on when they got in behind our left flank. The defence was drawn magnet-like to the ball carrier and the cross found Barnard unmarked at the back post with goal written all over it. He might have had a tad too much time because he controlled the ball first and that gave Elliot time to come out and block the shot.

Nicky Bailey had a busy match in the middle with Racon until Racon was replaced in the second-half with the fresh legs of Matt Spring. The surprisingly decent 1500 Southend turnout were in good voice but for the most part that involved questioning Bailey's lone sexual habits or expressing their opinion that there was only one avarice illegitimate. That did at least provoke a few rousing choruses of "there's only one Nicky Bailey" from the docile home support.

Wagstaff got another left wing start with Sam on the right. Sam created the goal after about half an hour with a penetrating ball into the six yard box that Deon Burton got to first. The pace on the ball was good and the trajectory perfect. All it needed was the touch to steer it in and that's what Deon applied for his tenth of the season. Our wing threat was limited throughout but Wagstaff was involved much more than Sam as he tracked back and got stuck in to the midfield battle. Mooney ran well again and gave Deon support but he missed an opportunity to score shortly after we had taken the lead when he miscued a ball from Burton completely. It ran on to the arriving Racon but you know what to expect with Therry leaning back on his shot.

As I have said, the second half was a slog as Southend failed to make a game of it and we looked lacking in any ambition to add to our goal difference. Maybe with Leeds and Huddersfield already having drawn the players were content with the one-nil win? Not great value-for-money then but it's another three points and another game unbeaten at home. We are now only four points adrift of Leeds and remain four in front of Norwich. The gap to the rest increases after that and we are, satisfyingly, 11 points clear of seventh which will begin to increasingly assure us of a play-off chance, if nothing else, providing momentum is maintained.

Next week's opponents Stockport lost 2-1 at Wycombe and are now adrift at the foot of the table. It's the perfect opportunity to win more convincingly than we have managed in the last two. That would increase the pressure on Leeds and Norwich and set us up nicely for the much hyped visit of Millwall.

Speaking of which, the fact that we haven't played them since the mid-90's appears to be addling the memories of many who seem convinced this a grudge game for Millwall's mindless majority and are predicting all sorts of mayhem. We should remind ourselves that whilst our historic gloating over our relative success annoys them intensely, they know we are no threat to their hooligan reputation and are usually satisfied with simply beating us on the pitch most times we play. We should be careful what we wish for. If we treat it as just another London derby and focus on supporting our team, I am sure it will come and go much like all the others. A well-timed wave of post-West Ham dawn raids and banning orders will probably quieten them down and the ticket-less morons and wannabees can spend the day playing cat and mouse with her majesty's finest.