Friday, 29 February 2008

McLeod out on loan

Izale McLeod has gone out on loan to relegation threatened Colchester United where he will join former Addicks striker Kevin Lisbie. It was originally thought that McLeod might join Sheffield Wednesday.

With Youga available and Ben Thatcher coming back to fitness, Alan Pardew has been looking for a loan berth for left back Grant Basey, but nothing has become available yet.

Blades Blunt Addicks?

I won't be going to Bramall Lane tomorrow. I have a lunchtime speaking engagement, but in any case I wasn't planning to go. Our 2-1 defeat there last season after being 1-0 ahead was for me the nadir of watching Charlton last season. In fact it's the only time in recent years that I have been really angry with the club and the players. Our inability to take more than one point off a poor Sheffield United side says it all about our relegation.

United's game against Boro on Wednesday was hardly a football classic and I didn't watch much of it. What is evident is the Blades can defend and this is reflected in the statistics. We have conceded 41 goals against their 37 but we have scored 49 compared to their 35.

The Blades were tipped to bounce back again to the Premiership, but then so were we. No one thought that mighty Stoke and Bristol City would be leading the table at this time in the season or that United would be in 17th place with a pressing need to gather points to avoid getting sucked into the relegation dogfight.

I think that we should go for a relatively attacking formation tomorrow, starting Sinclair and Cook and retaining Varney and Gray up front. Admittedly Gray had an indifferent game at Blackpool and Iwelumo might cause more confusion in the Blades defence.

I know that Holland gives his all, but there might be a case for bringing Semedo in for the additional defensive protection that he offers. Youga will be back to forage forward. If Bougherra is not fit, I would bring in Sodje to replace Fortune. Halford got a rather unfair roasting from Pards last week which focused on one error rather than his contribution to the game as a whole. His long throws do provide something extra. However, Mouto2 might well be brought back in.

Our historic record at Bramall Lane has not been good and I understand that the Sub-Standard's cryptic clue is 'BLADES BLUNT ADDICKS'. This could well be a 0-0 draw which would not be really good enough given the closing pack of mediocrity just behind us. But I would take it rather than a defeat.

I should be away from my lunchtime talk in time to see Leamington take on Dunstable Town. Brakes remain a comfortable 2nd in the table, putting them in a prime play off spot, but Evesham United have streaked away at the top of the table. The Robins are ground sharing with Worcester City this season while a new super stadium is built on the outskirts of the town. They do not seem to be short of money so it looks like the play offs for Leamington as well as Charlton.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Pravda announces Siberia switch for McLeod

The South London Press operates as the effective spokesperson of the ruling party at The Valley and it appears that, as Scott Sinclair arrives, McLeod is on his way to the equivalent of the Siberian power station, Sheffield Wednesday:

Defenders of McLeod consider that he hasn't been given a fair go at The Valley. He certainly has pace, but I'm not sure whether he has other qualities and it will be good for him to get more first team experience elsewhere.

Sam Bartram tribute

This takes place tonight and the following report is worth looking at just for a great black-and-white photo of Sam in action on what looks like a skating rink:

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Scott Sinclair signing to be sealed today

Scott Sinclair's loan signing should be sealed today. Apart from the news report below, it was also announced by a player at a supporters' club branch meeting last night:

This would seem to imply a loan out for one of our wingers.

Overnight events

During the night I was woken by the windows rattling and the bed shaking. Having experienced one in New Zealand, I assumed it was a minor earthquake, as indeed it was, and went back to sleep.

The difficulty of reading results off the table in this division was demonstrated by Preston's 2-0 victory over Stoke. Mighty Stoke remain top, but Burnley's 2-0 victory over Coventry brings them to within striking distance of the play offs and us. It has long been Burnley's ambition to get into the Premiership for one year. Their chairman reckons that even if they come straight down again, the financial gains would set them up for ten years.

A strong Charlton reserve side beat Southampton 3-1 last night to go back top of the Ponting's Holiday Combination, giving them a good chance of the reserve title, recalling the days when Keith Peacock used to win it for us.

Attention now focuses on the youth cup quarter final against Sunderland at The Valley tonight. Many of the younger players who would normally play in the reserves were rested last night.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Can we play you every week?

This has a real meaning for the two teams in the world's smallest football league on St.Mary's on the Isles of Scilly, the Garrison Gunners and the Woolpack Wanderers. All league and cup matches have to be played against each other.

The two teams have received a financial boost after a visit last autumn by David Beckham for an Adidas advert and now have new kits. Moreover, each of them now has a sponsor.

I see from the website that there is a range of players, including a 66-year old and two 14-year olds. Charlton should get their scouts on the helicopter to the islands before someone else swoops.

League table and all other information at: Scilly

Scott Sinclair deal back on

A Chelsea site is claiming that we are about to land Scott Sinclair on loan, beating off competition from other clubs. We have certainly been chasing him for some time:

I saw a car in the car park this morning with the sticker 'Fulham FC, Pride of Londom.' Now we could reasonably claim to be pride of South London given the alternatives, but even 'Pride of Putney' would be stretching it a bit for Foolham.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Sheffield pub

Sounds like the Rose of Denmark!

I am the Landlord of a small pub about 5-10 minutes walk from Bramall Lane, The Devonshire Arms,Ecclesall Rd.

We are one of the few pubs around the ground that allow away fans. I am writing to see if you have any groups or individuals that may want to use the pub before the match. We generally open at 11.30 but can open earlier if you plan on arriving before. We also have free parking for up to 25 cars.S11 8JB is my postcode should you need it for your sat nav or you can google map it.

We welcome all well behaved fans, we also have a lot of SUFC supporters that use the pub, mostly older and family groups. It is not a strictly 'away' pub! If you know of any people that may find us suitable, give me a call on 07855 233390.

We also serve food, hot sandwiches, chip butties etc. Though it should be noted we currently don't have Sky due to a block of flats being built blocking my dish I can only access freeview sky sports news.

I arrange any advance groups as early as posible as we co-operate fully with South Yorkshire Football Police and Inform them of any groups being at the pub both for your safety and that of my other customers. If anyone plans on bringing a mini bus or coach please call me in advance so I can have plenty of staff on and an organiser will need to give me their name for a Police contact should the minibus/coach get stopped on the way in to Sheffield. Mini buses and cars can use the car park free of charge and then meet back at the pub after, though coaches will be moved on to the ground.

Addicks Reinforce Accrington Squad

Having having been at Sparrows Lane for barely a month after joining the Addicks from Romania, Portuguese defender Paulo Monteiro is the latest Charlton recruit to reinforce Accrington Stanley in their fight against relegation in League 2:
New Boy

I must confess that I am somewhat baffled about why we recruit so many fringe players and then loan them out. I suppose there is a strategy there and no doubt Charlton has a good reputation in Accrington. We do have a large coaching team, but sometimes I wonder if their attention is being diverted from the core squad.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Addicks Seal Tooting Deal

The Non-League Paper reports that Charlton have beaten Reading to the signature of 6ft. 2in 19-year Tooting and Mitcham midfielder Dorian Smith. Alan Pardew was tipped off about Smith by Tooting manager Billy Smith who was Pardew's boss when he played for Dulwich Hamlet.

The deal with Tooting is a rather unusual one as Smith has signed for the Addicks until the end of the season, but will rejoin the Ryman South league side on loan. He will train with the Addicks twice a week and they will have first option if they want to sign him at the end of the season for a renewed battle for promotion.

Charlton is gaining something of a reputation as a destination for non-league players from South London. Billy Smith described Dorian Smith (no relation) as 'a decent player with good ability.' If you feel that this description fits you, you are a non-league player in South London and would like a chance to work out with the Charlton squad, simply text Sparrows Lane: Available[Space]Name[Space]Position. Pards will do the rest.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Addicks Have Sand Kicked in Their Face

Woeful defending and a 'mare of a game for Nicky Weaver saw Charlton lose 5-3 to Blackpool today, reminding the Addickted that we have no divine right to go to teams lower in the division and expect to pick up three points. The Seasiders were able to get revenge for their 4-1 defeat at The Valley. The Blackpool programme noted that 'the majority of the country will be expecting an away win.' I doubt whether the majority of the country cared, but the form book might have suggested a draw.

The match was played in a strong and swirling wind which certainly played its part in the result, making fluent football difficult and leading the ball to behave in unpredictable ways. Nevertheless, it was lack of defensive alertness that saw the Addicks 2-0 down in 26 minutes. They then made a quick response with Ambrose scoring on 29 and 30 minutes to make it 2-2 at half time.

However, it was clear that there were more goals in the game. Blackpool stepped up the pressure and Taylor-Fletcher made it 3-2 on 59, followed by a defensive howler that allowed Dickov to score on 62 minutes. Another error by Weaver made it 5-2, but then Fortune pulled one back on 74. 5-4 looked a possible outcome, but the ball failed to go in the net. The simple fact is that the better team on the day won. Charlton slipped back to 6th, behind Plymouth on goal difference.

It actually took us less time to get to and from Blackpool in the Warwickshire Rickshaw than it does to get to The Valley. Having parked up, we went in search of the briny, although when we found it it was barricaded off.

In the meantime we had entered a 1950s time warp. The first street we came to was lined with traditional guest houses masquerading as hotels. But this was not a heritage park, it was the real thing. Flock wallpaper was much in evidence. 'Late keys' seemed to be a key selling point, but one place had the USP of 'free showers', whilst another was offering 'separate television lounge'. Many offered 'continental' duvets, a real touch of sophistication there, whilst 'tea and coffee making facilities all rooms' was common. In some places hair dryers were provided, in others you had to borrow them under the stern gaze of the proprietors.

Still, given that a number of them were offering rooms for £15 a night, you can't complain. Mind you, looking at photos of the rooms, you couldn't do anything adventurous in them. Indeed, getting in and out of bed would be a challenge.

Having viewed the attractions of the pier, we headed back to the ground. It was a bit of a shock to pay £3.50 for the programme which for two of us came to almost half the price of one of the nearby hotel rooms. But I have to say it was the best programme I have seen for a long time, lots of Charlton content, including an interview with Michael Grade.

The ground was the most curious I have seen for a long time. Wrapped round two sides is a modern stand, boosting the attractions of Blackpool International Airport (the occasional piston engined small plane struggled upwards over the ground). One end is boarded off and there is nothing more than a dump behind it. The away stand does at least go the length of the pitch, but you get better seats and proper cover at Leamington.

Cook won Charlton an early corner but it was caught by ex Addick Paul Rachubka in the Blackpool goal. Gray then burst through and was on one on one with the American, but hesitated and Rachubka was able to make the save with his feet. Great work by Cook won Charlton another corner, but it was overhit. Charlton were able to play the ball back in, but then Blackpool broke at speed, something they showed themselves capable of throughout the match.

On 16 minutes Weaver pushed the ball out with his hands, but he was not well served by his defence and McPhee was able to send it back in to make it 1-0. Charlton were being beaten to the ball far too easily.

Charlton won a free kick, the keeper pushed it out and the reply from Varney went wide. The Tangerines showed their determination with a shot from distance that was only just wide of the far post.

Blackpool won a corner. An effort from Dickov, described as a pest by his own manager, was well saved on the line, but Gorkss put in a good volley to make it 2-0.

Good work by the lively Cook enabled Basey to put in a good cross right in front of goal and Ambrose pounced to make it 2-1. Shortly afterwards Ambrose was on hand to level the scores.

An Addicks free kick ended in yet another Blackpool break which produced a corner. This was followed by a second which was caught by Weaver, but the weak and fussy referee judged there should be a third. It then all went off in the goalmouth and Zheng Zhi ended up on the floor. Dickov was then called over for a talking to by the referee which must have left him quaking in his boots.

The lively McPhee was giving the defence a torrid time and the only way that Fortune could stop him was to foul him. Fortunately, the referee had lost his cards in the wind while taking a pre-match stroll on the pier and the resultant free kick went way over the bar.

Zheng Zhi turned provider for Varney who won Charlton a corner which was unproductive. Varney won the Addicks another corner which was also unproductive. Fortunately the team was able to recover from an error by Basey who gave the ball to a Tangerine in an attacking position.

Half time: Seasiders 2, Addicks 2

Chris Iwelumo came out to warm up at half time giving a friendly acknowledgement to the Addickted. He replaced Gray who had been rather quiet. Varney managed to break through, but there was no end result.

Fortune resorted to fouling again and the Tangerines received a free kick. The ball was headed out, but the home side were keeping up the pressure. Halford won Charlton a corner, but it ended in a Blackpool free kick. A long throw by Halford enabled Varney to win the Addicks a corner.

A Blackpool free kick was taken very quickly, indeed I do not think that the referee had authorised it, but no one was paying much attention to him. Weaver made a great save at the expense of a Blackpool corner. Charlton were able to launch a break of their own, but Zheng Zhi had little support and his solo effort went wide.

Weaver spilled the ball, enabling Taylor-Fletcher to make it 3-2. Then a mix up in defence between Weaver and Halford allowed Dickov to sneak a goal and make it 4-2. It was an open if not fluent game and at the other end the ball was cleared off the line.

Taylor-Fletcher put in what was admittedly a good lob, Weaver seemed positioned to catch it, but the ball received an assist from the wind off the Irish Sea and it went in off the post to make it 5-2. Cook was replaced by Thomas and Zhi by Semedo.

A flick on from Iwelumo allowed Fortune to bundle the ball in to make it 5-3. Rachubka tried to stop the Addicks getting the ball back for the kick off. Memories of an historic 8-4 defeat at Blackpool came to mind as the Tangerines missed a chance to make it 6-3.

It should be emphasised that there was no lack of effort from Charlton and their heads did not go down. Ambrose drew a save from the keeper. A long throw by Greg Halford led to a save on the line. Varney won Charlton a corner, but the referee blew for a Charlton free kick. A Matt Holland effort went wide, by this time it was a bit hit and hope. Charlton ended the game by winning two corners in succession.

As far as the Blackpool fans were concerned, it was their cup final. If we stay down next year, we may have fewer problems with this perception that we are a big Premiership club which leads teams to play above their level against us. However, I do fear that we will return to the shores of the Irish Sea. Perhaps next time I will make a weekend of it and stay in the boutique hotel advertised in the programme.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible awarded the Silver Bone to Luke Varney who burst away many times and was a real danger on the wing. Weaver had a game that he will want to forget, but before there are hasty calls to recall Randolph from Bury, we should recall all the fine games he has had. Basey made some good passes, but at times his inexperience showed. We missed Youga. Fortune scored, but I feel more confident when Bougherra is in central defence. Would there have been a case for starting Sodje who was on the bench? I didn't see McCarthy do that much wrong, but one has to ask questions when five goals are scored against you. Halford was generally effective and his throw ins were a real menance. Admittedly, he was at fault for one of the goals, but it is blame that has to be shared with Weaver. Holland battled for every ball. Ambrose scored two goals and was more involved than he often is. Zhi was below his best. Cook started well and showed some real skill, but then faded. Gray missed a golden chance to score early in the first half and was withdrawn at half time. Iwelumo didn't create very much and his presence encouraged too much hoofing of the ball up to him. Thomas did give us extra penetration on the wings when he came on.
Semedo showed when he came on that he is a class player with real technical skills, it's a shame he has become a bench player.

Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded the Hiss of the Match to superannuated charm merchant Paul Dickov. Having feigned injury to win a free kick, he then came to the side and spat judiciously at the Charlton fans.

Crowd rating Not fair to give one when the Addickted are exposed to the elements in a roofless stand assembled with the help of someone's Meccano set. As the Seasiders sung, 'We've only got two stands.' However, I was disappointed by the mass exodus of Charlton fans when we went 5-2 down and there were over 20 minutes left to play.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Oh I do like to be by the seaside!

When I first started supporting Charlton, a visit from fellow top flight club Blackpool always boosted the gates as there was the hope of seeing the magic of Stanley Matthews. More often than not the maestro was on the injury list and the crowd was disappointed.

Since then the club, like the town, has been through many troubles and they have done well to get back to the Championship. Tomorrow we can enjoy a temporary stand in a three sided ground with the wind blowing in from the Irish Sea. What's more, the trams aren't running as they are in for a major refurb.

I haven't been to Blackpool for some forty years when I was at a conference in Morecambe and took a coach trip to see the illuminations.

There is a view that we have a divine right to turn up at clubs like Scunthorpe or Blackpool and walk away with three points. Just imagine the scene today at Blackpool's training facility (I am not sure whether this is the car park at the blind end of the ground or the beach). 'Right', says the gaffer, 'we've got the Premiership boys coming tomorrow so just make sure you show them some respect.' More likely, he will say: 'Get stuck in.'

Blackpool have a very leaky defence away from home as we found at The Valley and also happened recently at mighty Leicester when they shipped four goals. On their native beach they are a bit more solid and are something of draw specialists. They have drawn seven games, won six and only lost three. Indeed, they have conceded four fewer goals at home than we have.

I would keep Varney and Gray up front and go for a relatively attacking formation. I would like Cook to start on the wing and I hope that Bougherra will be available to replace Fortune in central defence.

Of the teams just behind us, Ipswich are away at 'league leaders' Stoke. A 0-0 draw with two players sent off on each side would suit us nicely there. Plymouth are at home to fellow 'play off contenders' Burnley and that looks like a home win. Palace have a relatively easy home fixture against faltering Wolves which at least allows embattled supremo Mick McCarthy to return to his native heath.

I am somewhat optimistically going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks, although the Sub-Standard is forecasting ADDICKS BUILD SANDCASTLES AGAINST INCOMING TIDE. Because of the length of the journey back, we may not post a report until Sunday morning.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Addicks to swoop for Tooting midfielder

That is what the Wimbledon Guardian is claiming: Swoop

It's fine hoovering up all the local non-league talent, although we might venture into the Midlands to take a look at Leamington's Josh Blake. But if Racon can't get into the first team, will this guy? I suppose the idea is to have a look at him in the reserves, but I feel that we have too many fringe players with little hope of getting into the first team. We also have some promising Academy players who deserve their chance before long.

Saturday's referee looks like a shocker

Good game ref! Hereford United players surround referee Colin Webster to show their appreciation at the end of the game

I know that a draw was probably a fair result in last Saturday's home game and that we were let down by defensive errors, particularly for the first goal. Nevertheless, it was another appalling display by officials in this division.

The referee at Blackpool on Saturday, Colin Webster, has been on the national list for six years. Earlier in the week he was refereeing the clash between Huddersfield and the Spanners.

Comments about him range from 'poor game' to 'obscure decisions' and 'fussy'. So I am going to make the trip to Blackpool to sit in a rickety stand exposed to the elements and see the game determined by poor decisions by officials. I suppose that both sides will suffer, but that does not raise the quality of the experience.

Enjoy the game!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Storming win in Youth Cup

One of the drawbacks of living so far from The Valley is that it is not possible to go to events like last night's Youth Cup fixture against Swindon, although I understand that some of those living nearer were not able to make it. Anyway, a crowd of 1,459 were able to see a storming 5-1 win by Charlton with two goals each from Shelvey and Wagstaff, the fifth coming from Ben Godfrey.

Those who went singled out Jonjo Shelvey who apparently is only 15. He was described by one Addick as a 'central midfield player who demands the ball, has an eye for goal, excellent touch and vision and, for such a young man, incredible stamina.' Another commented, 'I counted at least 9 "tricks" or pieces of skill from Shelvey, yet every one was an optimum choice employed when needed. The rest of Shelvey's game was impresive too, finding space well, a great support, a terrific understanding with Wagstaff.'

Wagstaff himself received considerable praise as did right back Chris Solly. It was particularly heartening that the midfield was reported to be our strongest area, as for the first team this has often been the area where we have had the greatest deficiencies. At last the Academy seems to be coming good. Perhaps a few more sceptics will be persuaded to join Valley Gold?

Next week the team go on to meet Sunderland in the quarter finals. I wish I could be there.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Sam Bartram tribute

News of tributes to Sam Bartram in his home village. A youth group from Boldon is to visit The Valley to see his statue: Sam

Monday, 18 February 2008

I feel hopeful rather than conspired against

I thought that the lead piece in the programme about the new organisational arrangements and the new funding scheme at the club gave a reasonably clear outline of what was intended. Admittedly, only 40 per cent of the Addickted buy the programme. Even so, I am surprised that in some quarters the announcement has been interpreted as a sign of a boardroom split or power struggle or a conspiracy against the fans.

Having decided not to go down the takeover route, the club sensibly decided to take a look at its organisational structure. The workload associated with football matters has gone up in recent years so it seems a good idea to let Richard Murray focus on that while Richard Chappell takes responsibility for future strategic direction of the company.

On the financial side, the short-term debt in the form of overdraft and loans is being transferred into the form of convertible bonds which will eventually become equity. Given the credit crunch and the fact that banks are much more reluctant to lend to Championship than to Premiership clubs, this again seems sensible. The directors came to our rescue with loans last summer with emergency loans and these will now be paid back. Some people object to the directors receiving interest on the loans, but I don't hire my money out for free (or even at base rate), so why should they?

I am actually feeling more optimistic about the long-term future of the club than since the departure of Curbs when it appeared that not enough replacement planning had been done. This in spite of recent disappointments on the pitch. The long-term organisational and financial structure of the club appears to be well thought out and as secure as possible. After a fallow period, the Academy is producing some promising players, note the success of our reserve side. And I like the present blend of players that we have and, above all, I think Pards is getting it right.

While I would like us to go up, I hope that we could stay up. The first year could be painful. I was talking to a sports consultant today who had asked for my help with some modelling of promotion and relegation effects that he was doing. In the course of our discussion, he commented that for most promoted clubs, the first year in the Premiership was to be endured rather than enjoyed. Very true.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Addicks Win Point Off 12 Man Watford

Two Watford goals in quick succession in the second half eroded a 2-0 lead the Addicks had secured off the Hornets by half time. At the beginning of the match referee P Taylor took a pretend photo of the Watford lineup and this set the tone for the match. Blatant fouls by Watford were ignored, their first goal had a touch of offside and the referee awarded them a dubious free kick in the 'D' in time added on in the hope of giving them a winning goal. He even sent Thomas off to change his shorts and dallied before letting him on again.

Watford play a Route 1 style of football and I am yet to see any team in the Championship this year, with the possible exception of the Baggies, with the quality which would enable them to survive in the Premiership. Whilst the Addicks remain in their customary 5th position, Ipswich have narrowed the gap and this was two points dropped. Somewhat surprisingly, Watford fans going back on the train afterwards were 'very disappointed' with the result.

Deptford Creek was at a very low tide on the way in, not a good sign. Before the match we had a ceremony to celebrate our links with Zheng Zhi's club in China. They were represented by their 'Standing Vice General Manager' so it looks as if chairs are not part of the management deal there.

The teams changed ends at the beginning of the match. It started with a succession of throw ins on the West Stand side. Gray displayed one of his classic neat touches to give the ball to Varney whose effort was just over the bar.

Halford put in one of his long throws and it gave the Watford keeper some grief as he dropped the ball twice before grabbing it. McAnuff launched an attack and the Watford shot was just wide, leading to a Watford corner. This was not cleared well by the Addicks defence and I felt that we were missing Bougherra today.

Zheng Zhi put in a quality ball to Lloyd Sam. Sam provided a good cross to Varney whose deflected effort was just wide. It should have been a corner, but the referee from Hertfordshire was having none of it. Charlton continued to pressure but an effort by Halford was way over. Darren Ambrose won a throw in by the corner flag.

Charlton were put under some pressure from a cross and the ball was eventually cleared after some poor defending. Then in a well worked move, Zheng Zhi put the ball in and Ambrose slotted the ball in the net to make it 1-0 on 14 minutes.

Sam advanced on goal, but then stopped when he should have gone on and pressured the suspect Watford keeper. There was a clear handball call against Watford, but the referee was having none of it. Varney won Charlton a corner and the resultant header was just over the bar.

Watford were given a free kick by the flag and then another free kick. Clearly part of their game plan was to try and score from set pieces. Charlton were actually awarded a free kick and Pards jumped up abd down on the touchline in celebration. Lloyd Sam went down. The ageing linesman on the West Stand side was taken off and a replacement came on.

Youga played one of the air balls which is one of the downsides of his play, but subsequently defended well. Then Halford put in an excellent cross and Shittu directed it forcefully into his own net, giving the keeper no chance and making it 2-0 to the Addicks.

Andy Gray won Charlton a corner but the keeper was able to smother it. Watford were given another free kick in a dangerous position. Then, sensationally, Charlton were awarded a free kick and it eventually led to a Charlton corner. Despite some good work by Zheng Zhi it was eventually cleared and led to a Watford break, but Youga defended well.

In the two minutes added on, Watford hit the post. The referee clearly thought that they should be given another chance to score and extended the two minutes added on while Watford sought to exploit a corner.

Half time: Addicks 2, Hornets 0

Watford took off Bangura and brought on John Joe O'Toole in what turned out to be an important substitution for them. I thought that the Addicks were sitting on their lead a bit in the early part of the second half instead of looking for the decisive third goal. 2-0 is a dangerous position to be in, particularly at Charlton, and Watford stepped up a gear.

Matt Holland put in a good tackle to frustrate a Hornets attack. Varney put in a good cross. Youga provided good defensive work. Zheng Zhi worked well to release the ball to Varney, but the advancing striker was judged to be offside.

Then Watford advanced on goal and O'Toole put the ball in the net to make it 2-1. I thought it might be offside, but the ball was played in very slowly. Then a minute later Watford got a corner and this time Shittu made no mistake putting the ball in the net with a header to level the scores.

A Charlton corner was cleared. McCarthy once again showed his worth with some good defensive work. Zheng Zhi put in a shot but it was straight at the keeper and he was able to save. A Watford corner ended in a goal kick. Holland turned provider for Varney. The ball in was a good one, but it was blocked by a Watford defender.

Andy Gray won a free kick. It was taken by Holland and led to a Charlton corner. Darren Ambrose was taken off in favour of Lee Cook, provoking paroxysms of rage from the Hornets. Luke Varney was shoved off the ball as he advanced on goal, but predictably no action was taken.

In a double substitution, Lloyd Sam was replaced by Jerome Thomas and Andy Gray was replaced by Chris Iwelumo. Watford advanced on goal and secured a corner but it was played out. With Thomas off the pitch looking for new shorts, Nicky Weaver made a good save at the expense of a Watford corner.

A foul against Jerome Thomas led to a rare free kick for the Addicks and eventually a Charlton corner. Despite receiving a tirade of abuse from the adjacent Watford fans, Cook took an excellent corner, but unfortunately it was unproductive.

A blatant foul by Ellington could not be ignored by the referee who awarded the only yellow card of the game. Matt Holland put in a shot that was just over the bar and he held his head in his hands.

Thomas was fouled again and brought down. The Hornets had a break which led to a corner for them. In the three minutes of time added on, the referee decided that the time had come to give Watford their victory and awarded a free kick in the D which went way over the bar.

With the whistle blown, the Covered End challenged the referee for being anally retentive, while Watford players lined up to congratulate him. Pards had a very quick word with him and Steve from Croydon (formerly Sidcup) thought he saw him make an appropriate gesture, but I cannot confirm that.

I have not seen such bad refereeing for a long time. Of course, it was in many ways an opportunity to read off results as it was our fourth draw in a row with Watford. On the balance of play, one cannot say the result was an unfair one. Even so, one would like to see an important game refereed in a fair and balanced way.

If teams like Watford and Stoke go up to the Premiership, they will be justified in cutting it back to 18 clubs and reducing promotion opportunities. Although we play more cultured football, I do not think that we are ready for promotion either. The team needs another season to blend and develop.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Greg Halford. Not only did he provide the assist for Danny Shittu's emphatic goal for the Addicks, he was a powerful presence throughout the match. Weaver could hardly have saved the two goals, although he came close to handling outside his area at one point when throwing the ball out. McCarthy was fired up and generally did a good job. Fortune relied very much on the defensive header, but was competent enough. Youga was a constant thorn in the side of the Hornets and we shall miss him at Blackpool. Holland was committed as ever and came close to scoring. Sam had a somewhat better game than he has had of late, but he still needs to be more confident and press forward. Ambrose scored a good goal, but still gave the ball away more than once. Zhi was a power house, pounding up and down the field to assist in defence and attack. Gray is clearly skilled, but seems unlikely to score. Varney provided some good approach work, outwitting the Hornets on the wing. Cook was greeted with jeers by the Hornets, but looks like a real prospect, displaying excellent pace, accuracy in his passes and good positioning, although he did give the ball away once. Iwelumo tried to get involved and did use his head. Thomas did trouble Watford's defence.

Hiss of the Match This has been given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the referee who asked her sister Amber to combine with her in an extra loud hiss.

Crowd rating: Good at some times, but a bit subdued at others. Clearly losing the lead was a blow but this is the sort of time when the team needs the crowd behind them. 6/10.

The One That Got Away

Interesting profile of Danny Shittu who intends to make his mark at The Valley today:

Before anyone sees this as a black mark against Curbs, these decisions are taken in relation to the balance of players in the squad at the time. It is also difficult to judge how a player will develop.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Youngsters looking good

I managed to watch the first half of the Youth Team match v Chelsea at Sparrows Lane this afternoon before the cold weather won the day, reports our training ground correspondent Clive Richardson. Strong performances all round by the young Addicks, playing first half with strong wind behind them, Danny Uchechi, Jonjo Shelvey and Rashid Yussuf fresh from last week's reserve game at Millwall. Little Danny is a real livewire, fast, skillful, enthusiastic, and a good skipper.

We had a couple of near-misses early first half - then Chelsea nicked a goal with their first attempt, albeit a scruffy goal, a header that just crossed the line in the aftermath of a corner. The young Addicks were level about 10 minutes later- Shelvey, tall, bustling, distinctive shaven head, collected a long clearance, dribbled about 10 yards from the centre circle, then lashed in a screamer from about 30 yards.

Ahead a couple of minutes later- Shelvey's corner from the left nodded in at the near-post by Yussuf (or Tuts as he's generally known), and a few minutes after that, good work on the left flank by Uchechi and Harkin, feeding the ball to Alex Stavrinou, who drove the ball into the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area D. I gather I didn't miss any goals in the second half.

Positive publicity for Addicks

Charlton's links with the impoverished Ivory Coast are receiving favourable attention: Helping

Can we draw the hornets' sting?

I am getting a bit exhausted by being told that games are crucial, but tomorrow's against league leaders Watford certainly falls into that category.

'League leaders Watford' has an odd ring in my ear as I still tend to see clubs as they were in the 1950s when the Hornets were a run of the mill Third Division South team in a nondescript town on the outskirts of London known for printing the Radio Times and other mass circulation magazines of the day.

The current team has an excellent manager, but the club also has deeply rooted financial problems only partially eased by a year in the Premiership. Hence the sale of Marlon King.

I would say that the Charlton defence once again picks itself. Varney clearly has to start up front. I would still have Gray to accompany him. I don't think he is going to score many goals, but he can outwit opposition defences and serve as a good provider to Varney.

Holland and Zheng Zhi clearly have to start. On the wings I would drop Sam and Ambrose. Both of them in my view have been disappointing in recent matches. Indeed from the East Stand one can clearly see the frustration in Sam's face as he can see that he has failed to make the right move once again. I would start Lee Cook against his former club (with whom he was once involved in litigation) and I would use the apparently recovered Thomas as well. I know that we can expect sulks, showboating and indifferent final balls, but at least he gets behind the opposition's defence.

The Hornets have an excellent away record. They have scored three more goals away than Charlton have scored at home. However, they will have to face Nicky Weaver in the Charlton goal. The last three matches between the two clubs have ended in a draw. For those who like to read off the results, a draw seems the obvious outcome. While this is a match that could go one of three ways, I am feeling relatively optimistic and forecast a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Charlton end takeover talks

Charlton have ended their discussions about a possible takeover. The club will remain in its current ownership: Takeover

Given the lack of news for some time, during a period in which other Championship clubs had found investors, this is not surprising news. It will probably be welcomed by most of the Addickted.

The Dowie and Reed fiasco notwithstanding, the current board has done a good job, clearly has the interests of the club at heart and has a defined and distinctive vision. My only concern would be whether we will be able to raise the resources to survive at Premiership level. There is a lot of talk about the Thames Gateway, but most of the people moving in there will already have allegiances.

The attempt to stage Premiership games overseas looks like part of a move towards a winter break and I would not be surprised to see the league reduced to 18 clubs soon, particularly if the likes of Bristol City or Stoke go up.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The morning after the night before

A certain gloom seems to pervade some blogs and E mail comments this morning. However, you can never read results off the table in any division and particularly in this one where the spread of points is lower than in any other division. It was also a night for goalless draws in the Championship.

I have thought for some time that an automatic promotion place was beyond our grasp, but I remain confident of a play off place, although hopefully not from 5th position which could find us playing our first match away to someone like Stoke.

We have been rebuilding the team and we now have a number of younger exciting players who promise well for the future. If we don't go up, next year we will have less of other teams perceiving us as a Premiership team against whom they have to put on their best performances.

And Crystal Palace are now 10th ...

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

First goalless draw of season

Charlton had their first goalless draw of the season at Hillsborough tonight when they secured an away point against Sheffield Wednesday. Once again Nicky Weaver showed his worth. All the teams above them won with the exception of the Baggies who drew 0-0 with the Blades. Crystal Palace kicked off at 8 p.m. and were losing 0-1 to the Tractors.

The game started quietly, although the home side probably had the better of the play in the opening minutes. Gray was looking lively up front, but the pitch soon started to cut up.

Luke Varney outwitted the Wednesday defence and found himself one on one with the keeper but put the ball into the side neeting. Wednesday lost Kavanagh and brought on Wallwork.

Bullen scrambled the ball off the line for the Owls. At the other end Wednesday had a chance from a header from Wood but Nicky Weaver made a great save. He also denied Showumi with a one handed reflex save. Matt Holland burst through the centre but his shot went wide. Then it was the turn of Ambrose to forge through the centre but his shot went just wide.

Half time: Owls 0, Addicks 0

Youga had been booked in the first half and was pulled off at the break in favour of Semedo. The Owls tried to get in the game from the kick off with a long shot that failed to trouble Nicky Weaver. Something of a dead patch in the game followed, but then Nicky Weaver made a great save from the Wednesday captain, Lee Bullen, at point blank range, the custodian palming the ball away.

There were a couple of scrambles in the Addicks goalmouth and Pards brought on Iwelumo for Gray on 63 minutes and then replaced Lloyd Sam by debutante Lee Cook, but they could not break the deadlock. Luke Varney got the ball in the net, but it was correctly ruled offside.

Zheng Zhi had a late chance, but shot over from six yards. The Owls hooted for a penalty as Tudgay's advance was checked, but as we pointed out earlier, the referee is no homer and did not allow it. Whatever happened tonight, Charlton were likely to remain 5th. At least they did not lose as they have done against other relegation threatened teams.

Bougherra returns to steel city

The return of Majid Bougherra to Hillsborough and 'Wednesdayite' Nicky Weaver are among the points emphasised in the Sheffield Star feature on tonight's match: Star

We have just learned that Bougherra won't be returning as he has been replaced by Fortune in the only change to the Charlton line up.

Your referee tonight

Keith Stroud has already refereed six Premiership matches this season and is clearly seen as someone whose career is on the up. One of his good points is that he is prepared to consult his assistants on key decisions - and then changes his mind, usually correctly. He gets high ratings for communication and consistency. He does have a reputation for annoying home fans as he is clearly not a 'homer'. Let's hope that the long journey up from Dorset does not tire him out and he lives up to his usual standards.

Is it April fool's day already?

Last night's E mail bulletin contained the following item:
Meanwhile, Viscount Hugh Trenchard, of London, claimed the second Jackpot Tickets prize of £100 from the Stoke City game, and the Bulletin will be investigating his presence at the game later this week.

Viscount Trenchard (the son of the Trenchard of RAF fame) is pushing 90 and a member of some of the most exclusive clubs in London such as Pratt's. It seems far fetched that he is a secret Addick. But then presumably the cheque has to be made out in the person's name?

We await developments.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Scott Sinclair in?

The Daily Mirror is claiming that we are about to pull off a loan deal for Chelsea's Scott Sinclair: Great Scott

I would give these reports some credibility given that we have linked with him before and we could do with some competition on the wings. What about Cook, you may ask? Well, he is on the Sparrows Lane treatment table and that is a vortex into which players disappear never to reappear.

Owls gloomy about clash

One of Charlton's problems this season has been performing against teams who are in the relegation places when we meet them: Queen's Park Rangers, Colchester United, Scunthorpe United.

However, one of the Owls' leading websites is forecasting a narrow away win for the Addicks: Owls

I would expect Pards to keep the same team at Hillsborough as performed well against Palace. Although some fans think he is being scapegoated, I would drop Ambrose: his corners are poor and he gives the ball away too easily. However, one then has to the problem of how to replace him, although if Thomas has recovered from his illness, there might be a case for using him.

We understand the Sub-Standard will be forecasting: THE OWL OF MINERVA FLIES AT DUSK. We take this to mean a win for Wednesday, but we are going for 'Owls fail to sharpen their claws' and a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Dowie sacked

Following his success in securing relegation at Crystal Palace and Charlton, Coventry City have decided that it's not rocket science and sacked him: Dowie

Charlton fans will therefore not be able to express their thanks to him at the end of the season.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sky Blues losing patience with Dowie

Hvaing hailed him as the club's saviour when he arrived, many Sky Blues are now losing their patience with Iain Dowie. One long standing Coventry City fan we know has taken his shirt to a charity shop.

To be fair, views on the Sky Blues message boards are divided with many arguing that the real problem is a lack of cash and that there has been too short termist a perspective since the departure of Gordon Strachan. However, the following posting is not untypical:

the last time before hull away that my boyfriend misssed a game through choice was in 2002 due to a family holiday...he refuses to go to away games to watch garbage and has said he will not go to another away game under dowie (except shef weds as already got ticket, scunny for the ground as never been before and charlton as last game of the season) for fans who like him have never wanted to miss games to turn because of the manager like this to me says a lot!!

That last game could be a very interesting one: Super Alan Pardew versus Iain Dowie. None of Dowie's signings are now left at the club (if one doesn't count Faye) and almost all of them were a waste of good money.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

We Sent the Palace Home

The Nigels crept out of the Jimmy Seed Stand with their tails between their legs after Luke Varney scored his second goal to seal Charlton's 2-0 victory over Palace at The Valley last night. It was a determined and generally skilled performance by the Addicks which gives them three important points as well as defeating their rivals. Palace slumped to 7th but Hull, Cardiff and Burnley all have a good chance of overtaking them today. If Stoke lose by at least two goals at Wolves (given that they have scored more goals than us) we could overtake them and go into 4th place.

An early Ambrose error led to a Palace corner which was followed by a second corner. This was taken short and played out. At this early stage of the game Charlton were playing at a frenetic pace.

On 12 minutes the lively Youga won the Addicks their first corner and a good attempt was made on goal. Then suddenly Halford forged through and put in an excellent angled shot which was just wide of the far post.

Charlton staged a break and Speroni in the Palace goal had to make a good save with his feet. Bougherra provided good defensive work. Ambrose lost the ball again. Youga was sharp in defence. McCarthy also defended well. Then Youga put in a good cross but Varney just failed to collect.

Varney burst through. There was a penalty shout for a push in the box. The Bloke Beside Me thought that it was, but I was less sure. Palace won a corner and then Varney won one for the Addicks. Ambrose's corner was poor and led to a Palace break, but Zhi was able to deal with the situation.

Charlton had been playing the better football and the pressure they put on Palace made them lose their shape. However, on 42 minutes Palace won two corners and then they had a free kick. With one minute of time added on, Sam put in a poor shot from distance.

Half time: Addicks 0, Glaziers 0

Palace took off Ifill who had had fitness problems and brought on Sean Scannell. Nicky Weaver made a good save. Gray showed his skill in winning the ball and was able to feed Lloyd Sam who won Charlton a corner. The disappointing effort by Ambrose was caught by Speroni. A Palace corner was unproductive. Youga put in a good cross but Gray's effort went over the bar.

Ambrose put in a shot from distance which tested Speroni as it bobbled along the ground. As the 60 minute mark approached, Charlton won a free kick which was taken by Matt Holland. It was flicked on by Gray and Varney scored to make it 1-0, the Nigels suddenly falling silent.

A Palace free kick led to a corner. Varney was injured, but recovered. An Addicks free kick was caught by Speroni. Sam did all the hard work but then put the ball wide. Matt Holland put in an excellent long angled ball to Varney which led to a Charlton corner but it was cleared.

Palace took off Dans and brought on the much travelled Shefki Kuqi. Ambrose put the Addicks under pressure by giving the ball away again. Palace took off Clinton Morrison and brought on Dougie Freedman who has been a danger man against Charlton in the past.

Luke Varney was held back as he advanced on goal, but the visually impaired East Stand linesman noticed nothing. The Addicks made a double substitution, taking off Gray and Ambrose and bringing on Iwelumo and Sam.

Varney won a Charlton a corner, but Palace broke. With the Addicked watching the clock, Varney broke through to put the game beyond doubt at 2-0. He was taken off in the four minutes of time added on to get a deserved ovation, McLeod coming on for the briefest of cameos. The train back to London was fully of happy Addicks.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible awarded the first ever Golden Bone to Luke Varney for his two well taken goals and his pace and threat throughout the match. This left a Silver Bone to be awarded to Kelly Youga who also had an outstanding game. His pace was excellent, he was a threat in attack and he covered well in defence, completely outtwitting Palace's hapless Ifill who had to be withdrawn at half time.
Weaver had another exemplary game. Halford brings solidity to the defence and his long throws are a useful weapon in the armoury. Bougherra had a good game, although once or twice he foraged forward too far. McCarthy was very solid. Holland was once again a stalwart in his contribution. Ambrose was once again very disappointing, losing possession too easily, while his corners were often poor. Sam was involved but some times his anticipation was poor and his pace insufficient. Zhi didn't seem to be suffering from jet lag and was on good form. Gray has good ball control and shows some neat touches, but I am uncertain whether he will get many goals. Iwelumo came on in the last ten minutes and tried to get involved. Semedo also had a late cameo and was his usual competent self.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to the visually challenged East Stand linesman who could see no offences, but was always ready to raise his offside flag against us.

Crowd rating: The Addickted were on good form, I particularly liked the chant of 'Bream' when Dan Bream's goldfish appeared on screen. As the bloke on the train said, 'Even the West Stand we're singing tonight.

Friday, 8 February 2008

A crucial game - but not a decisive one

Last weekend wasn't the best one. Charlton lost 1-0 at Scunthorpe while I went to watch what the Leamington website accurately described as a 'bore draw in the Cotswolds'. A company in which I am heavily invested lost 20 per cent of its value in one day on Friday.

Which gives me a theme for this piece. The shares went down despite a 17 per cent increase in like-for-like sales because the company said it was finding it difficult to pass on raw material price increases, but nevertheless thought that the overall effect on margins would be neutral.

So the stock market behaved with irrational pessimism, just as it sometimes behaves with irrational exuberance. The same could also be said of football fans. Some writing on tonight's game seems to imply that it will determine our season. Palace are, of course, promotion rivals.

However, remember that this is a league in which any team can beat any other team - and does. Just compare the points spread for the four divisions:

Premiership: 51 (with four fewer teams)
Championship: 27
League 1: 39
League 2: 39

Some people consider that a failure to win would fatally deflate the team's confidence. But we have to remember that this is a game that means a lot more to the fans than the players.

Various blogs have been rehearsing reasons for disliking the Glaziers this week. I think the two main ones are our treatment at Selhurst and the perception over there that we should be grateful for it and the recent conduct of the Orange One.

I would add something which no other blog has mentioned and which for me brings home why the Nigels and Nigellas don't just get it. The silver salver spoof yesterday was very funny and one or two of the more intellectually challenged Glaziers actually believed it for a minute or two.

But then the reaction of one of them was 'Where did the pikeys steal the silver salver?' I can understand the Spanners calling us anoraks or trainspotters. But pikeys? The median Charlton fan undoubtedly has an income below that of the average United or Gooner fan, but is still quite prosperous. A typical Charlton fan would have a middle management function in IT and live in Maidstone.

So to the match. Smoke signals from Sparrows Lane suggest that Iwelumo will start up front, but who will partner him? Reviews of Gray seem to be lukewarm so far and this may be an occasion for the pace of Varney.

With Cook out injured, the midfield remains a problem. Zheng Zhi is jetting back from his goal scoring feats in Dubai. He has not been at his best in recent matches, even without jet lag. Nevertheless, my hunch is that he will score tonight. Holland has to be included because of the determination he brings to the midfield and the way he discharges his role as captain.

Thomas and Sam often flatter to deceive on the wings. Their crosses and/or their final ball often disappoints after good approach work. Nevertheless, I would not put Ambrose on the wing. If he can play well anywhere, it is in the centre, although flashes of excellence are offset by many poor efforts. Also, can we please try and find someone who can take a decent corner? The ones at Leamington are better.

Youga's place on the left is assured and although Bougherra does make the occasional error, he does not make them as often as Fortune. McCarthy apparently disappointed at Scunthorpe, but I would stick with him rather than experimenting with Monteiro.

At right back, it looks as if Moutaoukil will be replaced by Halford and his killer throw ins. Many Charlton fans advocate playing as many youngsters as possible, but lack of experience does have a price as was evident with Moutaoukil at Scunthorpe.

Weaver in goal, of course. Bench: Randolph; McLeod; Ambrose; Semedo; Moutaoukil.

It seems to me that the most likely outcome in a match of this kind is a draw and I am going for a 2-2.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Temperance tavern for Addickted?

Charlton fans may soon have their first temperance tavern for before and after match drinks with the news that the Rose of Denmark on the Woolwich Road is considering becoming a juice, sodas and mineral water bar.

A regular there commented, 'Some of the lads decided to combat the demon drink as long as two years ago and they have been on the wagon since then. Now others are joining them and taking the pledge. It's getting to the stage where someone who comes in and orders a pint of Dermot's Guinness is looked on as a social pariah.'

Alcohol users may be allowed to continue drinking in the garden area.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Reserves beat Spanners

Charlton reserves beat Millwall 5-1 at the Toolbox yesterday and remain top of the Combination. Our reserves correspondent Clive Richardson writes, 'Our lot played Millwall off the park, and so they should with those playing, albeit mixture of experience (Fortune/Racon/Halford (very encouraging debut- great goal from 25 yard free-kick)/McLeod???) and youth (Uchechi/Yussuf/Wagstaff/Basey/Shelvey) and newbie Monteiro doing well at centre-half. 4-0 half-time...could have been 8 if Izale had taken his four good chances. (Halford free kick, Uchechi tucking away a loose ball after a Halford shot (though the main site gives that goal to McLeod), Uchechi penalty after McLeod fouled, Yussuf from good one-on-one with keeper on through-ball).'

'5-0 a minute into 2nd half- McLeod ran onto long clearance, squared ball to Uchechi who tucked it away from 6 yards). They got a consolation goal on 65 mins (just after Halford was subbed)- the game had slowed down a bit and the Lions finally got a shot on goal.'

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Palace in Europe in 18 months

Simon Jordan has a vision for Crystal Palace which sees them in Europe in 18 months. This is too much even for gobby manager Neil Warnock who has commented that perhaps the Orange One is thinking of a trip to Majorca in the summer to top up his tan. Book on Sleazy Jet now and there are some great prices!

Of more real concern is one of the Glazier's danger men, given a sychophantic profile in The Grauniad: Glazier

Monday, 4 February 2008

What is Paulo Monteiro for?

The club is celebrating our last gasp signing of Paulo Monteiro. Now it may well be that he is a player with a lot of potential. He is certainly a big lad who could match some of the big sides sent down from the north. He almost certainly hates Millwall. And he will be someone for Jose Semedo to talk Portuguese to. His English is certainly not all that good to judge from the sample on the website: 'The camaraderie among the players is very good, and I'm thankful the gaffer has given me such an opportunity'. (Although it's certainly better than my Portuguese).

But I'm still not quite clear what the signing is for. After all, the reserves seem to be doing well enough. We have much bigger squads than many of the teams that visit us, but that means many of the more peripheral players in the squad don't really get much of a chance to show what they can offer.

Of course, it's always useful to have 'cover'. And I'm sure that Monteiro doesn't cost that much in wages. But do we have too many bit part players who are going to get a cameo at most?

It all goes off at Palace

Trouble at the Palace v. Southampton game, although Southampton supporters aren't all Saints: Palace (Some of the comments are quite amusing)

Manager Neil Warnock was not happy with the draw. He said: 'We got punished with an elementary defensive error from Shaun Derry, one of our more experienced players. It was disappointing really, put it in the stands and they can't score a goal from it.

'That's two games we have thrown away by elementary defending really so we've just got to get back to basics over the next few games.' However, he consoled himself with the fact that he reckons the Glaziers need just another five points to avoid relegation.

Their defensive weaknesses might give me more confidence if our final ball was better. Our approach play is often fluent, if sometimes too slow. But sometimes we hesitate fatally in front of goal. A few more speculative shots would not be a bad idea.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Blogs and killer get it wrong

We were not the only blog to forecast a 2-0 win for Charlton at Scunthorpe today and it was also the bet placed by Killer. We had forgotten that Charlton tend to let themselves down against teams in the relegation places. Remember Colchester United?

As expected, Pards started with Gray and Varney up front. Thomas was withdrawn after the first half and replaced by Sam.

On 63 minutes, just after Iwelumo had replaced Varney, substitute Martin Paterson score for the home side. Yassin Moutaoukil failed to make a clearance and Paterson was able to shoot past Weaver.

On 74 minutes Andy Butler was sent off for the home side for a second bookable offence, but the Addicks were unable to take advantage. A late chance fell to Iwelumo, but he fired straight at Murphy.

Despite this setback, Charlton remain in their customary 5th place. Palace, who drew at home against Southampton, fell back to 7th.

Stalemate at Kayte Lane

Leamington's title hopes were dented by a 0-0 away draw at Bishop's Cleeve (essentially a suburb of Cheltenham) this afternoon. The authorities decided to send a referee from nearby Tewkesbury and, along with his incompetent linesman on the Tai Stand side, he managed to ruin the match with his inept decisions, accompanied by a blizzard of yellow cards. Having said that, although I did not see the Brakes at Chasetown on Tuesday, they played much better then - so I am told by those who went.

At least Richard Morris kept a clean sheet on his 250th appearance for the Brakes. This included tipping one ball over the bar, the incompetent referee awarding a goal kick. Later Mozza burst into laughter at one of Mr Eaton's more ludicrous decisions and got a stern ticking off.

The match turned sour for Leamington in the 1st minute when Liam Reynolds was scythed down, depriving them of a key linking player. Reynolds had to be carried off, although I understand that nothing is broken.

Cleeve's 17-year old keeper Sam Gilder rushed out of his goal and collided with the advancing Jamie Towers. The ball ended up in the net, but the referee carded Towers and gave the home side a free kick.

Brakes applied more pressure in the second half, but this simply led to more cynical fouling by the home side, while the shots that were put in were largely off target or straight at the keeper.

As the players made their way towards the snazzy extending tunnel at this neat but modern ground one Brakesman expressed his opinion of the foul play of their No.12 which drew the response '**** off mophead.' The refree marched off wearing an inane grin in response to the jeers that greeted him. With Evesham United winning 3-0 at Willenhall, it was not a good day for Leamington.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Feed the horse and he will score

This is the headline on Scunthorpe United's official web site as they celebrate the signing of veteran striker Geoff Horsfield on loan until the end of the season. It is four months since a home win at Glanford Park and it is hoped that Horsfield's years of experience will enable him to outwit on form Addicks keeper Nicky Weaver.

However, even the official site admits that the team is lacking confidence, while the Addicks should be full of it. It also looks as if there will be a good crowd of the Addickted to urge them on.

Scunthorope are associated with steel, but I found myself sitting next to a Scunthorpe director at an agri-business lunch in North Lincolnshire a few years ago and he was a potato king.

Given that I would prefer an attacking formation, I would start with Gray and Varney up front with Iwelumo on the bench. There will be no Chris Dickson as he has received the Mark Fish award for the most ridiculous injury of the season, incurred in a hotel reception lobby when he was evidently horsing around with Lloyd Sam.

The rest of the team pretty much picks itself. There might be a question mark about how Kelly Youga will do at the ground where he enjoyed so much success, but there is no feasible alternative to him.

As the Sub-Standard would put it 'Addicks Steel Shatters Brittle Iron'. I am going for 2-0 Charlton win.