Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Shrewsbury 4 - 3 Charlton

I didn't bother to post a preview or a match report of the Bournemouth game as I had a hectic end to last week, and after the game I found that there were already half a dozen reports by the time I came to write one, and I had little to say that wasn't already said.

The only thing to comment on was the sending off, and more importantly the failure in the appeal to have the red card over turned. Due to a failure on my part to set the recorder properly I have not seen the challenge on tv. I thought the red card looked harsh at the time, but I was not surprised at the result. The Bournemouth player (who has subsequently admitted that it was not a bad challenge) acted like he literally had both his feet cut off, so the referee was probably always going to give a red card. Missing Semedo will be a real loss, and the fact that he already has this red card against him will no doubt have a knock on effect later in the season, but it has happened now so we will have to get on with it.

So, on to tonight's game. I have been rather quick to criticise the club, manager and players in the past, and I have to admit that losing to lower league opposition, and losing after being 3-0 in front is hardly great PR, but I honestly couldn't be happier.

I know you are probably just assuming that I have been drinking, and/or am a little mad, but the days of believing that we could go a long way in any proper cup competition (i.e. not the JPT) are long gone. I was devastated when we lost at Middlesbrough when we ran Operation Riverside, The flight home (a first for me - flying to a Charlton game) was truly depressing, but every other cup defeat has been predictable and hardly very costly in our pursuit of silver wear or a Wembley appearance. I know that the FA Cup Final was in Cardiff the year we lost to Middlesbrough, but you get the sentiment.

Tonight we were as good as forced to play a reserve side. It is early in the season, Semedo was suspended (see above) and we have to play Orient on Friday night. We have a very shallow squad this season, and this is both practical (based on our financial situation) and sensible based on allocating budget on the first sixteen and then the rest.

I am disappointed that we will have weaker reserves this season, but on the basis that some of our first team will play close to 40 league games this season we just can't justify having expensive players in the squad if they are going to make less than ten starts.

So we've justified having weaker (and in many cases youth players) outside of the first eleven, and we've justified having many of that first eleven rested tonight due to the fact that the season is in it's infancy and we have another game in a few days.

The side, tonight, included a new 'Keeper, an unfit right back, a youth centre half, a youth right back playing at left back, last seasons reserve right winger (still young and inexperienced), a youth central midfielder and two strikers that were making only their second appearances for the club - neither had completed 90 minutes of competitive football for us.

That last paragraph explains why we were likely to be out of the draw for the next round on it's own. Towards the end Reid, Doherty and Sodje were given a run out, which will help with fitness, but was too late to have any meaningful impact on the game, particularly in the case of the latter two.

So overall no surprise that we played reserves, no surprise that our reserves are going to be much weaker than the first team this season and, therefore, no surprise that we lost the game.

The manner of the defeat is a little worrying. Sure, defenders that are a little inexperienced, probably nervous and unfamiliar with their team mates are going to make mistakes, and from what I've read that's why we conceded four goals, but to concede a three goal lead to a lower league side is never good news. However, what I would say is that to have lost that three goal lead we needed to score three goals, which we did. Abbott got his first two goals for us, and Martin chipped in with a goal and an assist. This is very encouraging as far as I'm concerned.

I know it's only two games in and one was against a lower division side, but we now have three strikers that have as many goals as they have starts this season. It's got to be a long time since we've been able to say that. I actually doubt that we have ever had that statistic - and we were worried about strikers just a week or two ago.

As for the League Cup (what ever they are calling it this season) I just hate it. It has been a long time since any clubs have taken this competition seriously in every round they have competed in. Frankly it is unnecessary, and until the latter stages costs money to stage the games, fans don't want to watch it and the players don't want to play in it. In fact, the sooner we can get out of the competition the better as far as I'm concerned.

So would I have preferred us to have lost 1-0 on the night? Well I have to confess that was my first choice before kick off. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in the business of wanting other teams to beat us, but if you want out of the competition there is no other way than to lose. Frankly I would favour the clubs having the option of entering or not. I would vote for us not to bother. I suspect the League know this which is why we don't have the option. They must make a little money from Sky as the bigger teams tend to play a few of their first choice players in the Semi' and the Final, but for teams like Charlton it is a total waste of time and money. I doubt our share of the gate receipts tonight would have covered taking the team all that way and back.

So, normally I would have been happy with a 1-0 defeat, but we managed to score three goals, which is great for the players confidence, and actually it made me feel good too. In fact at 3-0 up the best result (assuming we didn't score more goals) was for us to let in 4 goals and exit the competition, and that's exactly what we did. Thankfully we avoided extra time and the extra fatigue that would have caused.

So, over all a good night. Now we can concentrate on Friday, and the League in general.

Up the Addicks!

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