Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Charlton 1 - 0 MK Dons

This season isn't going to be a precession, it never was. We have brought in some good players for this level, but having lost the players with the greater natural ability like Butron, Sam, Shelvey and Bailey we were always going to have more games where we would have to ground out results rather than brush teams aside.

Last season we beat MK Dons 5-1 at The Valley in a game that came after a run of one win in six. However, the result gives the impression that it was an easy victory. In the end we could have scored ten, but they did score first, and at 1-0 (or was it 1-1) we cleared the ball off the line (with a hand - it should have been a penalty) then preceded to go straight up the other end and score ourselves.

Thus that game could well have gone the other way, which could have had a huge effect on our season. Including that MK Dons game we won seven and drew four before we lost to Orient at The Valley in January. Maybe I'm giving it too much importance, but that game could well have been a turning point.

I believe that last night's game could also be a turning point. We have now won three of out five home games 1-0 with a 1-1 and a 2-2 draw. There are only four teams that have conceded fewer goals than us this season. We are looking difficult to score against (Dagenham and Redbridge were given a very dubious penalty) which means that we don't need to be scoring for fun to win games.

I know it's a little childish to make excuses, but I believe that we have deserved three of our four wins this season, Notts County being the only game that we got more than we deserved. I also think that with a proper Referee we would have won at Tranmere and at home to Dagenham and Redbridge, and the penalty at Exeter was a little debatable. Thus, even if we'd lost the Notts County game we probably deserve to have two points more than we have now. You could also make the point that Notts County didn't have any unfair decisions go against them, sure they had a few chances, but we just defended them well, including the penalty that was saved. It wasn't even missed, it was saved. There is no law that you have to dominate a game and give the opposition no chances to win games, you just have to keep them out and grab a goal.

This all makes for very positive reading. Sure we haven't played very attractive football much this season, but none of the teams in this division play like we got used to seeing during the Premier League years. We have managed to get through the first nine games, and with a little more consistent referring we would be on the same number of points as Brighton, and the team is starting to look like they know each other.

The game last night was hardly a classic, but from my perspective we didn't look like conceding, and we had a few half chances before Benson scored the goal that broke his duck. In fact I was very impressed with him last night. His running off the ball was both industrious and intelligent, and he does hold the ball up well. It would seem that he has more to offer than he showed at Dagenham and Redbridge, according to their Manager, who suggested that we needed to change the way we play to benefit him.

Following on from the goal against Notts County and his performance against Dagenham and Redbridge Anyinsah has shown that he will be a very good acquisition, and I have already discussed my appreciation of what Abbot has to offer. I think we have an embarrassment of riches up front for this level. Sure there is no Darren Bent or Clive Mendonca in there, but for the teams we are going to be playing this season we have at least three strikers that are capable of doing a really good job, and I think there is more to Sodje than being a battering ram, although he is very good at coming on to do just that.

With Fortune coming through a full 90 minutes, and looking like he still has some pace we have options at the back. If you assume that Dailly and Fortune can cope with pacey forwards that leaves us several options based on what is required. My own personal view is that unlike last season Llera is now probably going to have to settle for being 4th choice, but I am more than happy for him to play when the need arises. Despite his lack of pace I think he is very capable. He was clearly significantly at fault at Colchester last season, but that is the only game that I would say he has had a stinker. For those (and I guess I'm talking about on Charlton Life) that blamed him for the Dagenham and Redbridge result I would point out that he scored a goal, wasn't responsible for giving away the penalty (irrespective as to your view of the Ref's decision), and it wasn't his man that scored the second equaliser. He does get done for pace, but that doesn't always lead to a goal.

Midfield is probably the one area where we have some doubts. Mainly over the reliability of Racon. He can be a very good player, but he can also go missing in games. Semedo is a shoe-in for me, so it comes down to McCormack (who I think is probably cover for Semedo) Racon, Jackson and Martin with two up front. The options on the wing encourage me - even if I might start with different players that Parkinson chooses. Last night Wagstaff was hardly in the game, yet he has been really good this season. I think we have to accept (as do the players) that if we are going to have the strength in depth that I think we both need and have, some of the players are going to have to be rested when they (and us fans) believe they should play.

One last note - We have Lee Martin on a season's long loan which is, in effect, the same situation as the players that signed a one year contract (Reid, Jackson, Dailly) and he has shown as much commitment as any other player so far. In fact his attitude with regard to effort is exemplary. I'm sure that has something to do with the players and especially the Manager at Man Utd.

So, overall a good win, a performance that suggests that we are going in the right direction, a clean sheet and a goal for our expensive signing.

A good night's work.

Up the addicks!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

25 years ago

Strangely the most shocking moment was two weeks before when the flyer was handed out at the game with Palace. It was ironic that their fans found out at the same time as ours that they would be ground sharing. Maybe it wasn't ironic, maybe it planned that way.

It didn't give the fans of either club much time to arrange any kind of protest, despite the fact that there was a 'sit in' on the East Terrace which was, by this time, declared unsafe.

I have many memories of The Valley, and for me there are two Valleys. The one that we played at until this day 25 years ago, and the one we came back to.

In all honesty there wasn't much to be proud about with The Valley during the five years I had been going when we moved away. It was a terrible stadium by modern standards (as were most of them in those days) but it had not provided me many memories of successes or wonderful victories either. The modern day Valley has seen us chalk up victories against the then current Premier League Champions, the then current European Champions, as well as most of the top flight teams - Man Utd being the only exception.

Twenty-five years ago I hadn't, and I've hardly now, gone to games with friends, I went with my Dad, and at that time a lot of the things I did I did with my parents. I knew it was something important as my Dad seemed genuinely concerned about it all, but at this time The Valley was a tired stadium.

My memories of that day are that we, by some quirk of fate, sat in the same spot as we did some seven years later when we came back, and we got on the pitch at the end. The result, despite being a 2-0 win, seemed of little importance.

I had never been on the pitch before, and we, like most others, dug up a small section of turf to replant in our garden in Basildon in Essex. I suspect that The Valley turf now covers the largest area of any football club, even though it might well have died off in our garden and I certainly don't know exactly where it is today (my Mum still lives there).

None of the things we did that day (parked in the normal spot, walked up the usual roads etc.) had anywhere near the same significance as they did when we returned in 1992. Ironically, despite talking about those things for literally years we have now abandoned all those traditions and replaced them with new ones. We park in a different spot and approach the ground from the opposite side as we used to.

A few years ago my Mum gave me the framed photo' of the last game at The Valley that my Dad had bought and hung in our front room for many years. I used to look at it on the way to the kitchen and wish "If only we could just get back there again one day".  When I offered it on to my Dad (who doesn't live with my Mum now) he said that I could have it. I hung it on the wall outside my office so that I could see it 'on my way to work' every day (I work from home). Today it looked different, but I'm convinced that I can still see us in the North Stand.

When I look at that scene I realise just how much we have to be grateful for today. Let's never make the same mistakes again.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Next... Notts County at home

After two, frankly, terrible results in the League, all be it a win inbetween in the JPT, we entertain a Notts County side that have also won two, lost two and drawn one. The bad news for us (as far as form goes) is that their two losses were at the start of the season, and they are unbeaten in the last three games while we haven't won since the back to back victories at the start of the season.

Naturally, this all points to a home win, which would be nice.

This season has not started anywhere as well as last season, but it is hoped that we will be more consistent over the season that cast where we had good and bad spells. Sadly, however, I can't get the though out of my head that we are already eight points behind where we were this time cast season. The season is hardly decided in the first five games, but eight points does sound like a lot to me.

Anyway, we are where we are and we have am opportunity to pick up a win on Saturday that will lift all our spirits and get us back on track towards what can hardly be thought of a as success when promotion might be the only way to avoid administration and potentially the end of the club.

In case it wasn't obvious I'm not feeling terribly optimistic today. I think the shortness of the summer and the general crappyness of the weather in August is beginning to take it's toll on me as the days seem to be getting very short (in terms of daylight) and I feel as though I'm still waiting for the proper summer weather to arrive following on from our teasing couple of weeks in June.

Anyway I have decided to investigate an alternative method of charting our progress this season. I'm going to compare points won this season with the corresponding fixtures from last season. As we are only five games in, and as I haven't yet decided what to do about the teams that were not in the division last season I'm going to produce my first comparison 'table' after we play Notts County. Sadly with two of our first six games being against teams that we didn't play last season it is going to be a little disjointed, but of the other four games we've already dropped two points courtesy of the defeats at Huddersfield and Exeter where we drew last season. However beating Bournemouth at home when we only drew at home to Gillingham might make up for it.

My biggest worry about our side right now is the potential absence of Dailly. I know he is going to be out for a few weeks, but without any suggestions of foul play, Youga was going to be out for about ten days last October and short of a miracle will manage to be injured for a full twelve months.

With Fortune not expected to be ready for first team activity for a month or so we are going to look very short of pace at the back and with Llera's tendency to make outrageous mistakes from time to time it means that we are increasing the ores sure on the front men to score at least one goal to avoid defeat.

The pressure of needing to be promoted this season (having sunk in following the two wicks since the EGM)

Up the Adddicks!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Next... Exeter away

I've been a little quiet for a few games. It's strange really, I'm enjoying the football more than usual, the squad looks in good shape and I really fancy our chances of being involved in the promotion shake up, but I'm just struggling for inspiration when it comes to writing about it.

I am coming to the end of the summer holidays. I have been looking after my six year old son for most of the last eight weeks, and with just one week to go I am gearing up for the start of the return of the 'school run'. I complain to my working wife that I have to do so much for our son, but secretly I love it! He is a little quiet in the car in the mornings (we get up late and he eats breakfast in the car) but by the time we get to 3:20 in the afternoon he is much more excitable. To be fair getting any information out of him about the school day is like pulling teeth, but he does come running out of the class shouting "Daddy!" and I get a big cuddle.

I only mention this, well I have no reason for doing so do actually, but despite having to do the school run I still have much more time to get work done compared with him being home for nine weeks. In all fairness it isn't nine weeks as he spends a coupled of weeks (one of which is this week) with his Nanny in Peterborough (his Mummy's Mummy), and one day a week, when he's home, with my Dad and his other Nanny.

This week has been a little testing. Despite denying it vehemently to Mrs KHA, I was, indeed, missing him within twelve hours of leaving him in Peterborough (and I slept for at least six of those). For any of you that are interested we are going to collect him this evening. I don't really need to go, Mrs KHA finishes at 4pm today and will be going straight from work, but if I go I will get to see him five or six hours earlier - why wouldn't I want to do that?

Other than for the absence of my best friend, I have had the opportunity to do a full weeks work at the office (the spare bedroom) this week. There have been a number of things that I've been leaving over the last few weeks as a six year old can reduce one's concentration, and despite my job being a little easy, it still requires that I think a little but about some of the things I do.

Anyway I thought I'd take a bit of time out of my last full day (except I'm leaving at 4pm to drive to Peterborough) to say a few words about our game at Exeter.

I didn't go to Huddersfield, and despite being openly willing to take a draw, I was a little disappointed with the result. I was especially worried about some of the stats from the game. No shots on target until injury time, by which time we were three nil down. I would like to think that this is just an anomaly against a very strong side, but I am concerned that when we play against teams that don't defend in large numbers we are going to be penned back and struggle to create much.

Anyway, since then we have signed Paul Benson, Joe Anyinsah, and Jon Fortune (all be it only until Christmas and he is likely to go out on loan for a month).

The Dagenham and Redbridge game gave us a chance to have a look at Benson and from what I saw I think he might be the answer. Either way I'm going to trust Parky and assume that he knows what he is doing. There has been little to suggest that he doesn't and a lot to suggest that he does.

In fact, unless I'm mistaken, Benson looked a little uncomfortable playing (and trying to score) against the team that he had left, just the day before. My Dad remarked that "He doesn't want to score against his old team." I'm not suggesting any foul play, but there were at least two of his chances where I would have expected him to smash the ball into the back of the net, but he seemed to choose to try and 'pass' it into the net.

We are still gelling in a new squad, even before we signed three more players on Monday, so it is understandable that we would have a few blips in the first ten games, but I'm still confident that we have what we need. The real test, however, is where we are after those ten games. Striking distance of the top two and we are in for a good season, mid table and we might have to accept the target is the playoffs, so tomorrow's game is very important. We need to keep the leading teams very close until the side is settled enough to go on a long run of successful results.

The revelation that those running the Club have given up on trying to make it sustainable in the third division puts me back where I was twelve months ago, where no victory can be celebrated, yet every defeat has to be considered a disaster. I am not being greedy, I am not demanding too much and I have not got too high expectations. The truth is that the Club's very existence depends on a very successful season. So, no pressure for Parkinson and the players then?

In truth a draw tomorrow will not be a disaster. Exeter had some very credible results at home last season including beating Leeds and Huddersfield (on the last day of the season). They haven't lost at home since February, and we drew there in April.

I wouldn't say I'd take a draw at this moment in time, but if that's what we get I will be able to live with it, as long as we go on to beat Notts County next weekend.

Up the Addicks!