Sunday, October 18, 2009

Addicks edge dogged Terriers

We are top of the league, say we are top of the league! OK, it doesn't mean anything right now and probable League One victors Leeds do have a couple of games in hand over us but I am getting a little giddy at seeing the Addicks scale the third-tier summit.

What makes it even sweeter is that for possibly the first time this season we have passed a tough test with flying colours. Yes, a point at Leeds was a terrific result but we were heavily dispatched by Colchester, and failed to hold on to a lead at Norwich; the critics could have doubted our credentials. Yet, while there were a few scares on Saturday and there is still room for improvement, we were able to usurp a talented Huddersfield team packed with goal threat.

The switch to 4-4-2 paid off and it was the right decision to drop Shelvey, even if the ill-informed media think he is our most important player. He has only performed well in patches this term and the balance of the side meant that if we were going to play two up top, he would be the one to miss out.

McLeod replaced him and even though he seems destined to a barrage of criticism for as long as he dons an Addicks shirt, the ex-MK Dons man is one hell of a tryer. His headed winner was fully deserved, for his endeavour if not his quality, as he was a pacy nuisance all afternoon. Izzy slipped all over the place in the first half but on one of the occasions when he did take a tumble, I thought a penalty should have been given. In the second though, he was far more stable and could have added to his goal late on. McLeod may not be the most graceful but chances always come his way, a lesser man's Andy Cole if you will.

As for the others, Sam was excellent again, while his replacement Scott Wagstaff gave a nice little cameo, as did new loanee David Mooney. His arrival means we now look more balanced in the striking department with the drop off, creative play of Tuna or Shelvey, the hold up expertise of Deon Burton, the running of Leon McKenzie (when fit) and McLeod and a more physical presence in Mooney.

I would also like to commend Kelly Youga who is fast becoming an undroppable member of the team. The likeable left-back has shed his flamboyant locks but also the red mist that seemed to descend on him in years previous and he is playing a significant part in both our defensive and attacking play. The 24-year-old has mellowed, something I never thought I would see.

In another positive, the silent lynchpin Jose Semedo made his reappearance and the fit-again schemer should help Therry Racon rediscover his best form. While still an important creative force, our number eight has looked a little off colour without his Portuguese pal and if the pair can rekindle their early-season partnership, few midfielders in this division will be able to topple them.

With just under a month until league football hits the Valley again - where a potentially delectable clash with MK Dons lies in wait - the Addicks can try their darnedest to get back to winning ways on the road, first at localish rivals Gillingham and then at Carlisle. Six points will make me even giddier.

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