Monday, February 22, 2010

A look ahead to.....Brighton

Work commitments prevented me from visiting The Valley this weekend so presumably I missed scenes of jubilation as The Addicks rediscovered the winning feeling. I will wend my way to SE7 on Tuesday night though, but further celebration should not be taken for granted.

Despite their lowly league position and the fact they are winless in seven games, our midweek visitors will be a tough nut to crack. Gus Poyet's men were only denied victory at faltering Leeds on Saturday due to a 95th-minute equaliser and performed admirably at Norwich a week previous before being undone by a late double salvo.

The Seagulls have won five, drawn seven and lost just four of their 16 matches on the road and hold the sixth best away record in the division. That is in stark contrast to their form at the withered Withdean, where they have picked up nine points in 15 outings.

Striker Glenn Murray will have to be monitored closely, his penalty at Elland Road on Saturday taking his season's tally to 15, while ex-Wolves winger Elliott Bennett and on-loan Newcastle midfielder Kazenga LuaLua - brother of back-flip lover Lomana and cousin of ex-Addicks loanee Tresor Kandol - should supply the guile. Defender Adam Virgo was red carded at the weekend though, and will be suspended.

As long as Frazer Richardson and Rob Elliot shake off groin injuries, the Charlton team should not be altered, with Miguel Llera keeping Sam Sodje on the bench, David Mooney doing likewise to Sam's brother Akpo, and the stylish Therry Racon preferred to the more defensive-minded Jose Semedo.

I would, however, like to see Jonjo Shelvey reinstated to the bench. The 17-year-old is mercurial but has the necessary pizazz to enter the fray and swing a game in our favour - something that we may require against the stubborn Seagulls.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A look back at.....Bristol Rovers

In some reasonably positive news, it has been revealed that Grant Basey has damaged his ankle ligaments and not shattered his leg as first feared. Let's hope the academy graduate makes a full and speedy recovery.

There isn't much else to be pleased about following last night's defeat at Bristol Rovers and we look a shadow of the side that was so exuberant in the early stages of the campaign.

Commitment cannot be called into question but quality, invention and ideas can and if a stimulus is not found soon, our play-off hopes, never mind our automatic promotion fantasies, could be dashed.

Parky's pre-match promise that we would get at Bristol Rovers from the off didn't seem to correlate with the starting line-up he had chosen. I expected two wingers, and Nicky Bailey bombing forward from a central position, but instead we had a more rigid midfield formation and never really had the cadence or destructiveness to put our hosts in peril.

Our extremely brief moments of joy in the first period came when our ginger-haired skipper and the svelte Lloyd Sam opted to go wide and tried to whip in crosses. With that in mind, it was strange to see David Mooney enter the fray as a half-time substitute and not one of our reserve wide boys, Kyel Reid or Scott Wagstaff.

Though to be honest, a difference of personnel and/or formation may not have made an iota of difference, it just wasn't our night.

The disasters began just 12 seconds in with Rovers midfielder Dominic Blizzard's appalling lunge on Basey. I seriously doubt there was any malice on the offender's part and after seeing the incident with his own eyes, I imagine he is bitterly upset with what he has done.

But Blizzard's challenge deserved a straight red card and if - as expected - the only reason he was spared was because it was in the embryonic moments of the game, then that is shocking. I wouldn't be pardoned for running somebody over just because it was early in the morning.

Bailey's rebuked penalty appeal, Mooney's golf ball-like forehead protrusion, a relatively small allocation of second-half stoppage time compared to the shenanigans that had taken place - nothing went our way. I'm not saying they are the reasons we lost, just unneeded annoyances that did not help us.

Grievances are par for the course, however, and Charlton have to learn how to overcome them. Our rut cannot become an epidemic because the teams below us are good enough to capitalise.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A look ahead to.....Bristol Rovers

There are a lot of unanswered questions in the world - is Charlton blogger Hungry Ted always peckish? Do people really put their gold in an envelope and send it off to dodgy companies in the hope of renumeration? Why did I stay up and watch the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday night?

What I really want to get to the bottom of however, is why Charlton are so bad when their games are shown live on TV? It could be a curse, a sinister, evil one that we will never shed no matter what supposed antidote we have at our disposal. More likely though, the gogglebox has caught us on our off days.

When battling Northwich Victoria and Leyton Orient, we struggled with the expectation of success, while against Southampton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, we did not have a first-choice side out, Pardew's posse played well and, with the greatest respect to the competition, it was far from a priority.

With those previous excuses in mind, our telly excursion at Bristol Rovers could be perfect for us. The Pirates are out of sorts at the moment so we have a great chance of winning but won't be overwhelming favourites, and we should - bar the ebullient Kelly Youga - have a full-strength squad from which to pick.

So tell your friends and family to bypass socialising, reading, cooking, working and even the excellent Channel Five series "Paul Merton in Europe," because The Addicks are going to be showcased on the small screen and they are going to be the victors. Only a curse can stop us.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A look back at.....Swindon

Swindon must like Charlton as much as Wayne Bridge likes John Terry. After thwarting The Robins' chances of victory with a last-minute, nine-man assault on Boxing Day, The Addicks performed a similar trick on Saturday afternoon, albeit with a full quota of players still on the field.

Forced to work at the time, I was devoid of radio commentary or Sky Sports analysis and had to obtain my info from the BBC website. The Internet told me Danny Wilson's men had 63% possession to our 37, more corners, and a higher number of shots on and off target, while text updates also insinuated it was all Swindon. Yet somehow Bailey weaved his magic and salvaged us a point deep into stoppage time.

Betting is not a strong facet of mine but I am pretty sure our captain's fornicate-with-wife (this time an unintentional John Terry reference) chant was sung in full force by the travelling Addicks.

With Norwich finally losing and Leeds chucking away a lead at Hartlepool, a weekend that looked dodgy at 3:20pm and horrible at 4:30pm turned out alright at five o'clock.

The bad news is we are on telly next week. Yikes.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A look ahead to.....Swindon

When I was at school, a girl in my class moved to Swindon. I remember her leaving party quite well. It was the day before the Easter holidays, we had Panda Pops, Party Rings, Pringles and stuff that doesn't begin with the letter P as well. As the festivities came to a close, I thought I had seen the end of my Wiltshire-bound peer.

So imagine my surprise when I strolled in after the Spring break and saw her plonked in her old seat. I shook my head, closed my eyes and then pinched myself but it made no difference, she was still there.

"Wh....why?'t you?.....Why aren't you in Swindon?" I asked, in a far less eloquent style to which I now speak. "It wasn't for us," she said, "It was a bit dull, nothing really goes on."

I bet she wouldn't be saying that now. The town hosted Radio 1's Big Weekend in 2009, has a thriving music scene and - unfortunately for us Addicks fans - the area's football team is on fire.

Danny Wilson's outfit have lost just one of their last 12 league games, nine of which have been victories, won their previous six home matches - a run that includes a three-goal tonking of Leeds - and are scoring goals for fun.

Billy Paynter and Charlie Austin are the Robins' premier net bulgers, with 24 league strikes between them this term. So prolific are they, that of Town's 22 goals since November, the deadly duo have scored 20, with defender Scott Cuthbert and on-loan Bolton striker Danny Ward the only other men to hit the target.

Swindon did show signs of weakness last weekend though, surrendering a two-goal lead to draw at cash-strapped Southend, and they may be too focused on an Addicks revenge mission on Saturday after not seeing us off on Boxing Day when they looked set for victory and we had nine men.

For those reasons, I have this sneaking suspicion that we are are going to take the three points. I'll post again some time on Sunday afternoon, explaining how hideously wrong I was.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An extremely brief Walsall summary

I don't enjoy watching Charlton's in-game match updates on Sky Sports News. Even if you get a good reporter, it is very difficult to fully comprehend what is happening. But that task is made doubly taxing when your newshound is John Salako. How am I supposed to know what is going on when - by the sounds of it - he doesn't? I wish they'd given Scott Minto the job. I like Minto.

What I did gather from Salako's oratory - other than the amazing news we were playing Dion Dublin up front - was that we dominated the game and once we had equalised on the stroke of half time, there was no real danger of defeat.

Due to our stuttering home form, however, a solitary point on the road was not good enough, we needed all three. We also need someone to start finding the net on a more regular basis. I knew we should have kept hold of Danny Butterfield.