Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Joy Of Six.

Charlton Athletic 2 - Leyton Orient 0.

Charlton maintained the 6 point gap over the chasing Northerners this afternoon with a comfortable home win.

Despite being at the top of the league for over 6 months, there don't seem to be very many Addicks enjoying it.

I guess we know there's always a chance there could be an almighty choke at the final stages and we just want to get these games out of the way.

Of course, while we are winning it doesn't matter one jot what those teams below us are doing but we also know that pressure makes everyone behave in different ways. 
Would a Manchester United fan be worried with a six point lead over second place? Of course not. They'd be (sat on their sofa in Surrey) sure of their dominance.

At Charlton it's different. We have seen the most appalling fall from grace over the last 6 years and it just feels odd to have something going right for us.

Today, Charlton were in command for most of the game.

The team seemed keen to erase the memory of last weekends trip to Huddersfield, though the referee seemed equally keen to keep jogging our memories with some rather, (ahem), crowd baiting decisions.

As last week, it really did seem as if the Bloke In Black was quite enjoying being the pantomime villain.

I was amused to find out the referee's name was 'Brown', as that was exactly the shade on the colour chart that was being repeated by everyone around me when mentioning his performance.

Mr. Brown denied two penalty appeals within the first 5 minutes and finally gave a free kick, outside the penalty area on the left.
It was a case of 'Wiggy - Waggy' as Rhoys Wiggins crossed very quickly, bypassing the napping Orient defence for birthday boy Scott Wagstaff to poke home from close range.

The rest of the first half was a series of Charlton pressure, Orient clobbering Kermorgant and the crowd screaming with derision at yet another 'contentious' decision by Brown, or more often waving away appeals to penalise the clattering of our Breton battler. 

We were all up and celebrating when a Stephens corner was sent into the roof of the net by Cort, who's bullet header was unstoppable. 

Brown was the centre of attention again when he disallowed the goal. 
He seemed to be motioning his decision was for a handball but he didn't book anyone which I'd have thought was the normal state of affairs.

In the second half, Orient looked better organised and made a couple of decent efforts on goal.

Kevin Lisbie still looks a pretty good player at this level and Matthew Spring has a decent shot on him and was able to put his foot on the ball to distribute well.

Mooney, the other ex Addick, was woeful and unsurprisingly substituted. 
He may have been trying too hard but nothing he did today came off.
 Mooney remains the only player I've seen, to manage the remarkable achievement of scoring a goal and then to be roundly booed by his own support as he tried to 'stick it' to the crowd while celebrating.


Orient had their own claim to a penalty when a point blank shot was saved by Hamer and then deflected onto an arm but it all happened so quickly there was little anybody could have done to get out of the way.

With the Charlton support starting to get a little jumpy, the final few minutes were much more relaxing after Lee Cook did extremely well to fight back and win possession. He then floated in a perfect cross for Millwall loanee N'Guessan to head home.
Referee Brown could find nothing wrong with this effort and Charlton strolled home as 2-0 winners.

The finishing line is in sight.

Nearly there Addicks fans!

A Casual Rating.
Even though Orient came back into the game much more in the second half, they never really looked like grabbing much from the fixture. 
Charlton looked the better team and unsurprisingly sent the O's packing. 
Orient were very keen on telling everyone they could be the only team to 'do the double' over Charlton this season but without the benefit of a flukey deflected goal and playing against 10 men for 85 minutes, it wasn't to be.

The regularly awarded Lacoste polo isn't going to anybody on the pitch today. 
Sometimes football isn't the most important part of a football day.
I'd like to make the award to those Orient fans who walked to the Valley today to raise money for charity.
Well done to every single one of them.

The Primark novelty slogan t shirt is going to me, for my 'stupidity' in going out and having a fantastic time last night, seeing Stiff Little Fingers at the Forum Kentish Town, and subsequently feeling a little fragile throughout the game.
I'm old enough to know (much) better.

Ref Watch.
Mr M. Brown didn't come to The Valley to make friends.
He left having accomplished just that.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Huddersfield 1- Charlton Athletic 0.

I'm writing this as we speed away from the centre of Huddersfield.

The score above only tells half the story.

I quite like Huddersfield.
Once the fog finally lifted it became clear that it's a pleasant, large smallish town- (or a small large town), with a magnificent stadium and friendly locals. There wasn't even a hint of the menace that sometimes surrounds football.

The countryside whizzing past me now is lovely.

Unfortunately, my memories of today are all about how we were undone by one man.

Before kick off I was expecting this to happen.
I thought Jordan Rhodes might give us a bit of a mauling but actually he had a fairly quiet game.

Yes, he did score but it was a penalty that rolled into the goal with Hamer sent in the other direction. Other than that, he didn't really do much.

Unfortunately, the 'one man' who stitched us up today was wearing black.

I'd be interested to see if any neutrals thought he was being impartial, as his role demands.
He was Huddersfield's best player for most of the afternoon.

Having witnesses his display today it reminded me of one of those games that have since been found to have been officiated by 'bought' referees.
It was that bad.

He penalised good challenges, missed clear cut fouls due to ball watching, managed to restart the game with a drop ball when most of us were expecting a dismissal, or maybe a yellow if he remembered where he was.
He managed to mishandle pretty much every event he could and in summary, made it highly improbable that Charlton were going to get anything from the game.

Huddersfield are a decent side.
They weren't that good today but they were good enough to shade the first half.

Despite going down to 10 men, Charlton 'won' the second half, though didn't manage to carve out the clear cut chance the dominance merited.

So, it needed a penalty, that looked to be a bit soft to say the least (but definitely falls into the "I've seen them given" file) to beat our ten men against their 12.

Maybe I'll feel differently in the morning but right now I'm just angry with an incompetent official, and pleased with the fight our team showed, especially after the red card.

Promotion is still on.

Don't panic!

I feel I need to point out Norm's language was impeccable this afternoon.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Farmers Weakly.

Charlton Athletic 3 - Yeovil Town 0.
While tonight's game was hardly a classic, it had all the ingredients needed from a Charlton perspective.

I must admit I was expecting more from Yeovil. 
They tried to play some good football but they just seemed rather flat.

They had obviously decided that Hamer is 'dodgy' from shots taken early.
Recent games may have lead them to believe this to be so but even if I had been in goal, Yeovil were unlikely to trouble the scoreboard with this tactic, unless it was from hitting it and damaging a few million pixels.

Time and time again long shots went sailing high over the bar.

New recruit Dany N'Guessan continued his remarkable record of scoring on his club debuts when (surely a cross?) was waved into the far corner by the Yeovil keeper, Walker.

One nil up with only 7 minutes played gave everyone a chance to breathe out.

There had been some tension amongst the Addicks with some believing tonight might be the game that started the club on the regular end of season slide.

A poor crowd witnessed one team doing enough to win and the other team trying hard but things just not breaking for them.

Yeovil annoyed me with their stupid Stabilo Boss inspired away kit.
Totally unnecessary.

Since when has Yeovil's traditional green meant a clash of kits with a team playing in red?
The nasty retina burning second kit may be all the rage in Somerset but in SE7 it really didn't pass any sartorial tests.

Charlton were well in command and we all breathed out again on the hour, when BWP put the finishing touch onto a fantastic header across the box by Kermorgant.

A 2-0 scoreline looked good but in the last few moments of the game it became 3-0 when Darel Russel poked home, to complete a wonderful team goal.

In summary, 3 points which was the main objective, added to a clean sheet, a couple of confidence improving fine stops from Hamer, another goal from BWP and the gap between us and second place remains the same 9 points but with another game gone from those available to catch us up.

A Casual Rating.
I have been quite critical of Waggy in recent months.
When he has come on, he's spent as much energy on berating linesmen and appealing for free kicks as he has trying to beat his man.

Tonight, Scott Wagstaff did everything he possibly could.
He was fantastic.
No moaning at officials and when he was fouled, or thought he was fouled, he just got up.

I had as much pleasure from watching Scott 'play properly' as I did from witnessing the goals. I loved seeing him charge in to block a free kick and realising he had time to nick the ball and run off with it!

For this reason, Waggy is getting the regularly awarded Lacoste polo.

Nobody is receiving the Primark novelty slogan tee shirt this time.
A good, solid team effort that may not have been perfect but it was certainly too good to start handing out booby prizes to anybody.

Ref Watch.
Late replacement referee D Coote made no enemies at the Valley this evening.
He was lucky that both teams weren't really going for each other.
I don't remember a single bad tackle all game.
The late booking Yeovil received didn't seem to be for a nasty tackle, more of a mistimed one.
It was probably a fairly easy game to officiate but I'm giving Mr. Coote an 8 out of 10.
Well done Sir.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Scunthorpe 1 - Charlton Athletic 1.

I refuse to get myself into a state of panic over our current 'blip'.

The last fortnight may have brought our worst sequence of results since the start of the season but it's certainly no time to be questioning our players or management.

Charlton are top of the league for a reason.
We are the best side in the division.

There are now 27 points available this term.
We are already 9 points clear of our closest rivals.

It's still looking very, very good.

Let's celebrate!

Nobody is expecting the other teams to just roll over due to our lofty position.

This is already a record breaking season.

We just need one final push, all together.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Take A Deep Breath.

It's been a great season.
Let's not start to panic.

There are 23 clubs who would love to be in our position, despite yesterday's result.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Addicks 2- Magpies 4.

Most certainly a 'game of two halves'.

The first half was as poor a half as I've seen at the Valley.

It was a collapse that will long be in the nightmares of all connected to Charlton Athletic.

Our defence has been rock solid over the season.
Throughout the first 45 minutes today it was clear that Hamer was having another off day and the back four were joining in by playing like they were strangers to each other.

Forte was just too good.

His hat trick in just over 20 minutes was a fantastic demonstration of the strikers art.
He played like BWP played in the period up until his mini goal drought started in November.

Every time he went near the ball he looked ridiculously dangerous.
He was helped by some extremely sloppy defending but he made his own luck by exploiting a defence that was coming apart at the seams.

Forte built upon the excellent long range strike from Judge that found the back of the net after around a quarter of an hour.

Up until that moment, I had been pretty impressed with our efforts to shake the midweek defeat to Colchester from our memory.

Haynes had looked lively but came off just before the first County goal, presumably due to an injury.

4-0 down at half time.
I joked we'd come back to win 5-4 but it was all just hot air.
I didn't believe a word of it.

Charlton started the second half like a team on a mission.

Within ten minutes BWP had scored a peach of an overhead goal and Haynes replacement Waggy, had scored a diving header.

The comeback was on!

It was at this point our hapless referee (Bugsy?) Malone got involved and killed the Charlton momentum.

How in EARTH he failed to give the penalty for the foul on BWP I still fail to understand.
It wasn't even debatable.
It was as clear a foul as you are ever likely to see but he just wasn't interested.

Perhaps, looking at his physique, he had been over indulging in the festivities of the last few days, part of British Pie Week?
Maybe he just wasn't up with play enough to spot it?

Whatever the reasons, he must have realised he'd made a cock up, yet when he had the opportunity to redeem himself, he again denied the Addicks.
A goal bound Kermorgant effort was stopped by an arm and again, our tubby official seemed oblivious.

Notts County had done far too much in the first half to be pegged back today.
They did go down with rather a lot of fake injuries and their time wasting was especially annoying but I'm pretty sure our team would have done something similar in the circumstances.

I did find it odd that the referee didn't make a point of speaking to the 'keeper, especially when we look back on the yellow cards Hamer has received for supposedly time wasting this season.

So, another game ticked off and still ten points clear at the top of the league.

It's hardly panic stations.

Last season Brighton started having some odd results around this period but still cantered on to win the league.

Let's just keep calm and keep the faith.
Today was a bad result but the team showed their quality after a dismal first half.
Notts County deserved their win but we are so far ahead of them, we can quickly put the result to one side and concentrate on next weekend.

A week without a midweek game may be the tonic the team needs.
They've looked fairly tired for a while now.


A Casual Rating.

A poor first half from a Charlton perspective and total dreamland from a Notts County one.

They won the first half with ease and we won the second.

County were so worried about a comeback they started to waste time with 30 minutes still to play.
The theatrics while pretending to be injured wouldn't have looked out of place in a sixth form Shakespeare production.

The award of a Lacoste polo isn't going to a Charlton player this time.
I'm presenting it to Forte for his tremendous hat trick.
Any chance he fancies a move to South London?

The dreaded Primark novelty slogan t- shirt isn't being awarded today.
Instead, there's going to be one of those rather stupid rugs that the Sunday papers seem to advertise to people who want to wrap up on the sofa.
Our defence can have one for their collective shambles in the first half.
I expect them to all sit on a bench at Sparrows Lane, wrapped up snugly as they sit through a DVD of their woeful first half display!

Ref Watch.
My criteria for deciding if a referee has been on form or not is thinking about how his decisions shaped the game.
He had absolutely nothing to do with Charlton going 4-0 down. That was purely our players who let that happen.
However, his refusal to give the penalty at a critical time certainly did effect the game.
For that reason, he's getting a 3 out of 10.
As ever, a third rate referee for the third division.
Nobody should be surprised.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Ho Hum.

Charlton Athletic 0 - Colchester United 2.

Charlton lost this evening while never looking in any danger of defeat.

It was just one of those odd games that will statistically occur once in a while.

We won on Saturday against Bournemouth without really 'beating' them. This evening Colchester took all three points and must be wondering how on earth they managed it.

Colchester struck the first blow within the first 5 minutes.
Hamer looked to be a little far off his line but nobody could deny that Wordsworth hit a fantastic long range shot.
Hamer barely moved.

From that moment on, Colchester did little other than try to contain the rampaging Addicks.

Jackson was unfortunate when his own rasping distance shot merely scraped the crossbar, rather than billowing the net.

Chance after chance came and went.

BWP was guilty of missing some good chances but we could tell it was going to be "one of those days" when Kermorgant looked to be about to pull the trigger and equalise, only to fall flat on his face and the chance was gone.

At just 1-0 down, there wasn't a person inside the Valley who didn't believe Charlton were going to finally put a chance away, and get something out of the game.

Unfortunately, once it became 2-0 with around 75 minutes on the clock, the game was up.

Ben Hamer may wish he hadn't come back from his injury quite so fast. This game will not be one he will look back on with fondness.

Hamer can argue he could do little about the first goal, though his positioning was poor.

The second goal was completely down to him making a horlicks of it.

All season long we have been saying he's going to get caught "one day" due to the extra time he takes to clear a ball, when an onrushing forward is approaching.

Tonight was when Ben's luck finally ran out.
He's had some very near misses lately but tonight his clearance smacked into Gillespie and looped back into his unguarded net.

Game Over.

I've never felt less bothered about a proper league game defeat in my life.

We are still top of the league and hopefully, cruising towards promotion.

Well done to Colchester.
Tonight will go down as a famous victory for United but those of us who were present, will know they won while also being second best.
I'm sure their own support would also agree with my assessment.
They'll care not one jot about their performance as they head back up the A12 carrying the 3 points, just as we didn't care on Saturday after robbing Bournemouth.

I'm assuming Chris Powell now has something pretty tasty planned for Notts County this weekend.

A Casual Rating
Chris Solly has come on in leaps and bounds this season.
He is now becoming the darling of the support and with good reason.
He's earned himself tonights Lacoste polo for being my Man of the Match.

Ben Hamer really needs to pop into Primark on the way to training tomorrow morning, to pick himself out a novelty slogan t-shirt.
We all make mistakes. Hopefully Ben will learn from his clanger this evening and work on speeding up his clearances.

Ref Watch.
There were a few penalty appeals that were rather flamboyantly waved away but in general, the referee and his team of linos did ok.

We didn't lose because of the officials that's for sure.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Daylight Robbery.

AFC Bournemouth 0 - Charlton Athletic 1.

With so many 'exes' on the pitch today, (Wiggins, Hollands, Francis and Arter), it was perhaps fitting that a bloke who has become famous for being shafted by his ex wives should be sitting in the crowd.

I'm not really a fan of Jim Davidson but there were many people who were plainly thrilled to see him sitting among the Addicks.

Davidson didn't pick a very good game to 'keep it real' with his South London roots.

The first half was probably shaded by the home side as they managed to hit the outside of Ben Hamer's post but really there was very little quality on show.

Charlton were playing like they were shattered.
Possibly the exertions of last weekend against Stevenage and the midweek thumping of Chesterfield had numbed the team a little.

Whatever the reason, the midfield never really got going and BWP up front was off the pace.

The atmosphere was completely flat too.
Through no fault of their own, the Bournemouth support were finding little to shout about and the Charlton support were finding the majority of their noise was being blown out of the ground, due to being so close to the 'empty' end of the 3 sided stadium.

Within 5 minutes of the restart, the game had already given more excitement than the first half.

BWP let a ball run through his legs instead of giving it a smack into the net, hoping it would run to a team mate.
Unfortunately nobody materialised.
There were also two rocket shots that looked to be certain goals in a bit of a scramble. The Bournemouth defence held strong.

With 20 minutes to go, Hamer seemed to turn his ankle and hopped around after taking a goal kick.
He eventually sat down and was replaced by Sullivan.

As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, Arter found space and for all the world looked to have stuck the ball in the far corner of the goal.
From a Bournemouth perspective, the ball went agonisingly close. That was to be it as far as the Cherries were concerned.

Haynes had replaced BWP, surely with the intention of running at a tiring Simon Francis, and the Charlton attack suddenly had the pace that had been lacking.

We had all settled for an honourable point, (which would have been a fair result on the balance of play), when Charlton won a corner in the second minute of added on time.

Green floated one in and Kermorgant made connection.
Jackson seemed to wave his leg at the ball and the added movement caught the eye of the defence.
The ball crossed the line and suddenly all eyes were on the linesman.
Had he seen what we had seen?

Evidently he had, as he signalled the goal and we went nuts.

Winning after controlling the game is one thing but winning when you've been decidedly average is a delicious feeling.

Half of one stand and a quarter of another became a sea of bouncing joy while the rest of the ground quickly started to empty, before the referee finally blew for time.

The footballing gods shone kindly on Charlton today, especially in light of the other League 1 results.

The club have now beaten their away wins record for a season, with every chance the number could be improved on before May.

Most of those 13 away wins were thoroughly deserved but as Davidson might have said, we 'nick nicked' the points this time.