Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Charlton pass their Reading test.

Charlton Athletic(B) 2 - Reading 1.

What an absolute cracker.
On the evidence of this evening, Chris Powell has a strong squad to play with this term. 
When the inevitable injuries and suspensions start piling up later in the season, it shouldn't mean half fit players being played out of position in order to raise a team.

Every player wearing red put in a top notch performance.
Benson was running around, chasing lost causes and giving the impression he was playing for his Charlton Athletic future.
He was unfortunate in that he had to leave the action early with what looked like a hand injury. Benson was really catching the eye and even arch Benno hater, 'Mr Grumpy,' who sits a few seats away couldn't find anything to moan about, especially as he opened the scoring.

Charlton were in total control for all of the first half.
Reading couldn't have complained if they had been 4 or 5 goals down at the interval.

The few times they pressed forward, Hamer showed he has an assured pair of hands.
Should Elliott take the Pardew pounds for the chance to warm the Newcastle bench, I'm more than happy with the obvious replacement.

Pritchard was running the midfield, the much derided Francis played a blinder, Green could have scored 3, Mambo seemed to grow in confidence as the game progressed, Evina looked very skilful and Euell was showing good movement.

Charlton seemed as if their brief was to pass Reading off the pitch. There were few times when either team resorted to a hoof up the pitch, both teams attempted to keep the ball on the grass and play football.

At half time I was worried all the missed chances may come back to haunt us.
The second period started and it just produced more of the same.
Pass and move.
Charlton were purring.

Eventually, Jason Euell popped up to knock home the second goal of the game.
It was most certainly deserved. At that point Charlton had hit the post and had two certain goals whipped off the line by spectacular gymnastic clearances.
Charlton added to this total when Bover hit the woodwork later on.

The Doc was replaced by Morrison.
One thing I was taught many, many years ago was never, ever make a substitution when defending a set piece.
Perhaps CP has now taken on board this little nugget as Morrison came on to defend a corner. The ball quickly ended up at his feet (before he'd had an opportunity to calibrate his boots), he made a horlicks of it and Reading had their goal.

The next 5 minutes were a little shaky for Charlton but they soon regained their superiority, despite the best efforts of the referee.

When the news came through that there were to be 4 minutes of added on time, every Addick must have wondered if there was to be a repeat of Saturday but Reading were not as sharp as Scunthorpe.

A 2-1 win and into the next round.

It's quite odd to think that a League Cup game, and a first round one at that should be one of the best games I've seen in yonks.
Definitely worth a tenner.

A Casual Rating.
What an absolute belter!
If you weren't there, you missed a treat.
Lacoste polos are going to all the Charlton players who seemed determined to make CP have a selection problem.
Well done lads. You all played your part but my MOM is Pritchard.

The Primark Novelty slogan t-shirt is going to the bloke in Floyd Road who picked me out of the crowd to hand me an English Defence League, anti Muslim demo flyer.
I may have a shaved head but I'd like to say I find their views repellent.
Sod off to Millwall.

Ref Watch.
Oh dear oh dear.
Charlton won, despite the referee's officiating this evening.
He had a stinker.
One (of many) appalling decisions was when a clearance went out for a Reading throw, at least 10 metres down the pitch.
The Reading player went to pick up the ball to take the throw but to his amazement, was told it was a corner!
It wasn't even close.
Despite the referee having a 'mare for much of the second half, he didn't ruin the game, though he did have a long talk at Jason Euell when Jason pointed out how cack he was being.
Euell could have received a yellow card so maybe he was fortunate to just receive a finger wagging.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Decent Iron Side

Addicks 2 - The Iron 2.

As ever, supporting Charlton continues to be a series of ups and downs, though this particular 'down' still gained the team a point.
A game that saw the reds 2-0 up, with only around 15 minutes left to play, really should have been another 3 points for Chris Powell's side but a few bad choices and errors, along with a decent Scunthorpe side, meant we went home without the perfect record continuing.

Scunthorpe started off the stronger and could possibly have cursed bad luck when Jackson scored the game opener with a looping header.

I felt at the time that 'keeper Lillis should have saved it but even if this was the case, he was one of the main reasons his side didn't lose.

At half time, Charlton were 1-0 up but we all felt there were more goals in the game. 

Charlton went 2-0 up on the hour, after the most perfect cross from Hollands was met by BWP to nod home.

At that point, there was a mass outbreak of chickens being counted while still in the egg.
"We are top of the League" etc.
I checked my iPhone to see the live table and it showed us 2 points clear.

What a day eh? 
Bouncy, Bouncy.
Valley Floyd Road.
E, I, E, I, E, I, O, - up the football league we go....

Scunthorpe got the goal their persistence deserved, though as the ball hit the back of the net I wasn't too fussed as I was sure I'd seen some pushing in the build up and there also seemed to be some handball.

The referee was making rather strange gestures that seem to be saying "No!"
I now realise these gestures were merely stating that there wasn't a reason to disallow the goal.

It was never going to be a consolation goal as far as Scunthorpe were concerned.
Charlton had some fantastic chances to score the third goal but an inspired performance from Lillis was denying the Addicks.

Green came on for Wagstaff (who had done little wrong) but the changeover highlighted where Waggy needs to work on his game.
In only a few moments, Green had whipped in 2 or 3 fantastic crosses - more than Wagstaff had managed in all of his time on the pitch.

Green was lucky to stay on the pitch for more than 5 minutes in my opinion.

Green was surely fouled and he ended up on the floor, wrestling with his tormentor.
Despite this all happening within 5 metres of the East Stand lino, he seemed incapable of lifting his flag and as the referee was most likely unsighted he just waved for play to continue.

Green was not happy about this and within seconds lunged in with a flying, dangerous 'challenge' that had nothing to do with the ball.

Perhaps realising that it was the officials making a horlicks of it that lead up to Green diving in, the referee handed out only a yellow card but taken in isolation, it was surely deserving of a straight red.

It was now, there were the turning points of the game for me.

BWP was brought down and from our angle it looked a cast iron, (no pun etc), 100% penalty.
The referee seemed to be agreeing as he had seen the foul but unfortunately he lacked the bottle to give the penalty.
It's amazing how many free kicks seem to be given on a patch of grass, no thicker than a paint roller.

Referee Chris Sarginson decided the offence had happened 'on the line' and the penalty appeals went unheeded.
A third goal would have killed off Scunthorpe but Charlton didn't seem to want to score it.

A pet hate of mine, and I know I'm not alone in this, is the time wasting short corner.

Most times, we end up either giving away possession through not being able to shield the ball well enough, or by just giving away a free kick.

It's been a pattern over the last 15 years or so.

Danny Green was all set to whip in another killer corner when suddenly he was encouraged to play it short to Dale Stephens.
Of course, they promptly lost the ball and we were on the back foot again.

The Doc came on to add some steel to the defence but it mattered not one jot.
The officials added 5 minutes of time which was more than enough for Scunthorpe to score their equaliser.

So, ten points from a possible twelve and still unbeaten is not a terrible record.
We are still in second place and the team will hopefully learn from this.

Personally, I would just like to hope there is enough of a public outcry over the stupid time wasting corners, that our players feel they can't do one again, unless it's in a cup final with 12 seconds to go.

There were still 7 minutes to play yesterday. Surely we should have been going for the third goal?

A Casual Rating.
After a week when he was all over the papers, supposedly going to Newcastle, then not, Rob Elliot could have been away with the fairies and not really concentrating.
The reverse was the case.
He pulled off some remarkable saves, (as did the Scunthorpe goalkeeper Lillis).

I'm awarding the Lacoste polo to Rob Elliot plus a second award for Jackson who quietly played a fantastic game.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to Danny Green.
We saw the best of him yesterday when he came on but we also saw the reason he missed the first game of the season through suspension.

Ref Watch.
Not a terrible performance individually but as a group, the officials weren't on the same wave length.
The East stand lino was especially poor. He could have helped the referee out on the 'penalty' but didn't and also was the main reason Green got so angry and could / should have been sent off.
The boos at the end for the referee are all part of the pantomime of football when your team haven't won but in this particular case, I don't think the referee will be looking back on the game with too much pride.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

You're Supposed To Be At Home

Colchester United 0 - Charlton Athletic 2.

Colchester United are in trouble.
Last night they hosted a home game, on a warm evening against a team that used to be a bit of a scalp (but now aren't), and they still only scraped 5000 souls into their ground.

Of those 5000, approaching two fifths were visiting supporters so I fail to see how their spanking new stadium can survive as an ongoing business.

It might be on the edge of town, practically on the city limits but the cash involved to build a new stadium, plus the roads to give people the chance to get there is most certainly no minor investment.

*If we build it they will come*
Unfortunately, they haven't.

You're supposed to be at home!
Yes, we are, -well away from the football and sitting on our sofas.

After watching the game last night, I can now see how Colchester United are staying afloat.
They're pumping any available cash into the upkeep of the stadium which leaves the price of a pair of decent trousers to go towards the playing staff.

Bad times if you support Colchester.

Last night Charlton were in control from beginning to end.

BWP- (he's better than Shaun don't you know?) has quite rightly been singled out for his two goals but it really felt like a team performance.

When a player lost the ball they bust a gut trying to win it back. When Colchester were in possession, players were diving in to stop them and when their forwards got into shooting positions, players were getting their bodies in the way to block.

We used to sing about a team of Stevie Browns. Last night it felt like it had arrived.

The goals were 'good' goals rather than defensive errors to be pounced upon.
Young Bradley played a gorgeous one - two with Waggy for his first goal and Hayes showed what a tremendous asset he is going to be to set up the second.

At half time, I assume Chris Powell said to keep it tight, as in the second half there wasn't the fluidity of play but still there were opportunities to score more goals.
Only the 'Man of the Match' Cousins, in the home goal, stopped the score becoming a bit of a pasting with some excellent saves.

It felt good last night.

Ok, so we are top of the league but nobody is handing out any medals in August.
We've had good starts before but on those occasions, last year for example, it always felt like we were getting away with it rather than playing other teams off the park.

This year, the crowd are with the team and the team seem to be playing as, well, a team!

We had Captain Cleanshorts near us in the crowd, supporting his old club.
Jason Euell came on as a late substitute for Hayes, (pleasingly Jason is still wearing his own version of shorts, the billowing past the knee version).

Danny Green made his debut, with 5 minutes to go, in place of BWP and Hughes replaced Stephens five minutes before that.
All the players slotted in nicely and seemed to know where they were supposed to be playing.

With everything going so well, I'd normally assume we are going to get a bit of a mauling on Saturday, (this is Charlton after all) but somehow the bubble hasn't been burst yet for me.

i can see us winning again on Saturday, and I hope the feel good factor remains.

What a great evening of entertainment laid on by the Addicks last night.
A repeat performance next time out please.

A Casual Rating.
Lacoste polos are going to BWP and Paul Hayes. For me, they were stand out players though as I said above, it was a team performance which was most enjoyable.

The Primark novelty slogan t- shirt goes to whoever orders the refreshments at Colchester.
Did they not realise Charlton would be bringing more than a taxi full of people?

All the counter staff were very friendly and helpful but it seemed rather odd to be eating the last, much trumpeted, 'Chicken Balti Pie', approximately an hour and a half before kick off.

I'm sorry if you wanted one last night.
(It was lovely as well).

Ref Watch.
Nothing to report here.
No decisions that turned the game, just your typical third class referee for a regular tier 3 game.
Oliver Langford may have been a little harsh when giving Robbie Elliot a yellow for time wasting but we will most certainly have worse officials this season.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Magpies Stuffed.

Notts County 1 - Addicks 2.

I can't add anything to the first hand accounts of our fully deserved victory at Meadow Lane yesterday as I spent the afternoon on my sofa.

I listened in online, (moments of football threatened to break out between the mentions for people following on twitter), and it sounded to be an accomplished performance from the Addicks.

A first half ended with the Londoners 2- 0 up, though it could have been more.

Waggy is making it very difficult for the supposedly first choice Green to get a look in after scoring 2 goals in 2 appearances.
Having now seen his strike on television, I'd have to say he made the most of his chance, cutting in and scoring from a tight angle.

Goal number 2 was Hayes first for the club and owed plenty to the awareness of BWP who placed the ball at his feet so precisely, he'd have to have been half asleep to have missed it.

Luckily, Hayes didn't have an attack of 'the Lisbies' and Charlton exited the pitch, two goals to the good.

Mad Dog Allen tore into his players at half time and they sounded much more lively in the second half.

The home side scored from a corner that left County substitute Montano free to tap in at the far post.

Everyone's pantomime villain Lee Hughes was another County substitute but luckily he never really got going.

Even over the internet, the cheers for returning Charlton old boy Jason Euell were clear, when he came on for goal scorer Hayes.
(It could just have been a spontaneous sing song of Gold by Spandau Ballet but I doubt it).

He only had around ten minutes to make his mark but it was great to have him back.
The Doc came on as the final minutes arrived to add some steel to the defence and that was that.

There was a bit of handbags at the end.
Magpies skipper Bishop showed his, 'ahem', passion by booting the ball into the Charlton support as the final whistle blew.

Hollands and Euell went to bend his ear and the commentating team told us that it wasn't what we wanted to see.
(Wish I'd seen it though!)

Hollands and Bishop received yellow cards, after the game had finished.

So, not a classic but as CP said after the match, the Charlton side had a game plan and it worked.

Tuesday can't come soon enough.

A Casual Rating.
It's very difficult to grade a game when you weren't there so I'm going to award Jason Euell the Lacoste polo, purely as a welcome home gift.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to Notts County captain Neil Bishop for being a bad loser!

**A special mention must go to the travelling Addicks who were making themselves clearly audible above the fairly muted home support, even before the goals.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Night of Shame.

I love London.
It's my home and it's the greatest city in the world for history and beauty.
Unfortunately, I share my city with some creatures who have been behaving no better than feral animals.

This was no protest.
It was pure and simply an opportunity to steal trainers, computers, televisions and prestige clothing under the cover of being part of a group so large, you cease to be an individual.

Whatever had happened earlier at Tottenham ,(and then copied at Enfield), was nothing to do with this.
This was just greed allied with opportunity.

Last night I came home past the Stone Lake retail park, within 200 metres of the Valley as the crow flies.

At around 11pm there were hundreds of people running in the road, carrying their goods from PC World, Halfords and Currys.

What shocked me more were the 40 or so cars, parked up in the bus lane and on the roundabout, waiting for their mates to come back with their heavy goods.
This wasn't locals.
It was people who had driven there with the express intention of thieving.

People standing around the cars were grown up, older people, possibly parents or big brothers who were there to help their younger more foolish family members.

I had a group bang on the roof of the car and just as I was thinking about flooring my accelerator, they ran off.

Last night pictures coming from twitter were quite dramatic, like this one of nearby Woolwich.

I lay in bed, listening to the wailing sirens, the cars screaming up and down the road, people shouting and the police helicopter that seemed to be hovering above my home.
The powerful search beam swung about, coming into my window as it moved around.

This would have all been bad enough if it had just been going on in SE7.
Unfortunately the police resources were stretched to a ridiculous state of affairs.

I was able to track online the other places where there were flashpoints in London, (at this point the problems at Stone Lake and the Shopping centre at the end of my road hadn't registered.)

This morning I went for a walk around the neighbourhood.
Nothing dramatic now.
Just people clearing up after a night of chaos.

Next, Maplins, JD Sports, Carphone Warehouse, Argos and Staples had taken hits but Pound Land was open for business!

Our game is off tonight against Reading and also the England game tomorrow.

Football seems very secondary right now.

My thoughts are with the Police, Ambulance and Fire services at the moment, along with anybody who has lost their home, business, employment or possessions due to the actions of people who I'm ashamed to share a city with.

I went for a coffee on the way home and heard a young mum explaining to her boy, (around 5 years of age), that if you want something you need to work hard to pay for it, not just take it.
I could have hugged her.

 I did see some hugs when a fire crew stopped and some sooty looking heroes got out to stretch their legs.
Another young mum went over to thank them and she gave them all a hug to express her gratitude.

Our city has plenty of people who want to do the right thing.

Let's try and remember that in these dark days.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cherries Crushed.

Charlton Athletic 3 - AFC Bournemouth 0.
As the Bournemouth team were caught up in the 28 mile hold up on the M25 on Friday evening, I'd thought about titling this piece 'Cherry Jam'.

After witnessing the game yesterday, I think the Cherries need to fabricate a better excuse than being stuck on a luxury coach with Wi-Fi, Air Con, films and comfy seats for a couple of hours to paper over the obvious cracks in their side.

Last season, Bournemouth were a surprise package to everyone other than Bournemouth fans.
They played with purpose, stroked the ball about and caught other teams on the break while playing with a really pleasing style.
The pleasing style of play remains but, (on this one game of evidence), they now have absolutely no bite.

I'm struggling to think of a single, decent chance they created.
There was the possibility of a half, (quarter?) chance when Rob Elliott had to be fairly sharp off his line but after getting into a good position, their lad seemed to waste his moment and decided he'd rather have an appeal for a penalty by having a bit of a lie down.

It was the kind of decision that would only be given in favour of the striker perhaps one time in twenty, such was the feebleness of the claim. I'd add the chance of a penalty would be even less if playing for the away team but that was about it as far as Bournemouth were concerned.

Their supporters were seriously let down, especially as around 1200 had made the journey from Dorset.

As for Charlton?
Well, obviously this is purely on the evidence of a single game but I saw hints of us attempting to play more along the Brighton model from last season, and less along the school playground model we were treated to last term.

The team seemed so much more balanced.
Charlton never really looked in any danger, never needing to get out of second gear to repel the attacks and looked much more likely to score when moving forward.

The game was played in a good spirit, despite Wiggins being abused by his ex supporters every time he came near to the ball.

I really can't think of any contentious issues and it must have been a very easy fixture to referee.

When the game started running away from Bournemouth, they got frustrated and gave away some yellow cards and free kicks but they were just so obvious there was no point in complaining, which to their credit they didn't.

The Charlton goals were all the kind we were rarely treated to last season.
The first, a really well worked effort by Dale Stephens on his debut, owed plenty to the industry of Chris Solly who robbed the ball and sped forward, fed BWP who crossed for Stephens to score.

The second goal, which really knocked the wind out of the visitors sails, came soon after the break and ended a 5 minute spell when the Cherries had looked a little more enthused.
They came crashing down with a bump when Waggy sent in a screamer from outside the box, taken on the volley using the outside of his boot.

The final goal came from a well taken penalty, stuffed into the net by new captain Jackson.
BWP had twisted and turned, beaten his man and we were already up on our feet, such was our certainty he was about to score.
He was brought down with a very clumsy challenge that the referee didn't hesitate to punish, or the defenders bother to moan about.

So, a fantastic start to the season.
 Top of the league, (using the advantage of alphabetical order!)

It won't all be like this of course, which is why we must enjoy these games when they arrive.
We are certainly going to get beaten many times this season, maybe even ending up on the receiving end of a 3-0 pasting but days like this are why we bother coming.

It was good to meet up with so many people before the game in the Rose of Denmark.
It was as recently as May when we were all last in there for the Hartlepool game but I sensed a very different feeling around the Addick-ted.

 Dare I say it? After being the home of possibly the worst vibes in the football league for the last 5 years, there now seems to be that glimmer of optimism poking through at Charlton.

A Casual Rating.

The Lacoste polo is being handed to Dale Stephens who was my Man Of The Match, though I also thought Hayes showed a good touch. Waggy of course scored a goal of the season contender and Morrison looked secure in defence.

Nobody had a stinker today so the Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to the East Stand lino, who seemed to be watching something completely different to the rest of us.
He gave Charlton throws when the ball had clearly come off our players and vice versa for Bournemouth.
The only crumb of comfort is that he didn't change the game and he was equally crud for both sides.

Ref Watch.
Mr A. Woolmer will never get an easier game than this one to swan about holding his whistle.
A solid, fair performance from him.

So, Reading on Tuesday.
We'll all be back again for that one won't we?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Not Long To Wait.

It dawned on me this evening, (in the language of a young, primary school aged child), that there are only 2 sleeps until we get back onto our football horse and ride through to next May.

By the time you read this, there may only be one 'sleep' which makes it all the more close.

I've enjoyed my time off from Charlton Athletic this close season.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as excited as anybody about this new term and what it may bring but due to all sorts of other pressures and commitments, I really haven't given too much thought to the events of Sparrows Lane or Floyd Road.

Nobody would be coming to me expecting insights as, without fail, I was usually one of the 'Last To Know' whenever anything remotely interesting happened.

So, fifteen signings eh?
Last season has been well and truly shipped off to the misery bank of Charlton memories.
We can hope this is the start of a 'new era', stopping the rot of an appalling spiral of decline that started with our relegation from the Premier League.
It's not long ago in time but it's galaxies away from our current position.

Last week I was lucky enough to be away at one of my, (our), favourite places on the island of Crete.
We have been visiting the same place, usually at the very same accommodation, for around 10 years now.
I love it there.

We've done lots of trips and cultural excursions on our previous visits so now we tend to use the time to flop, eat well, drink equally well, read, listen to iPods and laze in the sunshine.

The Malia crowd, just a mile up the road, may be 'Havin' It' and going somewhat crazy but we tend to be the more sedate visitors to the island, who are thrilled to look at the beautiful mountains and crystal clear water while enjoying a beer in the shade.

Over the years we have become quite friendly with many of the local shop keepers and restaurant owners.
"Back Again!" seemed to be a common greeting when we showed our faces somewhere new.

On this particular trip we were really privileged to be taken up into the mountains to a small village for a local fiesta.
When we were invited, we didn't feel we could refuse as George was so thrilled to be asking us and he seemed so keen for us to join him and his family.

I was convinced it was going to be one of those awful things put on for tourists, one of those 'Cretan Nights' that end up with smashing plates and drunk Scousers standing on tables showing their knickers.

How wrong I was.
We drove for about half an hour going up, up and more up until it seemed as if we were in a light aircraft rather than a Ford Escort.

When we arrived in the mountain village it was just so perfect.
There weren't any shops selling tourist tat, just a 'real' village with all the locals seeming to have come direct from Central Casting.

We had entered Captain Corelli country.
It felt too perfect. Almost like a film set.

We were entranced within minutes.
We sat in the square, then wandered off to have a look inside the large church to be amazed at the ornate decorations.

After a while the square started to fill up.
We sat outside one of the Tavernas with George and his family and watched all the other people who seemed to be having lots of fun.

There were a few other people present who were like us, foreign visitors, but the whole event wasn't for tourists, it was a local event that some tourists had chosen to join in with.

There were no translations of what was going on into English or any other languages and it was all the better for it.

Some people got up to dance to the men who had climbed onto crates to play their songs. It was all very laid back and seemingly unrehearsed.

Coming from England, where you can't even break wind without needing the local council to issue a safety certificate, it did seem quite shocking at times.

After people had finished eating, nearly everybody got up to dance.
The square had around 50 or 60 people, doing a fair interpretation of the Hokey Cokey, even including the 'woooaaah' as everyone rushed in.
Greenwich council would have had a fit as nobody had thought to block off the road that goes through the main square.
 Dancers were sometimes entwined with mopeds, cars and vans but nobody seemed to care.

Eventually, some 'proper' dancers showed up and showed off their nifty moves, one of which involved squirting a highly flammable liquid rather close to my flip flops, setting it all on fire and then doing the 'Do You Want Some?' pose.

I loved it.
We shouted 'Oom pah!' in appreciation and I had to explain to many well meaning folk that my wooden leg meant I wouldn't be dancing tonight.

We ate well and really felt we had seen something we most certainly would have missed if we'd stayed in the resort.

It was a fantastic evening and I am so pleased we went.

So, will we be 'Dancing in the Streets of SE7' on Saturday evening?