Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Smooth Criminals

Norwich City 0 - Charlton Athletic 1
Like most Addicks fans, I was expecting to be saying post game, something along the lines of, 

"Well, the unbeaten run was fun while it lasted but tonight the class of top of the table Norwich City proved too much for our cobbled together bunch of players".

How wrong were we / was I?

Norwich were in command for every one of the 95 minutes played but they just couldn't break down the heroic defending of a Charlton side who worked together to deny them.

As the game entered the final phase, I was hoping with all my heart we'd be able to hang on to the 0-0 draw against tremendous pressure.

Then on 87 minutes, Jackson let fly and Ruddy in the Norwich goal seemed to make a complete hash of it.


This was more than we had hoped for.

More heroic defending, 5+ minutes of injury time, then some rather bad loser antics from a couple of the Norwich players and Charlton were sneaking off back to SE7 with 3 points in the swag bag.

Whatever happens at the weekend, we are now unbeaten into October. 
That's TEN games.

Heady days.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Point... Again.

Charlton Athletic 0 - 'Boro 0

The first half of the game was ridiculously dull.
I'd been watching the Ryder Cup and had to tear myself away from events up in Scotland to head to the Valley for the visit of 'Boro.
For long periods of the first 45 minutes I wished I hadn't bothered.

Many of the away fans had enjoyed an HMS RoD style journey to the game via a Thames pleasure boat. They certainly looked and sounded well refreshed once they made it to the Jimmy Seed stand.

This is not to be considered anything other than a personal view and there will be many people who will think I'm way up my own bum when I say it but Middlesborough has over the years become my baseline assessment for crap towns.

Everyone has their own views on places.
I grew up chuckling at the comments by WC Fields who at every opportunity poked fun at and noted the lack of excitement and beauty to be found in the city of his birth, Philadelphia.
He quipped that on his grave stone he'd like to have "I'd rather be living in Philadelphia" and that a first prize in a competition was a week in Philadelphia, second prize was two weeks in Philadelphia etc etc.

Needless to say, I spent what was quite possibly the time of my life and loved very nearly every minute of my time living in the City of Brotherly Love so it's all down to personal preference.

Having said that, Middlesborough has become my own lowest of the low in a long line of places I'm glad I don't live.
There'll be many (thousands) of people who love it there but I didn't.

As a football team, they've given us the run around over recent years and we haven't beaten them since Darren Bent was leading the line for us.
They also sold us the biggest of pups, (though actually he came on a free transfer), when Jimmy Floyd Piggybanks waddled into the Valley to collect vast amounts of cash for doing quite a lot of pointing at positions on the pitch he'd like the ball to be delivered, then failing to get his gargantuan rear end to travel anywhere near said position.

I can recall absolutely nothing of note about the first half except I was getting rather tetchy about the referee. It took him half an hour to make a decision in Charlton's favour.
Middlesborough were 100% on top though but luckily they were very poor in front of goal.

The half time break will probably have to be filed under 'One For The Dads' as a group of pretty girls stretched, pouted, shook their hair and played a rather over elaborate game of Ring a Roses in front of the Family Stand.

I've nothing against pretty girls, (natch), but it did seem rather 'Palace' and not really what I want to see at the football.
Maybe it's the future but I don't like it.

Having said that, I'd rather have a whole troupe of dancing girls waving their bits at half time than have to endure the G*al M*s*c that seems to be all the rage at clubs with fans who have to be told when to and how to cheer.

The second half started much like the first, though Charlton gradually came back into it and probably should have won.
The final quarter of an hour was highly entertaining, in complete contrast to the rest of the afternoon.

Key incidents included Wiggins being Karate kicked in the same manner as the plump Palace fan who annoyed Eric Cantona, leading to Adomah getting a second yellow card.
The referee got himself into a bit of a fix as he seemed to be sending off the 'Boro player while also saying he'd won a free kick, so we had a good chant about his parentage until we realised he just didn't know his arse from his elbow, or in fact the way the teams were kicking when doing his arm signal.

Bikey had a rather foolish player run into him.
He obviously came off worse, as I would do if I ran into a parked Ford Mondeo.
 I wouldn't try to claim the Mondeo had deliberately clattered me though.
The 'Boro fans saw it differently of course and booed him whenever he played the ball.
The pantomime season started early as the Charlton support cheered his every touch and the atmosphere got a bit lively.

Adam Clayton is still the nasty piece of work he was at Huddersfield.
He went around trying to remove player's shin pads with his studs just as he did for the Yorkshire team.
We had a smile remembering how it took Dale Stephens, who nobody would ever remember as an 'enforcer' to put him back in his box.
Stephens really should have been given a red card that day but it was pure karma that he didn't after all the 'previous' Clayton had got away with over 3 or 4 fixtures.

New Charlton player Bulot hit the inside of the post with an acrobatic effort. It deserved a goal but it wasn't to be.

In the closing minutes of the game, Wiggins and Wilson both came close, Wilson's shot in particular had me already up on my feet celebrating but some tremendous last ditch defending from 'Boro kept Charlton out.

At half time I couldn't see us getting anything from the game unless we changed things around.
At full time, I was disappointed the 3 points hadn't been grabbed.

So, having traveled to Lille to see 'les Dogues' of LOSC grab a point in an actually quite exciting 0-0 draw with Montpellier last Sunday, I now saw my second 0-0 in a week.

I can't imagine Charlton's next fixture at Norwich will be 0-0, though that would be considered a massive success.

Still unbeaten heading to the end of September?

I'll go for that.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Golden Wonder

Charlton Athletic 1 - Wolves 1

After the visit of the 'Golden Boys', we now played host to the 'Old Gold' of Wolverhampton.

At this rate, we'll be seeing the Gold Blend couple, Dutch rockers Golden Earring, Blue Peter dog Goldie and branches of 'relaxed' 70's restaurant 'Golden Egg' popping up around The Valley.

George Tucudean could have scored Charlton's now seemingly 'traditional' early goal in the 6th minute,  his header going wide after Cousins' precise cross.
Wolves wasted some good chances, especially former Charlton failure Leon Clarke. 
With his back to goal, the impressive Henry looped a spectacular 13th minute effort. Thankfully it was nudged over the bar by Henderson as the game ebbed and flowed.
Charlton did score first through Andre Bikey-Amougou's 25th-minute volley. Not the best goal of the season so far but certainly the best celebration.  For a big boned bloke his gymnastic tumbling had remarkable grace.
It was almost 2-0 within moments but Tucudean sprayed his shot wide, then later he copied one of my trademarked golf air shots when he had the goal at his mercy.
At half time Charlton were 1-0 up but it seemed clear the 'gold standard' chances that had been fluffed would probably come back to bite us on the bum.
Of course it came to pass that Charlton's defence was finally breached, though Henderson will be disappointed he didn't manage to keep the ball out. 
From our angle, it seemed rather odd when the Wolves supporters were jumping about as it looked as if Henderson had clawed the ball away.

Once Wolves scored, they were lifted, Batth getting the final touch.

Though it did seem Wolves were now moving forwards with more aggression and purpose, Charlton were still having their own moments too.

Unfortunately, the referee now chose to have his worst period of the game, missing or choosing to ignore some bad challenges and transgressions.

When he did notice something, it was odds on it would be to the benefit of the visitors, even if exactly the same thing had happened moments before and he'd waved play on despite the Charlton support howling in protest.

With seconds to go, he very nearly completely blew it for Charlton when a rash challenge then a blatant handball within 2 seconds of each other were waved away, only for Wolves to break clear.

Had they scored, and arguably they really should have done, it would have been a travesty as a draw was a fair result.

Both teams gave a good account of themselves and even though it was Charlton's worst home result of the season, it was hardly a disaster.

An indication of how far things have changed in recent months is that many fans were disappointed at only getting a draw from the visit of one of the teams at the top of the table.

Heady days.

I'm off to eat some Golden Graham's with Gold Top poured on before heading to bed.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Golden Boys Humbled

Charlton Athletic 1 - Watford 0

I'm not trying to say there's anything remotely advantageous about having your club nickname as a nondescript creature of the sea that's famous for being 'battered', - (a haddock is highly unlikely to strike fear in anybody other than those with a seafood aversion) - but surely the 'Golden Boys' must be the campest name in the division?

The Golden Boys take the train to Charlton.

Pre game, those Watford supporters who spend time on social media had been ridiculously upbeat and confident. Apparently, the simple fact they were selling out the 3000 seats in the Jimmy Seed stand with it's excellent acoustics meant that Charlton wouldn't know what hit us.

As we know to our cost, time and time again we have saved up some of our worst and most dispiriting performances for when we have taken the largest away followings.  
Watford should have taken note.

The game started with a bang. 
Jordan Cousins caught the Watford midfield napping and slipped the ball through to Igor who nipped into the penalty area to be brought crashing to the turf by a desperate Gomes dive.
The penalty was not in dispute. Gomes received a card though many neutrals would have expected it to be red as Vetokele was denied a clear goal scoring opportunity.

Three minutes on the clock and Charlton were 1-0 up after Buyens cooly placed the penalty to the other side of Gomes despairing dive.

Watford came back almost instantly with the ridiculously easy to dislike Troy Deeney scraping the post within moments.

Watford stepped it up a gear. While never really looking like they were going to get the better of a well organised and solid defence, they made some good chances.
Much like Brighton did in our last outing they also gave a master class in duff finishing.

On ten minutes, three sides of the ground made a moving tribute to ex player and fans favourite David Whyte (Whyte, Whyte), who died at just age 43 earlier in the week. 
To their credit, a high proportion of the Watford support joined in. 
Well done to them.

Around half an hour into the game, Deeney showed Tal Ben Haim a clean pair of heels and drove into the penalty area. It looked dangerous but he waited until his control of the ball was beginning to fail before falling to the turf. On another day he'd have won himself a penalty but the referee wasn't convinced by the rather hopeful tumble.

Despite the numerous changes in management up in Hertfordshire, there is still a rather cynical and nasty side to the way Watford play. The diving, blocking runners off the ball, holding etc etc are still there when with the squad they have, they could tear up the division playing the beautiful game. 
Watford decided they were going to play ugly -an obvious tactic was to foul the 'danger man' Igor Vetokele whenever they got the chance.

The games between our two teams in recent years have often ended up with the Watford players losing their cool. It looked for a while as if it would be a certain bet that there'd be a bit of a ruck and someone would get their marching orders.
The fact that nobody did was amazing. 

A Watford player received a yellow for swinging his elbow with force and guided direction to connect with a face. How is that not a red?
It seemed very odd that Cousins received the same punishment for telling the hapless referee he'd made an horlicks of awarding a goal kick when everybody else in the ground (and watching on television) could see it was a corner.

As much as Watford huffed and puffed, they never really got going. They bossed the possession and had countless assaults on goal but the Charlton defence stood solid. 
Whenever there was a chink in the defence, Henderson was there to block the path to goal.

Henderson and Bikey were my MoM contenders. 
Both were immense.  I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a Bikey challenge and some of the Watford players did seem rather 'anxious' to lay the ball off when he came close.
His clearing headers had power and distance.

In added on time, Charlton should have put the game to bed but some terrible player decisions and aversion to shooting only lead to losing possession and Watford haring up the other end to try yet again to break down the defensive wall.

After an eternity of added on time, the referee finally blew his whistle, we let out a deep sigh and The Valley rose as one.

The Watford support had long since stopped believing- forgetting to support their team and resorting to "Your ground's too big for you!" chanting.

Irony piled upon irony. 
This was coming from Watford, a place notorious as being one of the worst venues to watch football in the league. A ground with only three sides and the highlight being you get a decent view of the allotments.

Never mind eh?

Personally, I was extremely happy to get a result as my birthday had been the day before the game.
It may be a trick of my mind (and in all honesty I can't be bothered to look it up) but it did seem that we always got a bit of a tonking when football played a part in my birthday weekend.

I'd like to thank the Golden Boys for adding the cherry on top of my birthday cake.