Tuesday, September 28, 2004

To the Londoners 1-0

This was the chant of the Covered End after the first goal scored for the Addicks by Talakl El Karkouri just after half time gave the Addicks a 1-0 victory over Blackburn at The Valley, propelling Charlton to 7th place in the Premiership. Charlton managed to hold on to their lead and might have won by a bigger margin if it had not been for good chances which were not taken by Kevin Lisbie. Driving back up the M40, I was surprised to hear Charlton's performance described as 'indifferent' by Radio 5. There are certainly still some deficiencies, but it was a great improvement on the performance against Southampton. The players were up for it, there was no hoofing the ball up the pitch, they managed to keep hold of the ball and the passing was often neat and accurate.

Because of a late start because of work commitments, delays on the Chiltern Line and just missing two buses at the Dome, I arrived a couple of minutes late to see Charlton win a corner. This was followed by a second, but despite a scramble and muddle in front of the Blackburn goal, it was unproductive. Although Blackburn looked like a team from the lower end of the table, they were capable of mounting threatening attacks and an early one saw the ball come off Deano's post.

Blackburn's approach was highly physical, scything down Charlton players at every opportunity and Jeffers seems to have suffered from a tackle that resulted in a free kick. In any event he was withdrawn on 13 minutes and replaced by JJ (rather than Euell). Let's hope that Jeffers is fit for Saturday.

Deano made a good save from an attack that I thought had been mounted from an offside position. Every time a player took a throw in they seemed to be in danger from a Sky camera placed perilously behind them. As the Bloke Behind Me screamed 'that's a bad ball', Charlton won a corner. From the resulting play goal machine Luke Young was able to put in a long range shot that was Charlton's best effort of the half and went just over the top of Friedel's bar.

Charlton persist in playing the ball back to Deano when he never looks too comfortable with it and it would probably be better to play it forward. However, a positive aspect of Charlton's play was the number of effective tackles they were making. Luke Young and Kevin Lisbie combined well to win the Addicks a corner, but it was unproductive. As the half drew to a close, Fortune conceded a corner but it ended in a free kick given to Charlton for an infringement.

Half time: Charlton 0, Blackburn 0

Pitch announcer Brian Cole got into a muddle with the name of the Jimmy Seed Stand at half time, but quickly bounced back, although he never got the wave he requested from the Junior Reds supposedly in Stand Seed.

Charlton started brightly and El Karkouri forged forward and provided a good ball to Kevin Lisbie. One on one with Friedel, he managed to put his shot wide. On 49 minutes a corner from Murphy was met by the head of El Karkouri and his downward effort gave Friedel no chance to make a save.

Going behind seemed to revitalise the visitors and Deano had to leap to push a shot from Flitcroft over the bar with his fingertips. The resultant corner ended in a Charlton throw in. Another Blackburn corner was only partially cleared and a Blackburn free kick resulted in a huge scramble in front of goal in which at least six players were involved. Somehow or other the Herminator managed to clear the ball off the line.

Blackburn kept up the pressure. A Blackburn corner was headed away but only partially cleared and the visitors won a second. Deano should have come out for a second Blackburn corner and they won a third. This led to a Blackburn throw in, a free kick and then another corner. As Blackburn attacked again, Fortune made a good interception and got the ball out of play.

Blackburn won a free kick in a dangerous position but Deano made the save. Graham Stuart put in a cross that JJ failed to connect with and opinion around me was divided about whether it was a poor cross or JJ failed to anticipate the opportunity and did not position himself well. Blackburn manager Mark Hughes, who had received ironic cheers from the crowd for his eagerness to return the ball for throw ins, decided to take off the ineffective Stead and replace him by Jas Bothroyd, a household name in his own family. Flitcroft was replaced by Tugay who was greeted with a chorus of boos. Blackburn had a penalty shout when the Herminator appeared to handle the ball, but this time referee Dunn's poor night vision worked in Charlton's favour.

On 75 minutes Curbs pulled off Hughes in favour of Kishishev while the sub was subbed with Euell replacing JJ. After another dubious free kick award by Dunn, Graham Stuart was booked, presumably for dissent. Lisbie made a run forward, but hesitated fatally in front of goal and the chance was lost. Charlton were comfortably in control in the three minutes of time added on, condeding no corners that would have allowed Friedel to repeat his goal scoring feat of last year. There was some confusion at the end of the match when Tugay was booked by Dunn and the ball boys and girls thought that his whistle meant that it was over and started to come on to the pitch.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Talal el Karkouri. for his winning goal but also his efforts in forging forward. It was another clean sheet for Deano who made some good saves and only kicked the ball off the pitch once. Perry was solid in defence, although he did come close to giving away free kicks in dangerous positions once or twice. Fortune did his job well. Young was involved and effective, winning the ball. It was another excellent performance by Hreidarsson his defensive skills being in demand. Graham Stuart was a contender for the Silver Bone, but all the energy and effort he expended, usually to good effect, meant that he faded as the game went on. Steve from Sidcup thinks that Hughes is lightweight and, although he played his part, I didn't see a great deal to impress me in this performance. Murphy seems to be slotting into the team better, combining well with other players and showing his class. Lisbie played his part in the game, but it is frustrating to have a striker who seems to be incapable of seizing golden goal scoring opportunities. Jeffers was on for too short a period to make an assessment. JJ achieved very little after he came on. Kishishev made no errors and combined well with Murphy on one occasion. Euell had one possible goal scoring opportunity but in general added little in an admittedly short spell on the pitch.

Juneau the Soccer Cat had no hesitation in giving the Hiss of the Match to referee Steve Dunn. He was booed off the pitch after being the recipient of various chants about his incompetence, his onanistic practices and his rear end. He gave the Addicks plenty of free kicks in the first half but received ironic cheers when he gave them one in the second, missing no opportunity to blow up on behalf of the visitors.

Crowd rating Southampton was our worst attendance for three years. The larger crowd did manage to get going more effectively. 7/10.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago this weekend the Addicks faced Notts County now at the bottom of League Two. County went 2-0 ahead, and when Charlton got a goal back through David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte, the hapless Paul Sturgess managed to put the ball into his own net. But that skilled 'journeyman footballer' Gary Nelson managed to score in the 84th and 86th minutes to make it 3-3. Mike Ammann had been dropped since the 3-2 defeat at Stoke City and Petterson was now in goal. There was a double substitution on 71 minutes with Kim Grant replacing Newts and 'Fatty' Garland coming on in place of Walsh. The referee was Neale Barry.

Paul Sturgess displays an exciting new shirt with the author of this blog

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's Grims-by oop North

Tuesday night, a 450 mile round trip, playing Grimsby in a cup competition that Charlton notoriously don't do well in. This is one trip that really had to be done, writes Goodbye Horse's Kevin Portch.

Away from the sterile stadia and atmosphere of Premiership grounds, Blundell Park with its black and white floodlight pylons is real old school stuff. No more 'Where is the ground?', it's obvious because of the metal structures rising above the local housing.

I say housing because there really is very little more in the vicinity. A few shops, a pub next to the ground that we were waened to stay away from, and not a proper fish and chip restaurant within a ten minute walk. For a while it felt like we were in a vegan-Quaker town, until we found The Leaking Boot, the pub normally frequented by away supporters.

There wasn't the usual buzz of excitement this time, but then I guess it's hard to get too excited when there is only a dozen of you chatting and trying to avoid the attentions of one local drunk who insisted on making us say 'Gorr Blimey' and a non-league groundhopper who wants to tell you how many Highland League grounds he visited in one season.

Of course what we weren't aware of was that visitors to Blundell Park have their own little bar with seats and a TV. Only thing that really hurt was that the bar was named 'Scotties', reminding us of one of our former heroes - the people wearing parkas didn't help either. Oh well, it protected from the wind and served beer.

What they didn't warn us of though was that 'Super' Clive Mendonca was making an appearance on the pitch before the game so a large section of Charlton fans missed out on giving the man their full attention because they were trying to down their pints before facing the cold cross winds blowing across the ground. The thought was there, though.

And so to the 90 minutes that threatens to spoil a good day out. Or were we to repeat past performances and go through the punishment of extra time and a journey home bemoaning the lack of commitment shown against lower league opposition?

Both teams started fairly brightly and on seven minutes Herman Hreidarsson ran at the Grimsby defence with the ball at his feet only to be brought down just outside the 18 yard box. Danny Murphy and Talal el Karkouri lined up to take the free kick which was dispatched with pin point accuracy by the former in the top corner to the goalkeeper's right. The Addicks were one up with only seven minutes gone. Could this be the rout that the 150 (yes, that's right) travelling supporters were after?

Of course it couldn't. A cross from the left by Hreidarsson on 14 minutes looked promising as Hughes ran into the box to shoot but volleyed well wide. One wondered why Jeffers wasn't there to connect with it, but he remained fairly anonymous for at least 25 minutes of the first half.

Grismby were causing a few problems for the Charlton defence and attacked with pace and a lot more determination than their Premiership opponents. On 14 minutes a shot just wide had the Mariners fans in the main stand on their feet thinking they had scored. Three minutes later a lob over Kiely - he obviously knew it was safe - hit the bar and luckily rebounded into Deano's arms.

Kiely was also called into action on 22 minutes saving well to his left with the follow up going just wide. Three minutes later he tipped the ball over the bar from a sharp Grimsby header, resulting in a few uncomfortable minutes as Charlton defended three successive Grimsby corners.

Five minutes later before the break a stray arm accidentally caught Francis Jeffers in the face, resulting in treatment being needed in the dressing room - either that or he just wanted to get out of the cold. His return to action saw him in a plain yellow shirt with no number or name on his back making him more anonymous than befoe. While all this was going on Luke Young made a well timed defensive tackle, injuring himself in the process and ending any further participation for the club's newest goal-machine.

Kishishev replaced Young for the second half, playing in the right back position. Things continued pretty much as in the first half, with Grimsby looking more determined and committed. Once again Charlton's passing was frequently intercepted and many first touches were so bad that the Grimsby players simply stole the ball off the Charlton players' toes.

There were some moments when Charlton controlled the ball well and retained possession in the midfield and defensive areas, passing back and forth waiting for an opening that rarely came. Most of the attacking opportunities fell again to the Mariners, their number 9, Reddy, looking particularly dangerous. A couple of Grismby penalty appeals were turned down but a foul by El Karkouri in a dangerous position resulted in the Grimsby free kick being driven straight into the wall.

Years of being on the receiving end of bad decisions as 'the little club' seemed to be paying off as the referee (A Mariner) regularly turned down their appeals much to the great disappointmnt of the Grimsby fans in the audience of 5735.

It was the Charlton players who were similarly dropping though when, at around the hour mark the apparently injured Jon Fortune was replaced by Jason Euell. [Since when has Euell been a centre back? WG] 10 minutes later, Kevin Lisbie replaced a fairly lightweight JJ. This injection of front men still resulted in no shots on target until 10 minutes before the end when Charlton broke out from a Grimsby attack. Euell's speculative hoof upfield from the edge of the Charlton box found Kevin Lisbie on the halfway line. He played a great ball out right to Francis Jeffers who brilliantly put the ball past the keeper into the far side of the net.

This didn't dampen the Mariners' enthusiasm who immediately went back on the attack forcing Kiely into another low save to his left. Brilliant stuff from the Charlton keeper, but was it really necessary for his defence to allow him to be put under that much pressure?

A late double substitution by Grimsby still couldn't help their cause and a late third for Charlton was ruled out for offside. 3 minutes of time added on felt comfortable. Perhaps we really were going to make it through to the next round.

Whoever we get, we should make the most of it. On this sort of performance we will see our League Cup record continue as it has done since ... since ... well, since it started really. We were lucky to get away with this one and have to thank Dean Kiely for keeping us in the competition. We had two shots on target and scored two goals. It wouldn't have been surprising if Grimsby had scored four or five. We struggled to get some of the basics right and came out of it with a fortunate win, although one would hope that Charlton could have stepped up a gear if needed. Two well taken goals is encouraging and hopefully will give the team a bit of impetus for the coming Premiership matches.

Man of the match for me would have to be the tall Grimsby number 9, Reddy, for his pace, his work-rate and the amount he worried the Charlton defence. Of course, to counter that, Deano was Charlton's man of the match, keeping out so many shots and kicking well despite the cross wind.

All in all, a successful trip, but I was left wondering about our next trip to Grimsby. Some of the Charlton fans were asked by stewards to sit down, which they happily refused to do. Totally irresponsible. What will happen of they reduce our allocation for the next match? I'll tell you what will happen.

The 150 fans who go will all be a lot more cosy.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Addicks to play in Kettrin'

Charlton fans were shocked by the news in tonight's E mail bulletin that Wednesday's away reserve match against Leicester City has been moved from the Crisp Bowl to the Rocking Horse Road stadium of Kettrin' Town. Because of an A14 closure on Saturday we had to detour through Kettrin' and saw at first hand the stable population that has bred in this 'stand alone' town for centuries.

It is not widely known that President George Bush included Kettrin' in the Axis of Evil after UN inspectors had reported that they had found chemical and biological substances being passed off as tea and soup stockpiled in the Rocking Horse snack bar. It was reported that the pies were frozen solid in the centre, yet full of boiling hot toxic tasting gravy on the outside.

Kettrin' has also been involved in its own effort to enter the space race with its Uranus 1 spacecraft. The objective of the mission was to ascertain whether intelligent life forms can be found in another galaxy given the lack of them in Kettrin'. The craft was manned by the most intelligent creature that could be found in Kettrin' - a stray dog that had been found outside the ground of Raunds Town.

I've never been to Cleethorpes ...

And work commitments stop me going tomorrow. Congratulations to those like Kevin Portch who are making the trek. In the meantime, there's a very nice piece about us (and Sir Clive) on one of the Grimsby sites:

Sunday, September 19, 2004

We came for a point and we got it

We came for a point and we got it, writes Black Country correspondentGraham Speller. Making three changes from the dreadful display against Southampton earlier in the week, Curbishley sent his team out with the resolve to get at least a point from the match. We nearly nicked all three. Out went Euell, Jeffers and Rommedahl, and in came JJ, El Karkouri and, returning to his former club, Hughes.

Within the first ten minutes the confidence as growing that this was a different team than previously took the field. The defence coped admirably with a through ball from Savage, while raids down the left wing with JJ being particularly strong, led to two successive corners on the ten minute mark. El Karkouri was a source of strength in midfield and Murphy was starting to put some passes together.

An early free kick by Savage was easily dealt with by a five man wall and Perry gave Heskey little room to turn. Kish did well to head away a through ball within giving away a corner, while in midfield the battle was evenly balanced. Referee U Rennie overruled his assistant to unleash a verbal attack from TBBM to remind us why Rennie had been demoted to the lower leagues.

A good run by JJ left Savage on the floor, only for the attack to come to nothing. Either Lisbie couldn't get forward or he was playing to orders. Neither keeper had to make a serious save in the first 30 minutes. A number of corners conceded in the last quarter of hour before half time showed that the Blues were starting to dominate, but the defence held firm and they had difficulty in breaking us down. A foul by Kish just outside the box on the left wing put us under pressure and the free kick this time was accurate and true. Deano did well to stop the shot with his fists for a firm clearance.

A good run by Lisbie was all in vain as there was no one to help. A little disappoining as with just a little more ambition the game was there for the taking. Where were Jeffers and Rommedahl when you needed them? The one additional minute at the end of the half was played without any further action and at half time we were all square at 0-0 with the feeling that we could just nick this one. Quite a contrast to Monday's performance.

HT: Blews 0, Addicks 0

Blues started the second half raiding our left wing, winning throw-ins that were launched into the box but without any real threat, as the defence under the leadership of Perry was coping well. When they didn't clear Deano was on his game to pick up the pieces with clean catches at corners and saves at the feet of the raiding Birmingham strikers. JJ and Young combined well to give hope that a goal might come our way.

Murphy battled well in midfield and won a ball which fed out to JJ on the right wing. Reaching the by line JJ slipped the ball across the face of goal to a fast approaching Lisbie who failed to connect by inches. It confused the keeper who let it slip under his body for Young to slip it into the corner of the net.

The advantage was further enhanced when JJ was cruelly brought to ground in the centrre circle when making good progress towards their goal with a Blues defence that was stretched. For his trouble, Johnson was sent off. This enlivened the Blues side and Deano had to be sharp off his line to save from Morrison while a cross from the left wing flashed across our bar.

At the other end a good run by Lisbie won a corner and Murphy found Hreidarsson's head but he couldn't direct it towards the goal. JJ raided the left wing, made it inside the box and passed all along the goal line only for the ball to be cleared. Another goal at this stage would have secured all three points. A double substitution by Steve Bruce changed the balance and we conceded three corners in quick succession and, from the last, Yorke outjumped the defence to equalise.

This unleashed a chorus of 'S*** on the Villa' and as someone with an interest in education in the City, I wonder just how effectively the Literacy Strategy is being taught in our schools?!

At this stage it was difficult to understand which team is down to ten men and with fifteen minutes to go you just start to wonder if all the hard work will be undone. Substitutions by Curbishley brought Rommedahl and Euell on for El Karkouri and Lisbie in an attempt to redress the balance. Hreidarsson had a good run down the left and the resulting attempt flashed over the bar. Euell fired wide of the left hand post with his back to goal after being fed by JJ. Rommedahl played down the middle and confused both the Blues defence and us, and Murphy scooped a shot over the bar. The substitutions has shifted the balance back to us. Just makes you wonder what would have happened of they had been made earlier? 27,400 fans left the ground with an equal degree of satisfaction.

A good point to win, but perhaps with a little more ambition we might have nicked all three. After the debacle that was last Monday against Southampton, I'll settle for that.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone was given to the team performance as fears were beginning to grow that we would struggle this season on evidence up to this game. The match showed we were able to play at the level achieved last season and that a win against Blackburn at The Valley next week will show the revival is complete. Deano was back to himself. Young two goals in three games shows Luke Warm is hotting up. Perry a commanding performance. Fortune ok. HH another step towards cult status. Kish ok. Murphy best performance by far with tackles won and distribution starting to flow. El Karkouri bolstered the mid field really well. Hughes the sort of player Curbs loves, neat, tidy, skillful, but time will tell whether he can impact on a game to tip the balance. JJ best performance for a long time, won loads in the air and good runs into the box. Lisbie did well in parts but missing the last five per cent, needs to get another goal quick to strengthen his credibility. Euell can't pass, fouls when he tackles, the jury is out on this one. Rommedahl not enough time to have a great impact, an under used strength of the squad.

Hiss of the Match The steward who directed me to the home end! This did nothing to quell fears that an original broad South London accent has netamorphosed into a Brummie drawl!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Brighter Charlton share the spoils

A much changed and considerably livelier Charlton side shared the spoils with Birmingham City at St.Andrew's, although it was unfortunate that the Blews matched Luke Young's opener after they had been reduced to ten men. Our Black County correspondent Graham Speller will be writing a full report tomorrow, but phoned in his first impressions as we got caught up in the mayhem at Nene Park (see below). The long time Black Country resident was asked by the South London Press how to get to the ground on the assumption that he was a local and then when he got to the ground was intially denied admittance to the Charlton area and sent to the home side.

Curbs dropped Jeffers and Rommedahl and played Lisbie and JJ down the right. Lisbie made a number of good runs forward and JJ provided the assist for the Charlton goal. El Karkouri started in midfield, showing the qualities of adaptability that led Curbs to purchase his services. The overall result was much more fluent passing among the Addicks, while the Blews relied on long balls to Heskey and Morrison and Graham Speller thought that Charlton could have nicked it if they had scored by half time. However, it was 0-0 at the break.

On 50 minutes a cross from JJ slipped under Taylor and Luke Young showed no hesitation in tapping in his second goal of the season. On 58 minutes Johnson picked up his second yellow card of the game and was sent off. Bruce brought on Dwight Yorke to replace defender Cunningham and on 68 minutes he scored his first goal for the club after connecting with a corner. Charlton were then under the cosh but held on for a well deserved point. Read Graham Speller's full report on Sunday.

Meanwhile, it all goes off at Rushden

I thought there would be little or no trouble at a League 3 game in rural Northamptonshire in front of a crowd of a little over 2,600. However, in the first half a refined Cheltenham supporter had to be carried off struggling by four police officers. In the second half, the game came to a halt when the referee (Flt. Lt. Kettle) suddenly took himself off, a call was made for a doctor to go to the tunnel and soon afterwards ambulance sirens were heard leaving the ground. An appeal had to be made for a fourth official. Tension continued in the Cheltenham section of the Airwair and when we got round to behind the De Banke Terrace we found it all going off between the police and a group of Cheltenham supporters. As one was assisted into a police van, he directed spittle in my direction. Afterwards we saw a group of Cheltenham fans being escorted by the police as they headed into the heart of Irthlingborough. This was, of course, meant to be fair play day in football. By the way, Rushden won 1-0 with a goal from Millwall reject Braniff.

Ten Years Ago: do you remember this match?

Ten years ago this weekend Charlton beat Swindon 1-0 at The Valley in a front of a crowd of 9,420 (just short of Target 10,000). Here are my recollections of that day: 'Collected Claudio from Kenilworth at 11, quite busy on M1/M25, stopped just short of Dartford Bridge, took a long time to get back in. Traffic very heavy through Welling. Parked in Canberra Road. We had excellent seats in the East Stand. Swindon started well and hit the crossbar, but then Whyte scored for Charlton in the twelth minute. Charlton showed some excellent ball play and had some near misses in the first half which they dominated. Swindon came back strongly in the second half. One goal was disallowed and they they thought they had a claim for a penalty [the referee was one Steve Dunn]. I thought one of them might hit the referee. Leaburn came on in the 69th minute after a period of injury [He replaced Mark Robson whose on the ball skills had impressed my Italian friend]. The last few minutes were very exciting with both teams attacking. Sturgess seemed to be unpopular with the crowd.'

This match was my return to The Valley. I had intended to be back before then, but my mother (a keen Charlton fan known for her shouts of 'dirty ref') had been ill in Cornwall for the last few years and had died in August.

I have kept my 'Valley Review' from that day. The front page promotes Clubcall with Mark Robson declaring 'I am not renowned for scoring with my right peg'. Editor 'Scoop' Burrowes has a full page article 'Let's have fair play' which notes the appointment of a 'lady linesman', Mrs Wendy Toms. The 'management' page is by Steve Gritt who is portrayed as the proud owner of a M Reg Ford Mondeo. There is a 'head to head' feature with Mickey Bennett, eager to regain his first team spot. Marketing man Steve Dixon promises 'it won't be long before we've got some new videos to tempt you with.' Keeper Mike Ammann was portrayed in a new goalkeeping kit which looked as if had been designed by throwing many colours of paint at a wall. Fans were invited to sign up for a free Charlton pager with 'only a monthly service charge'. Apparently when the club made a 'big new signing' you would get a message to ring clubcall.

Why I'm not going to Birmingham

The 'Blews' ground is only 45 minutes up the road, but I am heading to Nene Park for Rushden v. Cheltenham this afternoon. I would rather see Charlton, but I have had too many bad experiences at St.Andrew's in the past. It's all very well to say don't wear colours when once you open your mouth it's clear that you don't have a Brummie accent. However, I have found a Midland Addick who has lived there so long he speaks with a local accent so he will be delivering a report on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Addicks booed off after bore draw

Two wins, two losses, one draw, tenth in the table, one place above Manchester United. Surely not such a bad start to the season. However, three of those performances have been dire and one of them was at The Valley on Monday night when the Addicks were booed off the pitch after a 0-0 bore draw with Southampton. The Saints were far from impressive and may well struggle this season, but it was a lacklustre performance by a Charlton side seemingly lacking in confidence. The team lacked shape with the midfield apparently absent for much of the game. The few attacks that were mounted ended in failure. An ability to penetrate down the left with Hreidarsson and Rommedahl was in evidence, but on the few occasions that the Saints defence was tackled head on, it quickly crumbled. But the inspiration and the ideas seemed lacking. One things that has become clear is how important Matt Holland is to our midfield play. The fact that Deano was made captain perhaps says something about the lack of inspirational figures in the team.

I felt gloomy about the match after a difficult journey down. An accident on the M40 meant taking a detour to reach High Wycombe station and then the doors on the train had to be shut with a kick from the driver at each stop. We arrived in time for the match, but without a chance for a drink at the pub beforehand.

The announcement that one of the mascots was for Donegal led to a hope that we might benefit from the luck of the Irish, but it was not to be. Indeed, the whole tone of the game was set when Charlton kicked off and quickly surrendered the ball to a Saints throw in. The Addicks showed an inability throughout the game to keep possession and to string more than the occasional few passes together. Charlton won an early corner, but like all those that followed, it was unproductive. Big new Saints signing Jakobson became the first player this season to belt the ball over the East Stand roof. Niemi saved from Jeffers and a burst by Rommedahl down the left won the Addicks another corner. A Saints corner produced chaos in the Charlton goalmouth, the first of a number of times during the evening. A Charlton corner, a Rommedahl run down the left and a Charlton corner won by the Herminator all led to nothing. Indeed, the Bloke Beside Me remarked that the main excitement so far had been the foul throw ins by Southampton which were studiously ignored by the officials.

Charlton's ragged performance continued, although there were a few signs of life in the last ten minutes of the half, although many of them came from Southampton. Beattie managed to carve a path through the Addicks defence, but his shot was straight at Deano. Jason Euell had a half chance, but was unable to make anything of it.

Half time: Addicks 0, Saints 0

Not surprisingly, there were no half time highlights on the 'big screen'. Instead we were treated by the sight of Southampton's current caretaker manager, who apparently managed Aldershot at one time, bringing out his players early for some practice at winning the ball.

Jeffers drew a save at the post from Niemi, but his well placed ball was never going to go in. A free kick was awarded against Fortune, but it was cleared. The hapless Kishishev was removed in favour of Hughes. Perhaps it might have been better to bring on Konchesky who might have injected some fire and passion into a lifeless game. Deano tipped a fierce shot over the bar and the Saints managed to win three corners in succession. Jason Euell managed to forge through, but his effort went wide. Jeffers was taken off in favour of JJ, a decision that was booed by the crowd. Bringing JJ on was perhaps sensible given our lack of height up front, but perhaps Lisbie should have gone. An immediate run by JJ won Charlton a corner, but this led to nothing. Rommedahl and Murphy combined well to pile on the pressure and won Charlton another corner.

Southampton withdrew Darren Kenton who had been decisively outwitted throughou the game by Rommedahl, but Rommedahl himself was soon replaced by El Karkouri. In the meantime, the Saints had won a corner after a decisive intervention by Fortune had stopped what would have probably been a goal. The last phase of the game saw Southampton piling on the pressure again with two Saints corners in the three minutes added on and chaos once again reigning in the Charlton goalmouth,

The Bloke Behind Me was forecasting a 6-0 defeat by Arsenal. I am confident in Charlton's ability to raise their game against a top side. However, as at Manchester City, Charlton managed to make a poor side look good, although individually Southampton have some good players. The defence did look more solid than at the Blue Camp, but something needs to be done about the organisation of the midfield and the team as a whole has to re-gain its confidence.

Silver Bone for Deano

Match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound awarded the Silver Bone to Deano to add to what is probably the biggest collection at the club. The keeper made a number of saves that kept Charlton in the game. Fortune had a better game than usual, making one decisive intervention. The returning Perry was not particularly prominent, but did his job competently enough. Luke Young was not that much in evidence, but did not commit any howlers either. Despite one poor moment when he sent what should have been a cross soaring off the pitch, Hreidrasson was one of the better players, marauding down the left flank. Kishishev was in headless chicken mode, roaring all over the pitch to little or no effect. No one wonder he was the first player to be pulled off. Murphy continues to disappoint, although he started to look better when he started to occupy a clear central midfield position which up to then often seemed to have been left vacant. Rommedahl used his speed to good effect on occasion, but either there was no one to connect with his crosses from the left or they were not accurate enough. Euell played little part in the game until he moved from an attacking midfield role to being a striker after Jeffers came off. Lisbie was too often muscled off the ball by stronger opponents. Jeffers often seem to be isolated way up at front and his one serious effort was relatively easily dealt witg by Niemi. Hughes claimed in the programme that he wanted to make an impact on the team, but there was little evidence of what that might be when he came on. JJ made little impact after his appearance, apart from one run. El Karkouri was not greatly in evidence after he came on, but at least his contribution was error free.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to all three officials who had difficulty in recognising foul throws and hand balls.

Crowd rating: There were plenty of empty seats around The Valley and there will be more if performances don't improve. Even the away support was depleted and for once didn't out shout the Addickted for most of the time. But it was a tepid crowd reaction to a tepid performance on the pitch. 5/10.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Your match analyst tonight

With the South Coast flavour to tonight's encounter, Hants born Homer the Cherry Hound is standing in for senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch. We are forecasting 2-1 to the Addicks.

Lugubrious labrador Homer the Cherry Hound

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I don't like Mondays! Joe the Saint's preview

Joe the Saint writes from Hythe, Hants: Probably the most ridiculous day of the week to stage a game from the point of view of the travelling fan. But it seems that the armchair viewer is deemed more important today than the turnstile punter. Perhaps the FA, Sky and the advertisters should insist that all Man Utd. games are played on a Monday night to guarantee the sorts of ratings that only soaps and Big Brother pull in nowadays. Mind you, the tv schedule following the matches could be thrown into turmoil if the magic watch owned by Sir Alex decides that five minutes injury time is insufficient to allow his latest reserve striker to equalise ...

On the subject of Big Brother, us Saints fans have our very own version of big brother here at St.Mary's at the moment. Unfortunately, he's more the Orwellian version rather than the exhibitionist loonies in a house version. The treatment of managers under his tenure has been nothing short of a disgrace. Including Monday's game, the last three games between the Addicks and the Saints since last season's 3-2 cracker at St.Mary's in December have seen three different managers in the Saints dugout! How would a top class manager like Curbs last under Rupert's regime? You Addicks should count your blessings. Most Saints fans probably haven't a clue who your chairman is (me included), but I'll bet every Charlton fan can name ours. Say no more ...

As for the match The Valley has never been a lucky ground for Saints. We haven't returned home with 3 points from SE7 since Boxing Day 1977. Having said that, a wave of optimism has suddenly come over me. Well, we don't have Shaka Hislop in goal for a start. Prediction? 1-1, which is about as optimistic as it gets at St.Mary's at the moment ...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Ten Years Ago

On 10th September Charlton were away to Grimsby in front of a crowd of 3,970: we go to Cleethorpes again for the Carling Cup in ten days or so, but this time as a Premiership side. A Mark Robson goal on 58 minutes gave the Addicks a 1-0 victory. American Mike Ammann was in goal. On September 14th the Addicks went down 3-2 to Stoke at the Victoria Ground. The home side went 3-0 ahead. Gary Nelson and David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte pulled back goals in 72 and 77 minutes respectively, but Charlton couldn't force a draw.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Sign him up! He's the fastest thing on the pitch

That was the cry that went up at Harbury Lane tonight as a rabbit twice ran on to the pitch during the game against Bolehall Swifts, outpacing even 'streak of lightning' Josh Blake. The Tamworth side put up a strong fight but eventually went down 2-0 to the superior strength of the Brakes.

Sam Bartram is an icon in Chicago

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the leading department store in Chicago, Marshall Fields, and was confronted by a large photo of Sam Bartram. He was in his kit in front of the old stand. There was no context - it wasn't the sporstwear section. Of course, we have some famous Addicks in Chicago - director Mike Stevens and the Chicago Addick with his blog - but the presence of the photo remains a mystery.

I tried to get a Chicago Fire soccer shirt for one of my sons-in-law. Baseball and American football kit were all over the place, but no sign of a soccer shirt. 'That's a good question', said the salesman in Sears Roebuck when I asked him where I could find one. There was a game between Chicago Fire and DC United on Saturday night, but I couldn't make it.

I was invited for champagne at the British Consul's apartment in the 'Gold Coast'. 61 floors up with a two storey room with a picture window on two sides with views of the Lake and the city. Drinking at night on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower was also fun.

The convention I attended had a panel on the 'Blogosphere'. Apparently, I'm part of that! Why not see what the Chicago Addick has to say?

  • Chicago Addick