Charlton's lack of fire power up front was painfully obvious in their 1-0 defeat by bottom club Norwich at Carrow Road. Dennis Rommedahl had managed to create some potentially promising situations for Charlton down the wings, even if his crosses were often not as good as his approach work. However, even when the ball did get into the area there was often no one positioned to finish the job off. Indeed, the person who came the nearest to scoring was midfielder Danny Murphy who hit the post from a free kick.
Charlton's defence had coped well for much of the game, aided by two bad misses by the Canaries. With an away point in sight, Charlton gave way to late winning goal specialists Norwich on 88 minutes. Former Addick Matthias Svensson was warmly applauded by the Addickted when he had come on a sub towards the close of the game and some were gracious enough to applaud him when he scored the winning goal. At the end of the game he and Deano embraced warmly.
Unfortunately, the loss cannot be treated as part three of the plan to relegate Palace, as the Croydon team beat Liverpool 1-0 at home.
We had a good run over to Norwich and parked up in County Hall. We found ourselves walking down a bosky lane. The bucolic atmosphere was emphasised at the end of the game when I saw a mud spattered 4-by-4 driving away. Soon the splendid Norwich Cathedral was in view and it was difficult to believe that this was the home of a Premiership club.
The pitch was given a real soaking beforehand (and at half time), a practice which in my opinion should be regulated. Understandably, Norwich had a canary as a mascot, but there also appeared to be a garishly coloured cat. So why didn't the cat try and eat the canary? Among those in the full crowd was a well-known former fanzine editor wearing a 'Deportivo di Wanka' shirt, depicting a club in Peru rather than any reference to Charlton's recent performance. Another former fanzine editor was also seen in the crowd with Welling mayor Councillor Rick Everitt adding a touch of civic dignity to the proceedings.
Charlton kicked off but managed immediately to lose possession to a Norwich throw in over near the corner flag. Quite what manoeuvre was being attempted here is beyond easy explanation. The Addicks did win some early corners, but they caused few problems for the appropriately named Green who is one of the stronger players in the Norwich side.
Murphy put in a good pass to JJ, but it was unproductive. Norwich showed they could be dangerous with a well worked move, but Deano made a good save. On five minutes Charlton had a chance to go ahead. JJ was released with an excellent pass by the much maligned Kishishev, but the Flying Finn was unable to control the ball and Green gathered it easily.
Bizarrely, the Addicketd broke into a chorus of 'the finest team the world has ever seen' which in my view should only be sung by world class clubs and certainly not in relation to Charlton's recent performance.
Fortune conceded a corner to Norwich and Bentley put in a good ball along the goal line, leading to a second corner which was fortunately cleared. After Rommedahl had taken the game to the other end, Deano had to come out to clear the ball from a Norwich attack. After Kishishev had got the Addicks out of some trouble, JJ broke through but Green was able to make a diving save.
Fortune took the course of safety first with McKenzie bearing down on goal and conceded a corner which was unproductive for the home side. El Karkouri was warned by the referee for an unnecessary foul.
A good move was started by Luke Young who had settled well into the left back position. JJ provided an excellent cross, but Murphy's wild shot went way over. Helveg fouled JJ to stop an attack by him and received a yellow card. A Charlton corner was overhit but Luke Young retrieved the situation well and won a second corner for Charlton.
The Addickted burst into a chorus of 'You're just a small team in Ipswich', followed by 'Premier League, you're having a laugh', although that could equally apply to Charlton on the basis of recent performances. El Karkouri received the yellow card that had been coming for some time.
Deano had to punch the ball out at the expense of a Norwich throw in. Kishishev was called on for good defensive work. Hughes managed to completely mess up a promising Charlton build up. Another Norwich shot went over Deano's bar, but it was closer than an earlier effort. By this time, just after the half hour, Norwich were having a far greater impact on the game.
Norwich started to pile on the pressure in an attempt to get in front by half time and won a corner on 42 minutes. Then Rommedahl and Kishishev combined well to win the Addicks a corner, but it was cleared.
With the whistle seconds away, McKenzie released Ashton who evaded Kishishev and only had Deano to beat. But the so-called sharp shooter put his shot wide. Some Charlton fans have suggested that we should have signed him, but this miss hardly impressed.Half time: Canaries 0, Addicks 0
Rommedahl sped down the wing shortly after the break but his good approach work came to nothing when he failed to pass. Rommedahl then won the Addicks a corner, followed by a second. It was partially cleared, but El Karkouri, who had required treatment a short while before, was on hand to deliver a sizzling shot which required a good save from Green.
Kishishev turned provider for JJ, but his decent effort was saved. Norwich continued to have free kicks awarded against them for fouls on JJ whom they clearly saw as a danger man for some reason. On 60 minutes JJ had another shot on goal, but it was wide.
Curbs had had enough of the hapless Hughes and decided to bring on the lacklustre Euell. I would have brought on Lisbie who managed to score a late goal against the other East Anglian agricultural club. I think that he might have actually troubled Norwich's far from perfect defence. Nigel Worthington withdrew Jonson and brought on Huckerby, one of Norwich's best players. He had only been on the bench because of recent injury and illness problems and his arrival did not bode well for Charlton.
Rommedahl put in a dangerous curving ball which drew a good save from Green. With acres of space given to them in midfield, Matty Holland presumably having gone to ask for directions to Ipswich, the Canaries were able to launch another attack. Deano was then rightly penalised for a back pass. The situation look dangerous, but Deano, surrounded by red shirts, was up to it and made the save.
Norwich continued to pile on the pressure from corners and one long range shot from Safri whistled just over Deano's bar. Rommedahl continually found himself streaking ahead of a Charlton midfield lumbering along behind him, but he managed to find Euell and his downward header put Green under considerable pressure. Indeed, the keeper did well to save it.
A Charlton corner was wasted and the far side lino flagged for a dubious Norwich free kick. Then on 80 minutes Svensson was brought on to be warmly greeted by the Addickted. Deano had to make a good save from a cross. On 81 minutes JJ was pulled off in favour of Thomas to see if the youngster could weave more magic than the fading warhorse. Svensson connected with an overhead kick from Ashton, but Deano was able to save comfortably.
Thomas won Charlton a free kick. It was taken well, deflected off Ashton and the out-of-position Green was fortunate to see it bounce off the post. If it had gone in, the match would have been very different and the current chorus of moaning from Charlton fans would have been subdued.
On 88 minutes the inevitable happened. A long throw from Drury was intercepted by Ashton and nodded on by McKenzie and Svensson was able to out the ball past Kiely.
The chant of 'Easy' went up from the Norwich fans, but in fact it wasn't. I still think that Norwich are a relatively poor side, particularly defensively, reflected in the 4-0 thrashing they got at The Valley. But they wanted it more whereas Charlton's players knew that the season was already effectively over. All credit to Norwich and to the Charlton fans who kept their spirits up for a tailgate party in the car park after the game.
Rumour has it that season ticket renewals are below expectations which is not entirely surprising. I have renewed mine, but I am starting to regret it, but more because of the fans than the team (although I still have concerns about complacency in the executive management of the club).
I know that many fans are getting irritated with the 'excessive expectations' argument. There is a good post to this effect on Riscardo's excellent if somewhat ageist blog. It is also a view that has been put forcefully on a private list from which I have now had to withdraw. Nevertheless, there is an approximate relationship between a club's resources and its position in the league system. Some clubs over perform, some under perform.
Simply judged by resources, Charlton should be a Championship side. And, of course, if lots of fans fail to renew their season tickets, there will be less money to fund the much needed revitalisation of the squad. Charlton simply lack quality in depth and when we are without three key players (Bartlett, the Herminator, Konchesky) it shows. We don't need a bigger squad, but we do need more consistent quality in our first sixteen. And that means spending some money.Match analysis
With no player really outstanding, the award of the Silver Bone
faced match analyst Hooch the Pooch
with a difficult choice. Indeed, he did ring the Association of Canine Match Analysts to ask if the prize could be awarded to the excellent but little known referee M Atkinson. He was told that match officials were a feline responsibility and could only be awarded hisses. The observant canine had noticed a Bulgarian family in the crowd earlier, one of them wearing a Kishishev
shirt and he invited them to help present the trophy to their fellow countryman. His game was not error free, but it was full of commitment. He made some good defensive interceptions and provided some good attacking balls which were not made the best use of by the likes of JJ.
The result was hardly the fault of Deano.
He made some good saves and Matt Svensson said later that he had saved well from his initial strike. Fortune
played with a calmness and authority that he sometimes lacks. El Karkouri
also played well, but got himself needlessly booked and one always fears that he may get sent off. Luke Young
had to play in the unfamiliar position of left back, but did well. Holland
was booed every time he got the ball by the Canaries, but as he didn't get it very often, they didn't have to exert themselves very much. Murphy
had a bit of an up and down game as is so often the case. His corners in particular were often overhit or easily saved by Green. Hughes
was anonymous for much of the game and when he did get the ball what he did with it was often lacking in the required quality. I am getting a little tired of saying 'Rommedahl
used his pace to good effect'. Having brought the ball forward, he needs to do something with it. JJ
got dispossessed too easily, but did put in a couple of good crosses from the wings. But he is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Admirers of Jeffers
have argued that he should be given a run to show what he could do. Well, he is being given the run and it isn't very much. Euell
contributed very little when he came on, apart from one good attempt to score, which these days is usually the case. Of course, if his header had gone in, he would have been the hero of the hour. Thomas
won a potentially important free kick, but had little time to do much else.Hiss of the Match
Instead of the Bloke Behind Me, I had two moaners behind me who spent the whole match slagging off virtually every Charlton player plus Curbs. Someone said recently that the worst thing about supporting Charlton is other Charlton fans and I am looking forward to a few months' break from the moaning and the negativity. But, of course, it will all be back next season.Crowd rating
The Addickted were in good form. It's always a good sign when 'Goodbye Horse' is sung. 'There's only one Graham Stuart' nonplussed the Canaries. 'You're going down with the Palace' was a favourite but the result undermined its use. 8/10.