Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Murphy on his way?

Curbs revealed after the Addick's 0-0 draw against West Brom that 'something could happen' between now and midnight but if it does it would be 'of Murphy's making'. The deal with Spurs would presumably involve cash and Anthony Gardner coming to The Valley. The sulky Scouser has clearly been out of sorts at Charlton for some time and, for all his skill, there is little value in a player that does not want to play for the club.

Charlton fans who expected the home tie against the Baggies to be an easy three points booed the team off after the game. However, it was a game in which both keepers excelled, writes Erith Addick Paul May. Myhre kept out an effort from Greening while Kuszack got his hand to a good effort from Bryan Hughes.

The first phase of the game was tepid and had bore draw written all over it, but the last fifteen minutes saw an upping of the pace. Bent managed to evade three Baggies defenders but then put his shot wide of the post. Smertin burst through, but put his shot wide. Horsfield met an excellent cross from Greening, but the on form Myhre kept the header out by pushing the ball on to the post. Holland, who picked up a knock on Saturday, was replaced by Kishishev on 43 minutes.

In the second half, following the curling shot from Hughes, Davies had to act decisively to block Ambrose. He then had to act again to deny Bent. Late appearances by Thomas on 72 minutes and Bothroyd on 83 did nothing to turn the game around. Marcus Bent had a penalty shout when he went down under pressure from Robinson, but referee Peter Walton was having none of it. A late effort by Luke Young was diverted on to the post by Kuszczak.

A disappointing evening for Charlton, and a dreary and scrappy match, but the lsson is that you should never read results off the table.

Baggies preview: 250th Premiership match

Charlton go into their 250th Premiership match hoping for three points against the Baggies tonight. One should never read results off the table and last season West Brom came to The Valley and delivered a stunning 4-1 defeat of the Addicks. Since then the Baggies have won only one away victory (at Wigan) and their tally of four goals in 11 games is the lowest in the Premiership. Charlton are now unbeaten in four and have completed 25 league matches without a goalless game.

Midfielder Ronnie Walwork is suspended and Steve Watson is an injury doubt. However, our nemesis last year, super midget Robert Earnshaw is back in the squad.

The Addick's back line looks like being Powell, Fortune, Hredidarsson and Young in front of Myhre. Presumably it will be double Bent up front with Bothroyd on the bench. The midfield is the greatest uncertainty, particularly given continuing doubts about the future of Danny Murphy. I would bring in Thomas and Smertin who sparkled on Saturday. I would retain Kishishev despite his poor performance against Orient as there is no other battling defensive midfielder in the squad. I would probably use Holland, if he is no longer limping, rather than Ambrose, with the latter on the bench.

I am going for 2-1 to the Addicks. Work commitments prevent my attendance, but Erith Addick Paul May will be there to write the match report.

JJ to join Canaries

Norwich are set to sign JJ on loan from Charlton for the rest of the season. Nigel Worthington is searching for forward to replace the departed Dean Ashton and has tried to land Robert Earnshaw from West Brom and Cardiff's Cameron Jerome. He evidently decided he didn't want Kevin Lisbie back.

'Johansson is a player that we have monitored for some time,' the Cabaries supremo stated. he said. He added: 'There is no point in bringing players in to go sideways. We need to bring players in who will help us go forwards.' If he thinks JJ can do that, well and good. The flying Finn has never really given a display of the Northern Lights since his first season at The Valley.

There are also reports that Francis Jeffers may be off to Blackburn Rovers which would reduce the wage bill at The Valley but dent takings at The Venue. Blues are also said to be reviving their interest in Jason Euell, but there have been so many stories about this transfer that I no longer know what to believe. The illness of Karen Brady may have been a complicating factor.

So that would just leave Kevin Lisbie on the shelf which is not so suprising. The Currant Bun has claimed that Spurs are after Danny Murphy. I was intially sceptical, but reports to that effect are now coming in from more credible sources. Apparently we would get Spurs defender Anthony Gardner, a Curbs favourite, in part exchange.

The last defender we brought in from Spurs exceeded expectations after a lukewarm start. My feelings about Murphy are somewhat mixed. He was a playmaker, but he always expected the ball to be fed to him and other teams sussed that out. There were also rumours that he was giving it large on the training ground on the lines of 'This is how we did it at Liverpool.' With Joanna Taylor back writing in The Times yesterday, family problems seem to be over.

Anyway, it would give us an incentive to win at the Lane.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Euell saga finally over

It seems that Birmingham City's interest in Jason Euell is finally at an end, concluding an on-off saga that has dragged on for some weeks. Steve Bruce is apparently going to concentrate on strengthening his defence. If we're stuck with Euell, we might try using him as a sub. No sign of JJ, Lisbie or Jeffers going anywhere either.

Meanwhile, The Valley is buzzing with news of the home draw in the FA Cup against Brentford. Surely we must get through to the quarter finals?

The Bees have recently been taken over by a supporters' trust and their non-executive chairman is Greg Dyke of 'Roland Rat' fame and the man Michael Grade succeeded at the BBC.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bothroyd uses get out of gaol card

A 90th minute strike from a free kick by substitute Jay Bothroyd gave Charlton a 2-1 victory over Leyton Orient in the 4th round of the FA Cup at The Valley today. Jon Fortune put Charlton 1-0 ahead with a header in the 7th minute, but Orient were very much on top in the last ten minutes of the half when they hit the underside of the crossbar. The visitors equalised in the 53rd minute and Charlton's attempts on goal seemed weak or off target. However, a triple substitution that brought on Smertin, Thomas and Bothroyd spurred Charlton on and only Orient's keeper, praised on this blog in our preview, kept them in the game until Bothroyd scored the winner.

Fortune had to concede an early corner after errors in midfield let Orient advance on goal. However, all this led to was an Orient throw in and as Ambrose advanced down the right, he was fouled, giving Charlton a free kick. This was converted through an emphatic diving header by Fortune which made the score 1-0.

Perhaps this settled the Addicks too much as the best use was not made of a number of chances. Bent put in a good cross which was made use of by Ambrose, resulting in a Charlton corner taken by Ambrose. The ball was played in again after initially being defended and Bartlett's effort was just wide.

Chris Powell put in a good block, but then Orient won a corner but this ended in a Charlton free kick. Ambrose put in another good cross, but there was no one to connect. Orient progressed down the East Stand side through a series of throw ins and eventually won a corner, but this was cleared.

Bent put in a good cross, but the effort by Hughes was poor. He then blasted a shot over. Charlton won a free kick in a promising position, but Ambrose's effort, presumably meant to be a shot, drifted well wide of the goal. Orient put Charlton under considerable pressure in the closing minutes of the game with one shot hitting the bar and another being blazed across the front of goal.

Half time: Addicks 1, O's 0

Orient continued to play with considerable vigour in the second half while Charlton sometime seemed to be too casual. On 53 minutes Steele burst through and although Myhre got a hand to the ball it trickled across the line to make it 1-1. One Orient supporter managed to get over the barrier and was escorted away by stewards.

Kishishev received a yellow card, making his total six for the season. Presumably he will not be available against the Baggies? On 63 minutes Curbs threw caution to the winds and made an inspired triple substitution. Off came Kishishev, Bartlett and Hughes and on came Thomas, Bothroyd and Smertin.

Thomas was soon in the thick of it and showed his intent with a shot that went just wide. A Charlton free kick went off the wall and Orient were awarded a free kick. Bent was hauled down in the area, but referee Wiley saw no cause for complaint. Thomas put in a great shot which drew a incredible save from the Orient keeper.

Charlton won two corners in succession and then Smertin turned provider for Bent, but once again Orient's keeper came to their rescue. Orient were awarded a free kick after one of their players held the ball between his legs on the ground which is surely not permissible.

Orient continued to look dangerous on the break and Fortune had to make a good interception. However, a foul and a free kick allowed Bothroyd to drive a fierce shot along the ground which took a slight deflection and got under the legs of the Orient keeper to make it 2-1. Bothroyd was booked for his enthusiastic celebrations as he took his shirt off and ran to the Charlton bench.

This year I have seen every round of the FA Cup since the First Round (and some of the qualifying rounds as well). I have already seen Orient play in the 2nd round when they defeated Rushden 1-0. In the first round I saw Colchester beat Leamington 9-1. What an irony if the Addicks were now to draw Colchester.

As match ball sponsors Hermann Hreidarrson joined us in our West Stand box to receive his Man of the Match award and a Silver Bone from cup match analyst Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon. The excitable spaniel thought that the Herminator never put a foot (or rather a head) wrong during the game. Myhre unforunately made an error for the Orient goal, but was otherwise solid. Fortune scored the opener as predicted by equine magnate John Window and did his job well in defence. Young perhaps did not get as much forward as usual, but was reliable in defence. Powell forged forward well. Kishishev had one of his less good games, making a number of errors, including somehow putting the ball out of play from the opposite side of the pitch. Hughes did not fit in very well on the left and missed a good chance to score. Holland was competent and competitive and it was a worry to see him limping when he left the ground. Ambrose generally performed well, although he was not always prominent. Bartlett did his best which is no longer quite good enough. Bent made some good runs, but never really got himself in a scoring position. Bothroyd scored the winning goal with a fierce shot and that was enough. Smertin showed real skill, evading the Orient defence, keeping possession of the ball and never moving backwards. Thomas was a bundle of trouble to the Orient defence and created real space for himself.

Juneau the Soccer Cat initially gave the Hiss of the Match to Danny Murphy for looking morose by the dressing rooms when Marcus Bent gave us a cheery greeting. However, this hiss has been rescinded and Juneau has been suspended as I have received reliable information that Danny Murphy has encountered a serious family problem with which we should all feel sympathy and means that he is not in a fit state of mind to play. Indeed, I understand that Richard Murray gave a hint to this effect at the annual general meeting ten days ago.

Crowd rating: No surprise that the Orient supporters were up for it and needed no conducting by season ticket holder Andrew Lloyd Webber. Their having part of the East Stand didn't help, but the Addickted's contribution was really quite feeble for much of the match. 4/10.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Orient player profiles

Keeper Glyn Garner was signed from Bury where he had been for five years in 2005, having started his career at Llanelli. Tall and commanding, he has a powerful kick and agile reflexes. Having seen him play, he is a good keeper and probably above League 2 level.

Charm merchant Donny Barnard is an Orient product who can play at right or centre back but is speedy down the flanks. He is not afraid to put the boot in.

Left sided defender Matthew Lockwood who goes forward often in attack is the club's longest serving player.

Springbok defender Justin Miller is a former star of Ipswich's reserve side where he was at captain. At Charlton we take Ipswich's first team stars, at Orient they take the reserve stars.

Central defender John Mackie is strong in the air. Formerly at Reading, he started his career at Crawley Town.

Midfielder/defender Joe Keith can operate anywhere on the left wing. Originally a West Hame product, he was lured away from Colchester by the bright lights of East London.

Midfielder Craig Easton has Scottish Premiership experience with Dundee United and Livingston, but the gold paved pavements of London lured the canny Scot. Covers a lot of distance to contribute in defence and attack.

Midfielder Daryl McMahon is a set piece specialist and thus a special danger to Charlton. He also likes to hump in balls from distance on the chance that something might happen, making him a typical League 2 player.

Vertically challenged midfielder Michael Simpson is described as a terrier-like figure who compensates for his lack of height with determination. A good passer of the ball, he is always one of the first names on the team sheet.

Shane Tudor is at his best on the right wing, but can play in a wide variety of positions as needs require, including striker.

Striker Gary Alexander has scored 100 goals in six years as a professional and is a particular menace in the air. Usually the O's captain.

Striker Lee Steel has been rebuilding his career at Brisbane Road, having failed to make an impact at Oxford. With a tendency to be horizontally challenged, he is probably better at providing assists than scoring himself.

Striker Jabo Ibehre is said to have a flamboyant style that confuses defences, although what impact it will have on the Herminator remains to be seen.

In their best ever cup run in 1977/78, Orient knocked out Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Boro before succumbing to Arsenal in the semi-finals.

Jase on his way

We have reason to believe that a transfer deal for Jason Euell to move to Birmingham City will be concluded today or, at the latest, tomorrow. The fee will, however, be less than the £1.5m originally mooted but there will be considerable savings on his salary. Euell holds, of course, the record for the sum paid out for a Charlton player (£4.5m).

His departure is unlikely to engender the sadness, coupled with an acceptance of the inevitable, that has been the general response to Deano's departure. Deano's departure breaks a link between the club and the Warwick/Leamington area with his dad being seen at Brakes events.

JJ has been linked with Italian club Treviso, there are still hopes that Lisbie might find his level in the Championship and for Jeffers a vacancy is said to exist at a New Cross night club.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Deano on his way?

Reisdorf, Schleswig-Holstein: We hear that Portsmouth were in talks with Charlton Athletic last night about signing Dean Kiely after pulling out of a move for Robert Green, of Norwich City, because of a lack of funds. Kiely, who is out of favour at Charlton, is likely to cost about £500,000, compared with the fee of about £2 million that Norwich would have asked for Green. The deal is expected to go through in the next couple of days.

Deano has been a long-term favourite at The Valley but Thomas Myhre has increasingly established himself in the fan´s affections. A worrying factor is that Andersen is unsettled and we need a reserve goalkeeper.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Honours even at the Bridge

Only two teams had taken off a point off Chelsea before today, Manchester United and Everton (both away), but Charlton became the third team to do so when they held the champions to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, taking away their 100 per cent home record. Charlton were only the fifth team to score against Chelsea at home in the Premiership this season, although they had already done so in the Carling Cup tie which ended in an Addicks victory on penalties.

Gudjohnsen had just managed to put the ball across the line for the home side in the 18th minute, with the ball slipping away from Myhre and Kishishev failing to clear off the line. Marcus Bent, seen by many of the Addickted as a doubtful and over priced purchase, scored the equaliser with a second half header on the hour, Ambrose (who had an excellent game) providing the assist. Bent had been brought on in the first half to replace the injured Rommedahl.

Charlton had already signalled their intent with Bryan Hughes sounding a warning shot with a low effort shortly after the break that Petr Cech did well to stop after it came at him through a crowd of legs.

Chelsea had Carvalho sent off for a second bookable offence eight minutes from time and this seemed to spur to step up their efforts against the Charlton defence with Fortune and Hreidarsson both having a good game and both Young and Powell at the top of their form. However, the Addicks withstood the pressure and Darren Bent even had a chance to get a winner. Bartlett was brought on for Ambrose in the eight minutes added on.

The draw restores Charlton to 11th place in the table and equal with the Irons on points. This was the first away draw of the season for the Addicks who are the opposite of draw specialists, the only other time they shared the points coming in the home fixture against Fulham. Commentators seemed to agree that the draw was well deserved, but it has revived talk about Alan Curbishley for England.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A foregone conclusion?

Charlton face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow and a home win looks far and away the most likely conclusion. The Addicks drew with Chelsea there in the Carling Cup and then won the fixture through a penalty shoot out, but they have not taken points in the league off Chelsea since the victory at The Valley on Boxing Day 2003. With ticktes priced at £48, and the match on television, many of the Addickted are understandably not going and this is one match I will miss.

With a 4-5-1 formation likely to be favoured, new signing Marcus Bent is likely be on the bench. Hopefully Rommedahl will start as his pace could have some unsettling effect on Chelsea. Danny Murphy may also be recalled for the big occasion.

With Deano and Andersen both reportedly bemoaning their fate and expressing interest in berths elsewhere, Thomas Myhre is likely to remain in goal. The defensive line up is also likely to remain unchanged. The gap in quality between the two sides is shown by the difference between Kishishev and Makelele. Let's hope that Kish doesn't make any errors which will be pounced on by Chelsea.

Whatever Charlton might be they are not draw specialists, so I'm opting for a 2-0 defeat just like last year. I would love to be proved wrong and see the Addicks take all three points, as Kevin Lisbie did in a 1-0 victory not so long ago, but I don't see it happening.

Magpies knock Brakes out of Vase

Leamington have never got beyond the 4th round of the FA Vase and they won't again this year after they went down 2-3 to Wimborne Town at The New Windmill Ground. It was a pulsating cup game watched by 770 fans and despite a park and ride scheme, the ground car quickly filled up and then the chicken farm.

Wimborne brought a large and vocal contingent, including their town crier who delivered a loud but nevertheless inaudible speech on the pitch before kick off. The game was tightly fought in the first half, but a mistake by defensive collosus Darran Tank allowed Wimborne to go ahead after 37 minutes.

Leamington came back into the game in the second half with an equaliser by captain Morton Titterton in a goalmouth scramble. Top goalscorer Richard Adams then made it 2-1 to the Brakes. However, Wimborne equalised and as Brakes keeper Richard Morris received treatment in the goalmouth, it all went off behind the goal with stewards rushing it to deal with a fracas that seemed to be near the town crier.

It looked as if the game would go to extra time and possibly a replay, but heartbreak for the Brakes came with a headed Wimborne goal with not enough minutes left for the home side to get back in the game. The final blow came with Andy Gregory being sent off for a second bookable offence.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ten years ago: a feast of football

My notes recall a 'feast of football' at The Valley on 20 January 1996 when Charlton beat the Baggies 4-1. There were two first half goals from Robinson and one from Jamie Stuart.

My notes recall, 'Charlton completely dominated the first half and it could have been 4-0 if Robinson hadn't missed a penalty. Apart from Naylor in goal, West Brom were pretty hopeless. We took our foot off the accelerator a bit in the second half and West Brom got one back with a penalty, but we made it 4-1, also with a penalty [taken by Mortimer].' Three penalties in one match and they are almost unknown at The Valley today!

The Addicks were 2nd in the table even before the win, although seven points behind leaders Derby County. A cautious Curbs warned in the programme, 'we must keep our feet firmly on the ground, because although we haven't shouted about ourselves too much we know there is a long way ahead. We must not be deterred from what we need to do by outside influences and pressures.' Quite what this cryptic comment meant, I don't know, but I would be interested in any suggestions.

Euell deal back on?

With Charlton needing to cut back on its surplus stock of forwards, the on-off deal for Jason Euell to move to Birmingham City may be back on.

Steve Bruce is expected to step up his attempts to clinch the signing of Jason Euell next week after fears over the fitness of Emile Heskey and Martin Taylor were allayed. Heskey and Taylor underwent scans on knee and ankle problems respectively which left Bruce to contemplate the prospect of looking for a striker or a central defender if the diagnosis was gloomy. But Heskey has been pronounced fit for Saturday's home clash with Portsmouth while Taylor could be back for the FA Cup tie at Reading next week.

Bruce is keeping his options open and only has the funds to bring in one or two more players before the transfer window closes. But with the concern over Heskey and Taylor having eased, he is almost certain to now try to sign Euell, with the two clubs having already agreed a fee in the region of £1.5million.

Bruce said: 'There is not loads of money to spend. We have got to be very careful. We are hoping we can bring in one, maybe two players. We've got to make sure they are the right ones. Charlton must be scratching their heads about what has been going on but Jason Euell is someone I've always liked as a player, as an attacking midfield player. He has scored goals as a midfield player and is someone we looked at last summer before he picked up his shoulder injury. He would be an excellent addition to the squad but, like I said, we are just weighing up our options carefully. We have got wealthy owners of the football club who have always put some money into Birmingham City but it is not a bottomless well of money.'

Some commentators have suggested that Bruce's own uncertain future with the Blues has been a complicating factor, although he has recently received a vote of confidence from the owners.

If Euell does go to Birmingham, loan deals with Championship clubs for Lisbie, JJ and Jeffers are likely to be the next objective as the club seeks to cut the wage bill.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Euell transfer now in jeopardy

The £1.5 million transfer of out of favour Addick Jason Euell to Birmingham City is now in jeopardy following a change of policy at the Midlands club according to Alan Curbishley. However, there are rumours that another club in trouble, Middlesbrough, have also expressed an interest in Euell, so, who knows, a bidding war could develop!Indeed, Pompey were in the frame at an earlier stage.

Blues had agreed a £1.5m fee for Euell - a substantial amount of which was raised by the sale of Walter Pandiani to Espanyol - although personal terms were still to be discussed (including an appropriate parking space for Jase's car).

However, manager Steve Bruce in reality has little money to spend during the January transfer window with the free transfer signing of Chris Sutton his only acquisition to date.

And following a knee injury suffered by striker Emile Heskey, ironically against the Addicks last weekend, Bruce may have to look for a proven goalscorer instead of moving for the attacking midfielder, who has fallen out of favour at The Valley.

Curbishley said: 'As far as I was aware, Birmingham had agreed a fee, and I thought it was going through. However, I think Birmingham now as a club have changed their policy a bit in terms of the transfer market, which has affected the move.

'It is nothing to do with Jason, nothing to do with the fee or the terms, I just think at the club itself they have had a change of policy. I think the transfer now is in danger, but that is not from our end or from Jason's end.'

Like many of the Addickted, I think that Euell has had a bit of a raw deal at Charlton since his return from injury and not enough use has been made of his versatility, even though the composition and shape of the side has changed a lot since he was a key member. But surely he offers more as a late substitute than Lisbie?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Euell transfer delayed

The projected transfer of Jason Euell to Birmingham City for £1.5m has hit an unspecified hitch and discussions on personal terms have not begun. However, they are expected to resume before long.

The Addickted have given a qualified welcome to the signing of Marcus Bent from Everton for £2m, rising to £2.5m subject to appearances etc. The striker was a prolific goal scorer at both Sheffield United and Ipswich, but he's not scored a lot of goals at Everton (or at Blackburn previously). However, Everton have not scored or created a lot as a team for many years. Their success last year was based on not conceding and winning 1-0 all the time.

Alongside his former Ipswich partner, Bent 2 may well start hitting the back of the net (he is cup tied). Bartlett is a fading force, even though he hares energetically all over the pitch, but defensive competence is not what one is really looking for in a striker. The signing does raise question marks about Bothroyd's future, while there must still be hopes that Lisbie will find his level in a Championship club. As for Jeffers ...

Marcus Bent is someone that Charlton can afford. Hopefully he can develop into an excellent partner for his namesake, allowing more regular use of 4-4-2 at home and even away if the partnership works.

Joanna: loyalty is a two way street

Joanna Taylor, Danny Murphy's wife, reflects on loyalty in today's Times: 'At transfer window time, fans talk about loyalty, but it should be a two-way thing. I’ve sat in the stand in the past and heard people saying that Danny is playing great and should be in the England side. Then I’ve sat in the stand and heard them slate him. Sometimes things just don’t quite go as well as you would like — not for the lack of effort, they just don’t.'

'I also think fans do not realise that players are human beings with their own personal lives. Sometimes there are things going on that people have no idea about. A player might be carrying an injury for instance, or he might be having problems in his home life, but everyone still expects players to be almost bionic.'

For all the conspiracy theories about the non-bionic one's exclusion from Saturday's team, it seems that Curbs just wanted to play a settled side and he may well re-appear against Chelsea which is hardly the occasion for the worthy efforts of Holland and Hughes.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Addicks hold firm for victory

Charlton secured the double over another relegation threatened club with a 2-0 win over Birmingham City at The Valley this afternoon. Bryan Hughes put the Addicks 1-0 ahead after 28 minutes with a header from a corner. Birmingham stepped up the pressure in the second half and no doubt there will be criticisms of Charlton for defending too deeply. But a slender lead was no time for taking risks and the Addicks stood firm. I forecast to the Bloke Beside Me that we would score on the break and so it proved with a brilliant solo effort by Darren Bent in time added on.

We knew that the Blews were in town once we got to Marylebone as there was a large contingent of police there waiting to greet the Millwall of the Midlands. Coming into Charlton, we saw a number of Rickshaws, all full and one bearing the legend 'Stocks Green' wherever that is. The Rickshaw has now been running for a year. All credit to Rick Everitt and his team for having the idea for this successful service and seeing it through. Before the game, Hooch the Pooch presented Cllr. Everitt with a silver plated model of a bus and a miniature replica of the mace of the Mayor of Welling.

Danny Murphy was again absent from the line up, provoking renewed speculation that he may be on his way north. Although I would like him to stay, I would not be devastated by the disappearance of the sulky Scouser and his glamour puss wife.

Hreidarsson was injured early in the game by charm merchant Sutton and although he recovered, I wonder if the knock he took to his head affected his performance for the rest of the game which was not up to his best standards. I thought that Charlton were creating unnecessary danger by making too many back passes to Myhre, although he dealt with them with his usual confidence.

Blews won a rather doubtful corner. The defence seemed slow to respond and Jarosik put the ball just wide. Another Blews corner was partially cleared, but the ball was played in again with the Czech midfielder again putting the ball wide. Finishing is fortunately not Birmingham's strong suit.

Following a series of throw ins on the left side involving Chris Powell, Charlton won their first corner. Rommedahl's delivery was excellent and Hughes was on hand to head the ball home against his old club on 29 minutes.

Fortune had to put the ball behind for a Blews corner. Kishishev lost the ball through dithering, but he is not the only Charlton player to be too hesitant. A Rommedahl run created an opportunity for Holland, but his shot was rising and went over the bar. Birmingham won a corner from a break and put in a shot that was just over. After a good tackle to win the ball, Luke Young bore down on goal and justifiably had a go, but his shot went well wide.

Half time: Addicks 1, Blews 0

Hughes put in an early effort that was just wide. An error by Fortune put Myhre under pressure from Heskey, but he made a good save. A careless Hreidarsson lost the ball. Birmingham won a couple of corners with another shot going just past the post.

There was a call from the crowd for a Blews hand ball in the area, but I didn't have a clear view. Fortune was booked for what looked like a fair challenge to me and Blews won a free kick on the edge of the area. Despite the ball coming off a Birmingham player, Blews were awarded a corner as referee Poll took a strong draught of methane and the lino looked for his contact lenses.

The man on the run, Pennant, was proving a potential threat on the left, but Hughes denied him very effectively. A Blews free kick came off the Charlton wall. As Poll was overcome by the effects of Earth gravity and too much methane, Blews were awarded another highly dubious free kick.

On 72 minutes Rommedahl was pulled off in favour of Ambrose to the disgust of the row behind me with shouts of 'rubbish, Curbishley'. In fact it seemed to me to be entirely sensible. Rommedahl had faded in the second half and Ambrose would bring some needed bite to the Charlton effort.

Fortune had to concede a corner to deal with a dangerous cross and Myhre punched the ball out. Birmingham showed they were going for it by bringing on Dunn and Forssel on 75 minutes. Ambrose made an excellent run and created a Charlton corner but Taylor caught the ball.

In a mystifying substitution Kishishev was taken off and replaced by Lisbie on 83 minutes. Bent played in an excellent ball to his best friend Ambrose, but his shot went well over. As full time approached, Bent made a curious error, playing the ball back to his own goal and putting Myhre under pressure, but he saved well from Sutton.

In the three minutes of time added on, Bent burst downfield, outpacing Melchiot and confidently putting the ball past Taylor to make it 2-0.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch awarded the Silver Bone to Thomas Myhre. It was another inspired performance by the keeper who made some excellent saves to keep Charlton in the game. Jon Fortune had probably his best game since his return to the starting line up, intercepting well. Unusually Hreidarsson made a few unforced mistakes. Luke Young was solid without being outstanding and had an attempt on goal. Fears had been expressed before the game about how well Chris Powell would cope with the pace of Pennant, but in fact he displayed a good understanding with Hughes and reads the game well, showing excellent judgement. The detractors of Kishishev are vociferous and he gave them some ammunition today by making two potentially dangerous errors. However, he showed spirit and determination. Holland functioned well and is showing an appetite for goal. Hughes is also a target of the boo boys, but his goal was well taken and he slotted into the side well. The pace of Rommedahl caused some problems for the visitors and he showed some real skill and even an willingness to get stuck in. Bartlett was tireless, covering great distances in attack and defence and always looking for a chance to contribute. The goal by Bent was a classic, but he did make a serious error shortly beforehand. Ambrose was a good substitution, but it's a shame he didn't take his chance to score better. Lisbie came on and ambled around, looking to see if anyone would give him the directions to Norwich.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to referee Graham Poll who missed no opportunity to use his whistle rather than let the game flow. The Covered End made their views about his refereeing known in no uncertain terms which were more vigorous than the familiar change of Onanism.

Crowd rating: Did their best to boost the team for much of the match, even a chant of 'Hughesie'. 7/10.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Blews preview

Ten years ago on 14th January 1996 Charlton beat Birmingham City in a seven goal thriller at St.Andrews, the match being shown live on television, although I missed the excitement as I was en route to Barcelona. A penalty was awarded against Humphreys after 23 seconds for tripping Donowa and Hunt put the ball away for Blews. An Edwards own goal provided an equaliser for the Addicks, before Grant (36), Robinson (44) and Leaburn (70) seemed to put the match beyond doubt. But Edwards (75) and Forsyth (81) brought Blews back into the match for a tense finale with Charlton 4-3 victors, their first win there since the 1938-9 season.

Police did not attend inside or outside the ground. A number of windows in supporters coaches were smashed, including the one carrying the Junior Reds. The Charlton programme at the next home game noted that many of the Addickted were frightened and intimidated after the game by home supporters.

Tomorrow's match is also a needle affair, although hopefully one that will not lead to any trouble even with all the Blews ticket allocation sold out. Our record at home against Birmingham in the Premiership is lost, drawn, won, but rarely has it been so vital that we take all three points from them.

A piece from Chris Powell in this morning's Metro was about how important it will be for him, if picked, to keep Pennant quiet. Quality crosses from him (and Lazaridis), for Heskey and Sutton, against our centre halves could cause us trouble, although Heskey is mercurial and I don't really rate Sutton.

The referee will be Graham Poll. At one time the appearance of the Thing from Planet Tring was like a clap of doom, but he seems to have sorted out his methane-oxygen breathing mix and is now one of the better referees in the Premiership.

Birmingham have apparently not offered enough to secure the signature of Jason Euell, while the news that JJ is not going on loan to Millwall rules out what seems to be a scarcely credible move. However, there was little sign of dancing in the streets of SE7 when it was announced.

Most of the attention of the Addickted is focused on the fate of Danny Murphy with conspiracy theorists having a field day. It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see if he is in the team tomorrow - as I would like him to be.

Bowyer for Murphy plus £2.5m?

Rumours continue to circulate about the future of Danny Murphy despite the club's continuing insistence that he is going nowhere. It must have an unsettling effect. The latest one is that Charlton is holding out for £2.5m plus Bowyer if Murphy is to go to Newcaste. What lies behind a lot of this is surely a desperation on the part of Souness to show that he is doing something to meet the impossibly high expectations of Barcode supporters.

We are also reported to continue to be interested in Dean Ashton who in my view is overvalued at £7m. The club has reportedly offered £5m + Lisbie which gives him an implied valuation of £2m which, of course, does not interest Norwich.

The lack of any incoming players is causing some frustration among the Addickted. During the last week Brakes have brought in a quality striker and a quality defender from the Southern League. Mind you, probably no more than a case of Brakes Fluid changed hands.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blues in for Euell

It is reported that the signing of discontented Charlton player Jason Euell by Birmingham City is imminent, although hopefully not in time for Saturday's match when he would surely score against us. A fee of £1.5m has been mentioned which would do nicely. Free dialect lessons will be thrown in. Steve Bruce watched him at the recent Charlton v. Chelsea reserves clash.

Views about Charlton's most expensive signing differ among the Addickted with some feeling that he was not given a fair crack of the whip after his return from injury and others considering that he had lost his early sparkle and did not fit easily into the remoulded side.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Brakes held by Canaries

It's quite a while since I've been to Harbury Lane and some changes have been made in the meantime. The Sheepside stand has been moved to the Burger Side and is accompanied by a high but rather precarious camera gantry. I didn't envy the video cameraman up there in the high winds last night. All this is to clear space for the construction of the new East Stand once planning permission is received.

Brakes faced Barwell who are currently 3rd in the Midland Alliance, but went ahead in the 10th minute with a header by Jody McKay, the big new signing from Banbury United. Barwell were higher quality than most of the sides that come to the New Windmill and their defence was not easy to penetrate. In the 74th minute the Canaries scored a scrappy goal to make it 1-1.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Routine victory over Chelsea

Charlton's reserves beat Chelsea reserves 3-0 at The Valley last night. Mind you, no one had heard of any of the Chelsea players. They obviously don't do reserve football in Portugal (or anywhere else for that matter?)

Reports indicate that Harry Redknapp and Steve Bruce were seen at the game. We badly need offers for the likes of Euell so that we can reduce the wages bill and afford some new additions.

Reserves correspondent Clive Richardson reports:

It was 2-0 to the Addicks when I left, 10 minutes from time. Deano had maybe two shots to save all night. Barry Fuller played a blinder, Sankofa and Perry solid in the middle, Wilson steady, Ashton- best game I've seen him play. Euell got better/more involved as the game went on. Thomas a class above 'em all when he bothered, but disappeared for long spells, likewise Lisbie, and Both didn't really
command in the air despite his height. Gislason good at times but a bit lightweight.

First goal from fine set piece delivery by Thomas, wide left (one of several early on), loose ball fell to Sankofa who drilled home hard and low.Second, good cross from Lisbie, flicked on by good Gislason header, with Jase coming in at the far post to nod powerfully in.

Several 'Monday night' decisions by ref and west stand lino....
Our 'senior pros' seemed to take about half-an hour to get 'interested'

Monday, January 09, 2006

Directors buy shares

It is always said to be a sign that a business is going well when the directors buy additional shares and five Charlton directors spent £92,000 on Friday on building up their stake in the club. Richard Murray made the biggest purchase, over 55,000. Deputy chairman Bob Whitehand bought 16,600; Derek Chappell, 16,400; David Sumners, 8,100; and Gideon Franklin, 6,100.

Richard Murray currently owns nearly a quarter of the club (although additional shares are, I recall, held by family trusts and other family members) and a great job he has done. Bob Whitehand and Derek Chappell each have holdings of just over ten per cent, with David Sumners holding just over five per cent and Gideon Franklin just over three per cent.

This blog is putting its money where its mouth is by sponsoring the match ball for the game against Orient. Negative comments continue to made about Charlton's prospects with Radio 5 selecting it as the most likely upset. Charlton fans keep going on about our 'record', but we have actually beaten the two League 2 teams we have faced in the Cup in recent years (Rochdale and Exeter). In Exeter's case, even their secret weapon of Miss Exeter (meant to depicting some kind of goddess) made no difference.

Gloomsters out over Orient

Charlton's home 4th round FA Cup time against Leyton Orient has brought the gloomsters out from under their stones with forecasts of inevitable defeat. Just because they beat Fulham away in the last round does not mean that they can necessarily beat us.

I have already seen Orient play in the FA Cup this season when they beat Rushden and Diamonds 2-1 at Nene Park in the 2nd round. Orient are a well organised side who did not have much trouble in dealing with the Diamonds attack. However, like all lower division sides there is quite a bit of hoof 'n' hope. This is, of course, what can trouble Premiership sides as balls come into unexpected places from unexpected angles, usually to no effect. Premiership teams are also often more pressured on the ball, as there is less standing off and waiting for attacks to build in a respectful fashion.

We do need to sort our defence. At Wednesday there was still too much of two players going for the same ball or marking the same man, particularly at set pieces. More coordination is needed, although all the changes that have taken place made a settled style of play and mutual understanding difficult.

I am still optimistic about our chances against Orient and this blog is looking into some form of match sponsorship.

BTW, I know fans from all sorts of clubs, but I have never known an Orient fan.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Roller coaster ride at Sheffield

Sheffield is a city of many hills and Charlton gave the Addickted a roller coaster ride before delivering a convincing 4-2 victory against Sheffield Wednesday. Ahead after 12 minutes through Rommedahl, the aptly named Heckingbottom quickly equalised for Wednesday, but Holland and Rommedahl again put the Addicks 3-1 ahead before the break.

With Rommedahl substituted by Ambrose immediately after half time, the Addicks looked lacklustre and uncertain in the opening ten minutes of the half before the inevitable happened and that man Heckingbottom scored again to make it 2-3. There were some anxious moments before Darren Bent put the match beyond doubt with a well taken goal.

Wednesday were much easier to penetrate than a Premiership side, hence the four goals, but Charlton's makeshift defence were a constant cause for concern. But, not to worry, we're through to the 4th Round of the Cup. Bring on Colchester (who took out the other Sheffield club).

The omens before the match were good, as I saw a 53 bus going along the road, even though it wasn't going to Plumstead Common. Reading Addick Mike Robinson won the 'I saw Roy Arnold' t-shirt after the Sheffield Eagle approached him with a list of names, one of the others being Cllr. Rick Everitt who was present but not in full civic regalia. The build up in the historic stadium before the match was atmospheric with the sounding of the hooter recalling the steel city's past. Myhre urged the Addickted on. Murphy was not in the side, renewing speculation about his future, although he may well just have a hamstring problem.

The Addicks started brightly, winning an early corner through a good move by Hughes. Heckingbottom had to block a close range shot from Bartlett. Released by Rommedahl, Bent's shot was not far over and Hughes was not able to make use of an opportunity from a few yards out. However, then Rommedahl burst through, cut inside Heckingbottom who looked as if he was waiting for a mine shaft to swallow him up and put the ball past Lucas in the Wednesday goal.

However, the Charlton lead only lasted for four minutes. A corner taken by Brunt was headed across a very crowded box by Coughland and Heckingbottom was able to head the ball into the net from six yards. Myhre got a hand to it, but was only able to assist it into the back of the net.

Chris Powell displayed his skill by seeing the ball out for a goal kick. An error by Fortune put the Addicks in danger and the ball flashed across the front of the goalmouth and went out for a Wednesday corner. However, Powell was on hand to head the ball out at the expense of a throw in.

With Hughes finding space on the left, he was able to make a mockery of the Owls defence and the well placed Holland forged through to slot the ball over Lucas on 27 minutes and make it 2-1 to the visitors.

Fortune put in some good defensive work. Then, as half time approached, O'Brien failed to clear his lines. Holland passed to Bent who turned provider for Rommedahl who put the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1. Charlton won a corner in the two minutes added on (for what was far from clear).

Half time: Owls 1, Addicks 3

The Addickted were able to greet cup tied keeper and Valley favourite Nicky Weaver when he came on to do the half time raffle. Rommedahl was replaced by Ambrose immediately after the break and this seemed to deprive Charlton of some of their cutting edge. Myhre had to make a great one handed save to put a shot from Whelan around the post. The keeper caught the corner. Bartlett was fighting well for the ball.

A Wednesday free kick led to a corner for the home side. Holland was not able to fully clear Corr's header and with Myhre not well placed Heckingbottom was able to score from a volley to make it 2-3 after 61 minutes.

A determined Bent chased the ball well. Good work by Ambrose contributed to a Charlton attack and a ball from Hughes flashed across the front of the Owls goal. Bent burst through and was one on one with Lucas, but the keeper make an excellent save with his legs to deny the striker. Charlton were now applying some pressure, although Corr came close to an equaliser for the home side.

On 77 minutes Hughes was withdrawn in favour of super sub Kevin Lisbie. Fortune was given a yellow card for a foul and Wednesday earned a free kick in a promising position, but Charlton anticipated the way they would play it well. Powell was pulled off in favour of Perry on 81 minutes, to the annoyance of some of the Addickted, but I thought it was a sensible precaution.

Ambrose put an excellent ball into Bent and the striker shrugged off an Owls defender and rounded Lucas to confidently score his 13th goal of the season on 87 minutes to make it 4-2 to the Addicks. Most of the 14,851 crowd started heading for the exits, although Wednesday won two corners in the three minutes of time added on.

The win ended four consecutive away defeats for the Addicks. As we drove past the turning to Huddersfield, who apparently gave a good account of themselves at Chelsea, I reflected that perhaps Charlton were not such a naff team after all. There was also a certain irony in passing a Colchester car on the motorway, recalling the 9-1 defeat of Leamington by them that I had watched in the first round.

Cup match analyst Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon, awarded the Silver Bone to Dennis Rommedahl who was on for only 45 minutes but delivered two excellent goals and generally scared the living daylights out of the Owls defence. Myhre might have coped better with the first goal and his kicking out leaves something to be desired. Sometimes he put up some weak balls which created renewed pressure. Fortune did well enough, but he always makes me nervous and certainly put Myhre under pressure more than once. Hreidarsson was competent if less evident than usual. Spector stood in for Luke Young who was on the bench and he is no Luke Young. He is certainly not comfortable in the right back position. Powell had an excellent game, defending well and forging forward. Kishishev made one or two errors, immediately leapt on by the Blokes Behind Me, but was generally solid. Holland
had a good game as captain, scoring one good goal and generally contributing well.
Hughes looked quite a danger down the wing, but perhaps that says something about the quality of the Wednesday defence. Bartlett was somewhat surprisingly often beaten in the air, but did his best in attack and defence. Bent had a number of attempts at goal, took his goal well and might have scored more with better service. Ambrose didn't make a strong impression apart from good work in one attack. Lisbie was largely anonymous after he came on. Perry added a calm authority to the defence in the last ten minutes of the game and I would have started him rather than Fortune.

Juneau the Soccer Cat was pleased she had brought her own litter tray with her. The Hiss of the Match goes to the ladies. The chains were too high for shorter women to reach and by the end of the match were blocked. (Referee Dowd had a good game)

Crowd rating The Addickted got behind the team well and it is always good to hear a chorus of 'Goodbye Horse'. 7/10

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sorondo out for six weeks

Sorondo is going to be out for six weeks after it was revealed that he has fractured a bone in his foot. He suffered the injury against Arsenal on Boxing Day, with scans earlier this week revealing the extent of the problem. Alexi Smertin (knee) and Jerome Thomas (virus) will not feature despite having resumed training, so there goes the 4-3-3 formation we advocated yesterday. However, Francis Jeffers is likely to go straight into the squad.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Can we do as well against the Owls as in 1996?

On 6th January 1996 we beat Premiership side Sheffield Wedneday 2-0 at The Valley in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. My notes recall, 'Charlton started playing well and were ahead in six minutes from Kim Grant. Wednesday looked weak defensively and the second goal, although from a penalty [taken by Mortimer], was well deserved. Even when Humphrey was sent off for a dubious second bookable offence, we had no problem in holding Wednesday, although the fact that they had a goal disallowed in the 79th minute helped. The best game I have seen since the return to The Valley - we played superbly.'

We are now the Premiership side and the Owls are in a lowly position in the Championship, having had a stay in League One, but nevertheless we go to Sheffield on Saturday with some misgivings. There are three good reasons for being worried. First, the psychological advantage in these situations is always with the lower division club. No one is going to criticise them if they lose, so the pressure is off them, and the rewards of victory are considerable. Second, the Addicks have been displaying poor form of late while a fortified Wednesday have staged a recovery.
Third, Charlton's cup record is poor, particularly against Championship sides. Leicester knocked us out at home last year.

We clearly need to put our best side out, but one worrying factor is that Curbs no longer seems sure what our best side is and has been tinkering a lot, although injuries are a complicating factor. I think we ought to revert to 4-5-1, bearing in mind that it is no so defensive as so many people claim if it is played as 4-3-3 with Thomas and Rommedahl.

Trevor Puddifoot has produced some interesting stats on the E mail list. In 17 matches in which these two have played, we gained 32 points with only 17 goals conceded. Since they came together in the Palace away game last season, Thomas and Rommedahl have started together in 11 of the 15 wins (counting the relegation of Palace as a win) or 73%. They have started together in only five of the nineteend defeats (26%) and only two of the eight draws. While goals agaist in their 17 games was 17, goals conceded in the remaining 24 amounted to 47. One might argue that they are not defenders, but by taking the game forward, our defence is exposed to less pressure.

I would keep Myhre in goal. If Sorondo is back I would play him alongside Hreidarsson in the centre with Powell on the left. In midfield, the best line up would be Kishishev, Smertin (if available) and Murphy (it's a while since we've seen these two together). Ambrose should be on the bench.

Despite much gloom about the possible result, a lot of the Addickted seem to be going. My guess is that it could end in a replay. Anyway, see you there.

Two bids for Murphy?

Both Manchester City and Newcastle United are reported to be chasing Danny Murphy with Bowyer being offered in part exchange by the Barcodes. The Massives are prepared to offer £2.5m. Charlton continue to insist he is not available.

A Premiership club, possibly Pompski, is reported to have made a £7 million bid for Canaries striker Dean Ashton. Charlton are still interested and are reported to be offering Lisbie (who has been on loan at Norwicj) in part exchange.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Murphy for Bowyer and Faye deal?

With the future of Graham Souness at Newcastle in doubt, The Guardian reports attempts to lure Danny Murphy from Charlton Athletic. Newcastle are willing to offer Amady Faye, bought by Souness for £2m a year ago from Portsmouth, and Lee Bowyer as bait.

Senegal international nidfielder Faye is a defensive midfielder with a reputation as a tough tackler (sounds a bit like Kishishev). He made his name at Auxerre in France before moving to Pompey in 2003. He was a member of the Senegal World Cup squad in 2002 which reached the quarter finals, although he missed the target in a penalty shoot out against Cameroon. My view is that getting a defensive midfielder is not a current priority.

Curbs has specifically denied any knowledge of a Murphy move, but he has seemed out of sorts in recent matches. Any return by Bowyer to The Valley remains highly controversial with the Addickted. Some feel that he would add an edge to the side that often seems to lack aggression, others argue that whatever his footballing merits may be, they are outweighed by his off pitch record. Indeed, his on pitch disciplinary record leaves something to be desired.

Fanfan in, Kiely out?

Charlton have been linked with a move for French defender Jose Karl Pierre-Fanfan in an effort to bolster their leaky defence. He only signed for Rangers from Paris Saint Germain in the summer, yet he has failed to make an impression at Ibrox Stadium and has been told he can leave the club.

Other rumours suggest that Wigan are interested in Dean Kiely. It has been suggested that he is available on a free transfer and his departure somewhere looks increasingly likely now that he is effectively No.3 keeper. The 35-year old is a firm favourite with the fans, and has been the backbone of the Charlton team for many years, but all good things come to an end.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Charlton come unstuck against Toffees

Erith Addick Paul May reports from Goodison Park

The shock news from Goodison Park is that Radostin Kishishev, named our man of the match against the Irons, has been relegated to the bench in favour of Danny Murphy. Surprisingly, both Holland and Hughes are preferred to the battling Bulgarian. Otherwise, the team was unchanged in a 4-4-2 formation wearing its white shirts, Myhre revisiting the ground where he spent four years.

Before the match, a naff tune belted out 'Everton, we never shone so brightly' which hardly seems an accurate description of the situation. Then we had the inevitable retro Z cars which fits the tatty ground, I suppose. The game got under way late, perhaps Merv was finishing his pie.

The match started quietly. The Everton fans were restless and soon got on their team's back. Bent made an effort along the ground which was comfortably saved by Martyn.

Kevin Kilbane went down on 7 minutes after very little contact and referee Rennie first thought about giving a free kick outside the box but then gave a harsh penalty against Rommedahl who received a yellow card. Myhre saved off Beattie, guessing well that the ball would go to the right, but the ball fell well for Beattie and he scored from the follow up.

Hreidarsson was struggling after he suffered an injury to his thigh, but tried to run it off. Charlton tried to apply some pressure. Then Everton surged forward and Hughes had to put the ball behind to give the Toffees a corner. A Cahill header went over the bar as the quarter hour point was reached.

Then Matt Holland scored from the edge of the penalty area with a low volley, following through after an attempt by Fortune to make it 1-1. The home fans started to get nervous again.

Beattie failed to control the ball in a good position. Charlton surged forward and a threatening effort by Bent was dealt with by Valente. Ferguson once agained clashed with Fortune with the Addick standing up well. Everton were given a corner, apparently for a foul by Holland on Cahill. After some play in front of goal, Myhre caught the ball well. A bicycle kick by Ferguson went straight into the hands of Myhre which roused the home crowd.

Charlton had a chance, Hughes tried to control the ball, possibly with his arm, but he put the ball over the crossbar. Kilbane tore into the penalty area, getting in front of Luke Young, but his effort hit the post. Everton won a corner down the left, but Powell headed away. Rommedahl turned provider for Hughes, but his header went over. At least the Addicks were creating chances.

Rennie gave a free kick against Fortune in a dangerous position, Ferguson looking as amazed as anyone. The free kick was taken quickly, the back line was asleep apart from Luke Young who was out muscled and Cahill scored from a header. Chris Powell had to put the ball behind to give the Toffees a corner. Eventually the ball was hacked clear. Charlton had been performing well, but the second goal demoralised them.

Half time: Toffees 2, Addicks 1

Murphy made a hurried effort from the edge of the box and it sailed over Martyn's goal as the home fans maintained a reverent hush. Charlton won their first corner of the game, but Martyn caught it comfortably. An Everton free kick created danger for Charlton with a loose ball in the box. Hughes stormed forward, but Rommedahl slipped over.

Murphy gave the ball away and the Toffees stormed forward. Then Charlton provided some pressure, but Cahill got the clearance as the game entered a scrappy phase. From a free kick, Kilbane drew Young away, Cahill gave Holland who was marking him a little push and the Cahill rose from 6 yards out to head past Myhre to make it 3-1 fifteen minutes into the half. Once again a set piece was not sufficiently well defended.

Bent surged forward, Martyn made a half hearted clearance which went to Bartlett but the Springbok put it over the bar from 35 yards having given it too much power. A chance wasted.

Murphy was pulled off after a rather poor game in which Cahill was all over him while Hughes was replaced by Ambrose. Charlton were losing their rhythm. Charlton won their second corner of the game after a free kick from the centre circle. Cahill broke forward and eventually the Addicks won the ball back. Bent was given a yellow card for an alleged foul when Beattie was through one on one.

Cahill scored, but it was ruled out by the referee with a free kick to Charlton in the penalty area. Rommedahl was taken off and was replaced by super sub Kevin Lisbie. Fortune's header struck the post and came off Martyn's arm who then gathered the ball.

Charlton won a free kick on the halfway line after Hreidarsson was brought down, leaving him hobbling. Everton were able to clear. With ten minutes left, the Addicks were looking increasingly stretched. Lisbie conceded a free kick to Everton.
Lisbie made a great leap to head the ball back, Ambrose had a go from a promising position, but the ball went over the crossbar. Another chance wasted.

Ambrose had a shot, Lisbie turned the follow up into the side netting, another chance wasted. Ferguson went off and was replaced by rumoured Charlton target Marcus Bent.

In the two minutes of time added on, Everton won a late corner. Cahill powered through and his shot hit the crossbar from 18 yards out.

Defensive errors at set pieces let Charlton down, but some chances to score were also missed, although they all fell to midfielders or defenders. The West Ham result was more of a breathing space than a recovery.

Joanna: some referees are power mad

Joanna Taylor, Danny Murphy's wife, writes in today's Times about his sending off against Arsenal: 'Technically, he deserved that second yellow card against Arsenal, but some referees are power-mad. They love flexing their muscles and having such an impact on a game. I also think some referees just don’t like certain players. As for Steve Bennett, well, he does have a reputation.'

'Some referees use their initiative and might have thought, in that situation, “this is a team that are 1-0 down, in the middle of a losing streak and that was just frustration”. Others do everything by the book. The inconsistency is the annoying aspect, but I think it would be better if referees concentrated on the players who get away with maiming others.'

'I do not believe players should get away with behaving in a stroppy fashion, though. Danny was stupid and deserved a warning, but I’m not so sure about a sending-off.'

Joanna also express sympathy for the Addickted who went to Newcastle, using it to argue for a winter break, although part of the agenda here appears to be a week away for her and Danny in sunnier climes. The problem with the winter break argument is that the bad weather doesn't arrive at the same time each year.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Year's end brings hope

2005 was not the best of years for the Addickted, but the end of the year brought renewed hope. After a spirited performance against Arsenal, Charlton defeated West Ham 2-0 at The Valley yesterday to gain a valuable three points that put some distance between them and the cluster of teams beneath thm.

Charlton were under pressure for the first twenty minutes of the game, but they held out, and once they went ahead on 21 minutes through Shaun Bartlett they were more composed and in charge of the game. Darren Bent's superb 62nd minute goal put the game beyond any real doubt, apart from among the more nervous Addickted.

What remains to be seen is whether they can follow through against Everton tomorrow and handle a tricky cup match against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. As someone said in the pub afterwards, Charlton are a secure mid-table club trying to move to the next level of top ten club with a chance of Europe and they are not finding the transition easy.

Match analysis

The Association of Canine Match Analysts made their contribution by bringing in Homer the Cherry Hound as match analyst and the lucky labrador chose Radostin Kishishev to win the Silver Bone to accompany his Player of the Month award voted for by the fans. Kishishev had one of his best games for a long time, not only breaking up attacks but making some good passes. In part this may have been because he was relieved of the responsibility to feed Murphy.
The fans sang 'There's only one Thomas Myhre' and he responded by urging them on. He made an excellent save from Shaun Newton to prevent the score going to 1-1.Chris Powell had a good game at left back, providing a pin point cross for the second goal.Luke Young foraged forward well and made some excellent tackles in defence. Hreidarsson seemed comfortable enough in central defence and had a number of attempts on goal from set pieces. Fortune was caught out a couple of times, but also provided some good defensive work. Holland was involved and generally quite effective, without being brilliant. Roomedahl was at his best in the first half, making some great runs forward, but faded somewhat in the second half. He had a number of attempts on goal but lacked sufficient accuracy.
Hughes was again one of the least strong players on the pitch, but he made some neat passing moves and released Powell to set up the second goal. Bartlett has a great work rate and helped in defence as well as in attack. Arguably, he could have added to his tally, but his goal was superb. Bent once again showed that he could seize goal scoring opportunities and was more than ready to get stuck in. Which is more than could be said of Lisbie when he came on as a substitute. Although he did make an effort, with his best effort just wide, his lazy trait was also apparent.

Hiss of the Match Guest Hiss of the Match analyst Arthur Hands was puzzled by the whiff of methane drifting across the pitch at the beginning of the match, but was told that referee Graham Poll from Planet Tring required methane assisted breathing. However, the methane-oxygen mix must have been right as, apart from denying a clear corner after a finger tip save by Carroll from Rommedahl, he generally had a good game. The ginger moggie therefore gave the hiss to the RMT Union for creating uncertainity about travel arrangements.

Crowd rating Got in great voice in the second half, but still need to more vocal when the team is doing less well. 6/10.