Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Game of Two Halves

This cliché has to be brought out at least once a year and it was certainly justified at The Valley today when Charlton beat Middlesbrough 2-1. After an insipid first half in which Boro were the better team and were only denied because of some inspired saves by Thomas Myhre, Charlton's performance was greatly improved by the removal at the start of the second half of the lethargic Bothroyd and the introduction of the inspired Jerome Thomas. Although the score remained at 0-0 for some time, a pass from Chris Powell allowed Darren Bent to put the Addicks 1-0 ahead. Boro equalised with a great goal from Viduka but that man Bent made it 2-1 to give all three points to the Addicks.

Looking round at The Valley, it was evident that even a large block of school children occupying our end of the Jimmy Seed had not prevented a large number of empty seats. Indeed, it was interesting that the attendance was not announced later in the match.

Hughes picked up an early yellow card for fouling Tom McMahon who subsequently had to be substituted. The lack of creativity in the Charlton midfield was very evident and attempts to release Darren Bent simply triggered the offside trap. Following a somewhat dubious Boro free kick, Myjre had to save on the line. He then had to push another effort from distance over the bar.

Matt Holland contributed well in defence and won Charlton a free kick. After a break by Boro, Myhre had to make his third good save of the half. Luke Young conceded a free kick in a potentially dangerous position. Darren Ambrose put in Charlton's first shot on target after 25 minutes of play.

Young was then booked after he conceded another free kick which deflected off the wall and Myhre rushed to collect the ball just inside the area. Boro were awarded another free kick in front of the 'D' but Myhre made the save. At half time we heard that successful reserve team coach Glynn Snodin had gone to Southampton as first team coach, useful experience should his services one day be needed back at The Valley.

Half time: Addicks 0, Boro 0

Hughes and Bothroyd were taken off and Euell and Thomas came on forvthe second half. Parlour was booked by Wiley who pointed out his various offences 'there and there and there'. He was subsequently taken off and replaced by the hero of Boro fans, Lee Catermole. Chris Powell put in an excellent cross to Darren Bent who headed into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

Ambrose was replaced by Bartlett. Maccarone was replaced by Yakubu. Boro equalised through a strong strike from distance by Viduka, the shot from the Australian charm merchant dipping as it approached the goal. The celebrating Boro players deliberately sought to provoke the East Stand.

The Addicks forged down the right and Luke Young put an excellent pass across the front of goal which an unmarked Darren Bent was able to score from with ease. As Young struck his ball, the Bloke Behind Me commented, 'A good ball, I do not think.'
With three minutes of time added on, Myhre had to make another great save and Boro won a corner, Schwarzer coming up in attempt to score. However, the whistle blew, three points were secure and we had done the double over Boro.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch gave the Silver Bone to Darren Bent not just for two well taken goals, but also for a determined tackle he put in in midfield to halt a Boro attack in time added on. Myhre has another excellent game, making some great saves, and it is a shame that he was denied a clean sheet by Viduka's strike. Chris Powell had a great game, thoroughly enjoying himself, out foxing Boro in defence and on the wings and putting in the assist for the goal. Chris Perry was once again Mr Reliability in central defence. Hreidarsson provided his usual authoritative defensive headers, but also made one or two errors. Young helped to create the second goal and was generally alert and effective. Although I am one of Kishishev's defenders, I did not think this was one of his better games with too many misplaced passes. Holland displayed at best a solid competence, but was not involved that much. Hughes was having one of his journeyman days which happen all too often and it was good thinking to withdraw him at half time. Ambrose makes some good runs but he should lay the ball off before he is dispossessed. Bothroyd does not seem to be match fit, he simply failed to challenge for ball enough. Thomas displayed all his guile, determination and trickery once he came on. Euell showed plenty of commitment, but I do not think that he really altered the course of the match. At least he had more impact than Bartlett who seemed to do very little once he was on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to officious, whistle happy referee Alan Wiley who was clearly determined to book Luke Young once he had questioned one of his decisions.

Crowd rating: Fortunately there weren't many Boro fans and they weren't that loud otherwise they would have shown us up even more. The crowd wait for the team to perform rather than trying to urge them on. 3/10.


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