Saturday, October 21, 2006

The delivery wasn't there

'The time for words is over ... It's time to deliver' declared Addicks supremo Iain Dowie in the match programme. Well, the delivery didn't happen in Charlton's 0-0 draw with Watford which left them rooted to the bottom of the table. The Addicks had their chances, but they failed to take them and were only saved by a defeat from a similar inability on the part of the Hornets and some resolute defending by the home side.

There were some good individual performances, but the overall team performance was not there. Passing often lacked accuracy, there was too much hit and hope and the final ball was usually poor, although ex-Gees Gees keeper Luke Foster made some excellent saves. Charlton's performance at set pieces, often the best chance to score, was poor.

One of the key problems was the ability of the players to adapt to a 4-3-3 (or 4-3-1-1) formation with Hasselbaink relegated to the bench, something called for by many of the Addickted. For much of the first half Bent was often left isolated at the front as it looked more like 4-5-1. The players sometimes seemed uncertain of their roles and the team lost its shape.

Iain Dowie felt that Charlton were denied two clear penalties by the fussy referee and most of the crowd thought the same. Certainly when Faye was wrestled down in the box when he was through on goal, an award should have been made. Some fans were calling for Dowie's head after the game, probably the same ones who were critics of Curbs, but Dowie isn't going anywhere anytime soon so we just have to buckle down and carry on fighting. Certainly there was no lack of spirit today.

Watford's shirts are among the more risble I have seen recently, suggesting that they are on loan to the Premiership.

Reid and Rommedahl combined well in the opening minutes, but Rommedahl hesitated when he should have had a shot and the chance was lost. Diawara showed early on that he is capable of excellent defensive work. Watford were not here for one of their customary draws and applied early pressure.

Jerome Thomas advanced on goal, his effort was just saved and then Young put the ball wide. Rommedahl won Charlton their first corner, followed by a second. Thomas and Reid combined well, but Darren Bent put his shot wide. Diawara provided more good defensive work and then Holland was called on to stifle an attack. Watford won their first corner but it was saved by Carson.

El Karkouri tried to control a Charlton corner, but was not successful. Watford were not far wide from close range. The Hornets won a free kick for that rare event, a Rommedahl tackle. Further good work between Thomas and Reid led to a Charlton corner. Thomas approached the goal with a virtuoso dribble, wrong footing the Watford defence, but his effort went over the bar. Watford showed that they were still buzzing with a corner and a shot from distance that was not far wide.

Reid put in a great shot from distance which was well saved by former Racing Club Warwick keeper Foster at the expense of a Charlton corner. Referee Lee Mason is the hero of the Bolton Referees' Circle with his rapid advance from Sunday football. He awarded Charlton a free kick on the edge of the area for a handball, but given that the offending player's feet were in the box when he handled, it should have been a penalty, even in pub football. Reid put in a great shot put it was tipped over the bar by the alert Foster who has clearly acquired skills he never had when he was in goal at Racing and working at Cafe Rouge in Leamington.

The resultant corner was cleared and another won by the energetic Reid led to a Watford break and a Carson save.

Half time: Addicks 0, Hornets 0

Rommedahl won a Charlton corner in the first minute, but Watford broke away and Holland had to make the recovery. Reid broke through and won a corner but it was caught by Foster. The keeper then saved at the feet of Luke Young, although the England fringe player could probably have done better.

The East Stand linesman made a marginal offisde decision against Darren Bent. Rommedahl got himself into a good position but put the ball wide. Watford were coming into the game more and won a succession of corners.

A Watford free kick led to a Watford corner and danger in front of the Charlton goal, but a second Watford corner ended in a Charlton free kick. The East Stand linesman once again ruled against Darren Bent for offside, this time surely getting it wrong. The striker played on, but put his shot just wide of the post. El Karkouri went down injured.

An effort by Bent went way over. Hreidarsson, who had nearly scored an own goal earlier, created danger in defence with a needlessly risky ball. On 78 minutes the tiring Thomas was pulled off in favour of Hasselbaink. A good cross was put across the front of goal, but there were no Charlton players to connect. Matt Holland picked up a yellow card for a foul.

Two Watford corners led to a Watford free kick and a yellow card for Darren Bent. Charlton won a curious free kick when two of their players collided. With four minutes of time added on, Charlton made increasingly desperate efforts to score, but it was clear that the goal was not going to come.

Boos rang out around the ground after the final whistle was blown, but there was warm applause for Chris Powell who donned a Charlton shirt and then did his jack in the box routine out of the tunnel.

The Observer comments this morning that 'Iain Dowie will take encouragement from this display. Brian Glanville in The Sunday Times says 'Having now watched them five times this season, one feels that they are just not yet quite a lost cause.'

Newcastle are by no means invincible and they may feel that all they have to do is to turn up to claim three points. Relegation issues are never decided by mid-October.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has added the scores that will appear in his fan's match analysis in The Observer tomorrow as canine reporting gains a foothold in the broadsheet press. There was some confusion when Hooch awarded the Silver Bone to Soulemayne Diawara (8) as the German Shepherd cross can bark in German but not in French. Making his debut at The Valley, Diawara was rewarded for a calm, confident and assured display at the back. Carson (6) was not that much tested by Watford but kept a clean sheet nevertheless. Hreidarsson (6) forged forward well, although there is a view that he is part his sell by date and would certainly be better as a centre back. Young (7) made some excellent runs forward and was a real threat to the Hornets defence. El Karkouri (5) did not do well with his free kicks and although he was competent enough I always felt nervous when he was the last defender. Faye (6) was not that prominent in the game, but what he did contribute was well executed. Holland (5) preferred to Hughes did not make a major contribution.
Reid (7) was busy and effective and came as close as scoring as anyone. He is certainly looking a lot fitter. Thomas (6) did well in the first half, but his lack of fitness showed as he faded in the second.
Rommedahl (7) made some good runs forward and combined well with other players. Hasselbaink made little difference when he came on.

Hiss of the Match This was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand linesman who ruled that Darren Bent was offside when he certainly wasn't and in a position to advance on goal.

Crowd rating: Got more animated in the second half, but often quiet in the first. 6/10.


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