Saturday, November 11, 2006

Defensive flaws let Charlton down

Perhaps we should have been alerted by conceding three goals at Chesterfield on Tuesday, but after a series of relatively solid defensive performances, Charlton were let down by errors at the back at Wigan today. The Lactics had too much time and space for their first two goals and Carson should have dealt better with their third. 'Double Bent' (one created by Darren Bent rather than scored by him) goals could not offset the three scored by the home side in the 3-2 defeat.

I wasn't too hopeful of getting anything out of this match and it was an improvement on last year's 3-0 drubbing. The problem is not that we are getting hammered, or even that our play lacks fluency, but we never quite match the opposition in all aspects of the game for ninety minutes. And that way lies the Championship.

On our arrival at the JJB we were greeted by pickets protesting about the low wages paid by the club's owners in his business. The programme contained no less than a five page spread on former Addick (and Lactic) Brendan O'Connell, described as a 'striker', although I remember him as a utility midfield player brought in after the sale of Lee Bowyer. Before the match away supporters were able to sit in a very large lounge (The Marquee), watch the Massives game on a large screen and enjoy a drink and a pie or, in my case, an excellent cup of coffee. Even home fans don't get that at The Valley.

Darren Bent broke through early on, but it led to nothing more than a Charlton throw in. Carson was called on for an early save. Wigan got a corner and the home supporters thought that it was in the net, but later pictures showed that it was cleared off the line by Young. Reid provided an excellent ball and if Ambrose could have been bothered to run on to it, something might have been made of it.

Playing 4-5-1, it was evident that we were seeking to contain Wigan, but the strategy broke down in the 13th minute. Kirkland in the Wigan goal kicked a long ball upfield, assisted by W Wind. Diawara failed to make the header, although some allowance has to be made for the very blustery conditions. El Karkouri was wandering around in a space of his own and Lee McCulloch had no difficulty in making it 1-0.

In the follow up to the goal, Charlton had plenty of possession, but simply couldn't make it count. Wigan were difficult to penetrate, marking well, and dangerous on the break. Over the game as a whole, the Addicks had nearly two-thirds of the possession.

Hapless Matt Holland blasted the ball over the Wigan goal. Darren Bent made a good run, the ball was played back to the unmarked Thomas in a good position but he blasted the ball over to his evident dismay.

Paul Scharner fouled Andy Reid and was awarded a yellow card. At The Valley this might have produced some annoyance and a few remarks about the Onanist habits of the referee (Banbury's Dermot Gallagher had a good game), but the Wigan fans went ballistic and booed Reid every time he got the ball. This reaction and their behaviour after the game led me to conclude that what they lack in numbers they make up for in partisanship.

Thomas was fouled, producing an Addicks free kick and Kirkland had to save on the floor from Hreidarsson. On 40 minutes Camara put in an excellent angled shot which left Carson with no chance to make it 2-0. Darren Bent won Charlton a corner, but it failed to give the Addicks a chance to get back in the game.

Half time: Lactics 2, Addicks 0

Holland was pulled off after the break and replaced by Hasselbaink. A Wigan corner was wasted by the home side. Charlton got a free kick in a promising position and Reid's effort went over the wall but also over the bar.

On 51 minutes Darren Bent burst through and although the well taken strike was actually by De Zeuw, the goal was created by Bent. Charlton now started to apply some pressure. Thomas put in some more good work, then Hreidarsson put Bent through one on one with Kirkland, but the keeper made a good save. Wigan were clearly not happy with the way things were going as they pulled off Cotterill and brought on Valencia. Carson made a good save. Wigan made another substitution, one household name (David Wright) being replaced by another (Denny Landzaat).

Luke Young fed Thomas who turned provider for Bent, leading to a Charlton corner, but the corner was over hit by Ambrose. Webster was pulled off and replaced by Matt Jackson. Diawara, who presumably had taken a knock, was replaced by Kishishev. A Charlton corner eventually led to a free kick. I was surprised on 75 minutes to see some Wigan fans leaving which must be an early leavers' record, but perhaps they had to put in a few hours at the JJB warehouse to earn their admission money.

Faye defended well, but conceded a free kick in the process. The unmarked substitute Jackson was able to head into the goal to make it 3-1, scoring his first goal in three years. The defending was simply not good enough and Carson could have done better as was evident by the way he showed his frustration.

The hapless Ambrose was at last replaced by Marcus Bent. Carson made a poor kick out and showed his despair. Then on 90 minutes Marcus Bent saw his chance and the much derided striker scored a well taken goal. Big Bent subsequently went down injured and there was simply not enough time for an equaliser.

Statisticians have already been at work to show that we cannot avoid relegation. They may be right, but if that mindset takes hold of the Addickted, it will communicate itself to the players and actually reduce our chances of escaping regulation.

Another argument being put forward is that we should avoid having a cup run. I agree that the league is more important, but we can't set out to lose matches and a cup run would boost morale and bring us prestige and funds.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch's scores in The Observer tomorrow are previewed here. The Silver Bone was awarded to Darren Bent (7) not just for a well taken goal, but for his skill and commitment throughout the match. Young (6) did try to forge forward and to defend as best as he could, but he did not look like an England player. Diawara (7) was decisive and effective and it was worrying to see him withdrawn, presumably because of an injury. El Karkouri (6) actually put some quite good long balls forward. Hreidarsson (6) was energetic and determined and quite a threat in attack. Faye (6) did play his part, but was not in the game as much as I would have liked.
Holland (5) made a very limited contribution and was rightly withdrawn at half time. Ambrose (4) has plenty of advocates, but I consider that he offered very little today. He needs to run into potentially promising positions more. Thomas (7) was a real danger on the wing, a shame that he cannot shoot straight. Reid (7) was all hustle and bustle and generally to good effect, he managed to rile the opposition crowd. Hasselbaink (5) made little difference when he came on.
Kishishev (5) was poor. Marcus Bent (6) at least managed to score a goal in the short time he was on. A case for a double Bent starting partnership.

Hiss of the Match This was almost given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the lippy twelve year old supporters that Wigan seems to attract, but cats do not like torrential wind and rain. Not only was the match affected by blustery conditions, but torrential rain and driving wind marked the walk back to the car park and we were soaked through. Hence, Juneau gave the hiss to the weather.

Crowd rating: The Addickted were not in out in force, but they managed to out sing the home crowd at the beginning of the match, but their volume turned up once they had scored their first goal, resorting to a chant of 'going down'. 6/10.


Blogger Kappacino Kid said...

Earlier this season you were quite pessimistic about our future and that Championship was beckoning, i felt then that you were being over pessimistic, however things are not working out in the league and I am now beginning to worry, a point at Reading is a minimum, 3 points really is a must

10:01 PM  

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