Sunday, February 04, 2007

Good performance, shame about the result

Charlton put in a spirited, determined and often skilled performance against Chelsea at The Valley yesterday, but came away empty handed. A draw would have been fair result, but instead the Addicks saw Wigan pull away for them although defeats for West Ham and Sheffield United gave some encouragement. Indeed, even Manchester City fans were talking on 606 last night of being in danger of relegation.

Charlton fans must be unable to afford watches as the pitch announcer kept informing that it was 'fifteen minutes' or 'less than ten minutes to kick off'.

Chelsea won an early corner which was cleared. Marcus Bent won the ball well and put in a good cross but there was no one there there to connect with it. Faye put in two good tackles. Holland provided a good defensive header at the expense of a corner which was cleared by El Karkouri which led to a good run by Thomas. Charlton were passing the ball well and Bent was unfortunate to be caught by the offside flag.

Carson made a good save. Charm merchant Ballack spent some time mouthing off to referee Halsey and was lucky not to get booked. The expensive midfielder was conspicuous by his absence for much of the match and I must say that Chelsea did not look like a Championship winning team.

Faye made two errors in succession which allowed Lampard to strike from distance and make ot 1-0 on 18 minutes. Shortly afterwards Chelsea put an effort just over the bar.

Charlton won a corner but it was cleared. El Karkouri put in a curving shot from distance which would have dipped under the bar if Cech had not tipped it over. Carson came out to clear with Lampard bearing down on him. Marcus Bent won a free kick but El Karkouri's effort was saved by Cech. Charlton won a corner, but it was poorly taken by Rommedahl. In the one minute added on, a Chelsea free kick posed danger but Carson was able to palm the ball away.

Half time: Addicks 0, Chelski 1

Rommedahl was replaced by Hasselbaink after the break. He turned provider for Thomas who went on a run, but it was unproductive. Chelsea were awarded a dubious free kick by referee Halsey, but fortunately it was useless.

Faye put in a shot that was saved for a Charlton corner. Once again it was poor effort and this is clearly an area where more work is needed. Faye struck again and this time it was only Cech's quality as a keeper that kept the ball out at the expense of another Charlton corner.

Chelsea made a double substitution , Shevchenko's exit being greeted by chants of 'What a waste of money'. Kalou and Wright-Phillips came on, the latter reinvigorating Chelsea's game and making one run that led to a corner.

Charlton continued to press and after a free kick was awarded for a foul on Hasselbaink, his effort went just over the bar. Carson was called on to make another great save. Although three minutes were added on, it was evident that Charlton were not going to make the breakthrough they deserved.

News came in that Leamington had suffered their second defeat in a row at Biddulph Victoria with their lead at the top of the Polymac Services Midland Alliance cut to seventeen points.

Match analysis The Silver Bone was awarded by Monty Martin to Talal El Karkouri (8) who put in an excellent shot on goal and was stalwart in defence. The treasured trophy was also a recognition for his equaliser at Bolton. Carson (7) made some great saves and cannot be faulted for not saving the stunner from Lampard. Thatcher (7) has substantially strengthened the defence, is not afraid to come forward and has good distribution. Hreidarsson (6) provided some good defensive headers and his long throw ins can pose a real threat. Sankofa (6) is improving but is still short of Premiership standard. Bridge found it too easy to evade him. Faye (6) had two shots on goal, but also made two errors that led to the Chelsea goal. Hughes (5) gets an A for effort, but real skill was not in evidence.
Holland (6) played with his usual commitment and made some good interventions. Rommedahl (6) displayed his usual pace, but generally to little effect. Thomas (7) got forward well down the wing, but too much reliance was put on him and he was often attended by three Chelsea players. Bent (7) had an excellent game, operating as an effective target man and always chasing the ball. Hasselbaink (6) made very little difference when he came on, the anonymous Lisbie (5) even less. Diawara was limited to a cameo.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the cynical Chelsea defender Diarra who was lucky to get away with just one yellow.

Crowd rating A little subdued in the first half, but really got behind the team in the second as was acknowledged by Mourinho in his post match interview.


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