Swindon cup report at Volume 7.
A superb strike in the 41st minute from much maligned midfielder Keith Jones brought Charlton back into this game against Barnsley and secured a worthy away point for the Addicks. The Tykes had gone ahead after 90 seconds with a goal from a half cleared corner volleyed into the net by loan player Steve Chettle. Egged on by the crowd, the 'homer' referee ignored some physical play and cynical diving in the box by Barnsley, but found time to book central defenders Eddie Youds and Richard Rufus. He added three more Charlton names to his tally in the second half while only giving one booking to his fellow northerners.
With the rain pouring down and a cold wind, it was hardly an inviting setting for the four hundred or so Addicks in attendance, although the former open end is now covered. (Rick Everitt puts the number of Addickted at nearer eight hundred: anyway, they all deserve medals). Barnsley are threatening at set pieces and so it proved to be with their early goal, Chettle's powerful shot giving Kiely no chance. A heavy challenge on Sir Clive was ignored by the referee. A great cross from Brown was headed away from under the far post by Curtis. Charlton won a corner, but Barnsley broke from it with the ball being put out by Keith Jones. A Newton volley drew a good save from Miller in the Tykes' goal. Hunt then had a chance from three yards out, but he had received the ball too quickly and put it wide. Then Mendonca was in on goal, but the ball bounced favourably for Barnsley. Mendonca was then bundled off the ball, and while Charlton were looking for a foul, Eaden put in an angled shot from twenty yards that flashed past the post. Sheron ran into Youds, and while Keith Jones was receiving treatment for a blow in the face, the ref had a word with both of them. Sheron then provoked Rufus who hauled him to the ground and for a moment there was a fear that the card might not be yellow. The free kick went into the wall, but Shipperley got a touch, but it went just wide. Then Kiely made a save which the home fans tried to claim was outside the box. Jones was down again with fears that he might have concussion.
The match had quietened down somewhat by the half hour. Charlton had plenty of possession, but they lacked the killer touch. Charlton got their 2nd corner on 36 minutes but it was cleared. Then a handball a yard outside the area gave the Addicks a chance with a Kinsella free kick. Unfortunately it went just past Richard Rufus's head and flashed past the post. Hignett then dived for the penalty at the end. Having been spoken to twice, Eddie Youds entered the ref's book for a challenge. Mark Kinsella showed his appreciation of the home fans' role by applauding them. Then on 41 minutes the supposedly 'pointless' Keith Jones put in a spectacular volley over the keeper's head. A free kick was just cleared by Steve Brown and then Shipperley dived in the area in an attempt to get the Tykes a chance to restore their lead. Youds had to clear after a move involving Curtis and Eden, but the ball came back in and Powell put it behind. Fortunately the shot from the corner went about a yard over.
Knowing Charlton's reputation for conceding goals just after the break, Barnsley stepped up the pressure after half time. Good defending by Eddie Youds which held off Sheron allowed Kiely to make an important save. Then Rufus made a vital interception. On 51 minutes, Rufus cleared the ball behind. The corner was half cleared and then turned behind by Newton. Kiely made a good catch from the second corner. A few minutes later, however, he was nearly beaten when an unchallenged Barnsley header went wide. The surface was becoming increasingly slippery and Kiely's momentum took him out of the box. Barnsley were given a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, but Newton cleared the ball. Under pressure from Hignett, Kinsella made a superb defensive header back to Kiely.
On 58 minutes Charlton had their third corner, but the Addicks are not usually threatening from corners and it was headed clear. On 60 minutes Pringle was brought on for a clearly disappointed Mendonca who disappeared down the tunnel. (When Curbs was asked about the fact that Mendonca didn't seem very happy in the post-match press conference, the droll supremo replied, 'That's life. I would have been happy if we had won 2-1). Kinsella drew a fingertip save from Miller. The resulting corner was headed behind. Salako put in a dangerous ball which was somehow cleared off the line by a rattled Barnsley defence. On 64 minutes Sheron got away, Rufus put in a great tackle, Shipperley dived, and the ball went out for a corner. From the resulting corner Tinkler put in a header which was four yards wide. Chris Powell got booked for kicking away a Barnsley throw in. On 68 minutes Pringle failed to hear the whistle when he was caught offside and got a yellow card for putting the ball in the net, the referee clearly being an old Sheron fan from his Stoke days. A free kick just outside the Charlton penalty area was quickly taken by Eden, but the alert Kiely punched it away.
On 72 minutes Appleby was replaced by Palace reject Geoff Thomas who has followed Bertie Bassett round the clubs. A Kinsella corner was punched clear. On 73 minutes Todd was brought on for Salako who acknowledged the cheers of the Addickted and then went to sit in the dugout rather than opting for an early bath. Chettle picked up a yellow card for a foul on Pringle. Newts moved out to the left with Kinsella out to the right and the quickly involved Todd in the centre. Mark Kinsella didn't take it kindly when the linesman failed to notice a foul on him and got a yellow card for his troubles. On 79 minutes Kinsella put a ball into Newton who had made a late run. However, his header was not forceful enough and it was easily collected by Miller. Hignett fouled Kinsella, but - surprise, suprise - did not receive a booking.
The second half had been tighter than the first and the game drifted to a quiet close (even more so when I lost the feed from Barnsley). Charlton were determined to hang on to what they had. An away draw at Barnsley is a good result given their position in the table and would look even better if it had not been for our poor performance in the last three home matches. But Manchester City have shown that they are not invincible and the same will surely apply to Huddersfield.
Bob the Dog takes great pleasure in awarding the Silver Bone to Keith Jones. Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the hiss of the match to the referee who thinks that northern players can do no wrong, but southern players are dirty cheats.
A report in Friday's Daily Telegraph suggests that Charlton manager Alan Curbishley might be interested in a move to managerless Blackburn. Curbs made it clear that he would welcome the chance to speak to Jack Walker, if Blackburn makes an official approach and the Charlton board allowed him to. It has already been pointed out by a board source that Curbs is tied into a long-term contract and cannot resign. However, all that would mean would be that Blackburn would have to pay substantial compensation to Charlton providing a ready made transfer kitty for any replacement.
Stunned match analyst Bob the Dog reads the news about Curbs.
Curbs hinted that he would like a new challenge: 'I've had nine years as manager and I feel I have gained a lot of experience during that time.' Blackburn would be able to offer far greater resources for acquiring players than are available at Charlton. Curbs has been linked with Villa and West Ham in the past, and was given a new contract after QPR made an approach. This time his departure seems a real possibility. Although the 'attractions' of Blackburn seem to be the main factor, he may have been aware of increasing criticism of his managerial abilities from Charlton supporters despite the club being 3rd in the table. Curbs has himself referred to the problem of excessive expectations at the club in his programme notes on a number of occasions recently. Although he may not know what is said on the list, he can hear comments from the crowd and may be aware of the number of negative (unaired) comments to the Millennium Radio reaction line after the home draw against Port Vale.
The writer of this diary with Curbs in happier times - shame about the shirt.
Inevitably thoughts are already turning to possible successors. Listers are hoping that Keith Peacock rather than Mervyn Day would serve as caretaker manager. Some Addicks would like to see the highly respected and popular Peacock as manager, but others think that he lacks sufficient experience at the top level. His time may have passed and he may not want it anyway. One interesting suggestion made by lister Kap Varma is of Robert Lee as player-manager.
That was the view of the Bloke in Front of Me (Mike from Eltham) after Charlton had gone down 2-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, losing their chance of going to the top of the league. A blatantly offside goal from Ward put Rovers ahead, but just before the break, Charlton replied with a sweet strike from Shaun Newton. However, Charlton made their customary recent error of giving a goal away just after half time, Ward benefitting from a series of defensive errors. Despite a number of attacks by the Addicks, the ball never really looked like going in the net.
Blackburn showed from the start that they intended to attack, winning a corner in the opening minute of the game. However, Kiely caught the ball comfortably. Rufus then saw off another Blackburn attack, shpehreding the ball put. There was a bizarre incident as a black cat raced on to the pitch and then in front of the Blackburn goal, but it was not a good omen for Charlton. They did make a surge forward, with Kinsella putting a ball into Newton, but the chance was lost when he shot straight at the keeper. A Kinsella free kick found Rufus's head but the shot went over the crossbar. Almost immediately, as Charlton were reassembling at the back, Ward in a clear offside position lobbed over Kiely to put Blackburn ahead on eleven minutes.
This was as unfair a decision as I have seen at The Valley and it unsettled Charlton. Moreover, it was followed by a dubious corner and a sequence of strange thrown in decisions. On 19 minutes, a shot from Robbo was parried by the keeper. Blackburn were playing a physical game and Ward picked up a yellow card for an attack on Rufus. Charlton's luck was not with them, a ball from a free kick being picked up by Brown who hit the crossbar. The off form Robbo then managed to put the ball wide just after the half hour. Shortly afterwards Kinsella put a ball in which Robbo could have put into the back of the net. Charlton then had two corners in sucession and another shortly afterwards, the ball in this case being caught by the keeper. Kinsella's corners rarely seem threatening because the ball usually drops short of the goal. Hunt blazed over and a Kinsella free kick was turned over by the keeper. Then Rufus put in a long ball, it was flicked on by Hunt and Newton was on hand to power it into the back of the net.
Charlton were clearly not minded to use their get out of gaol card. In the last two home games, they have conceded goals just after the break. Two minutes into the half Ostenstad powered through the Charlton 'defence' (where was Steve Brown?). Kiely pushed the ball out, but Ward was on hand to put in an angled shot. I felt as disheartened as I have this season. My sense was that Charlton were not going to even get a point and I think that was shared by much of the crowd.
There were some decent attempts on goal. Fifteen minutes into the half, Mendonca (who might have tried to score himself) played a ball to Brown in front of goal but the keeper was able to make the save. This was followed by a couple of corners which ended with Brown putting the ball over. On 63 minutes Salako was brought on the fading Robinson and he was followed on 72 minutes by the substitution of Jones by Stuart. This was a popular choice, as Jones has become a scapegoat for some supporters, but did not make any real difference to Charlton's performance. Brown put the ball on the top of the net and close to the half hour, Hunt put in a great cross, but Mendonca just failed to connect in front of goal. Pringle was brought on for Powell on 78 minutes in a last gamble to strengthen the attack, but it failed to work. Just after forty minutes a powerful drive from Kinsella shot just past the post. Rufus drew a save from the keeper and a late corner gave a flicker of hope. But by this time disheartened Addicks were streaming out of the ground, coming to terms with the fact that expectations of an automatic promotion place were perhaps unrealistic. For us it was a long drive back to Leamington. If Charlton do buy a new forward, he should be told that one of his jobs will to be to recover from needless goals conceded by a porous defence.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to on form goal scorer Shaun Newton . Kiely didn't have a lot to do apart from the two goals which shows that Blackburn, unlike Charlton, take their chances. For the second goal, he was let down by his defence. Youds made his presence felt, but was unable to do anything to prevent the crucial second goal. The same was true of Rufus who increasingly appeared in an attacking role as the game went on. Brown had a rather poor game, often appearing to be out of position, although he was unlucky not to score. Powell was his usual capable self. Jones will attract the usual criticism for not playing the ball forward, but at least he was in the action a lot. I thought that Kinsella was below his best: all the matches he has played must be taking their toll. Robinson had a poor game, missing two chances to score and sometimes passing the ball to Blackburn players or putting it out when Charlton were on the attack. Hunt worked his socks off and was particularly good at picking up long balls from Kiely. Mendonca did not have a good game, failing to take two chances to score. Salako did not make a lot of difference when he came on and Stuart was particularly disappointing. Pringle huffed and puffed, but could not turn the game.
Juneau the Soccer Cat had no hesitation in awarding the Hiss of the Match to the West Stand linesman, who made his way to the East after the break to receive the plaudits of the crowd.
After being given a 2-0 lead at half-time through two goals from Clive Mendonca, the Addicks threw two points away against Port Vale by conceding two goals early in the second half. When you throw away a two goal lead at home, you get what you ask for and although they hit the woodwork twice in the second half, there was little real hope of reclaiming the vital three points. As Steve from Sidcup commented, 'I felt sympathy for them last week, but I feel no sympathy for them this week.
There was no hint before the match of the sickener to come. Despite the closure of Charlton Station, which Kap had drawn to our attention during the week, there was an excellent turnout of listers in the Rose of Denmark. Robin was absent, but Joe and Janet Dray had returned from their visit to a football tournament in New Mexico.
As is so often the case, Charlton started brightly. Prospects were improved by the fact that Vale were not playing the usual flat back nine of visiting teams from lower down the table, but a 4-3-3 formation. Hunt shot rather tamely at the goalkeeper after four minutes, but then a ball from Shaun Newton forced an early corner. A cross from Newton led to a goalmouth scramble, but the ball failed to go in the net. Two further corners followed in quick succession after six minutes and after the second a shot from Hunt flashed just past the post. A fourth corner followed and Keith Jones missed with a shot on fourteen minutes. Then a free kick awarded after Hunt had been brought down came back off the wall, but Robbo was able to work the ball back in, allowing Sir Clive to put the ball in the back of the net on fifteen minutes. It was almost two moments later with Robinson being fed the ball by Mendonca, but Musselwhite getting down to smother it.
Vale's Dave Brammer conceded a free kick for tripping Jones and then appear to push the irate midfielder. Shaun Newton put a good cross in, but Robbo put the ball out for a goal kick. Vale actually gave Kiely something to do with a break which finished with the ball being tipped by him over his crossbar. Vale's Matt Carragher picked up a booking. There was a shout for a penalty from a handball just before the half hour, but the referee managed to see nothing. Just after the half hour, Musselwhite had to make a save from a Hunt header. Then Powell made a great penetrating run down the left ending in an excellent cross. Vale pulled off Brammer and brought on Tony Naylor, a former tormentor of the Addicks at The Valley. But Charlton kept up the pressure with two more corners. Brown flicked on from Kinsella's kick and Sir Clive was able to guide the ball into the back of the net. A Sir Clive hat trick seemed possible and, such was the mood of the crowd that when the players went off for the break the demand of the Bloke Behind Me to 'Sort it out Charlton!' was greeted with derisive laughter.
The mood quickly changed when Vale pulled one back twenty minutes after the break. A long ball from Musselwhite enabled Rougier to put in a shot from twenty yards which eluded Youds and left Kiely beaten. Brown picked up a yellow card for a tackle and was clearly under close scrutiny from the referee thereafter. A Kinsella free kick gave a chance to Youds, but he put his header wide. A rather dubious free kick was directed to Foyle and without any defensive cover the exposed Kiely could do nothing to stop the equalieser going in. Immediately afterwards a break from Port Vale called for a vital save from Kiely. Charlton then had a chance to get back in things with a corner, but Rufus's volley was well over. A couple of Charlton corners provided one of the best chances of the half, but Mendonca's header hit the bar and the follow up from Rufus went well over.
As the half hour mark approached, the expected substitutions occurred, but the decisions were unexpected. There had been speculation that Jones might come off for the more attack oriented Stuart. However, Hunt was somewhat surprisngly pulled off in favour of Pringle while Salako came on in place of Newton. If anything, the substitutions undermined Charlton's performance. There was a half chance for Robbo almost immediately, but he missed. Eight minutes later Jones was finally pulled off in favour of Stuart. A Rufus volley came off the woodwork and a ball from a free kick gave Rufus another chance to use his head. The Addicks made a series of attacks, but hope was draining away. The whistle was greeted with a chorus of boos and demands that Curbishley sign a striker - over looking the fact that defensive errors (of which there had been many apart from those that produced the goals) had thrown a clear lead away.
Bob the Dog assisted this evening by both Hooch the Pooch and Homer the Cherry Hound has awarded the Silver Bone to Clive Mendonca . Dean Kiely did not have that much to do, but he made one vital save which prevented a 2-3 humiliation. Steve Brown was called up in place of the injured Greg Shields and gave a generally solid performance, although he was out of position for the second goal. Eddie Youds made some decisive interventions, but might be at blame to some extent for the first Vale goal. Rufus was a stalwart in defence, but was less impressive in his attacking role, missing four chances to score. But he came as close as anyone to making it 3-2. Powell had another good game. Jones was as accurate as ever and outwitted Vale more than once, but was probably not the player to be on the pitch once they had equalised. Kinsella gave his all, but I sometimes wonder if we might get more from corners if he didn't have to take every one. I thought that Newton had an excellent game, using his pace to great effect and I was surprised to see him taken off. Robinson missed two half chances to score, but made a substantial contribution overall. I though that Hunt played well, nearly scoring once and I was surprised to see him taken off, as I felt that he might still have scored. Mendonca provided two goals and came close to a third. What more can one ask? Salako at least provided another corner taker, but contributed less than Newton. Pringle was a waste of space. Stuart was not on long enough to make a difference, but showed few signs of being likely to do so anyway.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Greenwich Council for introducing a parking scheme which shows no regard for the fans of the community based club it claims to support or any understanding of the inadquacies of the public transport alternatives.
The large contingent of moaners among the Addickted was in full cry as Charlton nicked three points at the County Ground with a 2-1 victory over Swindon. With Huddersfield going down at Walsall, Charlton moved back into second place in the table. However, this was not good enough for the grumblers who resorted to the classic cry of 'Sort It Out Curbishley', along with 'You're playing like a yo-yo team.'
It was certainly a nerve wracking night for the 1,000 or so Addicks who had made their way to Wiltshire and found their way round the magic roundabout. First half goals from John Robinson and Shaun Newton (replacing the injured Stuart) put the Addicks in front, but then Swindon pulled one back and somehow failed to score a second in a goalmouth scramble. The second half also saw incidents at both ends which could have led to goals, but Bob the Dog's Man of the Match Dean Kiely brought off some superb saves. Charlton's defending was often frantic and relied too much on the long ball booted to no one in particular. However, they held out against a spirited Swindon side who had drawn 1-1 at Molineux at the weekend. As Radio 5 put it as we drove back through silent Cotswold villages, it was a victory for class over frenticism. The moaners would say that we were riding our luck again.
We were in for a treat when we got to the County Ground as our visit coincided with the return of Rocking Robin after a two year absence. Kitted out with a new costume by Sainsbury's, the hapless mascot nearly tripped over his own feet. He was greeted on the pitch by the shivering Robinettes with their pom poms, reminding us that Swindon is in the running for being named the national capital of naffness. And the club managed to admit more fans to the stand than there were seats, leading to some confusion before the overspill was directed to the open area behind the goal where we all got soaked a couple of years ago.
Swindon started more brightly than a rather uncoordinated Charlton. An early worry was when Shields went down and had to receive extensive treatment. Light relief was provided by the Swindon subs who were dressed in garb that looked as if it had been borrowed from KwikFit, provoking a round of the 'KwitFit fitters' song. Kiely had to make a good save from an early shot from Carrick and then had to save from a ball which deflected wickedly on nine minutes. By ten minutes into the game Charlton had recovered from their hesitant start and Robbo won a free kick then a corner. Some really superb diamond pattern passing between Newton and Kinsella took the ball up the field and produced a second Charlton corner. The Addicks then conceded a corner, but the kick was collected comfortably by Kiely. Good work by Hunt produced another corner. Good approach work by Newton produced a chance for Robbo which went just over. However, just afterwards a free kick from Kinsella allowed Robinson to score with comfort on 24 minutes. It was an assist from Robbo that gave Newton the chance to score with a powerful volley on 39 minutes. But then Swindon charged down the pitch on the break, outmanoeuvring the Charlton defence and giving West Ham loan player Carrick the chance to pull one back for Swindon. Minutes later Swindon nearly equalised in an amazing goalmouth scramble when it seemed that the ball must go in. It hit the underside of the crossbar and Kiely also managed to kick the ball a short distance away. This will be one for slow play treatment on the promised Christmas video from the Communications Department. Youds then picked up a yellow card for a needless foul on 44 minutes.Swindon hit the bar twice after the re-start and then Kiely made a good save from Carrick at the near post. A shot from Williams cannoned off the post. Some ten minutes after the re-start, Newton forced a corner with the ball having to be cleared off the line. Twelve minutes into the half Kinsella put in a cannonball shot which was one of the best Charlton attempts of the half. Hunt was also denied by a save from the Swindon keeper and Mendonca hit the woodwork from a corner. Swindon decided to fortify themselves with the over forties by bringing on Quinn.
Urgent consultations could be seen in progress in front of the Charlton dugout and any appearance of Salako at the Charlton end was greeted with shouts of his name. However, when the substitution came it was a double one with the tiring Shields being replaced by Steve Brown and Pringle coming on in place of Mendonca. Pringle almost immediately got through on goal but was cynically brought down in a way which surely deserved more than a yellow card. The resultant free kick came off the Swindon wall and after that Pringle seeemd to lose interest. Charlton had to resort to increasingly desperate defending with Todd being brought on in a cameo role in stoppage time in replace of Newton. The generally efficient referee then blew up and the shouts of 'Deano' that greeted Kiely indicated who the faithful thought was responsible for Charlton's victory. As we collected our car, we were able to sample the legendary sophisticated wit of Wiltshire as two yokels shouted '**** off Charlton' as they clambered on to their tractor. Fortunately, two divisions are likely to separate Charlton and Swindon next year and the County Ground can be struck off our itinerary, although it is a very easy drive from Leamington.
Match analyst Bob the Dog had no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to Dean Kiely who showed once again why he is a million pound goalkeeper. Eddie Youds was commanding in defence once again, his name being repeatedly chanted by the Addickted. He was once again effectively complemented by Richard Rufus . Chris Powell was somewhat below his best and this was even more true of Greg Shields , although he may have been affected by the knock he took early in the first half. Keith Jones was the subject of repeated complaints by the Bloke Beside Me who declared 'I hate Keith Jones' and 'he can do no wrong in Curbishley's eyes.' The answer to the question about what Jones is doing there is that he provides deft and invariably accurate passes which is what one wants from a defensive midfielder. My heart sunk when I heard that Newton had been selected, but it was a good choice by Curbs. Apart from scoring the goal, he put two other shots only just over and used his pace to good effect. However, one cross was poor and some of his passing was inaccurate. Kinsella was once again authoritative and vigorous. Robinson had a great game and was runner up to Kiely for the Silver Bone. Hunt showed once again that he is a very good player at this level. Mendonca seemed out of sorts again, although he did come close to scoring. Pringle just didn't seem to be interested, making little effort to move around. With both our goals coming from midfielders, we need reinforcement up front, although there sometimes seemed to be a huge gap between the midfield and the forwards with Hunt being left alone on his forays with little or no support. Brown did what he had to do very effectively. Todd was on for too short a period to make any judgement.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the Bloke Beside Me who kept up a stream of moaning throughout the game, directed particularly at Powell and Jones. Anything less that Charlton winning every ball was unacceptable and every time Swindon got hold of the ball he predicted an equaliser. It is evident that some people can't enjoy the match without slagging off their own team.
Keith Jones, slagged off by the Bloke Beside Me.
Former Addick Paul Sturgess found himself in the news again when he was Man of the Match at Hereford's 1-0 victory over Hartlepool on the FA Cup which was shown on Sky. Hereford have drawn Leicester at home in the 3rd round. Left back Paul left Charlton for the Spanners and then spent a period on loan at Brighton. Perhaps his career will be given a new boost at Hereford. Our picture shows him with Addick's Diary writer Wyn Grant. Remember that shirt?
Block E, Row Q
In front of the Bloke Behind Me