For a report of the victory at Sheffield United, please go to Blades Blunted.
2-0 down to Fulham at half time, the Addicks made a partial recovery in the second half to make the final scoreline 2-1. However, if it had not been for two superb saves by Dean Kiely, it could well have been 4-1. With Charlton's addition to the scoreline coming from a Fulham own goal, it is a worrying fact that the Addicks have only scored two goals from open play in three matches. Their first half performance was particularly bad, but even though there was some improvement over the second half, their play was not good enough to justify earning a share of the points. And this was against a Fulham side which, apart from the often menacing Peschisolido, was not particularly impressive. The much vaunted Horsfield was more donkey than horse. But Charlton relied too much on the long ball and generally hoofing the ball around rather than their usual accurate passing. The management were clearly unhappy about the performance and gathered the players on the pitch for a post mortem at the end of the match, as a group of Charlton supporters near me yelled abuse in terms which would be red carded by list master Glynne but will be welcome on the new alternative list.
The day had started unusually when I was given a special over 55 ticket at Leamington station without asking for one. On the one hand, I saved on the deal, on the other, it means that I look older than I am. Clearly the time has come for a 'before and after' deal with Grecian 2000. Strolling to the ground by the banks of the Thames, I came across club photographer Tom Morris who had been attempting to eat his lunch but had been interrupted by his many friends. Another former pupil of St.Margaret's C of E Primary was just finishing talking to Tom, so we had an impromptu school reunion. And then two Essex branch enthusiasts stopped having heard me mention Billericay where I lived after leaving Plumstead Common. Inside the ground I met Sussex coaster Brian Cole who confirmed that Bob the Dog's West Sussex branch membership card would be on its way soon. The loudspeaker announcements were made by a gentleman with a rather plummy voice who used rather old fashioned language such as the need 'to avoid disappointment' by purchasing tickets early for the clash with the other local giants, QPR. New signing Shields was on the bench, but looked very ill at ease and made no response to the cheers of the fans.
Charlton were clearly not going to play a highly defensive game and sought to take the match to Fulham from the kick off. This gave Fulham chances to counter attack and on five minutes Kiely made a diving save from Karen Brady's husband. On ten minutes, Mendonca was put through on goal, but hit the shot over. One of Charlton's best chances came just after the quarter hour when Newton put in one of his better crosses to Steve Jones who headed over the bar. Six minutes later enough space appeared in the Addicks' defence to allow Fulham to mount an attack, and after a ball from Horsfield had come off the bar, Alan Nielson nodded it into the back of the net. It was not until 27 minutes that the first corner of the game was awarded, going to the home side.
On thirty minutes Rufus was booked after he somehow got into a clash of heads with the dimunitive Peschisolido. Both players were left dazed. Charlton's first corner did not come until the 40th minute and was predictably poor. Fulham's second goal came after a muddle in the Charlton defence, the whole move seeming to start with Kinsella being caught out of position. A through ball from Davis found Peschisolido in a one-on-one with Kiely and the small but perfectly formed striker had no problem in finding the back of the net.
Coming back from 2-0 away from home is never easy, but at least the Addicks started the second half with a new vigour and determination. This new approach was signalled by replacing Jones and Newton with Hunt and Parker, allowing Robinson to take up a position he is more comfortable in on the right. Charlton's reward for their renewed pressure came on 52 minutes when, following a corner in which Stuart was a central player in the following action, Melville headed into his own net. Mendonca missed a chance to make it 2-2 shortly afterwards and Fulham got back into the game more. Kiely had to make a good save from Peschosolido. Just over the half hour mark, Pringle was brought on in place of Brown with Robinson dropping back to fill the vacated right back role. Some five minutes later, however, it was Kiely who was called into action again, making a great save from Lee Clark, dfelecting the ball on to the post. Charlton mounted a number of desperate attacks in the last few minutes which, if they had been provided earlier in the game, might have produced something. But it was too late and the only consolation for the Addicks faithful was the 7-1 defeat of Palace at Huddersfield.
Bob the Dog with trainee match analyst Hooch the Pooch.
Match analyst and W. Sussex branch member Bob the Dog is joined by weekend visitor and match analyst Hooch the Pooch . The analysts have agreed that the Silver Bone should go to Chris Powell . In a poor team performance by Charlton, he maintained his usual standards and did some excellent work both in defence and in building up the attack. Bob and Hooch just wish that sometimes he would take the ball forward himself and try and penetrate the opposition's defence rather than laying it off. Dean Kiely was let down by his defence and had his name chanted by the faithful for one of his great saves. Youds is the prototypical big central defender whose main task on this occasion was to stop Horsfield the Donkey come what may. This usually involved little finesse and one often felt that he was in risk of at least a yellow card. Steve Brown did his best which unfortunately wasn't often good enough. The analysts are convinced that he was out of position for at least one of the Fulham goals. The equable Robinson remonstrated with him after he hoofed one ball futilely down the field. Rufus made some good interceptions, but was a little erratic and was nicknamed 'Hoofus' by the fans around me for his forceful clearances directed at no one in particular. He was also lucky to escape with a ticking off after appearing to elbow popular referee Graham Poll. We saw a typical piece of play by Shaun Newton just before the half hour when he used his pace to get forward then put in a hopelessly long cross which sailed over the goalmouth and even past Robinson who had to run after it to gather it up. Stuart was one player who looked better in the second half when he was much more involved. Kinsella's contribution was below his usual high standards. Robinson put in a lot of effort, but picked up another yellow card for dissent and was very lucky not to get sent off for a second offence (his behaviour not having been affected by Mervyn Day doing a particularly spectacular touchline dance after his first booking). In some ways, too much is asked of Robbo, but equally not enough is delivered - or at least not consistently enough. In general, this was not a great day for the midfield. Clive Mendonca had at least two chances, but made little of them. Steve Jones's performance reinforced the view of those critics who see him as a second division battering ram, full of commitment and heart, but lacking finesse and skill. Hunt certainly looked more skilled when he came on, but equally never looked like scoring. Parker made a major contribution to Charlton's second half revival, but then faded badly along with the team. Pringle showed that he could outwit the Fulham defenders when he came on, but never got into a scoring position.
Juneau the Soccer Cat was first inclined to give her Hiss of the Week to the ludicrous Fulham mascot, Sir Craven of Cottage who lumbered around in a fake suit of armour. However, she had no hesitation to giving the final award to the linesman on the Charlton side who made a number of ludicrous decisions and showed no understanding of the offside rule. Indeed, he was so busy stopping Harrod's vouchers falling out of his pocket that he couldn't concentrate on the game. Whether he was Mr Sharp from Herts or Mr Wade from the Isle of White [sic] is not clear. But if he was Sharp, he wasn't, and if he was Wade, he shouldn't bother getting on the ferry.
With Charlton drawn against Bournemouth in the Worthington Cup, Bob and Hooch's friend in the canine football analysts network, Homer the Cherry Hound, has asked for his picture to be posted to show what will be up against on the south coast.
Two goals by defensive midfielder Michael McElhatton gave Rushden and Diamond an important win over the Wings at Nene Park on Bank Holiday Monday. A crowd of 2,805 including thirty-six devoted fans from the San Siro, but they certainly made a lot of noise, led by a large gentleman in a green t-shirt (no, Addicks, it wasn't Tugboat). I was slightly disturbed to see three people in Millwall colours come in and sit down just in front of me. Perhaps they were coming to check on their old electronic scoreboard and possibly take it away in the van afterwards.
The game started rather raggedly with a series of throw ins, but Welling showed that they were prepared to attack and for much of the time the Diamonds were camped out in their own half. Welling commanded the midfield well and their central defenders were impressive. They were keeping the ball on the ground much more whereas Diamonds were hoofing it around in the air a lot and their passing was not very accurate. On the other hand when Welling did get near the Diamonds goal it was difficult to see how they were going to finish, although I was quite impressed by Welling's No.11, Leon Brathwaite. One or two attempts at goal by Welling looked as if they were seeking the familiar territory of Danson Park with the ball soaring out of the ground. Harris in the Welling goal was nothing if not courageous, and he often had to be given the state of his defence. Turley was, however, commanding in the Diamonds goal throughout, even though the noisy contingent from Welling did manage one chant of 'what a waste of money'. Diamonds came closest to scoring in the first half when they hit the bar. Then, just before the break, a Diamonds player was brought down in the area right in front of me. The ref appeared to be about to give the penalty, but then changed his mind. He was surrounded by Diamonds players arguing the point as he left the pitch.
Welling tried hard to score after the break, but never really came near. By now the Diamonds faithful were chanting 'Give us a goal, Rushden'. Play was constantly interrupted by the referee blowing up for any minor infringement, provided it was by Rushden, while the linesman on our side suffered from the sun in his eyes. The ref even managed to disallow two Rushden goals, but chants about his private habits had little effect on Mr Hegley who no doubt had been promised a special buffet next time he visits Park View Road. Rushden stepped up the pressure, but were not helped by their No.11, Chris Underwood, who appeared to have recently graduated from the Shaun Newton school of crossing. Eventually, the pressure had its effect. The first goal by the former Scarborough player was not pretty, but it was effective, and he soon followed up with a second. A chance to make it 3-0 was missed just before the final whistle. Gary Butterworth was chosen as Man of the Match, a good choice, although I would also commend Mark Cooper and Billy Turley. A hard grind for the Diamonds, but they can expect plenty of that during their promotion campaign. One Charlton link is that Terry Westley is now coach at Nene Park.
That was the verdict of Steve from Sidcup after ten man Charlton had taken the points off nine man Bolton Wanderers, currently touring as the Barbarians from the North. Many Addicks were disappointed that Charlton did not win by a bigger scoreline, but playing ten men against nine can disrupt the rhythm of any team, while Bolton did all they could to put Charlton players out of the action with a series of unfair tackles. Paul Robinson, who gave new meaning to the word 'useless', barely kept control of the match and would be best advised to return to the Hull Sunday League from whence he came.
It was a hot, sunny afternoon at The Valley but no sign of the legendary David Michael Todman from Singapore who was going to be presented with one of his own unreadable E mails by David Hatch. (Rick later revealed, however, that he had met Todman who would count as a 'regular guy' to use the words of Doug Chapman). As an ambulance rushed past the Rose of Denmark, fears were expressed that Pringle's toe had gone septic. When I got to the ground, it quickly became apparent that the Bloke Behind Me had blown a gasket at the sale of Steve Jones to Bristol City. Throughout the match, he lost no opportunity to advise us that 'Steve Jones would have got that' or 'Steve Jones would have scored from there.'
Charlton started brightly enough with the impressive Greg Shields putting in an excellent cross after a minute. Unfortunately, there was no one there to meet it. Robinson put in a shot that was difficult for the generally impressive Brannigan in the Bolton goal to hold on to. A free kick then gave Bolton's Per Fransden the chance to deliver a cannonball shot which was well saved by Kiely. But Charlton's play showed a lack of match fitness and was often ragged and inaccurate. It was therefore no surprise when Bolton went ahead. Their move started with a long throw in from Whitlow. Marking was inadequate and with Kiely exposed by his defenders, Johansen was able to make use of a Holdsworth flick on score from a simple tap in.
Charlton did not respond well to this setback and showed an aimlessness and lack of direction in their play that soon angered the crowd. They also had to cope with the physical approach of the Bolton players, the ever popular Dean Holdsworth earning a yellow card on fourteen minutes. Stuart put the ball into Pringle, but the resulting shot was disappointing. The game was rescued on 21 minutes by a crisp cross from Robinson (who had easily evaded his marker)which Graham Stuart delivered with a header into the back of the net. Pringle had another chance five minutes later with another good cross by Shields after a powerful run by the new signing down the right, but headed the ball over the bar. Shields then did the business again with another cross which Robbo narrowly failed to convert at the far post.
There was an anxious moment when Rufus conceded Bolton's first corner on 44 minutes. But more drama was to come. After a dispute about a free kick,Andy Todd seized Graham Stuart by the throat and the affronted Addick understandably put his mits up. The referee sent both players off, a decision subsequently criticised by Curbs as unduly harsh. It certainly had an unsettling effect on Todd's manager father who had to be restrained and led back to the dugout. Curbs expressed concern about the effect of a Stuart suspension on a far from large squad.
The referee stamped his quiet authority on the game again just after the interval when he booked Eddie Youds. Then five minutes into the half Pringle selflessly put in an excellent reverse ball to Mendonca who put it crisply in the back of the net. Charlton are never more vulnerable than when they have just gone ahead and a minute later a shot from Holdsworth struck Rufus and trickled just wide with Kiely unable to defend his goal. Shields continued to impress and Bolton's No.3, Whitlow, decided he should be taken out with a blow to the stomach, an offence for which he received no punishment, as he moved away openly laughing. Bolton pulled off Holdsworth and Hansen on 58 minutes, replacing them with a similarly composed duo, Gudjohnsen and Taylor. Taylor has proved a problem in the past, but not on this occasion. Robbo went off at 62 minutes so that Salako could show what he could do, which turned out not to be very much.
Charlton stepped up the tempo of their play, with Eddie Youds heading just over the bar and then hitting the post. Whitlow finally got his just deserts and was sent off for a second bookable offence on 81 minutes, while Warhurst (brought on at 71 minutes) was lucky to escape only with a yellow for a vicious foul on Newton. Pringle had been taken off to be replaced by McCammon on 73 minutes and the Charlton attack seemed to lose some of its verve. Kinsella nevertheless put in a forceful shot which went just over. Charlton piled on the pressure, but Bolton showed a capacity to counter attack and twice the ball went skimming dangerously across the Charlton goalmouth. Curbishley sensibly sent on Brown in place of Mendonca to hold the line and secure the points, a decision nevertheless vehemently disputed by some fans. Finally, the referee blew his whistle, to be surrounded by complaining Bolton players. The Addicks savoured their three points and a solid eighth place in the table, having again received confirmation that players from the northern parts are of uncertain parentage and direct in their style of play. It was perhaps rough justice that the Bolton coach broke down in Harvey Gardens and had to be abandoned.
Match analyst Bob the Dog did not find it easy to decide who should receive the Silver Bone, but decided on captain Mark Kinsella . After three international matches which would have left most players fit only for a round on the putting green, Kinsella turned in a performance (particularly in the second half) that was truly inspired, full of skill and determination. Kiely had to make some stops from powerful Bolton set pieces and was not to blame for the goal. Shields is an excellent acquisition. He has the pace to take the ball forward, can deliver accurate passes and, above all, has the ability to put in a decent cross. With Youds one always fears that his sometimes unnecessary interventions are going to end in a booking or sending off, but he reminded us that he does have the ability to hit effective shots on goal. Rufus wasn't in the game very much, but used his head to good effect. At some vital moments he seemed to be out of position. Powell moved the ball forward to good effect, but seemed to be out of position for the Bolton goal. Stuart was one of the best players in the first half and we shall miss him when he is suspended. Without him the side seemed to lose some of its balance. Newton does seem to improve a little with each game and was not the problem player that he was at the beginning of the season. Robinson started well enough, providing a great assist for the crucial equaliser, but had to be replaced as he started to fade. Pringle did not have a good first half, but complemented Mendonca well after the break. Maybe he should have been less selfless and had a go himself. Mendonca scored an excellent goal, but arguably missed one other chance. Salako was used to take corners, but tended to over hit them. On this showing, he does not merit being kept on, although some listers take a more generous view. McCammon seemed a little uncertain and out of his depth, although his ball skills were good. The ever faithful Steve Brown had to make do with a cameo appearance in the dying minutes of the match. Juneau the Soccer Cat gives her Hiss of the Week to Whitlow whom she regards as a dirty, cynical player who deserved to be sent off.
Wind up merchant or genuine fan? This is the question that has been puzzling listers about Icelandic Addick Olafur Johansson. Now Johansson has sent me what purports to be his picture electronically, reminding me of my personal connection with Iceland's president as an incentive to put it on my web page. Well, I have parked it on an out-of-use page. If this is a picture of Johansson, he is a grade one nutcase. I am offering a prize of a mint copy of the programme of our Premiership match against Southampton to anyone who is able to identify Johansson - or unmask him (club employees excluded). To find his photo you will have to scroll down on this page: OJ's picture.
Only a dramatic goalline intervention by Richard Rufus saved Charlton from having to go to Dean Court with a one goal deficit for the second leg of this Worthington Cup tie. It was an inept performance by an under strength Charlton side that looked as if they had made the mistake of underestimating a determined and often skilled lower division side. Curbs later denied that the side was under strength and said that the youngsters brought in were keen to play, and certainly many fans were keen to use the tie to give some apparently promising players a chance. Admittedly the pitch was slippery after some quite heavy rain, but Bournemouth were clearly up for it, while Charlton seemed determined to give an exhibition of how not to play football with inaccurate passing, wild balls, a frequent loss of shape and an inability to use speed or skill to penetrate the opposition's defences. Even the second half introduction of Mark Kinsella could not save the Addicks. One of the most disappointing aspects of the evening was the poor showing of the youngsters brought in to show what they could do.
Heavy traffic seeking to enter the Blackwall Tunnel meant that I got to the ground just as the match was about to start. I was not able to go to the Rose of Denmark to see if the threatened Bournemouth hard cases had come up against the zimmer frame crowd. The usual Bloke Behind Me was replaced by a set of Blokes Behind Me whose sole mission in life was to slag off Pringle. Admittedly, he had a poor game, but he did not deserve a torrent of continuous abuse. It reminded me of the group at Fulham who were determined to abuse Robbo in relation to practices referred to in the Old Testament. The only familiar face nearby was 'Del Boy' who was lamenting the fact that having gone to get a paper, £1,500 worth of gear had been nicked off the back of his van, requiring him to visit the Old Bill.
A fit looking Bournemouth side soon showed that they were not daunted by the occasion and looked dangerous on the break. However, Charlton were also lively, with Pringle forcing a corner after seven minutes and Newton volleying not too far over the bar. The course of the match might have been changed if a Mendoca shot from a tight angle after ten minutes, created after the interception of a back pass, had not been cleared off the line. On fourteen minutes a goalmouth scramble offered momentary hope that the Addicks could find the back of the net. Rufus was in the middle of the action, sending one volley way over the goal and also firing wide from a few yards out on 34 minutes. He later got a yellow card on a marginal decision on a tackle (Howe from the Cherries was booked for a firm tackle on Pringle). At the end of the half Kiely was required to make a good save from Northern Ireland international Steve Robinson. Charlton left the pitch to a scattering of boos.
Pringle shot wide just after the re-start, then seven minutes later made a run of the type that produced a goal against Wimbledon last year, but this time he was intercepted. This led the row in the front of me to testify to Pringle's skill, leading the row behind to claim with evident satisfaction, 'But he didn't score' What sort of supporters get satisfaction from seeing their own players failing? Bailey was brought on in place of Warren for the Cherries, the defender having picked up a knock. All too often, Charlton attacks were snuffed out because the build up was too slow, allowing the Cherries to get their players back. Crosses were pumped straight into the hands of Bournemouth's big keeper. When Charlton players did get into scoring positions, they often failed to make anything of it, as was the case with Robinson, who having put the ball straight to the goalkeeper in the first half ballooned it over in the second. There were more corners for both sides in the second half, but Charlton's efforts looked poor compared with those of B ournemouth.
In the closing minutes of the game, it looked as if Bournemouth might go ahead, the Blokes Behind Me deciding that they would not leave early as they might miss 'their goal'. Howe headed just wide and then a shot by Stein was dramatically cleared off the line by Rufus, although apparently Kiely had to tip the downward header on to the bar and over. Then, in the closing minute, a powerful shot from a free kick was tipped on to the bar and over by Kiely. As the Addicks left the field to a mixture of silence and muted booing, one could only hope that the return tie would be approached with more skill and determination.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Rufus both for his vital intervention on the goallline and for generally good play in defence and even in attack. Dean Kiely's performance was perhaps less worrying than I first thought as observers behind the goal assure me that he was caught out of position only once late on in the game. He was much busier than the Bournemouth keeper and kept a clean sheet. Paul Konchesky disappointed those who remember his performance against Newcastle last year and reminded us why Chris Powell is an ever present in the team. Stand in captain Steve Brown battled away as always and had some nice touches, although also some poor ones. Greg Shields was not as impressive as on Saturday, although he did sometimes look like the only player who might create something. Graham Stuart used his pace to good effect on occasions, but also played some poor balls. Newton was little short of a disaster and eventually had to be taken off to be replaced by the battle weary Kinsella. Parker made little impact, playing only one decent ball that I can remember, although also one very bad one. Robinson had a poor game, making little of two decent chances to score. Pringle was on the ball a lot, but rarely did anything useful with it. Mendonca was heavily marked and, as someone remarked, this was really not his sort of game. Kinsella showed how is the key to the side's success when he came on, but it was too late to make a difference. Apart from forcing one corner, McCammon made little contribution when he was brought on. Juneau the Soccer Cat gives her hiss of the match to the bald git of a lino on the East Stand side in the second half who gave a corner when it should have been a throw in. Even the ref was mystified.
Block E, Row Q