Blackburn away: I shall be on a work trip to California when this match is played, but I am hoping that my son-in-law Andy Candelent will be able to post a report. Go to Volume 6
Charlton finally stopped the prospect of a giant killing act by Blackpool with two goals in two minutes in the second half of the match at The Valley. Blackpool had gone ahead in the first half with a well taken goal after poor defending had let the home side down. Charlton had the majority of the possession and showed their quality with the accuracy and fluency of their passing. Nevertheless, it took a penalty after a clear handball to allow Graham Stuart to put the Addicks on equal terms. A goalmouth scramble produced a second goal from Jason Euell. Charlton had a number of chances to make it 3-1, but were denied both by their own profligacy and the excellent play of Blackpool's keeper Phil Barnes. Indeed, Blackpool threatened to earn a replay with a fierce late shot which was stopped with considerable skill by Deano. The Seasiders were chanting '2-1 to the referee' during the match and even an hour afterwards we were greeted by a group chanting 'How much did you pay the referee?' But in the end, Charlton's superior quality won the day, although there were some heart stopping moments on the way. We were thus spared headlines about Blackpool's 'towering strength' and their 'being as solid as rock'.
Arriving at the R*se of D**mark I was surprised to see a trail of sand leading into the pub, but all was explained when I found a number of Seasiders already in residence. We were enjoying hospitality in the West Stand at the invitation of some friends. When we came out from the lounge, we were greeted by a sea of orange in the Jimmy Seed Stand. Chants of 'Tangerines', 'Sea-Sea-Seasiders' and 'If you hate Preston stand up' filled the air, the last one rather baffling the Addickted.
Blackpool were clearly undaunted by the occasion and Costa was soon called on for some of his good defensive play. Two errors by Luke Young allowed the Tangerines to play the ball in, but fortunately it went out of play. After six minutes Jason Euell turned provider for Lisbie, but the chance to put the Addicks ahead was lost. His right footed shot was well saved by the capable Barnes. With Euell fouled, Charlton won a free kick thirty yards out. Robbo played the ball in again, winning the Addicks their first corner. Fortunately I still had a good supply of the 'Charlton corner - nothing' stickers provided by Tracy from Dartford and I was able to make good use of them throughout the game. Charlton won fourteen corners and Blackpool none, but none of the efforts by the Addicks were productive.
Luke Young showed the better side of his play with a great interception. A Konchesky corner was played back in. Excellent work by Chris Bart-Williams allowed Robbo to get the ball and put in a great cross, but there was no one there. Then a Paul Simpson through ball allowed Hills to evade the hapless Young and bear down on Deano in his goal. The keeper made a valianet effort to position himself as best as he could, but the 'Blackpool through and through' player put a well taken shot into the top corner of the net. The bloke behind me shouted, 'Young, you're a one man black hole.'
The eagle eyed referee spotted a foul on Lisbie, but I was able to use one of Tracy's 'Charlton free kick:- wasted' stickers. Following 'Charlton corner nothing' after an effort by Euell, Lisbie was fouled on the edge of the area. Tommy Jaszczun was yellow carded (Bob Boulder had been unable to pronounce his name in the lounges, but Brian Cole had found a formula). Konchesky's shot was on target, but it was headed over for a corner which fizzled out with a goal kick. A great cross from Robbo lead to a goalmouth scramble. Chris Powell was given a great chance to score, but blasted his shot over. Simpson received a yellow card for tripping Stuart. Blackpool piled on the pressure and Chris Bart-Williams produced some good defensive work. Graham Fenton received a yellow card for kicking the ball away. Luke Young won Charlton a corner, but it was played short. Charlton won a succession of four corners: first from great work by Lisbie, then Robbo, then through great work in the area by Euell, followed quickly by a fourth taken by the 'King of Cool', Chris Bart-Williams. Jason Euell hit a promising shot from distance, but unfortunately it hit Lisbie en route.
Refreshed by our coffee and cakes, we saw Charlton step up the tempo in the second half, although a Luke Young error nearly gave the Seasiders an early chance. Chris Bart-Williams put a good ball into Luke Young who won a corner. There was plenty of Charlton pressure and Graham Stuart had a great chance from twelve yards out but put the ball over the crossbar. Then Jason Euell hit the post on 54 minutes. There was a worrying moment when Deano went down after a collision and required treatment. The visitors decided to take off Paul Simpson on 57 minutes and bring on John O'Kane. A Charlton free kick was played out by the keeper, Konch came in again, but the attempt was saved. John Window recently told Deano's son to tell his dad to throw away his Bartez video, but Deano came rushing out of his area to intercept the ball. Curbs had been looking increasingly worried and on 64 minutes brought on JJ and Bartlett in place of Konchesky and Lisbie.
Jorge Costa was called on for some good defensive work, prompting a chorus of his song from the North Stand. According to the programme, there have been complaints about this song containing an obscenity ('Millwall'). Euell stormed into the box but then shot straight at the keeper. Blackpool players continually seemed to be going down and requiring treatment. A charitable explanation might be lack of fitness, but it also provided opportunities to disrupt the rhythm of Charlton's play. JJ had a chance after a Bart-Williams corner but in attempting to beat the keeper at short range put his shot over.
A Charlton corner was taken short, but it produced a hand ball by Brian Reid in the area. The keeper correctly judged that Stuart would shoot to the right and just got a hand to the low drive, but was only able to assist it into the far corner of the net. In a goalmouth scramble two minutes later, Stuart had a go first. Then Bartlett's shot was parried by the keeper to the feet of Euell who made no mistake.
Blackpool's sense of desperation was reflected by a wild shot that was over the crossbar. Good work by Robbo released Bartlett, but his shot was over. Then Robbo himself put in a good shot, but it was well saved by the unflappable Barnes. On 80 minutes Blackpool pulled off Wellens and Fenton and brought on Day and MacKenzie.
Robbo turned provider for Bartlett but his shot hit the woodwork. Bartlett then put in a great cross, but Stuart was just inches short of connecting in front of goal. Blackpool were still trying to get the replay and Deano had to make a great stop from a fierce shot from Danny Coid. With the need being for gritty defending rather than fancy footwork, Steve Brown replaced Bart-Williams on 87 minutes. Luke Young provided some good defending. With Blackpool piling on the pressure, Steve Brown provided one of his trademark defensive headers. In the two minutes of time added on, Charlton won a corner, but Deano still had to make a final save from short range.
Without Parker and Jensen, the midfield looked below par. Blackpool played well above the level one would expect from a mid-table Division 2 side. But the quality of Charlton's play was definitely better, as is shown by the balance of corners. A shame we can't make more of them.
Match analyst Bob the Dog awarded the Silver Bone to Jason Euell which was also the verdict in the lounges. He was creative all over the pitch. Deano was left stranded by the defence for the Blackpool goal and made some great saves from the rampant Seasiders. In the absence of Feesh Fortune did an effective job in defence, justifying his new contract. Costa was once again excellent and a contender for the Silver Bone. Chris Powell missed a great chance to score, but generally did his job well. Luke Young was described after the match as 'freezing rather than lukewarm' by John Window. He was very error prone, although he did show some nice touches as well. Konchesky played very competently, although one misses Claus Jensen at set pieces. Stuart took his penalty well, although he also missed one chance to score. Bart-Williams showed real skill and delivered some very accurate passes, both at long and short range. Robbo was energetic as ever, although sometimes he tries to do too much with the ball, rather than laying it off. Lisbie was full of energy and verve, but his finishing is still suspect. JJ helped to turn the match around, looking particularly impressive on the wings. It might have been better to start with him in this position. Bartlett also played his part in getting the Addicks back into things. Steve Brown made a late appearance and the affection in which he is held by the Addickted was demonstrated by a chorus of 'He'll never let you down'. Perhaps he had been told to play in the midfield, but he seemed in a rather advanced position to me,
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the linesmen on both sides (unusually not changed at half time) who both made some strange decisions. Fortunately, the referee for once knew what he was doing.
Crowd rating:With a below capacity attendance, and the setback of an early goal, this was not a vintage performance by the Addickted. 6/10.
This was the chant (or something not unlike it) with which the North Stand taunted the Tractor Boys after Charlton's 3-2 defeat of Ipswich at The Valley. The Tractors had gone 2-0 ahead within five minutes but the Addicks fought back to level the score by half-time. Charlton then went 3-2 ahead in the second half and weathered Ipswich pressure towards the end of the match to take all three points. The Addicks' third home win of the season propelled them into their best position so far, 8th in the Premiership.
The day before the match an old school friend came to lunch I had not seen for thirty years. One of his first revelations was that he was an Ipswich supporter. Indeed, his brother actually repaired tractors for a living. On the day of the match, the media had already written Ipswich in for their fourth successive victory. The consensus among the Addickted I talked to before the match was that whatever happened this was not going to be a 0-0. Ipswich would come at us and it would be an open game that would give us more opportunities than when teams like 'Boro put ten men behind the ball.
Ipswich kicked off and they came at us quicker than could possibly have been expected. Referee Rennie, who had not mastered the art of mixing oxygen and methane, gave a bizarre free kick decision to Ipswich. Taken by Venus, the ball was lobbed into the area. The Charlton defence stood around in an 'after you' fashion and were completely at sixes and sevens. It was therefore no great feat for Bent (aided by an inadvertent assist by Luke Young) to nod the ball past an appalled Deano. Some people had not even settled into their seats and after 55 seconds Charlton were 1-0 down.
Even worse was to come. Making use of a through ball from Magilton, Bent found space again, Deano inexplicably rushed out of his goal (although admittedly defensive cover was lacking) and the Ipswich striker was able to put the ball over him and into the back of the net. 4 minutes, 40 seconds and the Addicks were 2-0 down. (Timings by the Bloke Beside Me).
Charlton needed to get back into the game quickly. Jase put in a useful ball to Konch, but he lost it. A blatant foul on Euell was ignored by referee Rennie. However, a bad foul by Robbo was spotted and earned him a yellow card. Jase made a break, but did not have enough support. Great work by Kevin Lisbie produced an Ipswich handball and a free kick for the Addicks. A deflection off a Konchesky shot gave the Addicks their first corner, but it was wasted. Good work by Lisbie won Charlton their second corner, cleared for a throw in. On 18 minutes Robbo seized the opportunity presented by Luke Young's long throw and put the Addicks back in the game with a vital goal through a crowded box. There were signs of Ipswich panic, but Charlton were not at first able to take advantage.
Indeed, Charlton found themselves under some renewed pressure from the visitors. Costa provided a really classy defensive header to Deano from not far from the halfway line. A Chris Powell cross was cleared and then Feesh was called into action for good defensive work. With the Charlton defence still looking a little shaky, Ipswich won a corner taken by Venus, but the resulting attempt on goal was way out of orbit. An Ipswich free kick taken by Magilton produced a scramble in front of goal and an Ipswich corner, but it was cleared. A foul on Robbo produced a yellow card for Hermann Hreidarsson, the player with the daftest name on the pitch. ('Just call me HH', he tells his friends).
Then Charlton made it 2-2 with an effort by Parker, taking advantage of a free kick from Luke Young. There was initially some doubt about whether it had crossed the line, but the lino ruled that it had. Another Charlton attack produced a corner, but it was eventually cleared. Euell won the Addicks a free kick in a promising position and it led to a Charlton corner with keeper Sereni punching the ball out. Luke Young received a yellow card. There was further good work by Feesh, but then the below par Jensen lost the ball in midfield, giving Ipswich a chance to put a shot in over the bar. Lisbie had a try, but his shot was wide. Lisbie drew a driving save from Sereni and earned the Addicks a corner. It was partially cleared, but the ball was played in again. Euell had a great chance to put the Addicks ahead, but somehow mishit the ball. Great work by Robbo won Charlton a corner, but Feesh's header was wide. Scott Parker decided to have a go from thirty yards out and forced a save from Sereni that earned Charlton a corner, but the ball was punched out by the keeper. It was played in again, but Jorge Costa's goal was ruled offside. Charlton could feel that they had done well to pull level after the initial setback.
Deano came out for the second half wearing a tracksuit, suggesting that his indifferent first half performance might have been caused by the cold. With Bent down, Ipswich won a free kick which was cleared. The East Stand linesman, who appeared to need extra training in the application of the offside rule, flagged for offside, but the referee waved play on. Charlton got a throw in by the corner flag, but it all ended with Jensen blasting a shot over the bar. Venus went down and there was a long delay while he was put back into orbit. This enabled Ipswich to regroup and they launched an attack through a run by Hreidarsson which ended with Deano redeeming his earlier mistakes by making a great save off the post from Finidi George's shot.
Luke Young was called on in defence, but found himself out paced. Euell released Konchesky and futher good work led to a Charlton corner taken by Jensen. A second on the other side taken by Konchesky followed. There was a scramble in the goalmouth, but Robbo slipped on the icy pitch at a vital moment and eventually the ball was cleared. Luke Young powered through and his shot was not far over. Lisbie broke free from his markers and had a great chance to score. However, he was not quite quick enough and the keeper was able to save.
A shot by own goal specialist Jamie Clapham was deflected for an Ipswich corner. Armstrong went down but was soon up again. Chris Powell cleared the corner. Robbo then put in a cross and Lisbie's header was saved, but Euell was able to make use of the loose ball to make it 3-2.
Scott Parker had one of his trademark runs, but it was wasted. Feesh opted for safety first and conceded a corner to the tractors. Scott Parker broke free, but was ruled offside. Ipswich went for a double substitution and pulled off Magilton for Sixto Peralta ('call me Six', he tells his friends) while Clapham was replaced by Reuser, seen as a danger man by Steve from Sidcup, a potential he fortunately failed to realise.
A good Luke Young cross was well saved by Sereni. Lisbie managed to give the ball away in front of goal. Charlton seemed to be slowing the pace at a time when they needed to go for the clinching goal. Nevertheless, good team work produced a Charlton throw in and then a corner, but the call was punched out by Sereni and referee Rennie thought that a free kick for Ipswich was justified. Robbo tried a fierce shot from distance which was just over. Euell turned provider for Robbo, but he lost the ball. Costa was called on to display his defensive skills. After another yellow had gone Ipswich's way, Jensen's free kick was saved. Scott Parker, who had picked up an injury, was pulled off in favour of Bart-Williams.
Ipswich were piling on the pressure, particularly from the free kicks they were adept at winning. Charlton seemed to be sitting back too much and letting Ipswich come at them. It was heart attack territory now and a bloke somewhere behind me was using his full range of adjectives to associate with 'Nora', stepping up from 'flipping' to 'blimming' and finally to 'bloody' as the pressure got to him. Lisbie was pulled off in favour of Bartlett, presumably to make use of his ability to hold up the ball. Gaardse won another free kick for Ipswich. An attempt by Reuser was well wide.
An effort from Robbo was deflected for a Charlton corner, but Ipswich managed to break from it and draw a save from Deano. As the match went into time added on, JJ was brought on as a sub in place of Jensen, possibly a change that should have occurred earlier. Ipswich won another very dubious free kick, but the shot came off the Charlton wall. With one last wide shot from the visitors, it was all over. As Brian Cole put it with his characteristic understatement, 'A stroll in the park'.
A straw poll among fans after the match revealed a number of candidates for the Silver Bone. Robbo had his fans, not least the Reading Family Robinson, but match analysts Bob the Dog's choice of Jason Euell won majority approval. Not only did he score the winning goal, but he contributed all over the pitch, showing masterly control of the ball in attack, but also defending when the need arose. This was not Dean Kiely's finest hour. Named by The Independent as keeper in their team of the season, he was definitely at fault for the second goal and seemed to make the defence unusually nervous. Before the match, I was commenting on the solidity of our defence, although admittedly they have not been put under much pressure at Everton. But both Costa and Feesh appeared to be awol for the first two goals, although their contributions were solid for the rest of the match, particularly those of Costa. Captain Chris Powell had a generally good game, particularly in terms of penetration down the wing. Luke Young also played his part. Konchesky drew mixed reviews. He seemed a bit out of things at first, but grew in confidence and effectiveness as the match progressed. Parker had a mare for the first quarter of an hour, but grew in confidence after his goal. Although he had his critics, Robbo in my view had a storming performance, apart from his goal, although on one occasion he put in a shot when a lay off would have been better. A number of fans I talked to agreed that Jensen was the weakest link in midfield. He has been below his usual (admittedly very high) standard for a few games. If he can't play the skilled balls, or at least not to the extent required, his contribution is limited as he can't or won't tackle. Lisbie's finishing continues to be a concern, but he contributed to the game in all sorts of other ways. Bart-Williams again had insufficient time to showcase his talents, but no doubt that will be corrected against Blackpool. Bartlett did not contribute very much when he came on. JJ was mainly brought on to disrupt Ipswich's rhythm in injury time.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to referee Uriah Rennie, pointing out that his initials stand for Useless Referee. Some of his free kick decisions suggested that he had followed the example of the Planet Tring group of referees and started to inhale methane during the match.
Crowd rating: Despite the shock of Ipswich's two early goals, the crowd recovered well and gave the Addicks good support. 7/10.
Charlton winning away is something that has happened more often than them winning at home this season. Nevertheless, there is a particular satisfaction in getting the best result of the season (3-0) at a ground where we have not won since 1949 (and then by an own goal by the home side on five minutes). Without Gravesen, Everton were surprisingly weak, but Charlton played with considerable skill and determination.
The first half was somewhat lacking in incident. One indication is that neither side won a corner, the first time I can remember that happening this season. Nevertheless, the game was played more in the Toffeemen's half and the important breakthrough came on 29 minutes when Graham Stuart used an excellent ball from Lisbie to score at his old club. The Toffeemen upped the tempo after the break, but although they kept Charlton pinned down more, they were vulnerable to the speed and accuracy of the Addicks on the break. The first of Everton's loyal supporters left on 68 minutes when Euell scored and the final blow came from substitute Paul Konchesky's first Premiership goal on 88 minutes.
We set out for Liverpool on Friday night, having taking advantage of a weekend break offer. The head waiter was in earnest conversation with a family of exiled Toffeemen up to see their team collect three points. There was much talk of the risk of relegation, offset by the prospect of an easy win the following day. Charlton are always at their best when they are underestimated.
We were at the ground early enough to see the methane gas being delivered for referee Graham Barber. During the warm up, it was interesting to see what a good rapport had developed between Scott Parker and Costa despite the language barrier.
The match started off with a tight contest in midfield, but Feesh was twice called on to leap into action to defend. Referee Barber started as he meant to go on with a yellow card on Gemmill for a foul. Simonsen had to make a diving save from Feesh. Everton made a break on the wing and put in a good cross, which led to a diving save at short range by Deano from Radzinski. Euell broke free, but had no support. The home crowd was very quiet, but apparently one Everton fan managed to have a row with manager Walter Smith about the delay in taking off the injured Radzinski and bring on Duncan Ferguson.
Played continued largely in the Everton half. The home side did manage to win a couple of free kicks in promising and almost identical positions just outside the area and to the right of the Charlton goal. The first free kick was punched out by Deano. The second, on the recommendation of the lino following a foul by Chris Powell, sailed over Deano's crossbar. Jorge Costa connected with a free kick from Jensen, but his header was just wide. Then on 29 minutes Jensen put in an accurate long ball to Lisbie who raced towards the goal. With his way blocked, he moved the ball across to Stuart who tapped it into the back of the net.
Little of note happened in the remaining quarter hour of the first half. Feesh leapt to connect with a Jensen free kick, but his header was over. Robbo went down briefly. Charlton kept up their pressure. During the one minute of time added on, Costa was giving a yellow card for a push, which he accepted with good grace, although clearly puzzled by a referee exhaling methane.
After the cornerless first half, the Addicks won a succession of corners at the beginning of the first half. These were unproductive, as was a fourth corner resulting from good work by Jase and a fifth which was won by Robbo. With Everton trying to get back into the game, Chris Powell made a good defensive header to Deano to cope with a rare period of pressure from the Toffeemen. Kevin Lisbie was given a yellow card for reasons which were not immediately apparent. An excellent run by Robbo on the left created a scoring opportunity for Jason Euell which he took calmly. Immediately, Everton took off Alexandersson and brought on Gascoigne, but if they thought he was going to weave any magic it didn't happen. There was one moment of danger which Deano dealt with by pushing the ball out, but Graham Stuart was injured in the process.
Everton had a rare attempt on goal by Joe-Max Moore (admired by Doug Chapman) which was just wide. Luke Young got a yellow card which will mean he will not be available at Blackburn. On 75 minutes Konchesky came on for Stuart who had been affected by the knock he had taken earlier. In a sign of increasing desperation, Everton were pumping high balls into the box which were easily dealt with by Costa, Feesh and Deano working effectively together. On 78 minutes Blomqvist, who had been one of the most effective players for the Toffeemen, was pulled off in favour of Tal. An Everton corner was cleared as was one for the Addicks. As Jensen was pulled off for Chris Bart-Williams, the Addickted broke into a chant of 'Chris Bart-Williams, la-la-la' (personally I would prefer 'I say. Don't you know? [As don-cher-know], it's Chris Bart-Williams' for the 'king of cool').
Bart-Williams juggled with the ball in front of goal and then turned provider for Paul Konchesky who put an unstoppable volley into the top of the net. With three minutes of time added on, Everton won two corners, but to no effect. Deano came storming over to the Addickted giving them a 'three' gesture and Chris Powell led the usual three cheers.
After three games in which they had not scored, Charlton scored three goals. It was not a game full of incident, but simply one in which the Addicks took their chances well while their defence shut Everton down. Curbs hinted after the Fulham game that he was hopeful of a win at Everton, but suggested that getting a result against Ipswich would be the harder task. The tractor boys have suddenly come into form, Charlton will not be the underdogs and they will have to deal with the expectations of the home crowd, many of whom have never seen Charlton at their best this season, playing away. As pitch announcer Brian Cole said to me afterwards, 'That was fun, wasn't it?'
Northern match analyst Hooch the Pooch found it difficult to decide who to award the Silver Bone to. It was a marvellous team effort in which everyone played their part. When one wins 3-0 it is easy to overlook the contribution that the defence has made to securing a clean sheet and Hooch decided to make the award to Jorge Costa who was impeccable in defence and came close to scoring. The award somewhat baffled the Portuguese expatriate who was heard to ask what a large dog was doing in the dressing room, at first thinking that he had been sent round by a Millwall supporter incensed by the Costa song.
Another clean sheet for Deano who although not tested as much as he has been in some matches, did what he had to do with considerable applomb. Chris Powell had a far better game than in some recent matches, getting forward often and penetrating the Everton 'defence'. It was good to see that the groin strain suffered by Feesh at Fulham did not keep him out for two games as had been feared. Once again he made a key contribution to the defence. Luke Young may not have been the most inspired or inspiring Charlton player, but he did what he had to do competently enough. Robbo repaid being given a start with a display that was not just energetic (as he always is) but also highly skilled. It was another excellent performance from Graham Stuart apart from his goal. Scott Parker was highly effective in midfield. Claus Jensen is still below his very best and was tiring before he was withdrawn, but his overall contribution was nevertheless very good. His ball control was superb on some occasions. One of the strengths of Euell and Lisbie is the effective way in which they support each other. Euell showed that he can find the back of the net and even if Lisbie did not score, he made an important contribution, setting up the first goal. Even before he scored his goal, Konchesky was making an important contribution. Once again Bart-Williams did not have enough time to show what he can do.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to referee Graham Barber for giving more free kicks and yellow cards than were justified.
Crowd rating: 8/10. The Addickted were few in number, but loud in voice and wide ranging in their repertoire. One always knows that one has a gathering of the faithful when one hears a rendition of 'Goodbye Horse'. It is also a good sign when one hears a new chant, in this case for Chris Bart-Williams.
Apologies for the delay in posting this report: it took us a long time to get back from Scouseland on Sunday down the M6 and then I had problems with a computer virus.
Charlton should have taken all three points from the Boxing Day clash at Craven Cottage with Fulham. Instead, they came away with one, Jason Euell having hit the post in the first half when he had a golden chance to score. Charlton have failed to score in their last three games and some good build ups and neat passing was let down by an inability to finish. At the other end, Deano kept Charlton in the game with some more great saves. Yet a below par Fulham looked as if they had eaten too much of their Harrods hampers the day before. Kept in a hotel in the Cromwell Road overnight in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year's hammering at Upton Park, Charlton were in charge in the first half and edged the second, although they were under pressure for the last quarter of an hour. It was a far better performance than against Blackburn at The Valley and better than the defensive marathon against Bolton, but the Addicks failed to secure the win their play deserved.
We made an early start from Leamington and having parked up in Kew made our way to the ground by District Line. Bob the Dog made use of the special dog exercise area in the adjacent park. We had time to read the programme before the action started, noting the picture of the club owner kicking the ball on the cover (please note Rick Everitt and give us a similar picture of Richard Murray). The programme also very helpfully set out the club policy on umbrellas and managed to call us 'The Valiants or Addicks'. We were also able to enjoy the 'dancing' of the Cravenettes, who for an old timer for me brought back the memory of Craven A cigarettes. They themselves managed to be both tacky and inept, although they were not helped by the club's hackneyed choice of music.
Play started with a determined midfield battle. The Addickted were in good voice with choruses of 'Is this Welling in disguise?', 'Shall we build a ground for you?' and 'You're just a small club in Chelsea.' Throughout the match, the home crowd were the most silent I have heard this season.
After four minutes Fulham launched their first attack and Jason Euell had to deliver some good defensive work. Deano had to make a good save from a one-on-one situation. With Chris Powell beaten, Barry Hayles put in a wild shot that ended up as a Charlton throw in. Chris Powell then turned provider for Stuart whose shot was saved by van der Saar. With Lee Clark injured, Fulham had to bring on Luis Boa Morte as substitute.
There was good Charlton pressure during this opening phase of the match. A good build up provided a chance for Jensen, but the Dane put his shot just wide of the post. Luke Young put in a ball for Euell which deflected off a defender for a Charlton corner. This was eventually cleared, but then Lisbie found himself free and tried a shot. Boa Morte denonstrated why he is such a favourite with referees with a spectacular dive that earned him a yellow card. Then Euell burst through and was one-on-one with the keeper, but somehow managed to hit the post. Lisbie won Charlton a corner taken by Claus Jensen. The ball was headed over by a defender to give the Addicks a second chance, but the ball was eventually cleared. Scott Parker made a great tackle in midfield to prevent a Fulham break. Then with Fulham bearing down on Deano's goal, Feesh made a superb reverse kick to clear the danger.
With the half hour reached, Fulham were awarded a free kick against Paul Koncheksy, but Stuart cleared the danger with a good defensive header. Luke Young made what I thought was a good defensive intervention, but John Window sitting behind me said that he could have lost it and it showed that Young was the weakest link. Some Fulham pressure was dealt with effectively by Konchesky. Scott Parker had been warned earlier by the referee for his vigorous challenges and was given the yellow card for a foul. A Charlton corner was eventually cleared. Then as the game went into two minutes of time added on, Saha had a great chance to score, but managed to completely miss hit his kick.A surprise substitution after the break saw Feesh come off in favour of Jorge Costa, missed from the starting line up. The reasons for this were unclear given Feesh's sterling first half performance, but it was assumed that there had been fin damage, with speculation about a possible groin strain. In any event it provided an excuse for the Jorge Costa song.
Paul Konchesky won the Addicks a corner which was taken short and eventually played out. Lisbie powered down the wings and put in a cross from a very narrow angle which hit the crossbar before van der Sar was able to deal with it. A Deano diving save led to a Fulham corner and the Harrods works team was able to win a second. Good work by Luke Young created an opportunity for Claus Jensen. His powerful shot was pushed out, but then Euell was given an opportunity. In the confusion the keeper was injured and play was delayed for some minutes while Fulham team doctor Charlotte Cowie was summoned to see that he was fit to continue. After the delay, the Charlton corner was something of a damp squib. Fulham then won a corner, calling for a save from Deano. Luke Young won a Charlton corner was cleared. Fulham took off Sylvain Legwinski in favour of John Collins. Kevin Lisbie made a great run, but it came to nothing and Fulham were able to break. A Fulham free kick was taken with both Luke Young and Scott Parker off the pitch receiving treatment, but the Addicks were able to control the situation until they were back on.
With Fulham threatening to break, Costa showed that for a tank he has a surprising turn of speed and his pace was able to quell the danger. Euell and Lisbie were working well together and Jase turned provider for Kevin. Unfortunately, Lisbie hestitated as he tried to line the ball out and a defender was able to retrieve the situation at the cost of a Charlton corner. This gave Euell the chance to put in a shot that was just wide. Fulham pressure led to a shot that was just over. Paul Konchesky was somewhat surprisingly withdrawn in favour of John Robinson. Many thought that Parker, who was living dangerously, should come off. Indeed, almost immediately he was given a final warning for a foul. As soon as the opportunity arose, he was pulled off in favour of Chris Bart-Williams.
Kevin Lisbie had another go, but his attempt was saved. Saha was looking increasingly dangerous, but then put in a shot that was way over. Facing a one-on-one challenge, Deano rushed out. For a moment there were fears that it might be a penalty and that Deano might be sent off, but Steve Bennett, who seemed to lacked the eyesight problems afflicting many referees, ruled that it was a goal kick. Chris Powell conceded a corner which was partially cleared, but the home side won a free kick which went off the Charlton wall. Hayles was shown a yellow card.
On form Graham Stuart put in a good cross. The ball was played out in the direction of Claus Jensen who would have had a good shooting opportunity from a distance he likes, but somehow he failed to connect with the ball at all (although the water meadow of a pitch did not favour accuracy). Luke Young won the Addicks a corner, but it was cleared. With Fulham piling on the pressure in an attempt to get a late goal, Deano had to make one of his trademark punches out. A Fulham free kick had to be dealt by Costa. In the dying minutes of the game, Deano had to make another great save. Charlton remained the only club in the Premiership that Fulham have never beaten in a top division encounter. It was a much more heartening performance than last Boxing Day, but still disappointing in its way.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has once again given the Silver Bone to Dean Kiely for some more great saves. As John Window commented, 'goalkeepers can't win you matches, but they can stop you losing them.' Feesh was in line for a Silver Bone until he had to be withdrawn. Fortune was less in evidence than in some games, but it was a competent performance. Chris Powell was below his best and it may be that at some stage he would benefit from a few games out as happened last season. Konchesky gave a determined and inspired performance. Despute the insistence of John Window that Luke Young is the weakest link, I thought that he helped to create some good scoring opportunities for the Addicks. Stuart had a good game after some recent disappointments - his experience was used to good effect. Parker was as vigorous as ever, but he will have to be a little more careful. He has now collected six yellow cards and came close to being sent off which could have been disastrous in a finely balanced game. For me Jensen has been below par in recent games. Euell will rue failing to take his chance to score, but he was always involved. Lisbie was generally impressive, except when it came to finishing. Costa was once again excellent and it was a surprise that he did not start, but perhaps he had picked up a knock. Robbo was as vigorous as ever when he came on (undoubtedly the cheapest playeron the pitch as John Window pointed out). Bart-Williams had little time to display the skills he undoubtedly possesses.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the Stevenage Road stand. This rickety wooden fire hazard with its protruding pieces of metalwork symbolises all that was wrong with early 20th century football.
Crowd rating: 8/10. The Addickted who were able to get tickets were in good voice and generally out sung the Fulham. There is no other ground where I hear such cut glass accents (and so many Americans). There were times, though, when you could almost hear the river - if it was not for the dulcet tones of Pam from Sidcup. Manchester United must be quaking in their boots at the thought of the wall of noise that will face them.
Curbs wrote in the programme for the match against Blackburn that he hoped it would be possible to send the fans home happy and with an early present for Christmas. The 2-0 defeat by Blackburn would not have left any Charlton fans happy. The Addicks conceded two soft goals, but they also failed to mount any real threat themselves. They played some pretty football in the first half, but never looked like scoring. After the visitors went 1-0 ahead, they started to panic and to hoof the ball up in the air. With their ball control gone, they never looked their equalising and it was no surprise when Blackburn scored again the dying moments of the game.
Curbs said before the game that Charlton's biggest enemy was now expectations and it was a fixture I had been uneasy about. Blackburn denied us a quick return to the then top division in 1957/8. The last time we beat them at The Valley was in 1985 amd at Selhurst in 1986. However, history does not justify a lacklustre performance by the Addicks in front of another record crowd.
It was perhaps a bad omen when Blackburn won the toss and decided to change ends, as Charlton usually attack the Covered End in the second half. Scott Parker took an early chance, but this was followed by a spell of Blackburn pressure, indicating that they were not going to use ultra defensive tactics. Kevin Lisbie managed to break free on the West Stand side on three minutes and turned provider for Claus Jensen, but the off form Dane sliced his effort across the front of goal. Blackburn won a corner a minute later, but it was taken short and was no more productive than Charlton's use of this tactic. Charlton broke free on the left and Chris Powell put in a good cross, but Jason Euell headed over (the Sunday Times calls him 'Ewell' as in 'Epsom and Ewell'). Referee Wiley took exception to a fair tackle by the tank and awarded the visitors a free kick in a promising position, but Deano collected. The ball came in for Charlton in a promising position, but Euell was offside.
Play was stopped and the Addicks given a free kick when the hapless referee should have played the advantage. Graham Stuart gave him the full benefit of his knowledge of the game. The uneasy Jensen lost the ball on the halfway line and gave Blackburn the chance to attack. At the other end Luke Young put in a decent cross, but it was cleared. With Blackburn seizing their opportunities, Costa showed his worth with some good defensive work. A good cross by Graham Stuart led to a Charlton throw in and then a scramble in front of the Blackburn goal. Euell had a go with a volley from twenty-yards out, but Friedel saved. A Blackburn corner taken by Mahon created a dangerous situation for the home side and Deano had to save on the line. With Blackburn threatening again, Feesh came to the rescue with good defensive work. Feesh was given a yelow card for a foul and Blackburn were awarded a free kick to the right of goal in a promising position. Deano had to punch out Mahon's free kick and then had to react quickly to ensure that Tugay did not score from the rebound. With Blackburn keeping up the pressure, George Costa had to use his skills to protect Deano.
Lively Lisbie had a try and Friedel had to save at full stretch on the ground. Scott Parker showed real skill in taking the ball off a defender, but as he approached the Blackburn goal he had no support. Lisbie played in Chris Powell who put in an excellent cross. Perhaps the ball was trickier than it looked, but Stuart missed a great chance by heading wide. Luke Young then created another chance for Charlton with a great run on the East Stand side during he calmly beat a defender by bouncing the ball off him. The Harlow hare won a corner for the Addicks taken by Jensen but Feesh headed wide. Friedel was slightly injured when Euell bore down on him and the striker earned a talking to from the referee. Graham Stuart put in a decent cross which produced a scramble in the goalmouth but ended with nothing more than a Charlton throw in. Scott Parker was awarded a yellow card for a vigorous challenge. A Charlton free kick gave Jensen the chance to put the Addicks in the lead just before half time, but his curling effort went just over and landed on the roof of the net. Charlton had had their chances in the first half, but had failed to get the goal which would have probably resolved matters.
There was still everything to play for, but the visitors started the second half with a greater sense of urgency. There was a moment of danger when Grabbi almost pounced on a loose ball in the Charlton box. Lisbie managed to burst throught but overhit the ball badly to produce a Blackburn throw in. Charlton were showing a worrying tendency to fail to clear their lines and Chris Powell was called on to use his defensive skills. The Bloke Beside Me had speculated at half time that some of the millions in the Walker trust fund might have made their way to the referee, but Wiley finally booked Flitcroft for the latest in a succession of fouls. Then Charlton had another chance to score when a break started with Graham Stuart. He fed the ball to Jensen who turned provider for Euell who was one on one with Friedel, but he sliced his kick and the ball went wide. Then following a very questionable free kick, play maker Keith Gillespie put in a good pass to Duff. Kiely came out to try and deal with the threat, but the ball was lifted above him and into the far corner.
Now all Blackburn had to go was to gather their numbers in defence and try and hit Charlton on the break. Failing to get through the numbers in the last third, Charlton increasingly resorted to long balls which were easily picked up by the defence. Charlton did have an early chance to get back into the match when a foul on Euell led to a free kick in the 'D'. But it was taken quickly and wasted. A Charlton corner was also unproductive. With Blackburn on the attack again, Deano had to punch the ball out. I though I spotted a handball by Blackburn in the area, but perhaps I am more visually challenged than the referee.
Blackburn decided to ring the changes on 66 minutes, taking off the obnoxious Tugay and Grabbi in favour of Dunn (suprisingly left out of the starting line up) and the veteran Welsh manager Mark Hughes. Charlton decided to revert to a flat back four, taking off Fortune and bringing on JJ. Lucas Neill got a yellow card for a foul on Stuart. Blackburn were awarded a free kick in a potentially dangerous position, but it came off the wall. As Charlton's play showed increasing signs of desperation, Parker was pulled off for Bart-Williams while Konchesky replaced Powell. A good ball by Costa was put over the bar by Euell. A Charlton goal was clearly not going to come and as the match ran into time added on, Gillespie was once again the provider, this time for Dunn who made it 0-2 to the visitors. Meanwhile, I had missed the one moment of excitement in the match as two ladies in the Covered End took their kit off in preparation for a streak. But like the Charlton goal that never came, this failed to happen.
Curbs said afterwards that perhaps the match would be a 'wake up' call for Charlton, but the problem is that we seem to need wake up calls too often. Steve from Sidcup thought that Bartlett might have made a contribution as at least he could hold the ball up. But however you look at it, it was probably our worst home performance this season. The stats show that for three shots on target, Charlton had nine off target. My wife dreamt the night before that we would lose this match and be relegated. Let's hope her dream is not prophetic.
The song that Bob the Dog likes.
Season's greetings from Bob the Dog and Juneau the Soccer Cat.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Jorge Costa for a stalwart performance in defence. The Portuguese player was somewhat perplexed by this award, but the Portuguese accents I heard at Charlton Station suggest that he is already attracting supporters to The Valley. Deano may have over committed himself for the Blackburn goals, but he also made another two great saves. Fortune had a steady game even though he was eventually subbed. Feesh was below his best as was Chris Powell. Young made one of his trademark runs but they never seem to lead to anything. Stuart was certainly up for it, although some of his efforts lacked accuracy. Jensen seemed to be well below his usual standard. Parker played with vigour and enthusiasm, too much so for the referee, his fifth yellow card qualifying him for a one match suspension. Lisbie showed considerably creativity on the wings, but never came close to scoring. Has he done enough to start each game? Euell was one on one with the keeper at one point, but sliced his shot. JJ was reasonably busy when he came on, but never looked like making the breakthrough. Konchesky was solid enough and Bart-Williams added some quality to the midfield.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given a loud Hiss of the Match to referee Wiley who was determined to do Charlton no favours. Perhaps he caught the occasional whiff of methane from the breathing apparatus installed for fourth official Graham Poll.
Crowd rating: Considering its size, the Addickted were not that vocal, although what was happening on the pitch was hardly likely to inspire them. We had some good choruses of the Jorge Costa song, although it is doubtful whether he was worked out where Millwall is.
Best wishes for a happy Christmas and for success in the New Year for the Addicks from your match reporter (pictured earlier this year in Kunming, China).
Not a problem at The Valley. Sheep who have invaded Leamington's Harbury Lane ground are sent back to their field - picture below.
The number of Addickted to have visited this page is:
Block E, Row Q
Formerly in front of the Bloke Behind Me, who has disappeared, next to
Steve from Sidcup