Our report from Leeds will be at Volume 4
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a picture of well known lister and RoDster Robin with his son and Mickey Bennett. Robin uses the sign off 'luv Robin' and is a member of the Covered End choir.
That is what the Addickted sang after Jonatan Johansson had created one goal and scored a second to enable Charlton to draw 2-2 with Coventry at The Valley. Charlton fell behind twice, before they eventually drew level, but it was hardly an inspired performance from the Addicks. Indeed, for the first twenty minutes, they showed little determination or skill and it was no great surprise when Coventry went 1-0 ahead just before the break. However, Charlton have not beaten Coventry at The Valley since 1966 and at least two points were denied to the Sky Blues.
For Warwickshire Addicks, matches against Coventry are always a strange experience. My next door neighbour's three sons are all keen Coventry supporters, as is the proprietor of my local fish and chip shop. The Coventry Evening Telegraph gave Charlton quite a build up in their Friday night preview of the match, perhaps a warning sign in itself, especially given Coventry's away record so far this season. Coventry are a side that tend to be underestimated, enabling them to spring surprises. There was a quota of Sky Blues on the train from Leamington, breaking into occasional chants of 'City we love you.' However, many Leamington Sky Blues had decided to follow the Brakes instead, coach loads being reported as on their way for their away fixture in the Midland Combination Division 2 against the chocolate soldiers of Cadbury Athletic.
The atmosphere before the match was strangely subdued, with the crowds in Harvey Gardens unusually quiet. A rather naff exhibit of a haddock just inside the entrance with a hole for you to put your head through for a photo hardly lifted the tone. It was a shame Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson was not there to see it, although Joe Dray showed me a picture of him with his boat in Iceland when we were at the Rose of Denmark.
Charlton seemed strangely unsettled and lacking any clear plan in the early phases of the match. Perhaps the Worthington Cup exit, in contrast to Coventry's defeat of Preston, had had diverging effects on the morale of the two teams. One thing that quickly became evident was that Andy Hunt, suffering recently from a virus that may be linked to his glandular fever problem, was below his best. In attack, Charlton often seemed to be firing on only one cylinder, and there are limits to what can be created out of Finn air.
An early foul on Chris Powell by Carlton Palmer set a pattern for the match. The Sky Blues enjoyed an early break with Rufus racing to play it out. Deano is at his wost at clearing the ball and a bad throw from him gave it away. Coventry were playing a tight line and quickly won a number of offside decisions, aided and abetted by the lino on the East Stand side whose main hobby was clearly semaphore. Coventry won an early corner which Deano punched out. A second Coventry corner followed, again punched out by Deano. It was a ragged start by Charlton and Coventry were taking advantage of it. A shot from Coventry went just past Deano's post at the Covered End. Charlton launched what might be called their first attack, but it petered out with a poor shot by Andy Hunt. Telfer had a good go at Steve Brown, but escaped with a few words of rebuke by the referee. A Jensen free kick from about 35 yards out led to a cross across the front of goal, but resulted only in a tentative header from JJ. As the half hour approached, there was some nice build up work by Charlton, but it was brought to an end by poor distribution by Konchesky. Coventry then had a break, Deano came rushing out of his goal in a desperate attempt to foil the attack. Fortunately, Rufus was on hand to save the day at the expense of a corner. Brown headed Telfer's corner over the goal. Deano then had to face a powerful short from forty yards out by Chippo which he palmed away with authority and skill. The resultant Coventry corner came to nothing.
The Bloke Behind Me has named Jensen Public Enemy Number One, but it was good work from him that produced Charlton's first corner after 39 minutes, a statistic that is a fair reflection of a failure to put Coventry under any real pressure. Chippo received a yellow card for a tackle on Stuart. Then Coventry were on the attack again while Charlton were still regrouping after a failed corner. With Robbo down on the ground, and confusion reigning in the Charlton defence, Aloisi scored for Coventry. It was a Swindon type goal, trickling across the line by Deano's post after deflecting off the keeper. Deano was called into action again before half time to save from a Coventry break.
The half time interval saw the bizarre site of a couple in full wedding regalia entering the ground to be blessed by the club chaplain. It was later claimed on Radio 5 that they were actors, the source being the 'large dog' who purported to be best man. Whatever the truth of the matter, it was a naff display which undermined the club's reputation for good sense and integrity. It belonged in Las Vegas rather than SE7.
JJ powered through in the first minute, but Hedman cleared the ball. Jensen put in a ball which was not far off traget (the Addicks had eleven shots on target in the game against five for the Sky Blues). Robbo who had clearly taken a bad knock before half time on his calf had to be pulled off in favour of Salako. JJ used his pace to burst through, but was judged to be offside. JJ then put a cross across the front of goal, but there was no one there to connect with it. Andy Hunt played what could have been a promising ball into open space. Charlton threatened in front of goal, but of all players the ball fell to Chris Powell who sliced it over. Deano then made a good stop. Johansen hit the crossbar with a fast and accurate shot and it rebounded in favour of Hunt who was able to head it in the goal. This was the last act of the ailing player before he was taken off to be replaced by Lisbie. It's a shame this wasn't done earlier as the pace of Lisbie had an unsettling effect on Coventry's far from strong defence.
Good work by JJ and Lisbie produced a Charlton corner. A header from JJ was just caught by Hedman. Things were looking quite promising for the first time in the match, but then Coventry won a corner 24 minutes into the half. Richard Rufus had been seen as a possible candidate for the England squad during the week. However, it seemed that he had qualifying for the volleyball squad in mind. A blatant handball saw Rufus get yellow carded and Craig Bellamy stepped up to take the penalty. He blasted the ball past Deano who kicked it away in frustration. It was scant consolation when the popular ex-Norwich player got yellow carded shortly afterwards. Kinsella then shot straight at Hedman. Strachan, who had been performing his usual gyrations on the touchline (Ian Cartwright commented in Sport First that he seemed to think he was the fourth official), pulled off Aloisi in favour of Roussel: the Coventry Evening Telegraph had included in their pre-match feature a picture of him being outwitted in last year's cup match by 'local boy made good' Deano. Konchesky was pulled off for Shields shortly after the half hour and a couple of minutes later Deano made a great save. A Coventry corner produced a goalmouth scramble.
A Charlton corner saw Steve Brown drop to the ground in frustration after his header went just over the crossbar. There was always the risk of the Sky Blues going 3-1 ahead, a cross across the front of the Charlton goal serving as a reminder of the dangers. Steve from Sidcup and I felt that it was by now all up for Charlton. The Addicks were having little luck with the run of the ball. How wrong we were was showed when JJ scored a great goal on 88 minutes to bring Charlton level once again, a move that started with a cross from Shields with the ball being headed down by Chris Powell. A few minutes later a weak shot from JJ went straight at Hedman. A Charlton corner was taken short which hardly ever leads to anything. A Coventry free kick gave some grounds for concern, but the shot was way over. By this time both teams seemed willing to settle for a share of the spoils. One cannot help feeling that a determined attack by Charlton early in the game, as at Newcastle, would have exposed the weaknesses of Coventry's defence and given the Addicks at least a chance of taking all three points.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to Jonatan Johansson who displayed energy, commitment and skill throughout the match. Deano will be frustrated at not having kept another clean sheet, but he also made some excellent saves. Those who call him an 'average' keeper have strange footballing judgement. It has been suggested that if the 'blunder' which led to the first goal had been made by Ilic, we would never have heard the end of it. However, he may have been distracted by the sight of Robbo on the ground and he was also not given much cover by his defence. If Kiely ever gets injured, we are in big trouble. Powell was not as fluent or as penetrating as he is in some games, but he provided the assist for the decisive second goal. His strange handball aside, Rufus made some crucial interventions in the game. In his post match press conference, Curbs was understandably concerned about the fact that the central defender is now on four yellow cards. Who will replace him if he is suspended? Brown was as reliable as ever, and came close to scoring. Konchesky made effective use of his pace, although sometimes was let down by his distribution. Jensen was rather quiet in the first half, but became more prominent as the game went on. Because his style of play is rather subtle, his contribution may not always be evident. Kinsella was as tireless as ever in my view, particularly making important defensive contributions. Some listers, however, thought that he was lethargic and had a poor game. Stuart is having a good season and this was another excellent performance from him, although perhaps he faded towards the end. Robbo's game game came to a premature end, but he was not as creative as he is in some matches. Hunt was clearly not fully fit: it was not a question of lack of commitment. Salako was capable and competent without really do anything to change the course of the game. Lisbie's arrival coincided with the best spell of the game for Charlton. Shields did what he had to do competently enough, but added little extra value over what Konchesky had provided, although others have suggested that we played better with a natural right back in that position.
Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded the Hiss of the Match to the East Stand linesman for his strange decisions on offsides and other matters. She wants to share a joke of the week told to her by cat food taster David Hatch. He went to a party where he met Millwall's club doctor. 'So you're a vet?' he enquired.
Juneau the Soccer Cat is sponsored by Walker, Duffin and Daniel, the Leamington vets too professional to appear on Vets in Practice.
The speculation at the beginning of the season centred on how well Charlton might do in the Premiership Relegation League. Now, after seven matches, they are placed fifth in the table. It's early days yet, a cautious Curbs emphasising after the match that he would be delighted to be in the top six with seven games to go rather than seven played. However, predictions that the Addicks would be relegation strugglers (they were still fourth favourites in the betting before Saturday's match) are increasingly being called into doubt.
Charlton went to St.James's Park in confident mood, despite odds of 5-1 being offered on a win for them. In the rather thin programme, Bobby Robson proclaimed that these were 'collectable points' for the home side. They had underestimated Charlton who played fluent football and came away with three points. Newcastle supporters after the match thought that Charlton had never really allowed them a chance to score. Once again match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Dean Kiely who made a series of brilliant saves to keep the Addicks in the game in the closing stages of the match.
We went to Peterborough to catch the East Coast Main Line, equipped with binoculars for our ascent of the highest peaks of St.James's Park. An unfortunate dressed as a twiglet was distributing free samples of a curry flavoured variety, the smell of which remained with me for the rest of the day. As we waited for the turnstiles to open we chatted to a Rotherham supporter whose son supported Newcastle. Special arrangements having been made to get matchday announcer Brian Cole through a side door of sufficient width, we ascended the 368 steps to the away area where a good trade was being done in oxygen cylinders. Having established base camp and fortified with Guinness we made use of the available mountaineering equipment to climb the final 38 steps to our bivouac at the ground's summit. As the Addickted started their first chants, one wag shouted, 'It hasn't got to the front yet.' Towards the end of the game the view was obscured by the plane flying in to take the players home.
Charlton started in attacking mode and created their first corner in two minutes. Rufus had to make a good clearance, but Charlton maintained the pressure. After five minutes the first serious Newcastle attack drew a save from Deano. A good build up saw Kinsella force a save. Rufus then made another clearance and Charlton were on the attack again. Before we could adjust our binoculars, the ball was in the back of the net. Match of the Day described it as a 'Route One' goal, enabling them to make a poor and inaccurate joke about Charlton being sponsored by a bus company: this in a week when Redbus had announced a much publicised flotation to boost their internet hotel business. The move started with good work on the left involving Chris Powell and ended with a Robbo cross, allowing the ball to be put in from close range. Frantic reference to mobile phones confirmed that the scorer was Stuart.
A slightly baffled Graham Stuart responds to a greeting from Bob the Dog last season, but Stuart has no hesitations when he is in front of goal. Photo: Roland Silcox collection..
With Konchesky beaten, United put in a shot just over the bar. What looked like a Charlton corner was denied. Newcastle pressure was dealt with by some good defensive work from Steve Brown while Rufus made another good clearance. A good run by Stuart forced a Charlton corner and Kinsella put in a forceful shot from twenty yards which Given pushed on to the top of the crossbar.
Chris Powell put in an over long ball from a free kick which was meant to reach Andy Hunt. Referee Andy d'Urso, a banker from Billericay, gave Stuart a yellow card for reasons which were not immediately apparent. Newcastle kept playing the offside trap, aided and abetted by one of the linesmen, with Robbo caught out more than once.
When a Newcastle attack did come in what Robson later described as 'forty-five minutes of wasted football', Deano made a good save, pushing away a ball from Solano headed for the top left hand corner of his net. A Charlton counter attack then relived the pressure. The home crowd seemed strangely subdued, managing only an occasional chant of 'Toon'. A move started with a nutmeg threatened the Charlton goal, but Brown made an excellent clearance. Stuart got away with the ball, but was blocked on the edge of the area. As Newcastle fans booed their side off the pitch, Sussex coaster Roland Silcox summed up the first half in these terms: 'We were playing with the ball and there were some nice moves out there.'
The second half started with yet another offside decision, this time almost on the halfway line. Charlton continued to pressure and were denied what seemed to be a clear corner. Andy Hunt was showing some excellent skills on the ball in attack and Steve Brown was providing excellent defensive cover. Deano had to tip the ball over from one attack, but it was a bright period for Charlton while Newcastle seemed unable to shoot accurately. Robbo picked up a yellow card for timewasting over a throw in and took the opportunity to remind the referee that he lived in the same home town as Mark Kinsella. With Hunt sending the ball just over the bar after a cross from Robinson, Robson decided that enough was enough. He played his ace, a triple substitution on 65 minutes seeing Rob Lee, Didier Domi and new signing Lomana Lua replacing Cordone, Charvet and Solano. Robert Lee was greeted with chants of his name from the Addickted.
The triple substitution led to an increase in tempo and pressure from Newcastle and the Addicks were obliged to provide some dogged defending. A close range effort by Dyer was blocked by Steve Brown who was in his most reliable mode throughout the game. With Shearer diving in the box, Cort unleased a shot which found the back of the net, but it was ruled offside. On the train home, Newcastle fans were going round asking Charlton fans if one of them was the referee.
Curbs decided that the time had come to refresh his side and Newts was brought on for the subdued Johansson on 74 minutes. Newcastle's attempts at goal were becoming increasingly frantic and there were signs of panic in their play. One Newcastle corner was easily saved by Kiely and another easily cleared. Graham Stuart was replaced by Andy Todd on 87 minutes. Domi broke through on the left, but shot into the side netting. With Andy Hunt pulled off on 89 minutes, it was time for a rare cameo apperance by Charlie MacDonald. Showing his command of the area, Deano came out to deal with a potentially threatening ball.
The news that there was five minutes of injury time produced a great cheer from the home crowd, but it has been suggested that Mervyn Day was less pleased and made his views known in vigorous terms. Charlton decided that attack was the best form of defence, but the attempt ended in another offside decision. A handball decision against Chris Powell gave Newcastle to launch another attack which was snuffed out by a Deano save. Shearer then fired in a header from Lua Lua's cross which was brilliantly saved by Deano. All that was left was to applaud the team and then accept the plaudits of friendly Geordies as we walked back to the station. One said with a smile on his face, 'Your lot are going to get me a divorce because I am going to have to go and get completely sloshed now to get over this.'
With the Silver Bone awarded to Dean Kiely, Bob the Dog also gives a special mention to Steve Brown. He had a superb game and made a number of crucial defensive interventions. It was an excellent partnership with an also oustanding Richard Rufus . Paul Konchesky once again showed that he fully deserved a place in the team, putting in an important header at once stage when Charvet dangerously played the ball back across the box after a Kiely save. Chris Powell was energetic and involved and made an important contribution to the goal. Most commentators agreed that one of the strengths of Charlton's game was to be found in the midfield partnership of Kinsella and Jensen . Kinsella had a particularly outstanding game: we should never forget just how good he is and what a vital contribution he makes. But the Dane also showed considerable skill and judgement. After a few matches when he was below par, Robbo also had an excellent game. Apart from the goal, Stuart was very creative and caused serious problems for the Newcastle defence. Apart from one header, Andy Hunt did not come close to scoring, although he was always closely shadowed by at least one Newcastle defender. He produced some brilliant feints with the ball and outwitted the Newcastle defence time after time. Johansson who had played at Stoke seemed strangely subdued and was eventually substituted. Newts was energetic when he came on (contrasting with what I am told was a 'strolling' performance at Stoke) but did not have a great impact on the game. Todd and MacDonald were on for too short a time to pass judgement.
Juneau the Soccer Cat once again finds herself in the unusual position of having nothing serious to hiss about, but has decided to complain about the £109 return fare for two from Peterborough for an overcrowded train both ways.
Deano, the hero of the hour once again, photographed last season by Roland Silcox. When is at home in Warwick visiting his parents, Deano is a popular visitor to the Simple Simon pub half a mile from where this page is written. Our local kebab shop proudly displays a picture of the Charlton squad signed by Deano and staged a special party for local fans of Deano (many of whom remember whom from school and Leamington Hibernians football) to watch the Derby game.
The game got off to a slow start and for a good part of the first half both teams seemed a little wary of each other, as if both would be happy to settle for a draw. Nevertheless, an early opportunity arose for Charlton when Graham Stuart put in a good cross to Andy Hunt from the right in front of the Jimmy Seed stand. Andy Hunt headed the ball down to JJ whose shot was only just over. Nevertheless, this was quite enough for the Bloke Behind Me who claimed that Johansson was evidently 'not a natural goal scorer.'
Spurs soon showed that they were capable of causing Charlton some trouble and for the first of many times in game, captain Mark Kinsella was called on to assume a defensive role, making a good clearance into touch. There was more cause for concern five minutes into the game when Chris Powell was outwitted and Deano had to make a save with his legs from Rebrov. A Tottenham corner then required Deano to make a reflex save off the line from Iversen. Charlton were giving the ball away too easily in this phase of the match and a powerful shot from danger man Rebrov fortunately went wide.
Charlton were also capable of causing Spurs some trouble and Hunt put the ball into Robbo whose powerful shot was saved at the expense of a Charlton corner. A short corner led to a header from Rufus which was saved on the line. A few minutes later good work from JJ won another Charlton corner. Chris Powell put in an excellent long ball to Hunt, but all that resulted was another corner for the Addicks. Powell then blotted his copy book by giving the ball away. Seventeen minutes into the match Charlton hearts leaped when JJ seemed to be through with a scoring chance, but the ball was not an easy one for him to deal with and he seemed to be off balance.
Given the eventual result, it is easy to forget that this portion of the game gave much anxiety to the Addickted. There were too many long balls from a deep position which were easily cleared up by Sol Campbell. It seemed that Charlton were running out of ideas. Jensen put in a good ball to Hunt, but the out of sorts striker put it out for a goal kick, a good chance lost. A Spurs corner was easily saved by Deano, but then Taricco hit the cross bar. Play went up the other end and a Robbo shot took a deflection and hit the post. A Charlton corner was easily saved by Sullivan in the Spurs goal. It then looked as if Robbo might be going to get into a row with the ref, but instead he patted the ref on the check, leading some wags to speculate if he might follow up with a kiss.
The move that led to the Charlton goal started with Hunt outwitting Taricco on the far right and winning the ball. Konchesky put the ball through, Stuart provided a clever dummy, the Spurs defence wondered about using the offside trap and Johansson was able to power through and deliver a powerful and cleanly hit low drive which went between Sullivan and the post. What was needed now was for Charlton to hang on to their lead until half time which they did with no great difficulty. Sherwood demonstrated his diving skills, leading to suggestions that he should have stayed at Blackburn as it was more his level.
Charlton won an early corner in the second half as a result of work by Robbo, but the move ended in an offside decision. A Graham Stuart run probably carried on too far, but the resultant throw in led to another Charlton corner which was, however, easily cleared. Rebrov then put in a powerful shot which went just past the top of the right hand post. Stuart then put in a somewhat hopeful shot on goal. Nevertheless, Charlton had a good spell which offered hope of a second goal. Rufus burst through and put the ball into Andy Hunt. Deano spilt the ball, leading to a Spurs corner which he punched out. George Graham was by this time going ballistic. Deano continued to frustrate the Spurs bench with an excellent save minutes later. An injury to Rufus which required treatment off the pitch provided a worrying few minutes. Chris Powell made a decisive tackle in the box and then Deano was called into action to make two superb saves, one from Taricco and one from Ferdinand. Among many great saves by Deano, the one from Ferdinand was probably the best as it was a fiercely struck shot. A furious Deano then saw a header from Iversen go past his post as he berated his defence.
An attempt to strangle Johnasson did not escape the ref's attention and Charlton won a free kick which led to Hunt putting the ball on the roof of the net. With the action switching to the other end, Mark Kinsella made an important clearance. But then, given the opportunity of a free kick, he put in a disappointing shot. Two Tottenham corners caused Deano little trouble and then Jensen put a powerful shot over.
The first yellow card of the game went to Taricco. The (inevitably) tiring Jensen was replaced by Newts. Graham then made a double substitution, somewhat bizarrely involving the introduction of two defensive players. One of these was Ben Thatcher, who received a warm greeting from the Addickted, some of whom were aware of his facility with the well placed elbow. I have subsequently been informed that it was Stephen Clemence who came on not Ben Thatcher. But like me, the crowd believed the announcer.
There were desperate moments in the Charlton goalmouth when Deano slipped. The usually phlegmatic Curbs was waving his arms around by the side of the pitch as he saw three points at risk. Lisbie was being prepared to come on and at one point the ref held up play in the mistaken impresison that the decision had been made, provoking George Graham into a new bout of frenzy on the touchline. Robbo put in a powerful shot which could have made it 2-0 and required a good save from Sullivan. Lisbie was brought on and his pace added something for the last few minutes. Popular fourth official Paul Alcock announced that there was to be four minutes of injury time. As is always the case at such moments, time seemed to slow down, but the Addicks held their ground, mostly keeping the ball in the Spurs half. Finally, the ref blew up and the Addickted were able to give a rapturous reception to their heroes, not least Deano. The 4-1 defeat at The Valley the last time we were in the Premiership, which I listened to over lunch in my office in Seattle, was wiped out.
As noted above, match analyst Bob the Dog had an easy task in choosing the recipient of the Silver Bone. Paul Konchesky brought in in place of Kishishev had a generally good game, making effective use of his pace, although some fans felt that he was not comfortable in the right back position. Apart from a few mistakes, Chris Powell had a generally good game. Rufus was first rate, making some superb stops. Steve Brown was less prominent, but didn't let us down. Jensen was not as impressive as at Derby and seems to be unable to last ninety minutes. Kinsella was tireless and effective, particularly in a defensive role. Stuart had some excellent moments, although he does not seem comfortable on the right and is inclined to drift too much into the centre of the pitch. After a couple of below par games, Robbo was on much better form and came very close to scoring a second for Charlton. Johansson seemed to be tiring towards the end of the game, but his goal showed once again why he is such good value. I thought that, apart from a few potentially promising moments, Andy Hunt was below his best. Newts made effective use of his pace when he came on, although I wish he would have the confidence to try a shot now and then when he breaks through. Lisbie was not on for long and might have unsettled the Spurs defence more if he had been brought on earlier.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has little to hiss about, but has awarded the Hiss of the Match to Sue Allen and Trace the Hat for arousing expectations among the Zimmer boys at the Rose of Denmark that they might pay them a visit, but failing to do so. We look forward to seeing you soon!
There will not be a report from the Stoke away match in the Worthless cup as work takes me to Brussels all next week. But northern match analyst Hooch the Pooch will be at St.James's Park.
We regret the inadvertent deletion of the report from Derby. I will type it again when I have time.
The Web Counter says that the following number of the Addickted have visited this page:
Rose of Denmark
Before each match, Zimmer boys!