It is nearly forty years since Everton last visited The Valley and if the Addicks going on playing like this it will be a while before we see them again. A performance that Alan Curbishley described as 'poor' saw Charlton go down 1-2 to an Everton side who had clearly put the past week's turmoil at the club to one side once they were on the pitch. The Independent noted on Saturday that 78 of the 90 Premiership victories this season have gone to the side scoring the first goal and so it proved at The Valley on Saturday. With Everton scoring at the psychologically important moment of just before half time, a second half equaliser by the Addicks through a stunning strike by Kinsella was quickly reversed at the other end by the Toffeemen.
The day started badly with disruption caused by two fatalities leading us to be one and a quarter hours late at Euston. We therefore missed the first part of the West Stand tour organised by the West Sussex branch. Afterwards we were able to enjoy a drink with a couple of listers in the old Millennium Lounge which was less well patronised than I had expected.
The match started with the Addicks faithful in a rather subdued mood, perhaps because they quickly realised that Charlton were playing the dreaded 5-3-2 formation. This is surely not the right formation to play at home as it is too defensive and the players seem less sure what to do than with the traditional 4-4-2. The Addicks seemed strangely reluctant to challenge for the ball in the Everton half. The Everton passing was crisp and effective, while our passing was often woeful with the ball up in the air far too much. Everton had possession most of the time and when we did get the ball we often lost it again.What we mostly got in the first quarter of the game was exhibition football from the Toffeemen. Some light relief was provided by the Everton fans raising lettered slogans against the hated chairman Johnson, although some of them seemed to be in the wrong order. It wasn't until twenty minutes that there was a chance of a goal. Neil Redfearn dispossesssed Hutchinson and then blasted an on target shot at goal which was turned over the ball by the impressive Myrhe. Then on 34 minutes, Charlton had their most impressive moments of the half. Myhre came out too far in response to a free kick from Tiler, Andy Hunt put a header in against the post and then shot wide. He then had to deal with a shot from Kinsella and push away a powerful drive from Mortimer. However, these few minutes of excitement did not disguise the fact that Everton were in charge. Their goal was entirely down to a serious mistake by Ilic. Michael Ball put in a ball to the impressive Cadamarteri who had been causing trouble all the half. Rufus was outoaced, Ilic rushed out, missed the ball while passing in front of Rufus and Cadamarteri went round him and put the ball in the unguarded net. Charlton left the field looking despondent, accompanied by scattered boos and shouts of 4-4-2.
Two fans who travel from Cornwall, involving two overnight trips by coach, made the Valley Gold presentations at half time. They might have been asking themselves why they bothered. But at least the fans got one wish after half time when the unimpressive Tiler was replaced by Steve Jones providing a 4-3-3 formation.
It cannot be said that Charlton's game improved all that much. All looked lost when Kinsella brought down Bakayoko. The kick was delayed while the Everton physio was brought on and this may have distracted Ball who put in a not particularly powerful shot which was nevertheless well saved by Ilic diving to his left. Stattos can pronounce on this, but it is a long time since I have seen a penalty saved at The Valley. Newton came on in the 67th minute and gave the Addicks more width when people remembered he was there, but his one shot was delivered tamely into the arms of the keeper. However, in the 72nd minute Charlton gained a free kick some 35 yards out. As the authoritative Bloke Behind Me shouted 'you'll never score from there', Kinsella booted the ball powerfully and it scythed through the helpless Everton defence and into the right hand corner of the net. Throughout the game Everton had shown that they were more up for it in Charlton and they responded with determination. Ilic came out for a high ball and failed to hold on to it, it was picked up by Hutchinson who flicked it on to Cadamarteri who had no one looking after him and the ball went into the top corner of the net. Charlton made increasingly frantic attempts to get into the game but, although they were camped out in the Everton area for much of the remainder of the half, it was to no avail. Mr Burge from Tonypandy, whose main response to any offence seemed to be to say 'look you' did find his yellow card towards the end of the game to book Everton substitute Oster. It was a poor performance by Charlton whose Premiership credentials look increasingly in doubt in a league where defensive errors do not go unpunished.
A totally gutted Bob the Dog did consider withholding the Silver Bone, but eventually decided to give it to Mark Kinsella for a superb strike and a generally committed performance. Ilic had a 'mare of a game. The two Everton goals were down to errors committed by him and some Addicks are now calling for Royce to be given a chance. Mills had a below par game and although Powell did his job, there are questions about the quality of his crossing. I have been loathe to criticise Tiler as there is an unfortunate tendency in football to scapegoat a particular player. However, he increasingly looks like Phil Chapple in disguise with directionless headers being his speciality. In one case he managed to send a promising ball out of play on the opposite side of the pitch. His substitution was a great relief. Rufus had a rather poor game. He was outpaced for the first goal (although one of his fans suggests that he was only following instructions from Ilic), fell over in the attack which led to the penalty, and was in position but outmanoeuvred for the second goal. Youds was somewhat more reliable, although in the build up to the second goal he collided with Ilic and was out of position when the shot went in. Redfearn was the focus of criticism from the Bloke Behind Me, but he wasn't any worse than the rest of the team and did have a shot which might have got past a less impressive keeper. Mortimer was one of our more inspired players, but he sometimes takes on too much himself and tries to get through three players surrounding him when he would better advised to try a pass. His 67th minute substitution was nevertheless something of a surprise, but may have reflected injury worries. Hunt was as dedicated as ever, made some nice turns and came close to scoring. Quite frankly he looks better these days than Mendonca , although the latter had to put up with a number of shoves and pushes which were ignored by the referee who is a rugby fan and may have thought he was at a different sort of game. In one case in the second half, there was a possible shout for a penalty. Mendonca is heavily marked, but he finds it more difficult to turn Premiership defenders than those in the Nationwide. He did manage one turn in the box, making use of a Kinsella free kick, but was fairly tackled by Unsworth before he could put it away. To be fair, the service he gets from the midfield often leaves much to be desired. Steve Jones may be a super sub, but he didn't look much like when he came on and made relatively little contribution. If Charlton have the chance of getting a striker like Aliosi, they should go for it - it might preserve our place in the Premiership. Unlike some Addicks, I don't want to be visiting Swindon and Port Fail again next season. The authoritative Bloke Behind Me was calling on Newton to start, but he is not yet fully fit. He did add an extra dimension to our play, but doesn't look as impressive in the Premiership as he did in the Nationwide. I give this match one woof.
To celebrate the publication of From Welling to Wembley , Bob the Dog has set Christmas questions based on Charlton's association with Welling:
As a tiebreaker, please complete the following sentence 'I like visiting Park View Road because ......' Be as surrealistic as you like. E mail your answers to Bob's kennel.
Charlton slumped to their third defeat in a row going down 1-0 to bottom club Blackburn at Ewood Park on a pitch made slippery by near freezing temperatures. Addicks boss Alan Curbishley said afterwards that he thought that if anyone was going to score in the second half it would be Charlton, but in fact it was Kevin Davies who scored for Blackburn in the 74th minute, his first goal since his £7.25m summer move from Southampton. The ball went straight through Ilic's legs, although sombre supremo Curbishley attempted to excuse him afterwards by saying that the ball had taken a deflection. On the balance of play the Addicks certainly deserved to take a least a point away from this encounter, winning eight corners to two for Blackburn, but that is scant consolation as they drop towards the relegation zone.
The day started well enough as we joined Jean Tindall's coach at Watford Gap and headed north. Arriving at the ground before 12.30, we found a capacious pub where we were joined by Rick Everitt and the West Susex gang led by Brian Cole. Rick pointed out that a home draw in the Cup would mean the Communications Dept. team working through Christmas with the deadline for final copy being half time at the Arsenal game. The main source for worry about the game was that the man in the middle was that sanctimonious nincompoop from Tring, Graham Poll.
Reverting to their classic 4-4-2 formation, the Addicks started the game brightly enough, although Blackburn showed an ability to break quickly. Graham Poll lived up to his reputation and by 24 minutes had given yellow cards to three Addicks (Refearn, Kinsella and Youds) for tackles which were regarded as fouls by those breathing the strange atmosphere of Planet Tring. Poll only managed to find one Blackburn player wanting late in the second half. According to press reports we had a case for a penalty in the first half after a back tackle on Mortimer, although this was not noticed at the time by myself or other Addicks in the upper tier of the Darwen End.
Charlton were clearly having the better of the game, as shown by the wild gesticulations of new manager Kidd from the touchline which eventually earned a rebuke from referee Poll. The first real chance for Charlton came when Blackburn third choice keeper Fettis saved a free kick from Mortimer. Redfearn found himself one-on-one with the Blackburn keeper, but managed to shoot well wide. The first half was a rather ragged and scrappy affair.
The tempo and quality of the game improved in the second half, and there were real and justified hopes that the Addicks might score. Morts, who had had to go off for treatment in the first half, was substituted on 52 minutes by Newton. One of the best chances fell to Redfearn who shot from 25 yards, but the ball was palmed over by Fettis. Following a corner, Youds flicked on to Rufus who just headed over the bar. Robinson could have made more of a free header which was comfortably saved by the unflustered Fettis. A despondent Mendonca was replaced by Steve Jones on 67 minutes, but the change did little to improve Charlton's finishing. Maggie said 'it's going to be a draw', but I felt that the team's spirit was dropping a little and our work rate was flagging, so I said, 'there could be a goal at the other end.
The Blackburn goal came when Dunn carved a way through the middle to play a one-two with Davies on the edge of the Charlton box. When Dunn was tackled, the ball ran free for Davies to put in a low shot from twenty yards out. Given Ilic's positioning I thought that he must be able to make a save, but the straightforward strike went straight through him in what must count as a goalkeeping blunder.
It is difficult to pull back a 1-0 deficit away from home in the Premiership with twenty minutes or so to go. The Addicks gave it their all and were often camped out in the Blackburn area. One risk was that Blackburn would make it 2-0 which nearly happened when Dailly's header bounced off the bar. A last minute corner gave a chance to Andy Hunt, but his header was saved by Fettis. So the Addicks lost a six pointer against a team depleted by injuries. As we walked back to the coaches, two Addicks were grumbling about the Nationwide quality of our strikers. Throughout the match one felt that if we were going to score, it would be from midfield. The time has surely come for some spending, as there will be little point in redeveloping the Covered End for the Nationwide.
Bob the Dog is sorry to hear that people are still doubting his existence. The Silver Bone goes to Addicks On Line Player of the Month Mark Kinsella for his all round contribution which included a first half strike which only just went over the bar. Ilic did not have that many saves to make, but he made a complete mess of the one crucial one. Mills was back on song again, effective in defence and running forward when the chance presented itself. Powell also got forward when the chance came. Youds attracted the attention of referee Poll for his vigorous defending and was threatened with sending off at one stage. Rufus had a good game in defence and came as close as anyone to scoring. Redfearn again raised questions about his presence in the team, missing two good chances, although his second half strike required a good save from Fettis. But would Parker be better? Robinson made his presence felt down the flanks, but seemed hesitant in front of goal. The injury prone Mortimer was good while he was on. Hunt was fully of energy and commitment, but never looked really dangerous. Mendonca was good at trapping and controlling long balls from goal kicks, but then found himself attended by two defenders with no Charlton support nearby. His confidence must be suffering. Newton played an effective part once he came on, running on to the Blackburn goal and gaining some of the corners. Steve Jones was greeted by cries of 'super sub' when he came on, but his main tactic seemed to be to hare around after the Blackburn defence in the manner of Bradley Allen. He saw little of the ball and did not look like Premiership quality. I give this match two woofs.
The Master has gone to Athens, so there will be no report from Hillsborough, although I would like to thank the West Sussex branch for offering to fit their minibus with a dog guard. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that mischievous and gossipy cats have been circulating rumours that I am to be replaced in the spring as match analyst by New Forest based Homer the Hound. This dog is so confused about his identity that he does not know whether he is an Addick, a Cherry or a Saint!
The mood among listers in the Rose of Denmark before the match was one of almost unreserved gloom. With Charlton having failed to score in nearly two hundred minutes of play, it was perhaps understandable that the gathered faithful were almost as downhearted as the pub's regulars must have been when it was demolished by a V2 rocket at the end of Second World War. Lister Robin was so demoralised that he was not wearing his lucky Yorkey's Knob shirt supplied by Brian Cassey, prompting fears that we were in the kind of 'Cassey trough' experienced in midwinter two seasons ago. Even the sight of Rick Everitt in the club store checking sales of From Welling to Wembley , but advised by one wag that diapers were not on sale, failed to lift the gloom.
The mood of pessimism was justified when a hopeful cross by Dublin, made possible by indecision by the hapless Carl Tiler, bounced off Rufus's thigh and past a stranded Ilic. In the Premiership the club that scores first usually goes on to win, and that it was not Charlton's night was confirmed a few minutes later when Steve Jones was brought down in the penalty area, but the referee refused to recognise the offence. One Villa shot forced Ilic to palm away the ball . After Dublin connected with a corner and put in a kick over Ilic, the impressive Kinsella headed the ball off the line. Four minutes before half time a Robinson cross found Hunt's head, but the striker put the ball over the bar. Pete, back from New Zealand for his first Premiership match, must have wondered what was happening.
At half time a placard was again raised in the West Stand urging 'Spend some money, Curbs.' But it's a question of who you spend the money and whether they are worth it. The interval also saw an appeal over the tannoy for a Class 1 referee and shouts of 'Steve Dixon' were heard in the East Stand, but it was not to be Dicko's finest hour. There was speculation that referee Dunn had been concussed by a fierce header which he used to block a Charlton clearance in the first half, but this turned out not to be the case. Gary Willard came on as referee, but there was a ten minute delay while boots were found for the new fourth official.
Charlton came out for the second half in determined mood, and the nature of the challenge was recognised after ten minutes when Villa manager Gregory brought on centre back Scimeca for Collymore (whose tender loving care in his marriage was the subject of some comment from the crowd). Villa also switched from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 formation and this helped to absorb the Charlton attacks. The appearance of the streaker, who slapped Villa keeper Oakes and attempted to kiss Southgate, also disturbed the rhythm of the game with the Goldrange stewards outwitted until one of them used a rugby tackle.
One of Charlton's best chances came shortly after the break when Newton turned two Villa players, including his marker Wright, and put in a low drive that was just inches wide of the post. His 70th minute substitution by Mendonca was something of a surprise. With the impressive Oakes beaten, Wright headed off the line from Robinson. Kinsella put in an impressive cannonball shot and Redfearn fired an accurate and powerful free kick. A shot from Robinson was tipped on to the bar by Oakes and Mills headed against the bar. But, while Charlton continued to pressed forward in injury time, it was increasingly apparent that they were not going to get a deserved equaliser. A spirited performance of higher quality than in recent games was recognised by a chorus of 'Charlton We Love You' ringing round the ground, but spirit and determination are not enough if that vital final touch is missing.
Match summariser Bob the Dog who recently had his choppers overhauled at vets Walker, Walker and Duffin (plug) has vowed to invade the pitch and bite Carl Tiler after his indecision set up a situation which led to Villa winning with an own goal. Tiler made a number of other mistakes during the game and looks like one of Curbs's worst purchases. The only good news was that a yellow card for Tiler means that he will face a suspension. Surely Steve Brown would have been better? The Silver Bone goes to captain Mark Kinsella for another oustanding performance in attack and defence. Other contenders included Chris Powell who never put a foot wrong and John Robinson who probably had his best game of the season, troubling the Villa defence. It's a shame there was no one there to help some of his long range attempts into the net. Mills had a good game, although he made too much use of the long ball and at least one of his intended crosses ended up in the arms of the goalkeeper. He might have done better to try one of his runs on goal. Ilic made one superb save which drew chants of his name from the crowd and I wouldn't blame him for the own goal. Rufus was really only the hapless instrument of Tiler's incompetence and generally had a good game, but we certainly missed Youds. Newton had a better game than of late, with some good runs forward and it was a shame that he had to be taken off for Mendonca. Redfearn was being called 'Fatfearn' in my wife's part of the East Stand and, apart from an impressive free kick, the exiled northerner did not provide anything that would lead one to oppose an early return to his northern homeland. Steve Jones was his usual combative self and gave the Villa defence some trouble, and surely deserved a penalty when he was brought down as he headed towards the goal. He certainly contributed more than Hunt who missed his best chance. Mendonca made a few turns, but did not contribute much when he came on. I give this match three woofs.
I have posted at the bottom of the page a picture taken by Tom Morris when Maggie and I sponsored the match ball for the match against Reading in the Nationwide last season. How many listers can you recognise? The famous Yorkey's Knob shirt is on display, and Steve from Sidcup is there, as are some former players. The young lady sitting at the end of the table is Milly Candelent, owner of Homer the Cherry Dog who is currently being trained by Bob the Dog as match analyst for the Southampton match when the match report will be written by Joe the Saint.
For the Wombles onwards, please click here. Volume 6
No.1 Addick in Warwickshire