Our report on the home game against Newcastle and subsequent matches will appear at Volume 5
When I went to Charlton's 4-1 reserve victory over Arsenal midweek, writes Westcombe Park Addick Paul May , some Arsenal fans a few rows in front said that this was the only match the Addicks would win against the Gooners this season. I am afraid they were right. Although Charlton were not disgraced, Arsenal were simply too good for them in their 2-0 win at Highbury.
Charlton started brightly enough with Bartlett prominent in the opening phase of the match. But then on 26 minutes, Pires (who had hit the post earlier following an error by Feesh) squared the ball to the unmarked Jeffers who slid it past Deano. Lisbie had a go shortly afterwards, but without success. On 31 minutes Henry aimed a kick at Scott Parker and received a yellow for his troubles. The match was really killed off just before half time when Henry broke down the left. He turn provider for Ljungberg who had played in the reserve match at The Valley. His main contribution then had been to sign a lot of autographs, but this time he hit the post. The rebound came to Pires who nodded it past Deano.
The 2-0 half-time lead seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Addicks. They had a few attempts, including a twenty-yard effort that Euell sent straight to Seaman, but never looked like getting back into the game. However, Arsenal were prevented from adding to their score. Deano denied Wiltord and a last ditch intervention by Luke Young stopped Edu slipping the ball into the net.
JJ had scored a hattrick in the reserves, with his third goal the best, a beautiful swerving shot. He came on in 59 minutes in place of Bartlett and looked quite lively. On 79 minutes Konchesky came on for Powell and Svensson made his usual cameo appearance when he replaced Parker on 88 minutes. The much criticised Luke Young didn't have a bad game. The run was bound to come to an end at some point and Highbury was as likely a setting as any. But the Addicks remain in sixth place and there is still everything to play for.
This time last season Charlton were engaged in a drift down the table that ended in a disappointing 14th position. After a record breaking fifth Premiership win on the spin following their 3-0 defeat of Villa at The Valley on Saturday, Charlton are now 6th and a chance of qualifying for Europe. The first half of the match was uninspringly tepid, with the crowd only aroused by the incompetence of referee P Dowd. 'You're making a bad game worse', shouted one wag. But an early second half goal by Jason Euell and two late ones by JJ (although one may have to go the Dubious Goals Committee) enlivened the match and gave the Addicks, fielding a weaknened side because of injuries and suspensions, the three points. 'Good move, Kinsella', was one shout at the end of the game.
Mark Kinsella received a warm reception before the game when he was presented with a memento of his considerable contribution to Charlton. As was pointed out, he was the first Charlton captain to lift silverware at Wembley since 1947 and he then stayed loyal to the club to inspire us in our Division 1 championship season. The decision to let him to go to Villa was much criticised at the time, but he has hardly set the Midlands alight, being restored to the starting line up for Saturday's match. He will always be remembered with affection at Charlton as one of our great players, but allowing him to move on now looks like a shrewd decision by Curbs and Richard Murray.
Lisbie made an early attempt with a cross which was, however, well gathered by Enckelman in the Villa goal. The match suffered an early delay when Vassell required attention for a nose bleed. Villa were trying to use the long ball and Jensen defended effectively. A free kick awarded against El Kalej gave Kinsella a chance to put in an accurate ball that was saved by Deano.
Useless referee Dowd completely ignored a blatant back pass and Scott Parker got a talking to when he complained. Kinsella received a yellow card for a foul on Euell. A clear handball in the area was completely ignored by the referee. Dowd conceded a corner to Charlton after the Covered End pointed out that the ball had gone over the line. Charlton won another couple of corners which at least showed that the team was waking up after a slow start. Chris Powell combined well with Claus Jensen in a nice move, but it ended in an offside decision. Jensen was fouled by the beanstalk Crouch who received a talking to. Lisbie burst through, beating the recalled Alpay and Mellberg, but his effort went just wide. Bartlett was booked for a foul which was no worse than the one that Crouch had escaped from with a talking to. Such was the boredom that the game was inducing that the crowd discovered that the manifestos for the supporter director post made very good paper aeroplanes and a number of them appeared on the pitch.
The decidedly dowdy match came to life in the last few minutes. Euell ran in and put in a strong shot which Enckelman was able to push over. The resultant corner was wasted by taking it short. Lisbie then put in an excellent shot which Enckleman pushed out. Jensen then put in an effort which was just over.
The second half started with Crouch falling prey to the forces of gravity and the useless East Stand linesman flagging for a bizarre free kick. Crouch finally got the yellow card he had been waiting for. On 52 minutes Jensen made a great run down the left and gave the ball to the unmarked Parker. He provided the ball to Euell, who turned well, evaded Wright and put a well taken goal into the back of the net. Kishishev put in a speculative shot that went over. Scott Parker made a great run down the East Stand side and then along the goalline, putting pressure on Enckelman who deserves some credit for ensuring that Villa did not lose by a large margin. A very dubious corner was awarded to Villa by the East Stand lineman whose conduct throughout was odd to say the least. The corner produced a dangerous situation for Charlton. In a goalmouth scramble, Parker had to deal with a header from Vassell. He managed to push the ball away, but it came back in and again and Young and Parker had to combine to get it away at the expense of a corner.
Villa pulled off Wright and De La Cruz and brought on my near neighbour in Leamington, Hadji, and Jlloyd Samuel, who was roundly booed. An Aston Villa corner ended up with Vassell being injured yet again. This time he actually went off, rather than holding up the match. Someone behind me advised Dowd to remove his shirt and place it somewhere not designed for it. Vassell's nose bleed became too much for him and Allback was brought on in his place. Charlton had a good build up, but it ended in an offside decision. Lisbie put in a great run, but his lack of finishing skills allowed Enckelman to save. Kishishev was booked for what looked like an innocuous tackle to me, although Dowd seemed to be pointing round the pitch. Perhaps he was recalling the errors he had made throughout the match. Jensen put in a good ball to Parker, but the corner earned by Charlton was unproductive.
With eleven minutes left on the clock, Villa messed up a chance to draw level. A good tackle by Young, which left him momentarily injured, stopped Kinsella scoring against his old club, but Crouch was given a great opportunity, but could only put in a tame effort that was easily saved by Deano. The hapless beanstalk was thereafter regaled by the Covered End with chants of 'Are you Leaburn in disguise?', although arguably the Grays Athletic bench warmer had more to offer in his day.
With Lisbie having failed at one last effort, JJ was brought on on 83 minutes. This was not to be his usual cameo. Parker made a great run down the East Stand side, evading the hapless Alpay, and then turning provider for JJ who was able to tap the ball in the net for a few yards out. Svensson was then brought on for Bartlett and played a part in the third goal. A Jensen corner was headed towards the goal by Svensson and deflected off JJ and then off Samuel. The Dubious Goals Committee will have to rule on who the goal should be credited to, but JJ and Svensson were more than happy to celebrate. There was just time for Parker to go off to warm applause and Bart-Williams to take his place. The thinness of the squad was showed by the fact that Turner was on the bench, but this was an important win for the Addicks.
Delays on the Jubilee Line on the way home gave me plenty of time to read the statements from the candidates for supporters' director. A composite statement would read something like this: 'I have supported Charlton since 1962. I am a family man and all my family are season ticket holders. The boardroom holds no fears for me as I have my own electrical business. I will set up a surgery to consult fans before the game.' Given that the election is to be held on a first past the post system, the winning candidate could have just several hundred votes. I would have thought that someone with evidence of supporters club work is likely to win.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch gave the Silver Bone to Scott Parker who made some great runs to skin the Villa defence, admittedly not the most difficult task in the world. He was involved in two vital goalline clearances which stopped the Villains equalising. Deano was not really tested, but was justifiably pleased with another clean sheet. El Khalej is no Richard Rufus, but he did a competent job at the heart of the defence, growing in confidence as the game went on. Fortune has been a recent target for the moaners, but he was generally calm and confident, although Deano did have a go at him on one occasion. Captain Chris Powell had a much better game than in recent matches, reinforcing the case for extending his contract. Young made some good runs forward. During the week I met a couple of Bulgarians and when I mentioned Kishishev they said, 'Ah! Charlton Athletic!' I think that he continues to improve, although he is sometimes inclined to give the ball away as a result of hesitancy. Jensen had an excellent game and was considered by Hooch the Pooch for the Silver Bone. Lisbie made some great runs which the Villa defence could not cope with, but once again his finishing let him down. Somewhat anonymous during the tepid early phase of the match, Euell soon began to contribute. His goal was well taken. Bartlett had a somewhat disappointing game and will have to look out for his place if JJ continues to improve. JJ certainly did the business when he came on, but Svensson also played his part. A shaven headed Bart-Williams made his appearance to the usual chorus of groans from behind me, but delivered one neat angled pass.
Juneau the Soccer Cat was spoilt for choice when it came to selecting the Hiss of the Match . There was the Leaburnesque beanstalk Crouch with his Division 1 skills and the useless linesman on the East Stand side whose bald patch has been encountered before. But in the end there was no contest and a very loud hiss was awarded to fussy and inept referee P Dowd.
Crowd rating: No atmosphere at all in the first half. Of course, one can say that that reflected what was happening on the pitch, but it is in such circumstances that the team needs lifting. The opposition were much quieter than Everton, largely resorting to rather despairing chants of 'Villa'. Clearly, they are saving everything up for their forthcoming clash with the Blues at whom one chant was directed. 6/10.
'This is what football is all about' proclaimed Steve from Sidcup after a cracking game at The Valley in which Charlton defeated Everton 2-1 in the presence of England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. There was plenty of skill on display, but outstanding were Claus Jensen who gave one of his best performances for Charlton and his Danish national team rival Thomas Gravesen who managed to carve holes in the Charlton defence.
An Irish tricolour with the Charlton emblem on it fluttered in the Covered End indicating that the Dublin supporters were making one of their visits. Everton provided some early pressure and won a corner in the first minute of play. Bartlett then found himself on-on-one with Wright in the Everton goal but his lob went just wide of the target. Richard Rufus put in an effort that was well over. Referee Jeff Winter had Radzinski going backwards and forwards as if he was on the end of a piece of string as he told him off. It has to be said that the ref had a good game, although before long the visitors were chanting 'Now is the Winter of our discontent.'
Rufus conceded an Everton corner, immediately followed by a second. Li Tie received the only yellow card of the match. Charlton had difficulty in clearing another Everton corner taken by Gravesen. This produced a penalty call from the vociferous Toffees, but it seemed a false claim to me. Kishishev had a try from distance and his effort was just wide. There was uncertainity in our row about the performance about the back three at this stage of the game and indeed it was Euell who provided outstanding defensive work to get the Addicks out of a tight corner. Then on 18 minutes Bartlett's shot, which followed excellent work by Jensen on the left, was deflected to the waiting Kishishev who had no difficulty in putting it past Wright. As far as the Toffees concerned, Lisbie was in an offside position, but ice cool referee Winter decided that he was not active or interfering in the move. A different view was taken by the incandescent Stubbs who looked as if he was going to take it out on the East Stand linesman, but Winter intervened and looked for a moment as if he might give a yellow card.
Charlton are often at risk just after they have gone ahead, but Lisbie turned provider for Jensen who got past Pistone and put it an angled shot which Wright was only just able to save at the expense of a Charlton corner. Then Scott Parker powered in and the Addicks had two corners in succession. An Everton corner was caught by Deano. A foul on Lisbie gave the Addicks a free kick in a promising position, but Bartlett headed over. Rufus then had no choice but to avert danger by conceding a corner. Fortune then conceded a corner which could have been avoided. Jensen put in a stinging shot that was well saved by Wright. Then Gravesen released Radzinski and Deano had to make a good save with his feet. Scott Parker drew a save and Lisbie made a run, but his effort went wide. Charlton had a free kick in a promising position on the West Stand side, but Jensen's effort was saved.
Li Tie looked as if he was diving into the Yangste when he came down spectacularly to win a free kick on the edge of the area. But for some reason Gravesen decided to send his free kick sideways, giving Parker the chance to run on it at the expense of an Everton corner. In doing so, Parker collided with Stubbs who had to be stretchered off with a broken ankle, producing yet another call for a penalty. Yobbo came on in place of Stubbs. Deano had to make one more save before the break.
The crowd was very subdued after the re-start. No doubt they sensed that it was a very competitive match in which Everton could easily cone back. Both Powell and Fortune made early defensive errors. It was like the start of the first half again when Everton had put Charlton under the cosh for the opening minutes. Deano had to save on the line and then the visitors won two corners in succession. Everton were awarded a free kick against Feesh, but it was well defended. Feesh then made a great interception. On 67 minutes Bartlett went off to warm applause to be replaced by JJ. Lisbie won the Addicks a corner, but Feesh blasted over. But then Li Tie showed that he knew something about football as well as swimming when he put in a good ball to McBride. McBride impressed me in the World Cup and Deano could do little about his strike which put the Toffeemen on level terms.
Lisbie used his pace to great advantage and burst through but he could only find the side of the goal. Euell had a chance, but hesitated while he tried to set up the shot and lost his chance. JJ drew a save from Wright and won the Addicks a corner. Then Li Tie managed to present the ball to JJ and before you could say 'Number 12', JJ had set up Lisbie who took his chance and scored. Shortly afterwards, Rooney was brought on to display his prodigal talents. Jensen was taken off in favour of Konchesky and on 89 minutes Everton increased their strike force by bringing on Campbell. The three minutes added on turned out to be more like five and Scott Parker provided great defensive cover. Rooney put in a turn and shot that could have provided an equaliser which went just over Deano's bar.
Although the Addicks did not move up the table through their win, they managed to put clear blue water between themselves and the Saints. As we drove up the M1 we passed the Everton team coach suitably blacked out.
It was the turn of lucky labrador Homer the Cherry Hound to occupy the canine seat in the press box (where his tray had thoughtfully been filled with Markies by Rick Everitt) and he had no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to Claus Jensen. Deano loves to keep a clean sheet, but he made some great saves. It hasn't been the best of weeks for Jon Fortune and at times he looked a little nervous. Rufus was his usual authoritative self and Feesh made some great interceptions and clearances. Chris Powell is the new target of the moaners and at times his pace did look lacking. Kishishev not only scored his second goal for the club, but contributed throughout, although he did give the ball away once or twice. Opinions were divided about Scott Parker . Charlton fans rang to praise him on 606 and he has been included in the England squad. However, some people in the pub afterwards thought he had had a poor game. Homer's view is that he drifted out of the game after the knock he took at the end of the first half. Euell had another great game, appearing everywhere and displaying some superb skill. Lisbie continues to develop as a player and, apart from scoring the winning goal, troubled the Toffees defence throughout the game. Bartlett couldn't find the back of the net, but gave one hundred per cent. JJ had more than a cameo appearence, but his main contribution was to provide the assist for Lisbie. Konchesky had relatively little time in which to make an impact, but his England call up is a well deserved reward for his skill and effort.
Hiss of the Match: This has been awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to diving Everton player Li Tie.
Crowd rating: Strangely subdued at the start of the second half which was an important time to lift the team. 6/10
Six hundred Addicks had bought tickets for the away fixture at Sunderland, but not all of them made it to the Stadium of Light. One who did was the indefatigable Westcombe Park Addick Paul May , the man with the permanent hangover. He saw Sunderland go down to two or three own goals (one may have to go to the Dubious Goals Committee) in the first half. Their only consolation was a late penalty strike. The win put Charlton eighth in the Premiership and fourth in the form league. Paul emphasises, 'Let no one take anything away from Charlton and say this was a Sunderland defeat rather than a Charlton victory. The Addicks knew what their game plan was and they went about it in a calm and confident way.
Given the final result, it should be noted that Charlton were on the back foot for the opening minutes of the game, just as they were at The Hawthorns. However, an early Fortune free kick gave Bartlett at the far post a half chance from eight yards, but Sorensen was able to get to the ball. Then Deano managed to spill the ball, giving Sunderland the chance of a shot from six yards. But the situation was saved by the speedy interception of Scott Parker. Nevertheless, Deano soon had to save again. Then Euell burst through, but was judged to be offside. There was a bit of a battle developing between Fortune and Flo. The Black Cats got a free kick in a dangerous position, but Deano saved well.
On seven minutes Bartlett turned provider for Lisbie. His volley on the run from the edge of the box was well taken, but went just over the bar. Jensen put in a good ball in, but there was no one on the back post to take advantage. A back pass by Feesh to Deano put him in some difficulty. Part of the area in front of the goal looked cut up and part looked as if it had been re-turfed. The ball was inclined to bobble and Deano had to react quickly as Phillips advanced. Flo gave Fortune a two handed shove, but the incident was ignored by referee Willey. Proctor turned provider for Flo, but he was being chased by Rufus, enabling Fortune to make a block at the expense of a corner which was cleared by Feesh. As twenty minutes approached, Deano made a poor clearance after a back pass by Jensen, but the situation was dealt with by Chris Powell. Lisbie was brought down by Wright who managed to leave the mark of his studs on the knee of Hackney's finest. Fortune got his head to a Jensen free kick, but the ball was cleared by Flo.
On 24 minutes a Jensen corner gave Feesh, celebrating his 200th appearance in English club football, his chance. An attempt at a clearing header by the hapless Proctor fell at Feesh's feet and his effort deflected off Flo and Wright before ending up in the back of the net. Sunderland tried to get back in the game with a quick corner, but it was dealt with by Kishishev. Within five minutes of the first goal, Lisbie turned provider for Chris Powell. Sorensen managed to push out the left back's low shot, but it rebounded into the net off the boot of Proctor. There was a worrying moment when Feesh was injured, but fortunately the fin damage was not too severe. A cross by Jensen was used effectively by the on form Fortune, but Sorensen managed to tip his header over. On 32 minutes a good corner from Jensen created mayhem in the Sunderland area. Proctor was looking up the pitch to see where the nearest stadium exit was and the ball hit him on the back and went into the net, allowing him to join Michael Gray in the list of Black Cats who have given the Addicks a helping hand.
Many of the home supporters went beserk and a considerable number started to leave. It was late reported that many had torn up their season ticket books and others had confronted their popular manager. Deano had no difficulty in collecting a free kick from Arca. Michael Gray blasted across goal. Phillips burst through and was challenged by Fortune, but managed to get in a shot which Deano saved. The offside flag was up anyway.
It was a far emptier stadium at the second half. When a team goes 3-0 up at half time, they rarely add that much to the total and so it proved. If Lisbie had put in a better pass towards Bartlett and Euell, Charlton might have got a fourth. Kilbane put in a shot that was well wide. Rufus cut the ball back to Euell, but his effort was a yard past the post. The same thing happened a minute later, with Bartlett the provider this time. Kilbane made a good run in the area, but Deano spread himself well to block a powerful shot by his fellow Irleand international. Phillips also had a go, but Deano had the measure of him. JJ replaced Lisbie on 75 minutes. On 81 minutes Flo went down from a tackle by Fortune, giving referee Wiley the chance he had been looking for all afternoon. For once Sunderland did not miss a penalty and Phillips was able to deny Deano a clean sheet. But Charlton were too much in command to feel threatened. Konchesky replaced Jensen and then Bart-Williams replaced Parker on 90 minutes for a few minutes of nonchalance. This was a stirring performance. The moaners on the list must now surely stop talking about relegation, but hoping for Europe may be premature. Oh, and a hapless Proctor was left puzzling over the significance of the Silver Bone that he received.
The Hawthorns has the highest altitude of any ground in England and it was a bitterly cold January night when the Addicks took on the Baggies. However, a 60th minute header by Shaun Bartlett was enough to warm the hearts of the Addickted in the ground and sitting comfortably at home, giving Charlton a valuable three points that put them in the top half of the table. Gloomsters on the list who have been claiming that we were still in relegation danger will find it more difficult to maintain their claim. It wasn't a classic game, although it was less physical than at The Valley, but getting the three points is what matters. The Baggies tried to blame their defeat on referee Andy d'Urso, but on this occasion the banker from Billericay managed to get most of his decisions right. But I would say that wouldn't I?
The Baggies were obviously out for an early goal and the opening phase of the game was largely played in Charlton's half. However, the Baggies did not present much of a threat. Either their shots were wayward or Deano was able to make easy saves. Nevertheless, Rufus was called on to make a good defensive interception at the expense of a throw in (winning a throw in is clearly a source of great excitement in the Black Country to judge from crowd reactions). The Albion were awarded a free kick against Rufus in a potentially dangerous position, but the ball simply went through a crowd of players and out for a Charlton throw in. Then another free kick was awarded against Rufus in a dangerous position. This produced the second corner of the evening for the home side, but Lisbie cleared. Shaun Bartlett provided a great angled ball over distance to Jensen, but it was unproductive.
The Baggies stepped up the pressure again and Feesh made a great interception. Lisbie went on a run and was brought down. The Addicks were awarded a free kick, but it looked to be too far out to be promising. Nevertheless, Jensen managed to force a save from Hoult and earn Charlton a corner. Then Kishishev rather needlessly conceded a corner at the other end which was cleared by Bartlett. Kevin Lisbie was brought down and there was a shout for a penalty, but none was awarded and probably rightly so. Charlton managed to provide a bit of pressure with two corners in succession. However, the Albion had one good chance before the break. On 36 minutes a move that started with Hoult and involved Chambers saw a Koumas cross put Walworth in a good position, but Deano was able to save superbly and keep the Addicks in the match. The home fans also thought that they should have had a penalty when charm merchant Roberts lost his footing while attempting to evade Rufus, but referee d'Urso had fitted his contact lenses.
The referee came out to a chorus of boos from the home fans who were convinced that he had stolen the match from them. Centre half Darren Moore picked up an injury and had to be helped off and was replaced by Derek McInnes, something of a blow for the home side. West Brom were given a free kick in a dangerous position and there was some suspicion among the Addickted that this was an attempt to appease the home fans. In any event, Koumas managed to miss the target. If there are any barn doors in the Black Country, the Baggies don't practice hitting them. Euell almost managed to burst through. Then as Lisbie surged forward, he was brought down, given the Addicks a free kick in a dangerous position. Bartlett's head connected with Jensen's effort, and although it looked as if it took a deflection, the important point was that it ended up in the back of the net.
West Brom tried to get back into the match and Deano had to make a good save. Parker received his usual booking. Feesh made a good block. West Brom won a corner but it was saved by Deano. I thought that Charlton were starting to defend too deep. Albion pulled off Danny Dicho and brought on Scott Dobie who I think is quite a tricky player and so he proved later. A loudspeaker appeal went out for Adam Smith, but unfortunately the famous economist was unable to rise from the grave and help the Baggies in their hour of need. Konchesky came on in place of Jensen. A Dobie header came off the post, but Deano was on hand to deal with it. JJ came on in place of Lisbie. Chris Powell was booked for timewasting.
Somehow five minutes of time was added on. Deano had to tip the ball over from Wallworl at the expense of an Albion corner and then had to make a save from a Koumas free kick. In the meantime, Johnson had managed to stab the ball over from two yards out. But eventually it was all over and the points were in the bag. Chris Powell was able to do his jack in the box trick and local Addick Graham Speller (he even has a Black Country accent) could say 'yow all right?' with confidence to his colleagues the next day. Nice one, Charlton.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch was keeping warm by wearing a smart coat emblazoned with the logo of our new Silver Bone sponsors Kingdom Signs of Didcot .
A message from our new Silver Bone sponsors.
Hiss of the Match: Juneau the Soccer Cat has given this to Central Trains who first delayed Maggie by failing to sell her a ticket. Arriving late at The Hawthorns, she was unable to get out when the doors stuck and was conveyed to Oldbury, one of the Black Country's well-known beauty spots. Consequently, she missed almost all of the first half.
Crowd rating: 9/10. There was a good turn out for a mid-week match in January in the Midlands. The Addickted were in good voice. I heard a new Jason Euell song, as well as the rarely heard 'Goodbye Horse', plus a sentimental chorus of 'Andy Hunt, he plays up front'.
He used to play up front - Andy Hunt
A comfortable mid-table Premiership position has to be the main objective for Charlton this season, but a cup run would have enlivened the closing phase of the campaign. Each year we are assured that the Addicks are taking the prospect of a run in the league or FA cups seriously and each year the performance on the pitch tells us something different. After a reasonably good first half in which they nevertheless failed to convert chances, the Addicks never really recovered after Fulham charged through an apparently absent Charlton defence on 58 minutes. The final 3-0 scoreline included two penalties. Although one can argue about these, and about the general conduct of referee Mr Gherkin, the fact of the matter is that Charlton were never really up for it. Unfortunately, having missed the West Ham game because of work commitments, I had to suffer this performance.
Having been at The Valley on Saturday evening for the 50th birthday party of well-known Addick Joe Dray (Floyds was an excellent venue and the food provided by the club was good), I had the unusual experience of going to a match from S.E.London for the first time in nearly fifty years. En route I met up with Communications Director Rick Everitt carrying his official Barclaycard Premiership case. As usual, he had much to say of interest, although his prediction that the team would be the same as for the game against West Ham turned out, unfortunately, not to be well founded. Coming into the ground, my bag was searched as usual by the stewards blocking the way, although when I told him that one bag contained 'dirty washing' he did not investigate further.
Charlton won an early corner, but an effort by Feesh went into Row Z. Fulham won a corner from a break, but Legwinski's effort was over. Deano made a good stop from a fierce shot delivered along the ground by Andy Melville. With the pitch in poor condition after the big match against Tranmere the day before, Scott Parker had to change his boots. Luke Young delivered a poor cross, but then Charlton provided a period of pressure. Unfortunately, Kishishev hesitated and had the ball taken away from him and Feesh had to clear for a Fulham throw in. With Fulham providing renewed pressure, Euell had to defend. Claus Jensen was booked for a minor foul, leading pitch announcer Brain Cole shout, 'You're so hard.'
Charlton actually had a break with Kishishev turning provider for JJ, but the attack was snuffed out. Luke Young received a yellow card for a foul. A great interception was made by Kishishev. Luke Young provided a good defensive header. Euell had a go, but although his shot was deflected, no corner was given. Charlton were giving the ball away too easily and an angry Deano had a go at his defenders. Scott Parker turned provider for Luke Young, but although he was well positioned, his header was easily saved by Fulham's No.2 Taylor. He looked like a far from confident keeper to me, often having arguments with his defenders, but he was never put under real pressure by the Addicks.
A break by Fulham produced another corner for them, but Boa Morte's corner was cleared. Marlet committed a blatant foul on Konchesky, but was given a telling off rather than a yellow card. Konchesky provided a good ball to JJ who won the Addicks a corner. Euell played the ball back in to Rufus, but he connected with his foot rather than his head and his effort went over.
The first half had been far from inspiring, but at least a replay was still possible. Charlton had a chance to go ahead four minutes after the break when JJ connected with a flick from Bartlett, but JJ's effort was well over. Fulham pressure continued with two corners in succession, Parker eventually clearing. Deano had to make a good save from Marlet. The match was entering a dangerous phase when on 58 minutes Boa Morte charged through a Charlton defence that appeared to have gone awol. Malbranque was then very well placed to blast home a shot past Deano from some fifteen yeards out.
My original forecast of a 1-1 still seemed possible, but all hope was effectively lost on 65 minutes when Luke Young fouled Boa Morte. Some have questioned the penalty decision, but I was in line with it and thought it was correct. (Subsequently I understand that video evidence shows otherwise, but this demonstrates that it is quite easy to make a mistake unless video evidence is consulted at the time). Malbranque had little trouble in scoring. At 2-0 the game was effectively over. Bartlett had a go, but it was saved. A Charlton corner was eventually cleared. Curbs pulled off Young and Jensen, both on yellow cards, and brought on Bart-Williams (a decision that was booed) and Fortune. A wag behind me shouted, 'Could you order me for a taxi for full time, Bart-Williams?' The body language of Curbs and Merv suggested that they knew it was all over. Bringing Svensson on was welcomed by the Addickted, but not at the expense of Parker, but as Curbs pointed out he is now on eight yellows. Konchesky received a yellow for a foul.
Fulham fans now started a chant urging the Charlton fans to stuff their masks up an unfortunate portion of their anatomy. Charlton fans responded with 'If you've got a ground, stand up.' There was a self-serving statement on this subject in the programme and al Fayed was cheered by most supporters when he appeared on the pitch, but the attendance suggested that many fans had stayed away.
The final blow of the match came four minutes from the end. Feesh hauled down Facundo Sava and was sent off. Malbranque had no difficulty in earning his hat trick from the penalty spot. It was a very disappointing afternoon. Pitch announcer Brian Cole described it as a gutless performance by players who on this occasion did not deserve to wear the shirt. One can understand his sentiments. Let's hope we can stop Fulham becoming a bogey team by defeating them in the last home game of the season.
Our new Silver Bone sponsors, Kingdom Signs of Didcot, have asked that the Silver Bone should not be awarded to anyone after this performance. Having replaced our previous sponsor (Elaine Barker, Coventry's leading canine beautician), they want their first award to record a performance of some merit. It's never good for a keeper to let in three goals, but Deano was let down by his defence for the first one and it's never easy to save a well taken penalty. It wasn't the greatest of days for captain Fish , although one might argue about whether he should have been sent off. Rufus did not have the best of games. Kishishev was good in parts, showing some really nice touches, but then giving the ball away unnecessarily. Konchesky showed more energy and commitment than most of the Charlton players, but it didn't really produce anything. Young missed a golden chance to score and generally had a very tepid game. I remain unconvinced that he was a good signing. Playing a cup match on a poor pitch is not really what Jensen is best at it and this was one of those days when he looked a bit of a luxury player. Parker did play well in midfield. Let's hope he strengthened the case for his inclusion in the England squad. There are those fans (Colin S**s) who still regard JJ as our under utilised secret weapon. Well, there wasn't much evidence of it on this performance, although he did make some decent runs up the wings. But Lisbie is able to do more in terms of unlocking opposition defences. Bartlett was up for it, and did his best in the air, but this was not to be his day. The arrival of Bart-Williams on the pitch was greeted with little enthusiasm by the Addickted and all he did was to nonchalantly tap the ball around in midfield. Svensson tried to get stuck in, but was brought on too late.
Hiss of the match: The linesman to the left of the Charlton support, whose bald patch could be prominently viewed from the upper tier, would give the Addicks absolutely nothing and was very eager to give offside decisions against them.
Crowd rating: 7/10. Out of a poor attendance of 12,003, at least 4,000 were Addickted. They tried to get behind the team and gave it back to the Fulham in the closing phase of the match. No doubt this rating will be disputed by a well-known Addick from Eastbourne who urged everyone to stand up at the start of the match and condemned them as 'muppets' when they failed to do so.
At one time on Icelandic television we had a British television series called Fathers' Army in which one of the catch phrases was 'They don't like it up 'em'. It is this phrase that is coming to my mind at the end of Charlton's 4-2 victory over West Ham at The Valley, reports Iceland's No.1 Addick, Olafur Johansson. At one point in the game the Irons were chanting 'We need a new back four' and certainly the weaknesses of West Ham's defence were ruthlessly exposed by Charlton's probing attacks.
There was a strong physical edge to the game from the start with Mr Lee Bowyer going first into Mr Bartlett and then into Mr Scott Parker and sending him through the hoardings and into the crowd. As we say in Iceland, 'why don't we want Lee Bowyer in Iceland? Because there is only one MacDonalds in Reykjavik.' Just after seven minutes, the Addicks won their first corner in front of the Covered End. Unfortunately, the shot of Mr Bartlett went off the top of his boot and over the top of the goal. West Ham launched an attack, but Mr Parker dealt very effectively with Mr Bowyer who was left on the ground. Good work by Jensen saw him cut the ball back but there was no one there to connect. Mr Parker and Mr Bowyer faced up again, presumably not about the price of french fries, and Mr Wolstenholme (the referee with the shopaholic wife) issued both of them with a yellow card.
Jensen played on to Parker and Bartlett was nearly in, but David James was able to deal with at the expense of a corner. A mistake by Rufus led Deano to make a save. There was nice work between Feesh, Parker and Lisbie, but West Ham defended at the expense of a Charlton corner. Charlton had been providing all the pressure, but then West Ham made a break against the run of play. It should have been stopped by Mr Chris Powell, who I am told has not been at his best of late, but he showed hesitancy in making the tackle. Consequently, West Ham scored a goal which will surely be one for the Dubious Goals Committee. It was attributed to Mr Cisse, but Mr Richard Rufus arrived at the same time and appeared to make contact. Mr Curbishley looked very angry at this development. West Ham continued the pressure and with veteran Les Ferdinand in the box, Euell had to slice the ball away at the expense of a West Ham corner.
A Lisbie cross went across the front of goal and Cicce nearly put it in his own goal. Bowyer clattered into Parker and might have been in some trouble if the referee did not have poor night vision. A Chris Powell free kick was met by Lisbie but his header was wide. After Sinclair had turned provider for Ferdinand, Kiely saved. Euell shot from some 25 yards and was only inches wide with David James, once seen as England's next hope, beaten. West Ham pressure continued in the tricky conditions and Defoe turned provider for Cisse, but Kishishev did enough to deal with the situation. It was then the turn of Charlton to provide some pressure with two corners in succession. From the latter Feesh was just wide on the near post.
The Addicks were awarded a free kick after a foul on Shaun Bartlett. The Irons tried to bend the ten yard rule. But the real bending was done by Mr Claus Jensen who put in a superb curler of a free kick to put the Addicks level. I have heard some people say that Mr Jensen is a luxury player, but perhaps he is an affordable luxury.
Jensen had a second chance to create something with another free kick, but it was not the best of deliveries. Then, as the game entered three minutes of time added on, Euell turned provided for Parker. Parker executed a good dummy which outwitted Minto and stabbed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
The weaknesses of the West Ham defence were evident once again on 52 minutes when Parker used a left-footed shot to make it 3-1. Charlton are always most vulnerable when they have gone ahead and on 62 minutes it was back to 3-2. The move was set up by Scott Minto. Carrick's shot was deflected by Feesh, possibly with Sinclair providing the final shot. Cisse was pulled off in favour of Glenn Johnson who has recently completed his footballing education through a loan spell at the Millwall club.
Charlton executed a good move, but Lisbie's effort ended up in the side netting. West Ham were upping their game, but Fortune stood up very well to Bowyer when he tried to burst through from midfield. Paul Konchesky was brought on, while West Ham introduced Winterburn. Deano made a decent save on the ground. Les Ferdinand received his first yellow card for his new club, surely the first of many. There was a nervousness in the Charlton crowd. A man who is sitting behind me is shouting 'Blimming Nora': perhaps this is a reference to his wife, but she was not on the pitch. The Addicks were giving the ball away too easily and were less fluent. Would it be another case when they failed to hold on to a lead? Nothing could be discerned from the stance of Mr Roeder who stood with his arms crossed with a pose like a statue.
Shaun Bartlett was taken off in favour of JJ. With Sinclair in the box, Chris Powell made a decent challenge. Claus Jensen was pulled off so that Matt Svensson could enjoy his usual cameo apperance. JJ dispossesed Bowyer. JJ played the ball into Svensson. His effort was saved by James, but Kishishev was on hand to put it in the net from the far post and make it 4-2. This was his first goal with the Addicks and he seemed to be a very happy man, making a kind of dance that is probably native to his home country. What a night for me to make a rare return to The Valley and see Charlton go 11th in the table.
Kendottir the Husky Dog has awarded the iced Silver Bone to Scott Parker.
Hello, fellow Addicks, your old pal from Iceland, Olafur Johansson, is here to report on tonight's match against the Thames Ironworks. The postponement of this game was a great chance for me as I am here in London on business. You say that it is an ill wind that blows no good, but that is not so funny when you live in a country with many gales. Mr Wym Grant is shaking the hands of many graduating students today so cannot come to the match. Do you know that he is in the same profession as our president and my wife's cousin, Olafur Grimsson, and they met in Edinborg many years ago? But Mr Grimsson pretends to have forgotten this.
I am asking the Embassy if I could use 'ICE 1' to drive to the ground, but they said not, so I will be taking the subway to North Greenwich and booking in at the Holiday Inn Express. I hope that Kendottir the Husky Dog will be with me, although she is a beach dog and has been asking to go to Stamford Bridge. I must say the weather here in London is really barmy. As you will see from picture, it is not so good in Iceland. See you at the match!
It's grim oop north - especially when you are almost up the pole
'We only play on grass' was the Covered End's song at the start of Saturday's home fixture against Bolton Wanderers, recalling the previous week's beach party at Stamford Bridge. The crowd had already been seranaded before the match by 'The Green, Green Grass of Home'. Unfortunately, at times it looked as if the match was being played by the two donkeys recruited by the Sun to stage the Chelsea v. Charlton replay on Margate beach. Although Charlton went ahead with a Feesh goal immediately after half time, they failed to take advantage of golden opportunities to make it 2-0 or 3-0. Bolton always looked as if they could get back into it and did with a superb goal from Djorkaeff on 85 minutes.
I have no notes worth recording for the first twenty minutes of the game, as I commented on at the time to the Bloke Beside Me. Elleray, who must be colour blind between red and white, gave a shirt pulling decision the wrong way. The Bolton fans jeered Fish every time he got the ball, but Jensen did not get the same treatment, whilst Barness was warmly applauded. Then on twenty minutes Bartlett turned provider for Kishishev and his half volley from distance was only just over the bar. A few minutes later Kishishev turned provider for Jensen who advanced on goal. His shot was a good one, but the impressive Jaaskelainen, by far Bolton's best player, managed to make an excellent block. Then a Charlton free kick taken by Kishishev was met by a flying Feesh. However, Jaaskelanien's name in Finnish means 'the one who catches falling trees with his own hands' and the effort was put out for a corner. Some good build up work by Charlton culminated in the ball being played to Jensen by Bartlett. I thought, however, that the Dane was not as well placed as it might seem to be the case and I was not surprised when he miscontrolled it.
The midfield were not distinguishing themselves and Charlton showed a worrying tendency to give the ball away in potentially dangerous positions. A Bolton free kick came off the Charlton wall, and as the pressure continued, an excellent back header by Luke Young managed to clear the danger. Young then won the Addicks a corner, but this simply led to a game of head tennis. Assistant referees usually fail to give any assistance, but frantic semaphoring from the West Stand lino attracted the attention of Elleray who run over to tell him that he couldn't be excused. Eventually, the referee had to concede a free kick to the Addicks which he would not otherwise have given.
A run by Lisbie won Charlton a corner which produced a scramble in front of goal. Rufus conceded a corner to the visitors. Then a clearance by Deano was picked up by Lisbie who turned provider for Bartlett. The Springbok put in an excellent shot, but once again Bolton's keeper proved to be their saviour. Bolton won another corner but the ball was caught by Deano. Lisbie found himself in a promising position, but his shot was weak.
Charlton started the second half brightly. Jaaskelainen punched out a free kick from Jensen, but Feesh pounced on the ball. It went off his shin, off the post and into the net. It was a scrappy goal, but sometimes we fail to get those and they all count. It was also sweet revenge for the poet and wine connoisseur on the visiting Trotters.
An error by Euell gave Bolton the chance to attack and Feesh had to make an excellent and decisive intervention at the expense of a corner for the visitors. On 57 minutes Young, who seemed to have picked up a leg problem, was replaced by Konchesky. Euell put in a shot from distance which was only just wide: Jasskelainen would not have been able to stop it. However, Paul Konchesky conceded a Bolton corner, followed by a second, producing a minute or two of pressure from the visitors. The second corner was eventually half cleared at the expense of a throw in.
On 65 minutes Scott Parker made one of his trademark runs from one end of the pitch to the other. But he seemed to be insufficiently unaware of Paul Konchesky racing down the wing on the East Stand side. When he did see him, Jaaskailanen was able to intercept his cross and Charlton has missed a golden chance to put the game beyond doubt. Konchesky won Charlton a corner, but it was not productive. Bolton took off Pedersen and replaced him by Bernard Mendy. With Bolton upping the tempo, there was good defensive work by Kishishev and Feesh. Lisbie made a run forward, but Parker's effort went over. A Parker run gave Bartlett a chance, but his effort was just over. Anthony Barness went off to warm applause which he acknowledged. He was never an outstanding player, but always a decent and loyal one and he says that Charlton is the club that he feels closest to. He was replaced by Delroy Facey. The sight of another household name gracing the Valley pitch produced a ripple of excitement in the crowd.
On 81 minutes Euell evaded the lumbering Charlton who, like a lot of Bolton players, seem to have eaten too much black pudding. With the goal at his mercy, I rose to greet the goal, but somehow he put the shot wide. We have seen some good overhead kicks at The Valley recently and on 85 minutes Djorkaeff produced another one which left Deano with little chance to stop it. The fear now was that it would be 1-2 as last year. On 88 minutes there was a double substitution with JJ and Svensson replacing Bartlett and Jensen. I think that it was a mistake to take Bartlett off, but it was too late to make any difference anyway and one person commented to me that it might have been done just to make the two bench players happy. It all reminded me of Scott McGleish who used to make forlorn appearances from teh bench in the closing minutes.
There was some booing at the end of the game. Kishishev tried to applaud the crowd, but gave up when he got no response. No doubt the moaners will be out in force, calling for panic signings. I still think that we can scrape together enough points to avoid relegation and much more than that is not realistic for a club the size of Charlton. We are still 17th in the attendance league and can't rise any further until we put the second tier on the East Stand and take advantage of our 45,000 database. We also have one of the highest ratios of English players on the pitch in the Premiership. When I see French, Italian and Spanish players on the pitch, I will know we are going somewhere. With the exception of Costa, the club has so far been too conservative to move beyond Northern and Eastern Europe and its traditional supply base in South Africa.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Feesh both for his goal and for some excellent defensive work. Feesh has promised to write one of his poems on the theme of 'On Receiving the Silver Bone.' Deano did not have a lot to do, but the Djorkaeff strike was not easy to deal with, although he was not far from getting to it. Rufus was calm and capable, although not at his very best. Powell was competent, although the talk in the pub beforehand was of what would happen when his contract expired at the end of the year. In the longer run, I hope that he remains at the club in a coaching role. Young had one of his better games and was only pulled off because of injury. Apart from his effort on goal, my impression after the match was that Kishishev had had a poor game, giving the ball away too easily and making inaccurate passes. This view was shared in the pub afterwards. However, when I read my notes, his contribution looked more positive. Parker may well have been affected by the seven stitches he received after a lunge by Le Saux last week. He certainly was well below his best. To complete the midfield picture of woe, although Jensen had his moments, there was a lack of consistency in his performance. Apart from missing a chance to score, Euell was no M-Euell like his counterpart on Margate beach. He showed some lovely touches of skill which showed Bolton up for the ordinary team they are. Bartlett contributed well and I didn't see much point in substituting him. Lisbie continues to improve all the time and his pace caused a lot of trouble for the Bolton defence. It was a shame that Konchesky was not in the starting line up and I think that he made a difference when he came on. JJ has been grumbling to the Finnish press and I was told that he looked very sulky when he was warming up. Colin Sams notwithstanding, I think that he was a one season wonder, but like Svensson he had no time to show what he could do yesterday.
Hiss of the Match: When Charlton played Leicester in the Worthington a few years back our headline was 'Spiffing Game, Leicester House!' Nothing much has improved in the meantime as far as David Elleray is concerned. He should stay on Harrow hill and stick to teaching. His errors compounded by the East Stand linesman, although his West Stand counterpart had some idea of what being an assistant referee meant.
Crowd rating: Never got going. OK, the fare on the pitch was far from inspiring, but the crowd needs to try and lift the team. 4/10.
Charlton went down 4-1 at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea on a surface that looked more like a sandy beach than a football pitch, reports shocked Westcombe Park Addick Paul May. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for picture). Chelsea went ahead after three minutes with a dubious penalty and were 3-0 up by 33 minutes. Jason Euell gave the Addicks some hope with a well taken penalty on 42 minutes, but it was all thrown away when Deano mishandled a speculative long-range shot by Graeme Le Saux and put the ball into his own net. Charlton continued to battle until the final whistle, but the fear was that they would go even further behind. To me it didn't look like a 4-1 scoreline on the run of play.
Curbs likes to match the opposition and Charlton started with a 4-4-2 formation. After only one-and-a-half minutes Le Saux crossed the ball. Hasselbaink went down after minimal contact by Chris Powell. It looked as if he had slipped on a divot, but referee Mike Deane booked Powell and pointed to the spot. Hasselbaink stepped up to send Deano the wrong way.
Chelsea kept up the pressure and captain Feesh was called into action. With Chris Powell found wanting, Gallas was able to set up Gudjohnsen and his effort was just wide. Scott Parker put in a run and Le Saux's challenge was late and involved some afters, but he got away with a talking to from referee Dean. Parker was down for some time and required treatment.
Gronkjaer provided a through ball which should not have caused all that much trouble, but the off form Powell made a poor clearance. Gallas was able to take advantage of the loose ball and volley it into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0 after just ten minutes.
Charlton were given an opportunity to get back into things when a push on Lisbie by Desailly gave the Addicks a free kick two yards outside the D, but Jensen's effort came off the wall. A Chelsea corner was cleared by Lisbie. Paul Konchesky's brother-in-law, John Terry, managed to damage himself falling over on the sandpit and have to be taken off in favour of Jody Morris on 22 minutes. A loose shot from Euell from the edge of the penalty area gave Cudicini a relatively easy save to keep him in the game. Kiely was put under pressure with a poor back pass from Feesh, who clearly was recalling that being beached is not good for his finfolk. Euell had a half chance which went not too far wide.
A forceful back pass from Petit, drafted in as centre back, gave Cudicini no chance but to handle it. The Charlton free kick was near the penalty spot. It was clear that the Chelsea wall was not ten yards back and they crept forward as the kick was about tobe taken, so that Euell's effort could be grabbed by Cudicini. After a Charlton corner, Chelsea enjoyed a break. Gronkjaer once again tormented the hapless Powell and went pass him and crossed towards Gudjohnesen by the far post. His shot deflected off Luke Young and left Deano with no chance as it went into the corner of the net.
Lisbie was pulled back by Desailly as he pushed through towards goal. Desailly got a yellow, but there was a case for a red. Cudicini tried to psych Euell by coming and speaking to him, but Jase kept his nerve and scored with a forceful strike to make it his seventh goal in eight games. 3-1 and there was a glimmer of hope.
Charlton were soon under pressure again from Chelsea's fourth corner of the game. Deano over committed himself and Rufus had to deal with Hasselbaink's header. Containing Hasselbaink was to be a role he dealt with ably throughout the match, eventually leading to an exchange of views between the two players. With pressure from the home side continuing, Rufus continued to be stalwart in defence. Another Chelsea corner was dealt with by Lisbie. The impressive Gudjohnsen put in a volley that was not far over the bar. Petit received a yellow card for fouling Luke Young.
Curbs decided to pull off two of the least impressive Charlton players at the break (Kishishev and Powell) and brought on Bartlett and Johansson. The Addicks did get back into things a bit, but a foretaste of what was to come saw Deano back pedalling to deal with a Le Saux free kick which he tipped over the bar. The resultant Chelsea corner was taken short and eventually cleared by Jensen. Then on 53 minutes Le Saux tried a long-range speculative shot in the air which headed straight at Deano. The usually reliable keeper helped it into the back of the net. 4-1 and game effectively over.
Charlton won only their second corner of the game, but it was scrambled away. Hasselbaink had an effort that was just over the bar and then had a shot which came off the post. A Chelsea free kick taken by Le Saux aroused the interest of the Chelsea fans who were on Deano's case, but it was gathered in well by the keeper. The much criticised Luke Young put in a good run, but his low cross came off the back off Bartlett's head. Feesh had no option but to head out for a corner. It was punched out well by Deano and Jensen was able to take it away.
On 65 minutes Fortune came on for Lisbie and the Addicks switched to 3-5-2. Gudjohnsen turned provider for Lampard, but Deano was quickly out to gather the ball. Gronkjaer made a meal out of a tackle by Konchesky who received a yellow card. A Lampard run released Gudjohnsen, who put it wide. The ball was kept in play and Kiely redeemed himself by making an outstanding save from Gudjohnesen at point blank range. Zola was brought on for Le Saux after 79 minutes and put a low one in just past the post. On 81 minutes Zenden replaced Gronkjaer. Scott Parker was soon to receive a yellow card for a push on Zenden which reflected frustration. Good defending by Rufus was at the expense of a corner and a header by Desailly was inches wide. Konchesky put a low ball into the penalty area and found JJ, but it was eventually cleared. Luke Young made a good run, but overhit his effort, although Charlton won a corner. A run by Zola was well dealt with by Fortune.
It was just a bad day on a bad pitch. Sad to see our unbeaten run end in this way, but it doesn't say much about the rest of the season.
Exeter City turned up at The Valley for their 3rd round FA Cup tie with Charlton accompanied by Alex the Great with his sword and shield and the statuseque Athena (Darth Vader was promised, but failed to appear. No doubt his spaceship was caught in traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel). But the Grecians were no match for the acrobatic finish of Jonatan Johanssen who scored twice to put the Addicks ahead with overhead kicks. His first goal put the Addicks 1-0 ahead before the break but Exeter levelled with an excellent header from former Brazilian youth player Santos Gaia. The score stayed level for ten worrying minutes, but then JJ got his second and the Addicks made it 3-1 with a penalty from Jason Euell.
Charlton started brightly with JJ powering down the wing and winning a corner. Taken by Paul Konchesky, it was initially caught by Kevin Miller in the Exeter goal, but then spilled and somehow cleared. Richard Rufus appeared to be the victim of a punch, but referee P Dowd took no action, although in general he had a good game. A Charlton free kick taken by the Bartman was caught by Miller. An Exeter attack after Charlton gave the ball away won them a corner taken by Carl Pettefer, but it was cleared away and Kishishev was able to earn a throw in for the Addicks.
Bartlett was put through on six minutes by Euell, but his goal was offside. Konchesky played in JJ who made a great turn but then dragged his shot wide. Euell broke through and was not too far wide. Following a good link up with Bart-Williams, Euell won the Addicks a corner taken by Konchesky. Euell headed over from close range. Justin Walker received a yellow card for a foul. On 25 minutes Bart-Williams, always good in dead ball situations, put in a well judged free kick which was headed on by Bartlett into the path of JJ. From just eight yards out JJ executed a superb overhead kick into the bottom corner of he net.
The Grecians almost got back into the game straight away. Martin Thomas saw Deano push his shot from the edge of the penalty area on to the post. The rebound fell to giant centre forward and ex-boxer Steve Flack, but his effort was well over. On 31 minutes Bartlett had the chance to put the Addicks 2-0 ahead, but his effort was just over. Shortly afterwards Bartlett received a yellow card for a tackle judged to be late. Konchesky put the ball across the face of the Exeter goal, but no one was able to connect. A free kick was awarded against the Bartman in time added on, but Deano was able to deal with the situation. With only seconds left, Luke Young put in a powerful drive that went wide.
The Grecians started the second half brightly with an early corner punched out by Deano. Euell turned provider for JJ, but his effort was saved. Exeter won a free kick four minutes into the half and the Bloke Beside Me commented, 'If they score now, we're in trouble'. I wish he hadn't said that. Gaia was allowed a free header from Sheldon's free kick and headed the ball into the corner of the net in a well taken goal.
As the Exeter manager was heard to say later, Charlton now stepped up a gear. Their greater fluency in passing and their skill at feints had been evident throughout the match. Nevertheless, it was a worrying ten minutes for the Addickted faced with the prospect of a trip to St.James's Park, particularly when Rufus went down. Then on 61 minutes Bartlett headed a long ball into the path of JJ who provided another stunning overhead kick, leaving Miller to pick the ball out from the back of the net. Euell had a shot that came off the post from a fierce twenty yard drive. The Addicks kept up the pressure with a couple of corners.
Five minutes after the second Charlton goal Euell put the ball through to JJ who was brought down by Pilkington just inside the area. Euell stepped up and put the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to make it 3-1.
A great run on the wing by Rufus presented JJ with a golden opportunity, but he didn't connect with the ball well. On 76 minutes the unimpressive Blomqvist was replaced by Lisbie. JJ was denied the chance of a hat trick when he was replaced by Svensson. Exeter replaced Justin Walker by Rennier Moor. An Exeter corner was cleared. Charlton won a corner but the Bartman's effort was caught by Miller. The Grecians pulled off Sheldon and brought on local hero Barry McConnell. Lisbie played in a ball to Svensson but it was wide. An effort from Bartlett was saved and then it was all over.
Exeter put up a creditable and spirited performance and were applauded by the home fans at the end. For Charlton it was an important victory as it dealt with the bogey of losing in the Cup against lower division sides which had been preoccupying the moaners in the weeks leading up to the match.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch had no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to JJ for two excellent strikes. Deano had relatively little to do and couldn't do much about the Exeter goal. Rufus had to put with a lot of 'Flack', but was stalwart as ever at the heart of the defence and made his mark in a couple of attacks as a winger. Fortune was able enough, without being outstanding. We missed Rowett. Luke Young also looked competent without really impressing. Konchesky made some excellent advances down the wings. There seemed to be some confusion of roles between him and Blomqvist with two of them arriving for the same ball at one point. If Kishishev was out to impress, he did not really do so, giving the ball away once or twice with excessive flowery stuff when a more bread-and-butter approach was required. Blomqvist was also given his chance, but although he had once or two nice ideas, he lacked the ability and pace to execute them successfully. Although he made one or two errors, Bart-Williams was capable enough at the heart of the midfield. Euell was, as always, ready to be involved and to strike from midfield. His penalty was well taken. Bartlett did well at winning things in the air, but perhaps should have been taken off rather than JJ. Lisbie had some good runs after he came on and put in some useful crosses. Svensson did not make a major contribution after he came on as a substitute.
Hiss of the Match goes to the follically challenged East Stand linesman who appeared to be another sad case of inadequate eyesight and a poor grasp of the offside rule.
Crowd rating: Never really got going until the second half, hence open to the Exeter chant of 'You only sing when you're winning'. 4/10.
There was no dip in form for Charlton as their unbeaten run continued with no goals being scored by either side in the New Year's Day clash with West Ham United at The Valley. No goals were scored because the match was called off because of a waterlogged pitch. The Pools panel themselves (rather baffingly) thought that it would be a goalless draw. The concern from a Charlton perspective is that we may face a strengthened West Ham later in the season when our run has ended. One other Premiership match was called off for the same reason, at Fulham, but that was at a second division ground.
A few fans had been admitted to The Valley and had seen the driver of the whale trying to contend with water in front of The Covered End. The referee came out and shook his hand to thank him for his valiant but unsuccessful efforts. The whale had been dumping water at the edge of the pitch where it could not drain away easily. Nevertheless, if there had not been a final downpour, the match might have gone ahead. Although the dome is mainly intended as frost protection, it might have helped to keep water off the pitch and it was unclear why it was not put up. The few fans present to witness the postponement broke into a ragged chorus of 'The water floating in from The Thames.' The referee, Eddie Wolstenholme of play-off final fame, had to wait at the ground until 6 p.m. for his wife to return from a shopping trip to Bluewater.
Meanwhile, we had arrived at North Greenwich tube, having travelled from Warwickshire, to be greeted with a board announcing the postponement of the game. We repaired to the Rose of Denmark, re-named the Rained off Derby for the day. On the way there, I saw a notice advertising a 'diving school'. A couple of weeks ago I would have thought that this was establishment attended by Anelka, but the skills it provided were more relevant to today's fixture. Indeed, as one wag remarked, it was an occasion for starting with the subs.
Man of the match Feesh: well adapted to the conditions. (He also gets top marks for his smart white suit with red tie).
Hiss of the Match: Colin Powell - this will teach you to laugh at Gillingham.
Crowd rating: We only sing when we're swimming.
There were plenty of positives to take out of Charlton's 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Valley on December 28th, even if it was probably the worst match I have seen this season, reminding me of the gulf between the Premiership and Division 1. Charlton took another valuable three points; they managed to hold on to an early lead; and it was their eighth undefeated match. However, the whole match was overshadowed by the poor performance of referee Steve Dunn. It was clear from the start that Albion compensate for their lack of flair by playing what their supporters would call a committed game, but others would call aggressive and physical. The repeated use of the elbow was, however, of no interest to the referee, who also seemed to see handballs as part of the 'man's game'. Even Alan Curbishley was seen to remonstrate with him after the first half, a very rare event. Because of the referee's failure to get a grip on the game (aided and abetted by his useless assistants), Charlton found themselves under pressure in a scrappy match and were to some extent saved from sharing the points by the inability of the Baggies to shoot accurately.
We are used to methane breathing referees at The Valley but a pitch announcer on helium is something else. In fact, Brian Cole had a bad throat and deserves congratulations for battling on. He even managed to make one lister's day by announcing that we were in South-East London instead of 'South London', an amorphous term that includes the anonymous suburbs around Palarse. West Brom were parading a couple of 'throstles' in front of their supporters, but Brian Cole remarked privately that they looked like pidgeons.
A team in West Brom's position have little to lose by going on the attack and this is what they did from the opening minutes of the game. Gary Rowett had to make an early clearance. Then the Baggies made a break using the long ball from Wallwork. Roberts took advantage of it and evaded Rowett, forcing Deano to save with his legs. The resulting corner was unproductive for the visitors. Moore then fouled Bartlett in a way that even Dunn could not pretend to ignore. Gary Rowett put in a free kick from twenty-five yards which Hoult in the Albion goal had to tip over the bar. In assessing the afternoon as a whole, it should be remembered that Hoult is a good keeper. The Charlton corner was taken short and yielded only a throw in. This in turn led to a goalmouth scramble in which Euell put in shot from six yards which was very well saved by Hoult. However, he misjudged the subsequent Jensen corner and Lisbie's header went in to the back of the net off Hoult's fists. Six minutes and the Addicks were 1-0 ahead. I heard lots of scorelines forecast before the game, but no one mentioned this one.
Jason Euell was later to receive yet another Silver Bone from the paws of Hooch the Pooch and the next few minutes explain why. Euell put in a very well weighted and accurate ball to Lisbie, but unfortunately he surrendered possession. Then Euell put in a good tackle in defence. On eleven minutes Scott Parker went on one of his fifty yard runs, but Hoult showed his mettle again by diving to the right to deny the midfielder from twenty yards. He then caught the subsequent Charlton corner.
Luke Young's many detractors often say that he cannot defend, but he put in a great tackle to stop a break by the Baggies. Meanwhile, Mervyn Day looked like the picture of restraint as Megson shouted, screamed and gesticulated in his technical area. West Brom then won a corner. I thought that Rowett had been hit in the face in the process by charm merchant Roberts, but my vision bears no comparison with that of Steve Dunn. The corner was cleared by Jensen. I felt that the Baggies were being given too much room in midfield. West Brom were then given a free kick on the edge of the D which I thought should have gone to Charlton, but their effort went out for a goal kick, admittedly with the help of the upright. The Addicks were then given a free kick in a promising position to the left of the Covered End goal after yet another foul against Bartlett, but Jensen's effort came off the Black Country wall. There was then a complete mix up in front of the Addicks goal in which both teams looked woeful. Roberts failed to make use of his chance and Luke Young was able to make a decisive block.
After a good build up, Parker, much livelier in the first half, had an attempt which was not that far wide. Then Parker was in action again in defence. Rufus was forced to concede a corner and Parker had to head away a powerful attempt by Moore. Feesh then made a good stop. On 34 minutes, Roberts elbowed Rufus. This would normally be a red card, but referee Dunn's judgement seemed to have been affected by his recent trip in Graham Poll's spaceship (when he was told that a card would turn red if the methane level was dangerously high) and he produced a yellow. In any case, he soon evened things up by giving Scott Parker a yellow for a tackle.
With two minutes of injury time added on, Deano had to make a good save from Wallwork. The resultant corner was cleared for a throw in. After Dunn blew his whistle, Scott Parker came to remonstrate with him. Very unusually, Curbs felt it necessary to have a word, while the referee also benefitted from the dulcet tones of Mervyn Day as he left the pitch to the boos of the crowd.
We had a little excitement at half time when a guy who was probably the original model for Derek Trotter and sits a little to the left of me in the row in front won the draw. There was then further confusion when the Valley Gold draw produced a number that was invalidated. It was not, in fact, the number of the Mayor of Welling, Rick Everitt, but someone who had not paid their subs and thus lost the chance to win £10,000.
Shortly after the break an advance on goal by Koumas was halted by a Rufus tackle and Adam ('which one is the twin'?) Chambers could only blast over. On 52 minutes Feesh, looking green around the gills, had to be replaced by Fortune. Lisbie won Charlton a corner, but it was eventually cleared. The Baggies kept up the pressure with a succession of corners. The first pair produced a dangerous and worrying free header from Mooore which went only marginally wide. Then another corner was conceded by Rufus having to put the ball over the goal to deal with a powerful header by Dichio, followed by a second which was eventually cleared with much huffing and puffing. West Brom were then given a very doubtful corner which was cleared (although it should be pointed out that the inept officials also managed to rule that corners were goal kicks). The Baggies then won a free kick in a dangerous position but the rock at the heart of our defence, Richard Rufus, blocked it at the expense of a throw in. A Charlton free kick then produced a Charlton corner which was punched out.
On 65 minutes Bartlett was replaced by JJ. This was presumably to give us some width. The Baggies favoured route one down the middle, perhaps because the wings are often affected by mining subsidence in the Black Country, but we never really exploited the options that JJ gave us.
Referee Dunn was surrounded by West Brom players, not shouting 'yow, all right?' but demanding a penalty after Rufus had used his defensive skills against Roberts. Megson pulled off Adam Chambers to give him a chance to discuss the match with his twin brother and brought on Scott Dobie to increase his attacking options in a 4-3-3. Jensen was brought down and Sean Gregan received a yellow. However, Dunn evened things out by giving Lisbie a yellow card for something or other.
The moaners in the rows behind me had been shouting for Konchesky to be brought on, and it was certainly his sort of game (Matt Svensson would have been another option if he had been on the bench, but he had a daughter, aptly named Holly, recently). However, when Scott Parker was taken off he was replaced by Chris Bart-Williams, whose stylish play is sometimes derided as 'mincing around in the middle of the pitch' by his critics. Megson now went into hyperdrive and took off Koumas in favour of Kidderminster's finest, Hughes, going for broke with a 4-2-4 formation. Good work by Kevin Lisbie, starting with a move right along the line, earned Charlton a corner. Jason Euell provided a key clearance in front of the goal. West Brom managed to hit the crossbar, something emphasised in the typically brief report on the Premiership which failed to mention that the offside flag had been raised. As the Baggies kept up the pressure, Richard Rufus had to concede a corner which was cleared by Chris Powell. After three minutes of time added on, it was all over, and announcer Dave Lockwood was able to wish the Baggies a safe trip back to the West Country. It is not yet widely known that the Government's social exclusion policy has recently led to the re-location of the Borough of Sandwell to a site near Tiverton.
Some Addicks have said that we didn't deserve to win, but we took the three points. Successful teams are able to grind out results when they play below their best. And it is difficult to play well against a team that plays in the way that West Brom do, particularly if the officials are especially incompetent. Which is the one thing that both sets of fans agreed on.
The award of the Silver Bone was not an easy choice because no one Charlton player was really outstanding, but eventually match analyst Hooch the Pooch put up his paw for Jason Euell who was active in attack, midfield and defence, especially in the second half. Deano did not have a lot to do, but made saves when they were needed. Richard Rufus was another contender for the Silver Bone, with another authoritative performance. Mark Fish generally did his job well, until fin damage caused by an elbow forced him to withdraw. Gary Rowett was somewhat below par, making some unforced errors. It was also not the best of games for Chris Powell who seemed to be somewhat off the pace. Luke Young displayed one moment of sublime skill, but generally his performance was competent rather than impressive. One wonders if this was really the sort of game in which Claus Jensen could display his skills. Scott Parker also seemed to be below his best. It was good to see Kevin Lisbie score and his trickery and pace caused some problems for Albion. He has developed considerably during this season. Bartlett did not really shine, but then he was constantly being pushed and held by the neck. When he did come off, he went straight down the tunnel, suggesting an injury. Fortune did a competent job, but was not greatly involved, after he replaced Fish. JJ did not really turn the game around when he came on. The arrival of Bart-Williams was greeted by groans from the rows behind, but the epitome of postmodernist chic passed the ball around quite capably.
Juneau the Soccer Cat asked her sister Amber to join her in an extra loud special hiss for referee Steve Dunn whose laxness and sloppiness defied belief.
Crowd rating: Got behind the team when it was really needed. 7/10. Eastbourne Addick David Todman reckons I use a low bench mark and that 2/3 would be more appropriate. The Baggies made a lot of noise, but, like their team, it was a case of passion outdistancing skill.
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