Saturday 17 November 2012

3 Well Earned Points May Herald a Change of Fortune

A good win in the bleak surroundings of Turf Moor may preface a  change of fortune.
I had my doubts when Jackson missed a penalty and we found ourselves playing 10 men, which can always backfire unexpectedly.However, the side stuck at it and were rewarded with what looks like a reasonable cushion emerging between us and the relegation zone and, amazingly, now within striking distance of the play-offs.
On the negative side, Stephens who has seen an upsurge in form is reportedly down with a sickness and Hollands, who I believe is still capable of doing a job for us, is off on loan with a permanent move a possibility.
However, we have drafted in a new experienced midfielder in Jonson; a young  player, Ashton, looking to build a career and there are rumours of a loan spell or more for Gunner Frimpong who could be quite a catch (subject to fitness). With Devite putting in some good performances and able to provide cover for midfield and the back four CP may soon have an embarrassment of choice.
Upfront, Hulse is proving a solid old fashioned target man who is prepared to graft and I am pleased to see that Haynes has been given the opportunity to shine. He has continued his impressive run. At last we have someone who can take on a defender and beat him and show a real turn of speed and even put it into the back of the net!
With Kermorant on the way back to fitness (and Wiggins too) then CP will have some interesting selection choices to make.
If we could manage 4 or 6 points from our next two home games then things could begin to get quite interesting. It would also make me feel less morose about the impending Dec 1st fixture away to local rivals Millwall. For those who go back as far as the bad old days of the Kent County Challenge Cup at the Old Den there is always a foreboding about this fixture. We rarely seemed to get much out of it though good old Kim Grant's winner some years ago broke the trend if I recall. To go into this fixture on a good run of results might just drain some of the confidence of the Lions/ spanners.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Welcome Win (and Relief for all)

Rampant depression set in early at the Valley when we gifted two early goals to Cardiff and played without any conviction for most of the first half.
Cardiff looked another very neat one-touch team like several others who have caused us grief at the Valley this season.
To combat the problematic left back position CP reverted to playing Morrison there (the first time since this failed at Stevenage last season). That enabled Solly to try his hand again at left back after Kerkar’s previous appearance there looked doomed to failure. Devite took over at centre back, though his first half performance in the air was unconvincing. The situation was crying out for Morrison to marshal the centre of defence.
But what a transformation we were to witness. Jackson took advantage of the keeper losing an aerial duel with Huilse (in my opinion there was nothing wrong with Hulse’s challenge: about time the 200% protection of keepers came to an end anyway). Jackson followed this up with a piercing header from close range that the Cardiff defence somehow let come through. Jackson had the cool head to score these goals but still did not do enough to merit his place in my book. Though the general feeling seems to be that Hollands lacks the required pace (perhaps influenced by his close season surgery) he would contribute more in overall terms to the side than Jackson right now.
Cardiff were stunned in the second half by the home side’s transformation, showing a willingness to chase everything (personified by Pritchard’s, Stevens and Hulse’s unselfish running and tackling). Devite’s performance in the second half improved as he seemed to win more and more in the air and with some strong tackling.
Stephen’s powerful free kick goal from 40 yards was a peach, it looked like a bit of a fluke, though he came near to scoring in a similar way in a previous home game. Huilse scored a great header from a great cross.
However, the goal for me was Haynes acrobatic leap after Pritchard had crossed after winning the ball from a seemingly hopeless position.
Haynes was my main proposed change in the side. I have always felt that he has the speed and ability to stamp his mark on the team. Unfortunately, he is also injury prone and I hope his departure was due to a painful knock rather than resulting in another injury enforced long period on the sidelines.
The hard earned lead was nearly thrown away at the and when our overall fragility was once again exposed.
I’m not sure whether we were just plan knackered or whether we had paid the penalty yet again of falling back and inviting the other side to go at us, on this occasion trying to hold on to a safe lead.
A point at Bristol would ease tings on all fronts a little.
Pity a fine result was marred by good results from Millwall and Palace.
(Postscript: though it was good to see a number of inexperienced youngsters on the bench, I couldn't quite see the logic of this with Cook presumably anticipating another opportunity to impress).

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Pity Jon Cannot be There

I wish Jon Fortune all the best at Barnet.
However, his move rules out the possibility of participation in our pre-match warm up and heading firmly into the goal.
I was  day dreaming the other day and pictured that possibility and the volume of home crowd cheering he would receive.
However, the mere thought is perhaps scurrilous given the probable atmosphere on the evening, (or is it?)

Wednesday 6 June 2012

The Red Devil Round things up.

Our Red Devils and the crews of the Spitfires and other veteran WWII aircraft provided a great spectacle yesterday to wind up the Diamond Jubilee, and a fitting encore to the show we had at the Valley against Hartlepool..
We set off yesterday to London with great hopes to savour as much as posssible and absorb the celebaratory atmosphere. However, the record-breaking crowds (and slightly over the top closures of roads) all but overwhelmed central London.
St James and Green Parks were closed at various times and we could get nowhere near the Mall.
The spirit of the occassion cannot be denied and everybody seemed to be in good spirits despite the typical Bank Holiday weather. There was little evidence of over-indulgence in the pubs (at least during the day) as everyone seemed to grasp the occassion without the need to become legless.
The event and the fly-through at the end brought a bit of a lump in the throat and the 'Proud to be British' feeling back, to top up the already 'Proud to be CAFC' euphoria.It was all a good brief interlude before we get back to sorting out the financial problems of the nation and the woes elsewhere else in the world (which I trust we will not directly aim to interfere with).
Us die hard 'addicted' have not had too much to talk about with little solid transfer speculation and the club seemingly keeping everything close to their chest.
I note that the CAFCPICKS site is giving pundits the opportunity to identify various rumours; at last count there were over 20 'Ins and Outs' identified.
I am not that familar with most of the players identified apart from their pen pictures, though a couple have put ion good performances against us this season.
It seems that we are not interested in signing Dany N'Guessan, whom I assume we have decided may not be up to the Championship, even though he put in some good performances for us.
Martin Waghorn is on the list: I was impressed with his attitude when he was on loan. At the time he was a bit fragile but has probably matured physically since then and also gained valuable experience so perhaps he could be a serious option now.
Another loanee, Greg Halford, is on the list. He was not that popular with us but showed that he was a good attacking full back so he could provide, at least, cover for Chris Solly (and even permit us to experiment with Solly in midfield).  However, if the option existed the return of Richardson from Southampton would be ideal.
The club's apparent strong interest in bolstering midfield is in line with most of my immediate fellow fans who pinpointed the lack of an incisive attacking midfielder as a weakness. Whether Stephens can fulfill that role, if he can now stay clear of injury, is anyone's guess. However, on the basis that club will probably wish to balance the books it seems likely that if they get one or more of the midfielders they are rumoured to be interested in then some existing players may be on the brink of leaving.
At most risk would seem to be Wagstaffe and Green, and it has even been speculated that Stephens may not figure though I think he could come into his own in the Championship.
Of greater concern to me is that Hollands is rewarded and retained for his 100% effort and grit.
Up front, I hope that Haynes and Kermit get the opportunity to forge a striking partnership with BWP in there fighting for a place.
I imagine things will start hotting up as we approach July. The quality of players that we move for will indicate the ambition, bravery and realism of the management who have served us well so far.

Monday 2 April 2012

Our Charlton Peer

I noticed an obituary On Monday on Lord Wedderburn of Charlton who passed away age 84 on March 9th and thought it worthy of some investigation.
He was born in Deptford, where I and a number of other fellow season ticket holders were school chums and, like us, chose to support CAFC and not the equidistant Millwall.
When it comes to politics, we are all entitled to different views and unless you are 100% left wing it’s unlikely that you would agree with many of his views and the principles that he consistently stood up for (including opposing draft legislation on union strike ballots).
Politics aside, he was a lawyer with recognised expertise in industrial and union legislation, had a conviction dating back many years that EC membership weakened Britain’s sovereignty, was a visiting professor at UCLA and Harvard in the ‘60’s (no mean feat alone) and a professor at the LSE (to crown his left wing credentials).
His list of achievements is many and diverse.
When made a Lord in 1977 he opted for a title that reflected his lifelong support of our club, so he stole the thunder from all you budding Lords of the realm with CAFC affiliations.
It’s a pity that he will not be here to see the run-in but let’s hope we can reward his lifelong support with some end of season glory.
It’s gong to be a potential cliff hanger but if we can keep on collecting the points, despite indifferent form, then it augurs well.
A toast to the old chap on getting there will seem in order.

Saturday 10 March 2012


Most objective CAFC fans accept that our form has been poor of late (i.e. the last 2-3 months).
We would all liked to have seen the side demonstrate the quality and style that a top of the table team normally does but while the points have kept comin' in we have been happy to take them and laud the side.
However, during this lean patch of form it's been obvious that we have been skating on thin ice. Indeed, some opposition sides have termed us a lucky side which has been fortunate to amass the points we have so far. Certainly the ice has cracked in the last two home games and should have done at Bournemouth.
There is also truth in the old saying that a team that keeps playing badly yet still wins has the hallmark of a champion side.
Well, I don't go along with either view.
Yes, we have done well to collect the points we have when we have been playing so poorly and inconsistently over the last few months. The side has shown true grit in coming away from games, e.g. Bournemouth, Sheffield United and MK DONs away, when we have been outplayed for large chunks of the game. 
However, there has some luck in quite a few games where we have come away with the points.Even wins against lowly sides, have rarely exuded any real style and panache and there has been a reliance on set piece goals too often.
The cracks on the ice have slowly been coming over the last couple of months. The midfield has been hard working, personified by Hollands, yet has shown little creativeness and, other than Hollands, little enthusiasm to go in for crunching 50/50 tackles, all to obvious at Bournemouth.
Green was left out this week; I have no idea whether he was injured but he deserved to be dropped if only to give Haynes a decent chance. Yet, when Haynes gets his chance we lose him in the first 10 minutes when he has hardly, if at all, kicked the ball.
Our only other option was Wagstaffe and I'm afraid his performance today showed why CP has been overlooking him. Stephens has promised so much, as commented upon in the last post, but like Green is failing to deliver. Whether both are just going through a bad patch or just do not have what It takes I am not sure.
Apart from his hat trick up at Chesterfield, BWP continues to be off colour and, as I have said before, if he is not scoring goals he, like a Green also in bad form, almost become passengers we can ill afford to carry. God knows what the problem is with Haynes; let's hope it is short term. I would have been tempted to play him in the middle instead of BWP as he looks more dangerous there than on the wing.
I am not jumping on the bandwagon to call for Hamer's head. Maybe he could have got nearer the shot to his right hand corner and I am not sure whether he should have got out to cut out the cross for their headed goal. However, the other two were poor defencive errors and Taylor must bare some blame.
As for Taylor coming up for corners, he has yet to win a ball decisively in the air and I wish he would stay back in defence and let our forwards and Morrison fight for the ball.
Morrison has been magnificent and is surely a future skipper, if we can hold onto him.
That leaves us with a tricky game at Scunthorpe ( we need a point at least) and a must win home game against Yeovil.
If we fail to get points out of this game confidence will ebb further and we could be on the beginning of a bad run which could threaten all that has gone before.
I suspect that CP may field the same side next week but if no points are forthcoming he should then seriously consider some changes. Perhaps Haynes will be fit again, so could be given another chance. Maybe Pritchard might add some sparkle to midfield which is so badly needed.
What we must do is stop this skating on thin ice and put together a side that has confidence, style and the ability to impose itself convincingly over other sides, especially those near the bottom.
The next 2 fixtures fit into that category so I hope we can pull it off.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Tarnished by Freak Goal and Predictable Error

This was a better performance than at Bournemouth game when we came away with 3 largely undeserved points.
The writing was on the wall within the first 7 minutes when a cracking long range shot was fired in by Colchester. The power of the shot and the movement on the ball were freakish to an extent and although it was reported as "giving Hamer no chance" you still felt he might have got a bit nearer it.
A fair number of chance were made which were not taken, BWP again pushed 3 half chances wide and Jackson finished off the best move of the game with a powerful shot that was rising all the way just over the bar. 
Maybe I am old fashioned but since FIFA landed the game with a ball that more resembles a beach ball than a football in order to "make the game more exciting" we have been 'treated' to excessive bending of shots and balls blasting wide and over the bar that previously would have gone straight into the net. The supposed skills of the modern player to bend shots and free kicks are certainly present but bare no comparison to the likes of Puskas and the Brazilian stars of the past.
The game was killed off when Hamer unnecessarily hesitated clearing the ball, trying to do too much on the ball; and it rebounded off an attackedr into the goal. 
It would be too generous to say that this was a once-off as it nearly happened earler on and I can recall at least 3 other occasions earlier in the season when he cut it far too fine in similar circumstances. One can only hope he learns from this debacle and/or a real drubbiing from the coaching staff. 
Back to the game: even though the performance was an improvement on B'mouth, there are still chinks in the armoury that need to be addressed. 
BWP is still off colour and in shoulder shrugging mood; if he is not scoring, his overall contribution is questionable: he is still not getting as close to Kormorant as he needs  to.
Green is still turning in a string of mediocre performances and is in a rut. A few good crosses and the odd spectacular effort is not good enough alone to justify his place. Giving Haynes the odd ten minutes does little for him or the side: he deserves to be given a better chance to see what he can do. 
Wagstaff could also challenge especially as he provides better support from Solly; if he could cross the ball regularly than  he would really be challenging.
However, we are still lacking creativity in midfield. Hollands does a great job but that is not his primary role. Stephens is no doubt a talented player but cannot tackle, gets caught with the ball far too often and goes sideways rather then forward with the least provocation, though sometimes due to lack of running off the ball by the strikers.
It was sad to watch a small group of young fans chanting the usual rubbish after the game on the way up Floyd Road and adding "Charlton's support is a load of s**t" to their impressive repertoire. We can do without their "support".