Sunday 23 September 2018

Connect Four

The joy of four.

Lee Bowyer's boys made it four wins in a row yesterday with an impressive preformance against a stubborn Plymouth side who somewhat belied their league position.

The Addicks made a positive, fast attacking start to the start with some crisp passing and movement. However, despite the strong start we went behind on 9 minutes as Carey headed home from a cross from the left.

Plymouth didn't hold the lead for long as Grant equalised 3 minutes later as he prodded home after we had a corner.

Charlton went on to dominate the game as is evidenced by all the stats including the number of shots which totalled 23. 

It was frustrating that our dominance didn't result in more goals and an earlier goal. Our front two are scoring regularly but could have even more to their name.

Yesterday there were a few occasions where they were too keen to pass to each other rather than take a shot. I recall that one of them tried to pass to his strike partner when he had 3 defenders in close proximity.

However, I may be being too picky !

Bowyer's managerial career started with last season's home game against the Pilgrims as he took over from Robinson who left for Oxford. In stark contrast to his predecessor,  Bowyer is a calm and reassuring presence on the touchline.

That was certainly the case yesterday as he didn't panic or get anxious at any stage. Not when we went behind and even when the game reached the later stages as we pressed for the winner.

I think most of us would have been considering making subs earlier than 75 minutes. Further to that we would probably have made more than one. 

The manager only brought on Vetokele for Ward at that 75 minute mark. Of course he was proved to be correct in so doing.

Bowyer is very measured and controlled. Some people like to have an animated manager as they believe it shows passion. However, I don't need to see Lee jumping up and down to know he has that. I know he has that from his actions and words.

I wonder who Oxford fans would rather have as their manager ( a rhetorical question if ever their were one ! ).

The imminent return of Fosu certainly seemed to motivate the midfield yesterday with impressive performances from Reeves, Cullen, Aribo and Ward. Indeed, Reeves had one of his best games as his vision and passing were great. Aribo was great and worked incredibly hard and appeared to cover every blade of grass.  

After yesterday it would be harsh on any one of the midfield players if they made way for Fosu even accepting how good he is. 

With only Portsmouth of top teams not winning yesterday ( Barnsley's game was postponed ) we find oursleves in 6th place. The spread of points is close however and a fifth win on the spin ought to see us into the top 4 I'd have thought.

Luton await and it won't be an easy game with Nathan Jones boys doing pretty well following promotion last season. The Hatters have only dropped points against Sunderland at home so it'll be tough.

Monday 17 September 2018

The Good News and The Bad News

The BFG set to be out for at least 2 months

Lee Bowyer clearly hasn't read the script. He has his team performing well, just chalked up 3 wins on the spin and won games since being made permanent.

That's not normal for any Charlton manager let alone one working under the ownership of the odious Duchatelet.

As I'm sure Bowyer would be first to acknowledge credit must go to other members of the management team. Jackson, Gallen, Euell et al must all take the plaudits too.

The manager has made the team tougher and hard to beat. In pairing Taylor and Grant he has created the best couple of strikers we've had for a while. Theirs is a blosoming partnership that bodes well for the future.

To get a comfortable win at Bradford such as the one The Addicks secured on Saturday is no mean feat. The two goals of good quality were a real bonus.

Given the small size of our squad and the owner's relutance to invest sufficiently in it there is always a caveat to any success that we might enjoy. Injuries and suspensions are always likely to prove a stumbling block.

Thus it happens. Just as we were starting to get players back the BFG, Patrick Bauer is going to be missing for at least two months. Sadly defence is where we have the least cover so this is going to hit us hard.

Our Arsenal loanee, Krystian Bielik, who can also cover that position is currently out too which in the short term further limits our options. 

I expect Sarr to fill in of course. However, we can ill afford another injury to one of our central defenders so extra order of cotton wool are needed.

Next up on Saturday is bottom of the table Plymouth. Their last visit to the Valley was at a time when they were flying high and it was Bowyer's first game in charge. Bowyer went onto to record his first win and the Pilgrims season went into decline.

The boss should be confident of getting the 3 points again at the weekend. However, Charlton being Charlton we all know we can't take anything for granted ! 

Sunday 9 September 2018

Send On The Subs

The subs allowed Charlton to take a strangehold on the game

Charlton recorded back to back league wins for the first time this season. It was far from pretty but whilst we'd all like pretty football the result is all that matters at the moment.

In addition to the missing 3 players Bielik was missing I assumed through injury  ( Dr Kish has confirmed it was a calf strain ). Somewhat surprisingly Steer replaced Phillips in between the sticks.

Joe Aribo returned after missing out at Southend through injury. Mark Marshall returned to the bench after impressing the manager in the EFL trophy in midweek.

Bowyer decided to deploy 3 centre halves and the inclusion of Sarr was presumably to help deal with the huge presence of Akinfenwa. However, he didn't actually spend much time marking him.

I was pleased to see the big man play and he is quite effective in being a nuisance with his sheer strength alone. Overall our defence dealt with him well and I can't recall him having any real clear cut chances.

A rather drab first half was punctuated by only the goals and an audacious overhead kick from Taylor that nearly paid off.

Wycombe took the lead on 7 minutes when Willimas was allowed to curl a left footed effort into the far corner. His effort was not hit with any great pace from the edge of the area and I did wonder whether Steer was poorly positioned for it. However, having seen a replay he appears to be unsighted by one of his own defenders ( Page ? ).

The Addicks equalised as the result of a rare bit of good fortune as Page's cross was defelcted into the Wycombe net. Bizarrely for some time Page was credited with the goal.

The second started with in the same fashion as the first with little excitement. The arrival of Reeves and Lapslie changed things very much for the better as we carried more attacking intent and threat.

Taylor scored again as he has the happy knack of being in the right place at the right time. Never mind that it was a tap in not all strikers get themselves in those positions. Fortuntely he does.

Sarr notched a third in the 80th minute and the game was effectively over. Wycombe did pull one back after Taylor was fouled on the East Stand touch line in front of linesman Magoo. The referee also decided to ignore it and The Chairboys scored from the resulting corner.

The afroementioned ref was pretty awful coosing to ignore many synical Wycombe fouls. Possilby his most ridulous decision was to book Steer for timewasting. This was bizarre because the visitors were gulity of doing that several times and no warning was given to the Charlton keeper.

The most odd aspect of it is that we had been awarded a free kick about midway in our half and Steer was making his way from his area when the daft official was to be seen brandishing the yellow card!

Pratley made another rash tackle in the course of this game. He made a similar and possibly worse one the week before. He needs to be careful aside from the fact that we can ill afford to lose players to unnecessary suspensions we could drop points playing with only ten men especially for long periods.

Given the players we had missing this was a good and useful win. Those four players missing yesterday ought to all come into contention for next Saturday. The competition for places is now starting to intensify.

All welcome news and a rare treat for the new permanent boss to have a few headaches over selection for good reasons for a change. 

Thursday 6 September 2018

The Beast !

Adebayo Akinfenwa - The Legend

Saturday sees Wycombe stump up at The Valley. This means that the man, the legend, the beast that is Akinfenwa will be setting foot on the hallowed turf in S.E. 7. 

Despite living close to Sixfields I never went to him play during either of his spells with The Cobblers. In fact, I've never seen him play anywhere so I'm looking forward to that.

Wycombe have won 1 game, lost 2 and got one point from the other 3. It seems that like the town itself they are very much the drawer specialists. As such they ought to prove a tough nut to crack.

One time Charlton target, Craig Mackail-Smith, is now in the ranks of Wanderers. CMS seems to have lost the goal scoring knack of late and perhaps a word with Karlan Grant would help, not least in advising the benefits of ditching a double-barreled name!

The Addicks have been buoyed of late with the return of a few players from injury. Added to that the recent additions of both Ward and Cullen has strengthened a squad that very much needed it.

The playing side is still thin and more so in some areas than others. However, what there is actually has pretty good quality for this level. Charlton ought to be confident of getting something from most League One matches.

Naturally for that to happen it needs an awful lot of not just with injuries but also suspensions. Exhibit A, Fosu, m'lud! The talented midfielder now finds himself missing 3 league games ( let's not mention the EFL trophy nonsense in relation to this suspension other than to say just how much it very much underlines how awful the EFL is ! ).

I have sympathy for Fosu it's easy to say he shouldn't have reacted to the kick he received whilst on the gorund especially as he's just come back from a lay off. His now permanent manager had a word but given his various escapades on the pitch couldn't be too critical and was probably also sympathetic to a degree.

We can't really afford to be without him and the loss of the new boys Ward and Cullen is a blow too. Nonetheless we should still fancy our chances as the competition for places has increased with the return to favour of Ajose and from injury Vetokele.

Pearce is back in defence and Aribo ought to be available for selection again. Reeves played for a few minutes short of an hour on Tuesday and will no doubt be in the squad.

Things looking up on the pitch then and off it too with aforementioned permanent appointment of Bowyer in a rare moment of sanity from those running the club. That should prove to be a big boost not only to the management team but the players too with a modicum of stability following this endorsement of the manager.

I'm sure Bowyer will be pushing for a win. To achieve that we need to move the ball quicker than I've witnessed recently and make better decisions in and around the area.

Hopefully they can secure the 3 points and play their part in my metropolis based weekend as Sunday sees me return to the smoke for a couple of treats. 

The mrs has treated me to a power boat trip on the Thames and later we're having afternoon tea complete with sandwiches, scones and cakes. I'm glad it's happening in that order.

Here's hoping The Addicks don't leave me feeling queasy come 5pm on Satruday !

Come On You Reds !

Monday 3 September 2018

The Brawl At Roots Hall

Players exchange pleasantries just before the final whistle.....

Charlton won 3 points at Southend that were hard fought in every sense and came at some cost.

It seems that we deserved the win with debutant Cullen being particularly impressive as he came straight into the starting eleven. No real surprise in that but there was with Ajose seemingly making a return to favour and starting along with Taylor and Grant.

Pearce replaced Sarr dropping to the bench. Aribo was injured and Marshall dropped out of the squad altogether. 

Fosu returned from injury finding a place on the subs bench. He went on to have quite an afternoon.

Things really took off in the second half with the Addicks taking the lead through Taylor only to be pegged back a couple of minutes later. 

On 87 minutes a bullett from Bielik saw him score his debut goal for us whilst restoring the lead.

In time added on things erupted as Fosu attempted to keep the ball in the corner. He was on the receiving end of late tackle that was followed up by a kick to the back of the legs. Little surprise that Fosu just returning from a lengthy lay off due to injury was a tad miffed. He shouldn't have reacted but perhaps it was understandable.

The Southend keeper ran a long way to get involved and he too saw red after throwing punches at the angelic-faced Lapslie. Oxley not really setting a good example as skipper.

Having only secured one win to date in the league, this was an important result to boost confidence and to move up the table. Sadly despite that the loss of Fosu for the next 3 league games is massive such is his ability and importance to the team.

His absence on Saturday allied to that of both Cullen and late arrival Ward due to international call ups is a blow that would be softened a bit if Reeves were to return to the squad. 

If we can keep players fit then we have a pretty decent squad. However, our recent injury record suggests that is unlikely added to which we'll certainly find suspensions playing a part too.

The EFL further underlined how absurd they are with the situation regarding Fosu's suspension. Tomorrow's EFL trophy game doesn't count as part of it but Fosu is not allowed to play as he's serving a suspension. What utter tosh ! 

The EFL trophy game against Wimbledon is of little interest save for seeing which players can survive unscathed. On the plus side it does allow Bowyer to get some playing time into one or two players who've not had much playing time of late.