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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Looking Forward to Forest

A backs-to-wall win at Doncaster of all places, with a corner count of 14-1 to make things clear, has sent the Addicks soaring 8 places up the table to a respectable 8th place. Our third win of the season then from a third minute strike, the third of the season, by Andy Gray bought our third away win of 2008.
Pards was full of praise this time for his captains Hudson and Holland but of course its never enough unless we do it again of Saturday. Newly-promoted Forest are next, who after finishing 10 points behind Swansea last year still managed to secure the automatic runners-up spot ahead of Doncaster.
Their home form this year is a bit patchy after an apparently good start with a 0-0 draw against Reading on the opening day they then surprised away specialists Watford in their third game with a 3-2 home win before things started to go downhill. A 1-5 hammering at Molineux burst their little bubble and was followed by their first home defeat of the season 1-2 to Burnley. A further 1-2 defeat occurred on Tuesday at Preston leaving them on just 4 points and with only Barnsley below them in the table.
They've also got the embarrassing tag of worst defence in the fizzies with keeper Paul Smith having to fish around in the back of the net 14 times leaving them with a minus 7 goal difference.
Key man for them is obviously the Zambian cum Welshman Robert Earnshaw (pictured above at his audition for the Usual Suspects!) ex of Cardiff, West Brom, Norwich and Derby, all of whom paid around 3 mill for his services. In keeping with his price tag he's already scored 5 goals so far although 2 came against Morecambe in the League Cup. They've also got one Andrew Cole, now on his 12th club, and at 36 perhaps a shade too old for regualar football. So beware Pards, for that late substitution, he hasn't scored yet this season.
As for the History, rather astonishingly against a club with two European Cups ( oh, those were the days; English clubs ruling Europe) to their name, we rule the roost. Overall, after 15 years together, its 11 wins, 10 defeats and 9 draws.
At the City Ground we've won 4 times, with 6 defeats and 5 draws. Everyone remembers the last day of the season 0-4 defeat on May 13th 1989 as the peak of Lennie's achievement in the Old First Division. This was the one and only game in 4 years that didn't matter; we were already safe.
But for me there's a later game that overrides that sunny day and still rankles in my memory. It is the 1-1 draw at Sainburys in March a year later when a Joe McLaughlin error gave them a late equaliser 5 minutes from time and made our seasonal fight a terminal one. Just two more wins and then 6 straight defeats sent us down. And Forest remained one of only two teams that we failed to beat in our four years in the top flight ( at least that's my memory ). In 8 games against we lost 6 times.
So Pards, its time for a bit of revenge. You remember very well the last time we played them; 0-2 in the FA Cup in January 2007 in Nottingham. Your 4th game in charge of the Addicks and your second defeat in a week after losing at Highbury ( or was it the Emirates?) but surely the most embarrassing. There's only 3 players left from the squad that you took there that day - Holland, Ambrose and Sam - so most of the players won't understand your desperate need to get your own back.
Another early starter won't go amiss, for we have become a team that scores first ( only Birmingham have done better that us) and Forest are, not surprisingly for a team letting in 14 goals, a team that lets their opponents do just that. And for all the talk of our poor first half last Tuesday, it must be pointed out that one listing that we are head and shoulders above everyone else is our performance over the first 45.
Going in at half-time, one thing that Pards has been spared this season, apart from the Watford game, has been the need to mess about with the side. Five times out of six we've been in front and if games finished at half-time we'd be at the top of the League and its only been our second half performance that has let us down.
So Prediction then. A 2-0 win has a nice ring to it and would round off a good week for the Addicks.

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