It must have been a long trudge to the touchline for Luke Varney on Saturday and an even longer trip back from Plymouth. Substituted for the first time this season, the only mention we can find of him in the reports, eg sportinglife refers to the "ineffective Varney". He was the only player to have played every single minute of every single game this season, even Yeovil, but the manager's patience and faith in him seems to have finally come to an end after 56 minutes at Home Park.
In truth Pardews' been much too patient with him and after just 2 goals this season from almost 17 games, the constant demands on Varney to deliver have clearly drained his confidence and he's been driven into a corner from which there has been no escape and he must wonder now what lies in store for him.
Looking back at the game, we could easily have won but for that last gasp equaliser strangely reminiscent of what happened against Fulham 2 years ago, but will we rue the lose of those two points the same way we were to regret the Fulham ones?
Pards was full of praise for the teams fightback, again, and perhaps we should give the man credit for his part. He made 5 changes and the team obviously took the game to Plymouth when a more conservative manager, like Curbishley for example, would have packed his team with defenders and gone for a 0-0 draw. Perhaps that was what was needed. A clean, clinical goalless point to prepare us for Birmingham but after losing a goal and the influential Semedo (according to the unbiased Plymouth official site ) and then playing with Gray in midfield we still surged forward and took the lead 2 minutes into injury time. OK, defending set-pieces are not our style but then neither are 0-0 draws. Take your pick.
As for 0-0's there's been but one so far, at Forest and last season only one as well. In Curbs' last full season we had no less that 6 in that "boring midtable Prem season", even mentioned by Curbs himself in a recent interview detailed on addicks diary. At least Pards has kept that part of the bargain in providing more attacking football.
And although only QPR have scored less away goals than we have, they are 6 teams that have won less points away from home and if we had won at Home Park we would have got the same points away from home as 3rd placed Reading. Lack of a consistent goalscorer has perhaps been crucial, but give Pardew the credit for at last taking off Varney and leaving eventual penalty scorer Gray on the park.
But there's one stat that begins to stick out. In first half records the Addicks aren't so hot, in fact, along with Watford, we've got the record of losing at half-time more times than anybody else. Eight out of 16 in fact, a nice round 50%. And perhaps it's a pointer to how disorganised we are. About half of all fizzy teams start conservative and are drawing about 50% of their games at half-time, whereas the Addicks have arrived at 45 minutes drawing just 3 times. Sheff. Wednesday also have been drawing three times and only the crazy boys at Watford, on the same destructive path as the Addicks, with only two draws, have less.
And call it entertainment if you like, or maybe cavalier football, or just perhaps a sign of the lack of a clear plan but whatever, these three teams stand apart. Apart from rampant Wolves who've scored nineteen times before half-time and conceded 12, entertainment is most obvious at the three clubs already mentioned. The fans at Wednesday games have now witnessed a total of 27 goals in the first 45, Watford fans had seen a total of 29 and ourselves with 21 are the teams that have seen the most goals scored in the first half.
Of course, a more worrying statistic concerning all three is that most of them have been at the wrong end. Of the total 23 goals we have conceded, while most fizzy teams are being efficient and conservative, we have now let in 13 goals before half-time, and surprise, surprise, there's only two teams that have conceded more, Watford on 14 and Sheff. Wed on 15.
But lets forget all those numbers and after a couple of away goals and another comeback, perhaps we should be looking forward to next weekends trip to Birmingham, and try to forget the visit of Sheff. U one week later. For while we have a dismal 6 points from the last 8 games, with exactly the same record as, for example, Forest, Sheffield have a massive 17 points from a maximum of 24 from 5 wins and just one defeat. Meanwhile Birmingham have only won 3 of their last 8 and have 2 defeats and a draw from their last three....