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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another Nail in the Coffin?

Read somewhere last week that a defeat cuts deeper into the soul than a victory. Well, they were talking about military defeat but at the moment a football defeat feels much the same, especially when they seem almost constant, although thankfully, I suppose, there's not a lot of bloodshed.
So another defeat, 19 now in the fizzies, as we continue relentlessly to break records. This was the first double that Bristol City have managed over us since 1927, 82 years ago and we now home in on our record number of defeats in a season. 1957 I think it was with 29 League defeats. Fifteen games to go, and if we continue in the same pattern as we have over the last 15, we'll break it to finish on 30 for the season. That must surely be your target now Parky - to try to avoid another record being set.
So what of Tuesday - a promising start, a goal, but could we, at long last, hang on to a lead like we did last week? Well, no of course not. There's three teams in the fizzies, Preston, Doncaster and Coventry who have let promising leads turn into dismal defeats three times, there's even Watford who have thrown away a winning looking result and instead lost 5 times. But nobody can touch the Addicks who have now gone in front 6 times and ended up with nothing.
One report said we lacked threat up front and looking at our goal-scoring chart its not hard to see why. Who's our leading goalscorer? With Gray out for the season, Varney moved on, and Bouazza and Waghorn gone back home, the leading strikers are now Burton, Dickson and Todorov all on one goal each. Our leading active goalscorer is a midfielder, Nicky Bailey, with 6. In fact the opposition in the form of own goals, namely Moritz Volz of Ipswich, are on a par with our leading strikers, enough said really.
I mentioned the other day that there's only been three games all season when we had two strikers score in the same game and that was being generous and calling Bouazza a striker so its really only happened twice this season with Reading and Derby being the rare exceptions. But when was the last time that a striker of ours scored twice in a single game? You have to back to April 5th last year when on-loan Leroy Lita got two against Plymouth.
And it really rubs it in when, once again, we come up against another two goal striker. Vokes, McCormack, Macken, Blackstock, Dickinson, Ellington, Quinn, Thompson and now Adebola. They've all got a couple against us. Not all strikers, perhaps, but it makes you wonder if the lack of a two goal striker is another record that we've determined to set this season.
So what about Cardiff? Well, we'll start by pointing out that the games aren't getting any easier and if you thought Burnley and Bristol were difficult there's even more to come. Cardiff are 4th on the same points as Sheffield United but with two games in hand and have been in the top 6 for most of the season.
They're also a team with the fifth best away record with only 2 defeats on the road to QPR 0-1 and Plymouth 1-2, both of them back in black November when they suffered 3 defeats in four weeks. But after the Plymouth defeat on November 22nd they've put things right and haven't lost a single game in the following eleven fizzy games since then. In fact after their 12 draws ( nine away from home) and with only 4 defeats all season nobody has suffered less defeats in the fizzies. They beat Coventry in their last away game and failed, narrowly, to beat both Birmingham and Reading in their previous two away games in the fizzies with the home side equalising in the last minute...
Current Form Seems the snow in London has arrived a few days early because while the Addicks are currently at rock botton in this little table with 4 points in the last 8 games, you'll be pleased to learn that Cardiff are leading the table with 5 wins and 3 draws to haul in a total of 18 points. Looking further back they're currently unbeaten in their last thirteen in League and Cup and with only one goal conceded in their last 6 league and cup games against the likes of Plymouth 1-0, Reading(Cup) 2-0, Birmingham 1-1, Arsenal (Cup) 0-0, Coventry 2-0 and Forest 2-0.....
The only bright spot on the horizon, apart from the hope of more snow, is that they may have their eye on their next visit to London next Monday for their rearranged cup replay versus the Arse.
Who They Got? Most famous names are Number 5 and captain Darren Purse and number 10 Irish international Stephen McPhail but both are being kept on the bench by the central defensive pairing of number 6 Hungarian international defender Gábor Gyepes and number 14 Roger Johnson while in midfield there's ex-Dundee and Rangers Gavin Rae and Joe Ledley. Ledley's been chased by the Premier big boys with 5m being offered but Cardiff have rejected all offers just so we can see on Saturday just how good he really is. And there's a new boy dying to impress during his loan spell and that's the Ghana international winger Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
DangerMan Number 44 is youngster Ross McCormack and is one name to bear in mind, what with his 16 goals in all competitions so far, 14 in the fizzies but he's already scored twice against us, so the real Dangerman this week has to be his strike partner one Jay Bothroyd with 8 goals. A player with obviously a point to prove in front of a Valley crowd, he's number 8 in case you missed any of his 4 starts for us (21 sub appearances) in which he scored an unprecented 6 goals. Nevertheless he moved on to Wolves and joined Cardiff last summer for 350K. They both scored in their last away game at Coventry.
What's Their Secret? While the Addicks aren't too bad in the fail-to-score stakes with 9 failures to find the net, Cardiff are leaders of the pack. In only 3 games have their failed to score - equal with Wolves - with only one failure in their last 24 games......which was that 1-0 defeat at Lofus Rd. And similar to Bristol City they tend to save the best till last with no less than eleven goals scored in the last 10 minutes of fizzy games.
History On a happier note and the only positive news I can find is that we have a better home record against Cardiff than anybody else with the sole exception of Norwich City. In times past we used to love playing Cardiff at the Valley - 17 wins out of the 30 League games played there plus another couple in the Cup and with only 4 defeats. The last time they came to the Valley we stuffed three goals past Kasper Schmeichel from Sonje, Iwelumo and ZiZi and the only pity is that Schmeichel can't be loaned to all our remaining visitors as he let in another 4 for Coventry on the last day of the season as well. Overall its 28-19 to the Addicks.
Team News It's times like these that we used to pack the team with defenders and try to scrape a goalless draw, at least that would be Curbs' plan. Well, that's a no hoper this time as we only have 4 fit ones available.
Anyway, we'll at least be able to see at last our latest new recruits, Darren Ward and the Zairian who plays for the Congo, Trésor Kandol. Darren is the one with number 12 on his back and Trésor is number 36.
As for our makeshift defence Graeme Murty got himself injured again on Tuesday but it appears he's available and back in training is Mark Hudson. Parky, while thanking Matt Holland for his contribution, would be glad to have his planned partnership of Hudson and Ward at last take shape but is one day of training enough to see Mark back on the pitch, unlikely really.
As for the formation its highly possible that against such high riding opposition Parky will revert to safety first and play with a lone striker.
Elloit; Murty, Ward, Holland, Basey; Sam, Bailey, Spring, Racon, Soares; Dickson.
Subs; Randolph, Youga, Ambrose, Burton, Kandol
Summary In summary its a team with 2 wins in their last 24 games against another without a defeat in 13. One club heading for the top flight while the other is sinking remorselessly towards Tier Three. But if you believe in miracles and fairies at the bottom of the garden the last time we lead at half-time three times running - a sequence which also saw a win followed by two defeats - we managed to win the 4th game, a 1-0 win at Doncaster.
But with defeat cutting deeper and deeper - who said there's no loss of blood - I can't help thinking that there's another one just round the corner. Playing good football for just 45 minutes won't be good enough here so its highly likely that Cardiff will provide the class to keep everything nice and symmetrical by claiming their 20th win over us and thus making it 20 fizzy defeats for the season.... Unless it snows again!


Anonymous said...

I fear you are right about the forecast.

Why can't we hold a lead? Who knows. Obviously the lack of a goalscorer doesn't help, but my take is that the real issue is that we simply can't keep possession. This means that we end up playing "attack and defence" with the inevitable result. It was interesting watching Man Utd on TV against Everton. This is the team that has 12 consecutive clean sheets yet when Everton pushed Lescott forward and got the ball into the box you could sense that even Ferdinand and Vidic were on red alert. The point though is that this didn't happen very often. The key to Utd's run of clean sheets isn't just Ferdinand, Vidic and Evans, its that the opposition simply can't get the ball! We are talking here about a completely different class of football obviously, but the principle is the same. This Charlton side is going to keep giving away leads until it learns to keep the ball and hence control the game.

nelson said...

Thanks for thank, Anon, and Ketts on Kish asks a similar question and with the team obviously knowing that its going to be pretty hard to score a second goal then defence and keeping possession is key. The trouble is that with confidence so low even playing keep ball is proving too difficult as its a case of getting rid of the ball as soon as possible and passing the onus on to someone else. Maybe I being unfair but perhaps thats where the kids will come in - they, generally, have less fear that the older members of the squad.