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Monday, February 02, 2009

Crisis, What Crisis?....Episode 31

Statistics do sometimes lie but Saturday was a prime example of figures at last adding up. Burnley hadn't had a score 1-0 in the fizzies all season, and still haven't, and there's nobody better - except Preston - at turning over a losing scoreline. They'd already won 5 games after conceding, so a 2-1 win at the death was nothing new to them. Its not new to us either, of course, We've already conceded at the death to Plymouth and Derby, but perhaps its a bit of a relief to realise that even with all those dropped points added back on we'd still be in the shit.
Whatever, we've just got to dust ourselves down as they say and stick our chin out 'cause there's another chance heading our way tomorrow night. In the old days we had one home game followed by an away one before we returned home again but these days things are different. We're just entered a stange sequence of games as after Saturday we now have another away game at Bristol City followed by two at home to Cardiff and Plymouth then two away at Barnsley and Swansea, then followed by another two at home to Doncaster and Watford and then followed by another two away at Reading and Wolves.
Its a hectic, crazy schedule that takes us to March 14th with 10 games in 49 days and with only two fit proper centre-halfs and three strikers - sorry four, I forgot Todorov - our meagre squad could be found lacking - as if it hasn't already. And with only 7 games remaining after this crazy sequence the writing could be on the wall by Sunday morning, March 15th. Thats the Ides of March - a bad day for Julius - but will our 23 assassins have finished with us by then?
As for Bristol they are currently climbing the table and are now 11th on 41 points but as far as home record is concerned they are way down there in 17th best in the fizzies with the same number of home wins as the Addicks. And with Swansea they share the highest number of home draws - 8 - so its no surprise to see that their favorite score is 0-0, 5 in all. Don't know about you but I think that would suit me fine right now.
Current Form After a dismal run of only 1 win in 12 games late last year and sinking to 18th in the table, they obviously enjoyed their turkey and after beating Watford 4-2 away on Boxing Day and following it up with a 1-0 home win over the nobodies from Sainburys on the 28th they have started an unbeaten surge up the table. A 2-0 at Plymouth a week ago and a 2-0 home over Barnsley at the weekend means that they have now gone unbeaten in 5 games with 4 wins and the only blot on their recent record was a 2-2 home draw with no less than Wolves.....
Who They Got? It's much more interesting to see who they haven't got at the moment and there'll be no Marvin Elliot as the key midfielder has a torn groin muscle from the Robins' recent 2-0 victory over Plymouth and is out for weeks. And after keeping clean sheets in three of their last four games its a relief that to know that defender Jamie McAllister who after being booked at Plymouth will be serving his one-match suspension on Tuesday. So probably taking his place will be one player we are familar with and that's their new defender Izzy Iriekpen, who scored Scunthorpes' equaliser at the Valley back in the first game last season. Iriekpen has just signed from the Irons.
Dangerman? Top scorer for City is number 10 Nicky Maynard on nine goals. Only 22 and like our recently departed Luke Varney he's another product of the successful Crewe youth academy system but unlike Varney this boy knows how to score at this level. Picked up last summer for £2.2m but after being taken off against Plymouth with a "dead leg" he didn't play at the weekend and manager Gary Johnson will leave his selection to the last minute to let him recover. Against Barnsley the two-man strike force was Adebola and Stern John. So, after their 2-0 success at the weekend looks like ex-Crewe product (and Palarse) Dele Adebola (on 5 goals for the season) will once again link up with 2 goal Stern John.
What's Their Secret? They don't extend themselves too much in the first half with 13 of their 30 games being 0-0 at half-time which is bad news for us because of the 5 games that we were drawing 0-0 after 45 we have lost 3 of them. They also have the 2nd most clean sheets, 13, after Reading. But the really bad news by far is that although they are completely useless against the good teams - only Forest can equal their dismal showing of only 1 win against top half opposition in 14 games - they are nothing less than merciless when it comes to playing the crap. Fifteen games and not a single defeat against the struggling half of the table and only Wolves can better their haul of 33 points.
History The favorite place to visit for the Addicks in the fizzies is Derby where we've won 12 times in the League but up there with the best is Bristol City where we've won 10. In fact, in games at Ashton Gate the score is a close 11-10 to them. Of the 6 games played there over the last thirty years we've won three times and lost twice with our last success being a 1-0 last season with Chris Iwelumo's second successive 90th minute away goal. Overall, after last Octobers defeat at the Valley, Bristol first in 40 years, it now stands at 27-16 to us in the League which means that they are the only team in the fizzies where we've won more than half the games played.
What're They Saying Parky, bless him, saw on Saturday, "There were a lot of encouraging signs from the boys, there are lots of positives today and if we keep performing in the manner like that then we will have a good chance.”
Team News Playing his first game for us at Burnley was new boy Darren Ward, and forming a rock solid defence with none other than Matt Holland, has already been to Ashton Gate this season back in November with his previous loan club Watford and came away with a 1-1 draw and he may feel he has something to prove as it turned out to be his last game for Watford before returning to Wolves. Meanwhile, our other Rock, Mark Hudson, was having more injections over the weekend to try to recover from his hip injury.
After 18 sub appearances, apparently, Chris Dickson had his first fizzy start on Saturday and after setting up the goal should merit another outing but whether its Burton or Todorov beside him I'll leave you to figure it out. Meanwhile there's Tresor Kandol waiting on the bench trying to break his duck and not telling anyone that he hasn't scored in his last 7 games for Millwall.
As for the team tomorrow it would be a surprise if there were any changes at all after the fighting performance on Saturday, so....
Elloit; Murty, Ward, Holland, Youga; Sam, Bailey, Spring, Soares; Dickson, Burton
Subs: Randolph, Hudson, Racon, Basey, Kandol
Verdict After failing, just, to get a result against a tired, 5-defeats-in-a row Burnley, we are going to find it doubly hard to get the better of a resurgent Bristol who in contrast haven't lost only of the last five. And who, after a lazy first half, perhaps, they usually save their best till the end - just when the Addicks are prone to bouts of sleepyness - and have scored no less than 7 times in the last 5 minutes..........0-0 I'll take that.

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