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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walsall Preview

Four wins on the trot with nine goals scored giving us 12 points followed by three very different draws with the seven goals getting us just three points. Is it my imagionation or are we making hard work of it at the moment although with scores of 4-4, 2-2, and lastly 1-1 things do seem to be settling down a bit - and all Parky has to do is figure out a way to break this sequence.

Meanwhile, the pressure is building, at least in my household while Norwich - the winners of 11 of their last 14 games - have picked up 35 points in that run and their only loss being away to Leeds while Pardews' Saints have won 9 in their last 14 ( 29 points) but have now lost twice ( Leeds and Colchester) in their last 3 games. The Addicks, meanwhile have become the Divisions draws specialists with 7 draws in their last 14, only that one defeat at Carlisle, but then again only 6 wins giving 25 points. And if you need further proof that its not the Christmas pud giving you that sinking feeling, 4th placed Colchester have also won 9 in their last 14, two defeats (away to Millwall and Brentford) and 3 draws equals 30 points.

So while the publicity boys try to sell more season tickets on the back of our goalscoring feats ( only Norwich have scored more than we have), the Pools people are just as keen on our inability to get the three points and have noticed that only Millwall have drawn more games than we have.

So what of Walsall? Manager since January this year is one of the old boys in League One, 52 year old Chris Hutchings. You remember him, he was Paul Jewells' able assistant at Premiership sides Bradford, Wigan and Derby and each time Jewell left leaving Hutchings to be promoted to manager. Well, Chris has at last headed out on his own with Walsall and steered them to midtable safety last season with 61 points. And this year Walsall are once again a typical midtable side sitting in 10th spot - 7 points from both Play-offs and relegation they have won 8, drawn 7 and lost 7.


Its a game between two teams that haven't win in three games although the Saddlers have had two defeats in there against Pardew and Millwall whilst showing true fighting spirit with a 2-2 draw last time out at home to Orient after being 2 goals down at half-time.

Month on month they've done pretty well the last three months but December has not been good for them, only a single win, 3-1 away to Yeovil on the December 1st means its over 4 weeks now without a win. But their home record is not bad with only two defeats - 2-1 to Leeds back in August and then to Pardew at the beginning of December 3-1.


There are none this week that I can find.

The Opposition
A strange team with only one loanee in their ranks but the big news this week is that he's now been taken on full-time. Clayton McDonald's the name and he's 21 from Man. City. Hasn't played since October though so you may not see him this Saturday. And the only player they have that you may have heard of is the ex Palarse and the Spanners defender Jamie Vincent.
In fact the Saddlers could be a bit rusty as with two postponements the team hasn't played since the 19th while the Addicks have have two games since then.


Top scorer on 9 goals is Ulster international winger number 7 Steve Jones which is not a bad return from only 12 games although he seems out of favour at the moment not having played since the beginning of December. So the main strike force on Saturday will be number 10 Troy Deeley and the much travelled Jamacian number 27 Darren Byfield (now on his 13th club ) on 8 and 7 goals respectively.

Whats Their Secret?

Giving the opposition a goal start and then winning is Walsall's party trick. They've done it three times this season. But their form against the good teams is dire. Ten games against the top half and only a single win, a 2-1 win over Huddersfield back in September with an 87 minute Raynes goal after going behind. Their other party tricks apart from Huddersfield have been at Wycombe where they went 2-0 down and won 3-2 and they also beat Tranmere after going a goal down. And its a shame that their obvious fighting spirit doesn't pull in the crowds. Perhaps its the 10 short miles to Birmingham but after Hartlepool Walsall have the lowest average gate in League One with just 4300 per game.

Or maybe its the lack of shooting boots that keeps the fans away because while the Big Four (Leeds, Norwich, Saints and the Addicks) all have over 150 shots on target, poor old Walsall languish at the bottom of this table with only 83 shots between the posts.

What Are They Saying?

Miguel Llera, after the Brentford game had this to say about his holiday plans, "You are only sad when you don't play. I didn't come to England for a holiday, I came here to play. I must wait for my opportunities and I have to work hard to stay in this team."

Give Us Some Christmas Cheer Nels

OK, as Leeds power away into the distance and are now 8 points clear its worth remembering that while Pardew and Norwich both suffered defeats at Elland Rd there's only two other teams that remain unbeaten there apart from the Addicks, namely local rivals Huddersfield and Leeds' bogey team Carlisle.

And, if you're having increasing nightmares regarding the Play-offs in May, its worth pointing out that in games against the top half of the table one team stands out above all the rest. The Addicks. Twelve games played with 6 wins, 5 draws and only that single annoying defeat at Weston Homes Colchester, give us the more points than anybody else against our peers.


After a surprise point at Brentford where we've only won 3 games in 15 before the weekend we should be looking forward to visiting Walsall where of all the other League One teams we have our best away record picking up over 1.5 points per game. Its one of only three places down here where we've won more than we've lost ( the others are Gillingham and Southend) and the record currently stands at 4 wins, 2 draws and only 3 defeats over the 9 League games.

The last time Walsall beat us in the League was 37 years ago in October 1973 in an embarassing 4-0 defeat but of the 5 games played since then at the Banks Stadium ( and Fellows Park) we've won 3, drawn one and only lost a League Cup tie 2-0 in 1987 after winning the home leg 3-0.

And its only our second visit to the Bescot Banks Stadium, the first being a 4-2 win in March 2000 on our march to the Tier Two title.

The Team

Parkys been playing around a bit over the last couple of games with no wingers at home for Swindon and then 2 of them away at Brentford so predictions for the next game are a bit difficult.

As for defence, Rob Elliot will be in goal and Llera won't be on holiday or even sad. Right-back Richardson was said to be 50/50 for the Swindon game so after 10 games sidelined out of the last 12 can we expect our number 2 to make a comeback at Walsall? As for Kelly Youga, he's missed all 6 games played in December and on the 23rd Parky said he was about 10 days away from a game which just about rules him out until Hartlepool next weekend. And then there's Christian Dailly who has been ill and its anybody's guess whether he'll be fit this weekend.

And it seems only yesterday when the midfield was a Addicks headache but strangely its now the only area where we have plenty of choices. Sam and Bailey have only missed one game between them while Semedo will be somewhere which leaves 6 places open for the others. Two wingers, each on 4 goals, although Sam hasn't scored for 9, have kept the the youngster Luke Holden out of it and he's only played for half-an-hour at the St. Marys in the JPT. He's only on loan till the end of the year so what will Parky do with the 21 year old?

Then there's Thierry Racon. After starting in every League game up to MK Dons, he was subbed at half-time at Yeovil, being described at "out-of-sorts", and of the seven games since then has only started once against Southend and has been an unused sub on 5 occasions. Has Parky realised he's not made for a League One winter and there have been transfer rumours in the press.

And Matt Spring has come into midfield with Semedo in defence and has started the last two games, provided the accurate pass that Llera converted against Swindon and was many fans MOM.
And lastly we have the news that Deon is doubtful for Walsall having got a dead leg from somewhere. Dead leg, hernia and the hand of God? Leave it out Deon, you're playing and so too could be Chris Dickson after missing a couple but getting the penalty at Brentford.

Elliot; Omozusi, Semedo, Llera, Basey; Sam, Spring, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Dickson.


We'll be fighting it out in the Play-off positions if we keep on dropping points the way we have been doing, so Parky, seeing the stats, will be emphasing the importance of three points this Saturday. January 12th is the rearranged date for the Walsall v Norwich game and if we don't get maximum points before then, with plenty of goals, it'll be down to 3rd place for the Addicks.

So we need goals this weekend but Walsall have only conceded two more goals that we have this season but at home have conceded 2 goals 4 times and let in 3 against Pardew 2 weeks ago. So its time for my favorite score again 2-0, to the Addicks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Millwall Preview

Four wins in a row - could have been six if the ref hadn't disallowed Akpo's goal at Yeovil - has seen us close the gap to Leeds from the six points of two weeks ago down to only 2 points after the Lilywhites have had two draws in a row with Huddersfield and Brentford.
Both teams have difficult games next week with Leeds at home to Pardew while we entertain, if that's the word, the Spanners.
Oh, yes, Millwall. Anyway, in the next 4 games up till January 2nd, we have them and Swindon at home and Brentford and Walsall away which will take us on to 25 games. Both Brentford and Walsall have decent home records with 4 wins each and only a couple of home defeats while Swindon have won 4 games away from home. On paper then, of the four games only Millwall, with just a single away win, looks the easiest although, it being their cup final, we know it won't be. But, forgetting them, as we'll be able to do next year, a good run over those four games could see us sitting in top spot because over the same period Leeds, with their cup game at Salford on January 3rd, only have 3 League games; a sticky Pardew and a simple Hartlepool at home and then Stockport away....
And, of course, 6 points from our next two games will see us equalling Leicester's halfway total last season.

So the Spanners. Not our favorite team over the years but as young Dave very well points out over at Drinking, things have changed a lot over the years. Manager at the Spanners is now 47 year old Kenny Jackett. Born in Watford he played for them a massive 335 times before retiring injured at the age of 28. He's been manager at Millwall since November 2007.
Millwall are currently 8th, two points off the Play-Offs, but with the 16th worse away record in League One and only 1 win to show for 10 away games. However, they keep it tight and only ultra-cautious Oldham and desperate-to-survive-at-this-level Brentford have seen less that the total of 22 goals scored in those 10 games so while they have only scored 9 away goals, against the Addicks 17, they have only conceded one more than we have away from home. Nevertheless, they have had four away defeats at Bristol and Gillingham both 2-0, Orient 1-0 and last time out on the road an embarrasing 3-0 drubbing at Hartlepool. A game at lowly Stockport was their only away win so far and they couldn't even win at Staines (FA Cup ) or at Barnet (JPT).
So after their superb three wins in a row in October over Stockport 4-0, Leeds 2-1 and Colchester 2-1 they have only had two wins in the last 6 games.

Darren Ward has been back at the Den recently on-loan from Wolves. He had 4 years at the den back in 2001/04, which included their other cup final (lost), and he played sixteen times for us last season but was an un-used sub against Walsall last weekend with centre-back and captain Paul Robinson now back from injury.

The Opposition

Ex-Orient striker Gary Alexander hasn't played since coming on and scoring the winner against Leeds in October and is currently wearing a protective boot while sadly both top striker Neil Harris and winger Chris Hackett are also out injured.
With Hackett and Harris missing the key could be overcoming the battling spanners midfield. They've both got high numbers but number 24 Laird and 26 Abdou need careful watching. Scotsman Marc Laird was Port Vale's new manager Lee Sinnott's first signing two years ago from Manchester City but it wasn't long before he moved to the den and number 26 is 25 year old Frenchman Jimmy Abdou ex of Plymouth ( he played against us in our 2-1 win there in April 2008 ) and both are known as midfield tigers that never stop working.


All-time top Millwall scorer with 115ish is thirty-two year old Neil Harris and he tops the lists this year with 11 but sadly we'll have to pass up the chance of seeing him as he's out injured and hasn't played since the 2-2 draw at Brentford a month ago so ex Stevenage Borough Steve Morison has been filling in and has surprised everyone with 4 goals in the last 4 games. Everytime he scores, apparently, the Spanners have won but seems he doesn't like travelling as every single one of his total of 6 goals have been scored at the Den.

Whats Their Secret?
Their favorite score in 1-1 and they have the 4th best defence in League One ( 21 goals) with only Leeds, the Addicks and Colchester conceding less. And they are one of only 6 teams that have not lost a game once they have gone in front ( along with Leeds, the Addicks, Oldham, Exeter and Swindon). And as you can see after their victories over Leeds, Colchester, Huddersfield and MK - all at home of course - they also have an excellent record against the top half of the table with only 2 defeats in 9 games.

What Are They Saying?

Jackett was full of praise for striker Morison after his two goals against Walsall last weekend, "He needed an adjustment period coming from non-league into League One but he's worked hard for his two goals. He has to use his physical attributes and when he does he's more than a handful for defenders. The two centre-halfs need to know they've been in a game and Morison did that today with his pace and power."
Meanwhile over at Brentford Leeds' Grayson has been complaining about the Bees pitch last weekend but Andy Scott was not exactly sympathetic "It was a physical game and I think that Simon is clutching at straws if he's trying to blame the pitch and refereeing decisions."

You all know the figures, sixty-two games altogether and they have won 30 of them. Twenty one draws and only a paltry eleven Charlton wins. So a pathetic average of 1 win in every 6 games And you can't explain it away because we don't like the Den because our record against them at the Valley is truly woeful. Leeds can point to a 10-7 winning record in 19 games at the Valley but nobody can come near a Valley record of 13-7 to the spanners with a huge 11 draws. If it's any consolation thats 35% of games at the Valley being drawn and their last win at the Valley was 1992.

Our last confrontation was during their relegation season 1995/96 when we did the double over them with two 2-0 wins, our first over them since 1935/36.

The Team

Its just another game, or so Parky says, but I can't see him changing a winning team even for a derby. There's no news of our treatment room and before a critical game you won't expect it so its an unchanged eleven. Richardson has now missed 7 out of the last 9 and make abortive comebacks in the other two while Kelly Youga has now missed the last three.

And there's still 4 players on 4 yellows ( Dailly, Youga, Sam, and the shirt-removing McLeod) but they all seem to be making an effort to avoid the critical 5th. Christian Dailly, with Bailey the only player to have topped 2000 minutes action this season, after receiving 4 in 7 games hasn't had a single one in last 3.

But is Shelvey champing at the bit? Its only a single start in the last 7 for JonJo and no sub appearances either while Akpo has now racked up over two hours in an Addicks shirt but has still to start a game. And while Llera is keenly watching Christian in the hope of that 5th card, Sam Sodje is not far behind either with three yellows to his name.

Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Mooney, Burton

They have a lot of injuries but have history on their side and their away form won't count for a lot in a steamy local derby. Predictions in derbies are always a lottery so maybe I'll cope out and consult the wisest. Of the 16 top predictors in cafcpicks (all those with double figures correct) seven forecast a win, eight a draw and only 1 ( step forward Bob Pooley) a defeat. But the top two ( Westie and Frankie ) saw a draw and the history says 35% drawn so thats my verdict, 2-2.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stockport County Preview

You've all seen Alien, where the spacecraft Nostromo is invaded by a monster which is, of course, impossible to finish off or get rid of. In the last few minutes Sigourney manages to escape into her little escape craft and relaxes because she's thinks at last that she's safe. But no, there it is again hiding under the skirting boards. Desperately she climbs into a spacesuit and jabs the button to release the outer doors into space to suck it into the void but still it holds on to the frame of the door and the engine housing until at last its grip is broken and it flies off into space after she blasts it with the engines.
Its an old theme and we've all had similar nightmares and looking at the League table I can feel a creeping resemblance in our own position.
Down in this League, there's three teams that are bigger than we are with bigger average gates than ourselves - one is above us in the table and just within reach but two are behind us trying to catch us. The one from East Anglia is only 4 points away but the other, even after their 10 point handicap and that we had all written up for lost, are now only 9 points away from the Play-Offs. Could it be that that Pardew fella proves to be our nightmare scrapeing into the Play-Offs just as Leeds did in their first season in League One when they also had a 10 point ball tied to their legs.
So thats what imagination can do for you. Better to stick to the facts as usual. Looking at the weekend, Stockport, Hartlepool and Carlisle were the three teams that survived the big R last season by just a single point. But one of them, Stockport, have gone into administration a week earlier with debts piling up and a 10 point deduction left the Hatters just a single point clear of Northampton.
And things don't look any better this year with only 3 wins for the Hatters all season and with the second worse attack in League One, with only Oldham scoring less than their 16 goals in 19 matches.

And we face yet another manager in his first job, for next up is ex-Liverpool and Everton Gary Ablett, now 44. He's only been in the job since July following Jim Gannons departure after 4 years in the job and there's no prizes for guessing how long he'll be there.

Whilst four teams stand out from all the others over the last 8 games - Leeds and Norwich 19 pts, the Addicks and Pardew 17 - the Hatters are rock bottom and look a lost cause at the moment with 7 straight defeats ( Millwall, Brentford, Norwich, Walsall, Exeter, Colchester and lastly Wycombe ) - scoring just three times in the process - which has seen them crash from 14th to rock bottom. And while the Addicks have the best home record in the Division with 26 points won on home soil, Stockport now have the worse home record in League One with a single win ( 2-1 over Orient in the middle of Sept), 2 draws and 6 defeats.

And while Ablett may reckon that they play well against the bigger teams, the truth is that they don't and they share, with Tranmere, the record of being the only two teams in the Division not to have beaten anybody in the top half of the table whilst the Addicks take third place in games against the cream behind Leeds and Colchester.

The Opposition
Stockport have a very young team which can't be helping matters at the moment. In their last game at Wycombe the teams average age was 22 and a half. And instead of getting in more experienced players they appear to have added to the problem by bringing in three teenage loanees in Ribeiro (Bristol City) aged 19, Bridcutt (chelski) aged 20 and Bignall (Reading) aged 19.

Yes, there's one ex player that might just be seen around Edgeley Park and that's Jim Melrose whose three year stay back in 1985-88 bought us 19 precious goals. He appears to be the respectable front man in a consortium to put Stockport back on the rails after administration but even he can't be happy with the prospects of a club whose current average gate is 4,200, the 3rd lowest in League One with only Yeovil and Hartlepool being lower.

DangerMan? Carl Baker bagged his 12th goal of the season last weekend against Wycombe. A stunning strike he's renowned for scoring goals from the wing or playing in the hole and has already got 2 hat-tricks already this season in successive away games at Brighton and Crewe. And if you want to read what Baker means to the Stockport fans you only have to read this blog and its comments.

Whats Their Secret?
After a good September when they only had one defeat (to Leeds) and a credible draw with Southampton in 6 games and were up in 13th place, their early season form appears to have deserted them for after a 1-0 win over Tranmere away in October its been seven straight defeats. So their secret weapon? Its seems to be the state of their pitch because with the constant rain its now in a bit of a bad way, shared as it is with Sale Sharks rugby team, and the last three games have been called off.

What Are They Saying?
Gary Ablett after the defeat at Wycombe, "I thought we rode our luck at times and the only bit of quality we showed was the goal. Apart from that we were awful. As well as we play against the bigger teams we can't raise it against teams around us and ultimately that could prove to be our downfall. We'll keep going but you get nothing for being at the bottom."

Darren Byfield had some ominous news after losing 3-1 to Southampton at the weekend, "wish we got three points, but they are the best side we have played this season and I expect them to go up." And they've played Leeds, Norwich and the Addicks already....

Our first trip to Edgeley Park for 9 years and we've only been there twice before. The first time in our Play-Off winning season 1997/98, and back then Stockport were the only team to win at the Valley all season (1-3) and they completed the double over us in February with a 3-0 win at Edgeley Park.

Two years later 1999/2000 in our Championship winning year it was our turn to do the double with a 4-0 win at the Valley and a 3-1 win in Stockport with Andy Hunt getting a hat-trick in both games, the first Addicks player to do that twice against the same team in one season.

The Team
Richardson was taken off as a precaution on Saturday but his injury appears not to have cleared up and he'll miss another game with Omozusi filling in again. Kelly Youga is also still out so the return of Semedo is likely to be the only change. For with 3 wins in a row and 13 goals in the last 5 games it would be most unlike Parky to make any further changes.

Elloit; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Mooney


It doesn't need an expert to see that a game between the bottom team with seven straight defeats and the second in the table with three wins in a row looks a clear away banker and this one's no different. The only leveler would appear to be the state of the pitch which has seen three postponements recently with even the Wasps refusing to play rugby on it in late November.

But with 2-0 being my favorite score and also Stockports, 0-2 that is - they've had 6 already, three times more than any other score - its odds-on Stockport 0 Addicks 2 as long as we can stop that Carl Baker from getting another hat-trick.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Southend United Preview

Well, my first correct forecast at the Withdean since Huddersfield which isn't saying much for the usefulness of the stats displayed here I suppose even, for example, putting a 0-0 draw down for MK Dons, if you can remember. Anyway, our first successive wins in 13 games since September at home to Brentford and with Colchester unable to do anything in their trip to Brentford, our lead over the 3rd placed team, now Norwich, is increased to 4 points.
Norwich, though, with 8 wins in their last 10, and 26 goals, are currently showing no mercy to anyone and are making it look far too easy. OK, they've had games against Orient, Tranmere and Stockport in there but it was they who put 4 past Brighton only last weekend. Makes our two points dropped at Carrow Rd all the more irritating. Although, it should be pointed out that, with our first away win in 6, we still have a better away record than the Canaries, they having lost at Brentford, Milton Keynes and Leeds.

So on to Saturday and current manager at next opponents Southend is 43 year old Steve Tilson and he's been in charge since 2003 and he's just celebrated 6 years at the club. But his career at Roots Hall goes back further than that because he was also a long serving player at Southend having played 239 games before retiring.

And he's had some significant success in management with the Shrimpers. In his first season 2003/4 he took them to their first ever cup final, the Football League Trophy, at the Millenium stadium where they lost to Blackpool 2-0.

The following season saw promotion from League Two, via another trip to the Millenium where they beat Lincoln City. And then the following year 2006 they completed successive promotions by winning League One and moving up into the so-called Championship. Tilson's success saw him linked with jobs at West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City, but he remained with Southend. In November 2006, Southend achieved a notable victory over eventual Premier League champions Manchester United in the League Cup, but, after only a year stay, were relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2006–07 season just as we joined it.

With Tuesdays loss to Norwich, the Shrimpers have dropped into the bottom half of the table and are now down in 13th spot. They have also lost their last 5 away games in all competitions including three league games at Carlisle, Yeovil and Tranmere and their form on the road is not good with only 2 wins (at Brighton and Stockport) and 5 defeats. Its eleven games since a draw and in true Jekyll and Hythe form their last 9 games before Tuesday have followed a bizarre sequence of a win followed by a defeat! They lost their last game at Tranmere before facing Norwich on Tuesday but unfortunately for us couldn't maintain that sequence and lost again at home to the Canaries 0-3.

And over the last 8 games the Shrimpers are now down in 18th spot in the Current Table with 5 defeats and 3 victories and only 3 teams in League One have scored fewer goals in those 8 games.

Yes, there's Osei Sankofa, now 24 and he's been at Roots Hall since his release by us in June 2008. But after playing 31 times last season, has only started 4 times this year and hasn't featured since the 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton back in early October.

The Opposition
Southend have a very settled side with no fewer than 7 players who have started every league game this season; goalie Mildenhall, right-back Francis, centre-back Barrett, midfielders McCormack and Moussa and striker Lee Barnard and another, Grant, on 17 starts. The Addicks have just 4 ever-presents, (Dailly, Sam, Bailey and Burton).

But they may be in for a shock when they see the multitudes at the Valley because the biggest crowd they've experienced so far this year was the 10,123 at Roots Hall to see the 0-0 draw with Leeds.


After Tuesdays meeting with Nicky Forster we now welcome Southend's number nine Lee Barnard. He's their leading scorer by a long way with 14 goals( the next up has just 2) and scores once every two games on average. Signed from Spurs in Jan 2008 he's already got 32 goals for the Shrimpers. There's also the impressive stat that they've only lost once when Barnard has scored.

Whats Their Secret?

The Addicks share top spot in points gained (17) against the top half of the table with Leeds and close behind are Millwall with only a single defeat against the good half. And unlike our last opponents Brighton who have only had one success against top half teams, Southend, before Tuesday anyway, had a record to be proud of. Only 1 defeat against the top half and that after playing top half sides Huddersfield, Walsall, Millwall, Leeds, Bristol Rovers and MK Dons all without losing. Unfortunately on Tuesday they meet in-form Norwich and were beaten 3-0 at Roots Hall.

Not really a secret more of a defect really. While the Addicks are now clear of the League One field at leading games at half time, 10 in all, Southend are down the other end only leading at the 45 minutes a paltry 3 times. Southend have been drawing 12 times at half-time, only Orient on 13 can better that, and have had eight half-time 0-0's.

And once again it shows how scared teams are of Leeds because they have only conceded twice before half-time with Norwich and Millwall being the culprits.

What Are They Saying
Tilson after Tuesday's defeat to Norwich clearly felt hard done by, "If I’m being honest I think even 2-0 would have flattered them because we were right in the game. Two goals in a 10 minute spell killed us and they had that extra bit of quality in the final third but we had chances and on another night we could have scored three goals ourselves. Lee Barnard has gone close, so has Jabo Ibehre and I'm not too sure why our goal was disallowed either. If it’s for handball then I have no idea how the referee has seen it from where he is.”

Norwich's Lambert on striker Holt, "He's been colossal since I've been here. He needs other lads around him but he is a great credit to the club."

You'll be pleased to learn that we have the highest winning ratio, 52% of all games played, over Southend of all the teams in League One. Of the 38 League games we've won no less than 20 with 9 draws and 9 defeats and at home we have a goals per game average of 2.3.. Staggering numbers and we'd like to tell you that its been 50 years since Southend won at the Valley but we can't because they did in fact win there in 1996.

The Team
Nicky Bailey is one player looking forward to the game which will be against his old team from 2007/08 when he played 45 times and was their Player of the Year before he left for the Valley.

In goal will be Rob Elliot with Dailly and Sodje in central defence but the full-back positions are in doubt. Omozusi did well at Brighton and will probably continue while the current state of injuries to Richardson and Youga are unknown, to me anyway.

But Semedo, after getting his 5th yellow of the season, will be missing and after another 4 yellows ( Elliot, Sodje (S), Semedo, Mooney ) collected at the Withdean on Tuesday we're now on a total of 38 for the season - level with Saturdays vistors Southend. But our indiscipline may come to hurt us over the season as we are now second behind MK Dons 50 on total yellows collected over the 19 games as against Leeds' total of only 21 and Norwich on 24. And its not just unlucky refereeing as we also have conceded the 2nd most fouls as well.

Matt Spring will fill in for Jose and Parky, after two straight wins and 12 goals in 4 games, will be wary of making further changes so the midfield trio of Sam, Bailey and Wagstaff could well continue.

Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Spring, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Mooney

The history says we usually do well against Southend with more wins against them than anybody else but the Shrimpers have a history as well; of doing very well against the top teams and it was only this year that they followed their Manure result of 3 years ago with an away draw at Stamford Bridge in last years FA Cup 3rd round. And after defeats to Tranmere and Norwich, they'll not want to lose three on the trot so we can expect a hard afternoons work.

The clincher for the Addicks may just be the presence of Nicky Bailey against his old team. Just don't expect him to celebrate his goal. 1-0 to the Addicks.