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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tranmere Rovers Preview

Last Monday just had a bad feel to it and there were too many things to go wrong. A televised local derby against a team we'd already beaten away and that hadn't won two games on the trot all season and who hadn't won at the Valley for 30 years. A gilt-edged chance to go equal top against a team that hadn't kept two consecutive clean sheets for nearly a year but ominously with an ex-addick striker leading the line.
It all looked too easy and maybe an element of casualness had crept into the players minds or you might say it was typically Charlton to lose just at a time when they could have put some pressure on the other two but then Orient clearly deserved their win. Maybe its easier to watch your neighbours style and identify his strong points but they had done their homework well and knew what to do to stop us playing. And in a crucial first half they managed to stop the divisions highest scorers over the first 45 from getting a single shot on target.

At one point it looked as if all three leaders would fail midweek but although Leeds continued their dire League form, the party-poopers from East Anglia can't do anything wrong at the moment and came from behind to win their 7th game in a row.

On to our opponents then and Tranmere just missed out on the Play-offs last season finishing in 7th and had high hopes of more of the same this year, especially with a new high-profile manager. Their home form was second only to Leeds' last season and Parky must have expected his toughest test so far when we visited in August. A 4-0 win followed and things clearly didn't work at Prenton Park and the manager now is 52 year old Les Parry who took over on 9th October after John Barnes had been sacked after just two wins in the first eleven games. A strange choice as Parry was the clubs physio at the time and had no managerial experience at all.

But after 13 defeats in their first 17 games, things have been slowly improving and its now only two defeats ( at Southampton and MK Dons) in the last 9 and as far as away games are concerned they even scored three goals at home bankers Huddersfield in a 3-3 draw.
And if you fancy our chances against a team still stuck in 22nd spot then take care because their record over the last 8 shows them level-pegging in eleventh place with none other than Leeds United with a recent record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats.

Ian Thomas-Moore with 7 is top scorer. He almost qualifies as an ex because he is, of course, the son of ex-Addick Ronnie Moore who we all chipped with our fivers to buy back in 1983.
Whats Their Secret?
Have only gained a single point after falling behind. Have failed to score 13 times, the most in the Division (along with Oldham who drew 0-0 at the Valley) but have had 6 clean sheets only two less than the Addicks. But a strange team that have won every game where they were in front at half-time but have lost every one where they have been losing.
You all know that we have the best first half record of all in Tier Three but you may not know that a record we also hold is that we are the worst team at getting a result when we've been drawing at half-time. OK, it doesn't happen often, only 8 times, (against Leeds, Oldham, Huddersfield, the Gills, Carlisle - all strangely in a row - then Millwall, Brentford and Orient). Only once in those games did we go on to win, Huddersfield, with two defeats and 5 draws.
Before this year, we have a middling record with Tranmere, 6 wins each and 10 draws. With our 4-0 win up there in August, our 5th League win on the trot, we've gone in front 7-6 but they've only won twice at the Valley with the Addicks winning 5 with 4 draws with both of their wins being 1-0 Tier two games in 1992 and 1995.

The Team
Parky has some thinking to do before Saturday and although he ruled out making wholesale changes, one or two may just creep in. Belief in ones players comes first I suppose and casting my eye back to Wigan's 9-1 defeat at Spurs back in November, its interesting to note that Martinez, after a result suggesting changes, made just one alteration to his lineup for the 1-0 win over Sunderland 6 days later.
Starting at the back he has to decide who to play at centre-back, red-card expert Sodje or accident-prone Llera. They've both contributed 3 goals but with Miguel looking more nervous with every game, looks like a return for Sammy in an attempt to keep a clean sheet for the first time in 8 games. We can only hope that Grant Basey is given a rest by the timely return of Kelly even if he has been left exposed at times due to our floating left-wing problem but there's been no news of a return this week.
As for the midfield and despite playing the full 90 on Monday, JonJo Shelvey may find himself on the bench as Parky seeks to find an answer to our lack-lustre performances. Sam, Semedo and Bailey are certs but Parky must choose between Shelvey, Wagstaff, Spring or a forgotten Racon. Therry hasn't been seen on the field now, strangely enough, since that last clean sheet when he effectively took over from the suspended Semedo, seven games ago.

Up front will Dave Mooney be punished for his miss on Monday, giving Leon his first start? No, can't see it happening.

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Mooney
A recovery or another 0-0 draw like Oldham, that's the question. No, 1-0 to the Addicks.

There I was the other day reminiscing while walking the dog and going over all the great players we used to have but, showing my age, I just couldn't remember that Italian guys name. Then I found this by David Pleat on his 11 best players,
"I'd liked what I'd seen of him on television so I went up to Glasgow to see him play for Celtic. I took a cab to my hotel and the driver kept saying: "What are you doing here? Don't you dare try and take Paolo off our hands." When I got to the ground I found out he'd been ruled out through injury but, to be honest, I'd heard enough. He was fantastic in training and, while he could be selfish on the park and on some days played as if in a daze, at his best he was superb. He was temperamental – I remember him overturning the physio's couch in one half-time tantrum, and stripping off at Blundell Park at the break refusing to go back on the field. He ended up going back out and playing better in that second half. He was wild, but he was also wonderful on his day: a great shooter, a fine crosser and a top-class dribbler."
Yeh, that was Di Canio.....


Wyn Grant said...

Could you tell me some more about the new Irish signing Kelly? Is he a friend of David Mooney? Oh, you mean Youga. Not sure he will be fit for Saturday. Great preview as usual.

nelson said...

Thanks Wyn, lets hope I got the score right.