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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brentford Preview

Just when everyone was beginning to despair at the widening gap up to 1st place, plus our inability to beat the bottom clubs, it all came together on Tuesday in a solid performance to beat the new Dons. A rousing evening with a first goal from striker Paul Benson in the 86th minute in his 6th game for us lifts the Addicks up 4 places to 7th, equal on points with 6th placed Colchester and only two behind Bournemouth in second place. And we are now in front of all three of the seasons favorites for promotion, Huddersfield, Wednesday and Southampton.
Next up its another derby against Brentford who fell to 24th and bottom on Tuesday after narrowly losing 0-1 away to Brighton.

Andy Scott's the manager and he's now in his 3rd year in charge and that makes him the longest serving Bees manager in the last 13 years. And that may give you some idea of the rapid turn-over rate at Griffin Park as they have had 10 in charge in the last 10 years. Scott is an ex-Bees player who started out as assistant to Terry Butcher but was given the job after Butchers dismissal in 2007 so this is his first managerial job and he's already given the Bees their first trophy in 10 years by winning the Tier 4 championship in his first full season 2008/09.
But after last season's credible ninth place finish in Tier Three (although a hefty 18 points behind the Play-offs) they have slumped now to bottom place and after last seasons average gate of 6000, crowds are now down to 4800. And after only two home defeats in each of their last two seasons they have already lost their first two home games.


Brentford are finding it hard going this season in the League and sit down there in 24th spot with only one win, and 3 goals scored, in 4 home games. They've first lost to Walsall and Rochdale, 1-2 and 1-3 and then amazingly defeated top of the table Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 in what was the Owls first defeat of the season. And although they kept another clean sheet in their last home game against Hartlepool they couldn't score either and the game finished 0-0. So only three goals scored in 6 hours of play in league games at Griffin Park.

Away from home its even worse with only two points won in draws at Swindon and Bristol Rovers and defeats at Carlisle, Orient and Brighton so overall its not looking very good with just that one win in 8 games. But, before you get too carried away perhaps we should mention their fine League Cup form where in a similar three games, all at home, its been three wins out of three against Cheltenham and Hull, both 2-1, and then Everton on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

But overall if you think we have hard luck in front of goal, then you should feel really sorry for Brentford fans with just 4 league goals scored in 8 games making them Tier Three's lowest scorers. And their current run of two draws followed by two defeats have all come without a single goal scored and after only losing a total of four home league games in the last two seasons things are not looking good for Scott with two home defeats already.

In contrast, the Addicks are on a run of 4 games unbeaten with two draws and two wins and after our only non-scoring game at Exeter, a 0-1 defeat, we have scored 5 in the last 4 games.

The Opposition
The voting took place last week in the PFA player of the month for September and rather surprisingly included in the 5 shortlisted was the Bees skipper Irishman Kevin O'Connor - the others are Jamie McCombe and Gary Roberts (Huddersfield), Aaron McLean (Peterboro'), and Josh McQuoid(Bournemouth).

Its a real home from home down at Griffin Park these days because there's no fewer than four ex-Addicks in the Bees ranks. Chief man has to be Charlie MacDonald who only scored one for us in his dozen or so appearances from the bench but it was an important one against QPR in a 1-0 victory back in 2000. He's now 29 and after a few years in non-league football with Crawley and Gravesend he's clearly found a good home at the Bees where he's been now for two years scoring a total of 37 goals with 17 coming last season. And Charlie it was that scored the only goal in the defeat of Sheffield Wednesday back on 5th September in a top versus bottom clash that saw Brentford win for the first time in seven league games. And it was an all ex-Addicks moment as it was Myles Weston who supplied the cross.

They also have Nicky Forster who has yet to score for them but got two for us last season in his 8 games for us as well as Myles Weston and 39 year old Simon Royce who played nine games for us and after Forster came on in the 87th minute against Orient last weekend all three outfield Addicks were on the field. And our ex-boys can take penalties as well as was proved against Everton. All three outfield players, MacDonald, Forster and Weston all scored in the shootout before Phil Jagielka missed for the Toffees.

And if you're looking for even more connections with the Addicks, Hermann Hreidarsson is very close to Bees fans hearts he being their most expensive player back in 1998 when they paid 750k for him before he inevitably became their most expensive sale as well a year later for 2.5m in a move to Wimbledon.


So with only 4 League goals to their name how is it that they have a top scorer with more than ours. Well, thats because of their successful Cup exploits. He's 25 year old Robbie Simpson, on loan from Huddersfield Simpson who's previously played for Coventry. He joined the Sky Blues at the start of the 2007–08 season along with a host of other new players, and was immediately touted as a future star by the man who bought him, manager Iain Dowie. That sounds familar, didn't that happen to us?

What Are They Saying?
Meanwhile, Bees striker Gary Alexander, who scored the goal against Everton (Myles Weston again supplying the cross ) looking for excuses after failing to score, and losing 0-1 at Orient 3 days after beating Everton, says they are not creating enough. "When we are creating chances we are missing them but we are not creating an awful lot"

Someone else was also discussing missing chances and it was Paul Benson yesterday: "In my head I can put it [lack of goals] down to switching clubs and the unrest that comes with that, plus getting used to a different style of play. I've been playing a slightly different role for the team and for the gaffer. I've been playing a little bit deeper than what I'm used to but I was right up top on Tuesday which is where I want to play and I managed to get the goal."

And early in the week manager Scott told the London Evening Standard, "My job is on the line if we keep losing games. There is no point playing well and then losing every week."

Meanwhile, the Sporting life were not very impressed by midweek football standards in Tier Three, "but a shocking lack of quality from both sides ensured real chances remained few and far between until Jonathan Fortune headed just over in the 78th minute."


We've had a total of 40 games against Brentford and managed 5 wins out of 19 games at Griffin Park but we've lost two of our last three visits there and haven't won since 1980 when we won in this seasons favorite scoreline, 1-0 with a goal by defender Peter Shaw. That year, thirty years ago, was the year we got out of the Third Tier by finishing third behind Rotherham and Barnsley. Could that scenario be repeated on Saturday?

Last seasons encounters were a 1-1 in Brentford with Nicky Bailey equalising with a penalty in the 58th minute after Carl Cort had put the Bees ahead 5 minutes earlier. At the Valley it was a record breaking 6th win in a row with Burton and Sam scoring in the first half to put us clear at the top of the table.

What's Their Secret?
At last we face a team that's even worse than we are during the second half. But surprise, surprise, despite the doom and gloom over our current poor second half performances, we've now managed to score more during the second 45 than the first, 6 goals to 5. But whereas we at least have scored during the second half, poor old Brentford have failed completely to score a single goal during the second half in their 8 league games. Incredible but true.

The Team
There's rumours that Rob Elliot and Christian Dailly will be back in contention for the weekend and we'd all feel a little happier if that were the case. Worner is clearly a good shotstopper but his lack of height is a bit of a worry while the steadying presence of Christian will be a particular perk even though we kept our third clean sheet of the season on Tuesday. And once he returns there'll be a real contest for the two centre-back places with the assured return after 20 months away of Jon Fortune playing his 196th game for the Addicks in Tuesdays win.

But, the most important player this week would appear to be Simon Francis who has the job of keeping the Bees main supply line, Myles Weston, quiet. Weston, still only 22, left the Addicks in 2007 and arrived at Griffin Park in 2009 via Notts County. Francis has met Myles before and will remember his last game at Brentford last season and although his team Southend lost 1-2 to a penalty in the 95th minute, he it was that put the shrimpers in front from a free-kick in the 9th minute. Weston also played that game and it was a foul on him by another ex, Osei Sankofa, that gave Brentford their first goal also from the penalty spot.
And they both met again in the return at Root Hall in April with Francis robbing Weston to set up Southends first goal in a 2-2 draw.
Meanwhile, in the Addicks midfield 20 year old Alex Stavrinou was again named as sub on Tuesday and there was no sign of Alan McCormack. Also on the bench on Tuesday was 18 year old Tamer Tuna. Stavrinou has already played for Cyprus' U17's and Tuna has already scored his first goal for the Addicks against Barnet last year. If we can hold on to all these promising youngsters we could see the benefit in a couple of years. Just look at Barcelona who last weekend had 7 of their team come through their academy.
But will we see another defender taking a cue from Shaw thirty years ago? Its been 9 months since Jon Fortune last scored but he came close on Tuesday. His last goal was in his home debut for Sheffield United last January when, after going up for a corner, he controlled the ball with his thigh before volleying past the Reading goalkeeper. As for Gary Doherty its time for him to prove his usefulness with Christian about to return and its been 8 months since he last scored for Norwich at Brighton in February.
But what will Parky do with his attack? The introduction of Abbott on 70 minutes and Reid on 75 changed the game on Tuesday with Kyel supplying the cross for Benson's goal. Will Abbott's cameo be enough to see him start at the expense of Scotty Wagstaff and will Reid's crossing - vital to Benson's scoring - be enough to displace Johnnie Jackson from his midfield role?

Worner; Francis, Doherty, Fortune, Fry; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Benson, Abbott


Our third game in 3 weeks against a team in the bottom three and having failed to despatch the first two what are our chances of completing an unwanted hat-trick. Very high actually. Thirty years since a win there in what is a London derby and with so many ex-Addicks just champing at the bit to get a win under their belt at our expense. And their home form against such teams as Wednesday and Everton should give Parky some food for thought.

The fact that they are bottom of the league may change peoples ideas but back in the summer only 4 punters out of 38 on cafcpicks saw this as an away win which shows how difficult a game it was thought to be. Local derbies often end in draws and this could well be the likely scenario with Charlie MacDonald getting a goal in a 1-1 draw. With twelve players already on the Addicks goalscoring charts after a total of 10 games played, who'll get the equaliser is anybody's guess.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MK Dons Preview

All those unimpressed by our draw with the Daggers need only take a brief look at the bottom of the league table to get even more irritated. This, despite Parky's assertions that our first half performance was our best this season, will serve to remind you that apart from giving the Daggers their first away league goals after 315 scoreless minutes, we've now managed two draws against the bottom two in our last two games.
And we have to thank our young goalie Ross Wormer for even that, after making 3 excellent saves in the second half.

But there's no rest for the wicked as after the youngsters from Dagenham come another club with next to no history being been born in their present guise in June 2004 after having absonded from SE25. Leading out the Dons these days is the youngest manager in the Football League, 30 year old Karl Robinson, and he is also the youngest person to ever acquire a UEFA Pro Licence at the age of 29. If you are impressed enough to read more, its here.
But if you think the apparent inexperience of their manager in any way implies a pushover and perhaps another 5-1 like last season then it's probably best to think again as they are currently 9th in the table and with a home record thats the best in Tier Three. In fact Robinson is in that select group of managers who were either useless at playing or had to retire early because of injury - he's in the second group - and he started in a coaching role at Liverpool in his early twenties before following Paul Ince around at MK Dons and then Blackburn where he also experienced life working for Sam Allardyce.
And don't expect to see the same style of play from the Dons this season. Robinson was in charge for the last four games of last season and although they drew one and lost three of those four fixtures, "Robinson's attempt to introduce a less direct and physical style of play was appreciated by a large section of supporters." In fact, they like to pass it around and play possession football.

So top of the table, in home form, with 10 points from 4 games so its fortunate that they're coming to the Valley because away from home its been quite the reverse with only one win from the 4 games with a 2-1 win at Walsall on opening day being their best result, followed by a bit of a pasting at Carlisle by 1-4, another defeat, 0-2, at Brighton and then another reverse 1-2 last weekend at Peterborough.
So we can only hope that we won't see them at their best and perhaps we can take encouragement from the fact that all of their 4 wins have been against teams below us in the league and the fact that this will be their third away game in a week, after Birmingham last week in the League Cup where they lost 1-3 and then Peterborough at the weekend.

The Opposition
Top scorer is number 10, 21 year old Sam Baldock with 4 and he looks to be a rising star having being been chosen for the England U-20 team to play at the FIFA World Cup last year in Egypt. He missed the Rochdale game with an ankle knock and was an unused sub against Peterborough where up front were Jabo Ibehre and Jermaine Easter, both with two goals each this season.
Meanwhile, our Christian is not the only old boy around these parts as the Dons have Dietmar Hamann, currently 37, of Liverpool fame. He it was who scored the last ever goal at the old Wembley in a game that Germany won 1-0 and forced the resignation of Kevin Keegan. Hamann was on the bench against Rochdale but started against Peterborough.
And Luke Chadwick and Lee Martin may have a few memories to discuss after their similar playing experiences. Both, obviously guilty of sinning in a previous life, started their career at Man U ( OK, Martin was at Wimbledon before that) and both were then loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp. Although 6 years older Chadwick hasn't travelled so far or as much as Martin with 8 club stickers on his luggage whilst our Lee has already seen the inside of 9. And both Martin and Jermaine Easter know each other from Plymouth in 2007.

What Are They Saying?
Dons chairman Pete Winkelman said: "Karl (Robinson) is a young man with enormous ambition who has the talent to build on the momentum our club is building."
Daggers boss John Still on why Paul Benson is still not finding the net, "You have to cross it early. The wide players here come inside too much. As soon as you don't cross it, defenders get tight to him."

Following on from the Daggers an even shorter history if you conveniently forget the confusion with Wimbledon. Only two games played, both last year of course, and we won both. A pulsating 5-1 home win in November followed by a 1-0 win in April.

Whats Their Secret?
After our two goals on Saturday we have at least reached double figures with 10 goals scored even though in doing so we have slumped to 19th in the most generous league table having gifted 6 points now after having gone in front. This can be explained, partly, by our early game prominence, because we've scored first in 6 of our 8 league games. Only Bournemouth have more first-to-score games that us and we are one of eleven teams who have all failed to score just once.
And perhaps we should ask the League if we can play shorter games. Say 35 minutes which would suit us fine. We haven't conceded a single goal in that time in 9 games played whilst scoring 8 times. And its our second half performances that perhaps should be worrying Parky far more.
As for the Dons we face a team that are more ruthless than we are. They have only scored first in three games but have won them all whereas the generous Addicks have won three and drawn three of our 6 score first games.
The Team
Parky has some injury worries for todays game with both Anyinsah and Reid picking up hamstring injuries on Saturday while Abbott and Solly were both already in the treatment room.
But will he learn from last weekends failures. Perhaps stealing frequent goalscorer Tosan Popo from the U18's, especially since he turned 18 on Sunday, might serve to shake up the strikers even more and while we'll at it why not partner him with Tamer Tuna, unused sub on Saturday, who'll be 19 next month.
Meanwhile, bearing in mind we have so much trouble with our strikers who have once scored once (Anyinsah) in our last 8 games, he'll be very surprised to learn that we have the most scorers in Tier Three (including cup games). Yes, no less than eleven addicks have found the back of the net this season although close behind come the Dons with 10 scorers. Shame that Paul Benson is not among our eleven.

Wormer; Francis, Doherty, Fortune, Fry; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Benson, Sodje.

This will be a tough game and I can't really see a win here unless you manage to take heart from the Dons fragile away record. Their 1-4 defeat at Carlisle, where they also lost 0-5 last year, was because of the agressive Carlisle tactics where the Dons were hurried and hassled and never given time to settle on the ball. This is the only approach that may unsettle them and prevent them enjoying possession for long periods. Perhaps a return for MacCormack would improve matters here.
But unless the team continues its first half performance from last weekend, a 1-1 draw is probably the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dagenham and Redbridge Preview

A disappointing result at Tranmere, where our first half dominance didn't see us get the goals we deserved, leaves us languishing in 10th and now 3 points away from Huddersfield in top spot. But its early days and we can only regret having been relegated a year too soon because if we had last seasons form we would be five points clear at the top.
Anyway, two home games coming up to see out September, a month whose results sees us currently 15th best, and we begin with the second to bottom club Dagenham and Redbridge.
And what an awful bees knees mess is this Tier Three league. Two weeks after playing the oldest team in the world John Still brings his young 18 year old team to the Valley. Although maybe that's a bit unfair as Dagenham and Redbridge are in reality four teams rolled in one, being an amalgamation of Ilford, Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Dagenham, and who can blame them if it gets them into League football. This they achieved in just 15 years when, after winning the Conference, they played their first League game in August 2007 just as we dipped out of the top flight.

Second bottom of the league and with the worst away record as well, where they have played three, lost three and all without scoring at Wednesday, Notts County and Bournemouth by 0-2, 0-1 and 0-3 respectively. And in their cup exploits they have fared no better with a 2-1 away League Cup defeat at MK Dons as well as that forgetable 0-1 exit at the Valley in the Painting jobbie which all makes it look rather easy for Addicks come the weekend.

As for their home games, they drew 2-2 with 4th from bottom Tranmere and had a amazing 2-0 win over the hapless Orient while coming unstuck again last weekend against Bristol Rovers 0-3.
But they did manage a draw against Exeter this week to lift them off the bottom so its a total of seven league games, 4 without scoring, and only 5 points to show for their total of 5 goals scored; come back Paul Benson.

The Opposition
Number nine for the Daggers is Jon Nurse from Bridgetown, Barbados who in 2008 became the Daggers first ever full international when he played 55 minutes of Barbados' World Cup qualifying match in Dominica on the 16 February 2008. The forward then played 69 minutes in the 2nd leg against Dominica on 26 March 2008.
Alongside Nurse we may see the 6' 3" Basir "Bas" Mohammed Savage, just signed from Tranmere. He's big, black, with an extravagant style of play and is famous for his moonwalk celebrations whenever he scores. Lets hope we remain as ignorant of their style as we are now.

But the man to watch is surely the number 20 Frenchman Romain Vincelot (left). He's a midfielder but that doesn't stop him being the Daggers leading scorer with 4 goals including the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home on Tuesday against Exeter.

And one aspect that Manager Still will be pleased about is the number of shoots last weekend, for while the Addicks managed 10 shots in total at Tranmere with only 3 on target, the Daggers had 22 shots in all with eleven on target. This may be a result of their being more adventous playing at home where they have managed to score all of their 5 goals. Looking back to their Painting efforts at the Valley it was the Daggers who hardly excelled with only three shots on target against the Addicks 6.


Just about the shortest history lession this season ( no, MK Dons will be shorter) with only three previous games. A Third Round FA cup tie in January 2001 with John Salako equalising in the dying moments saved our blushes and a Shawn Newton goal at Victoria Road got us through to the 4th round.

And then there was the nondescript Painting contest evening on August 31st when a 57th minute Therry Racon goal put an end to our embarrassment.

What Are They Saying?

After the Painting game at the Valley, Daggers boss John Still: "I didn't think we deserved to lose. I was pleased with the performance. I think we've got some very good players and I expect us to start winning games soon.”

While Gary Doherty adds, "We've got two massive home games coming up and our last two results have given us a boost. We're feeling confident."

The Team

After our staggering 3 goals at Orient, we have inconceivably dropped back into our goal-a-game mode. Not surprisingly our customary one goal proved not to be enough at Trenton Park and our 4 goals in our last 5 League games places us in 14th spot in the table for most dangerous attack in Tier Three. Even Orient and Rochdale have scored goals than we have and Parky must be rather embarrassed by the lack of exercise that we are giving the opposing goalkeeper. In fact, since that crazy 4-4 draw with the spanners back in December last year, although we've only failed to score 5 times in the 33 League and Play-off games since then, we've only scored more than once on 10 occasions. So, like the Arse of old, our favorite chant is clearly becoming its 1-0 to the Addicks with no less than seven 1-0 games in the last 19 fixtures.

And Parky won't be too happy either to learn that - after our impressive 23 fouls at Tranmere - our appalling tackling is setting new heights as we now have a clear lead in the table on fouls committed - now a huge 109 from our 7 games, one every 6 minutes - and only Bristol Rovers can beat our 16 yellow cards received. Won't be long before suspensions start hitting us hard, although it must be said that the cards are evenly spread with eleven players having been carded.

So while Parky emphasizes the need to stay on ones feet at the training ground, at home he'll be going over his endorsing the horses-for-courses approach, as he seeks to remedy our goals-for column and push it into double figures at least. Two goals needed, boys.

Last time out against the Daggers we played: Worner; Francis, Fry, Dailly, Llera; Martin (Reid 85), Semedo (McCormack 86), Racon, Wagstaff; Sodje (Abbott 67), Benson. So we can expect at least three changes from that team with new boy West Bromwichs' 22 year old Luke Daniels likely to start in place of 20 year old Russ Worner in goal. Christian Dailly will still be missing with his cracked eye socket (I hope they didn't make him watch the operation) and with the Daggers playing similar to Tranmere it looks like Miguel will retain his place.

Up front Paul Benson is still looking for his first Addicks goal after 4 games and this would be a good time to start Paul because despite all our efforts at signing a striker to end our distressing attacking problems, top goalscorer is none other than Scottie Wagstaff with three as many as anybody else, in league games anyway. He's one of five players that have now played more than 600 minutes but then again so have Lee Martin and Pawel Abbott.

Which strikers will Parky choose this week? After a total of nine games, with admittedly new additions coming in, we've tried five different combinations of starting strikers and none of the strikers who started the game have scored for the last seven games!

Looks like its becoming a bit of a problem then or do we put the blame on the support they are getting? Maybe its time to look back to our early success last season with a 5 man midfield and a single striker and play Racon and Martin together in midfield with Wagstaff and Reid on the wings and Benson on his own up front.

Anyway, probably supporting two of Anyinsah, Sodje and Benson, Parky must again decide who to play out wide with Scottie, Martin and Reid all available. Reid has still to score this year although Akpo will argue that it doesn't do you any good as he scored in his only League start of the season against Bournemouth and has been the perennial League sub ever since. Although he'll had to pay attention to more of what promoted-last-season Gary Doherty has to say "We've got competition for places and you need that if you want to go up. You need people fighting to keep their place and to get into the team."

Daniels; Francis, Doherty, Llera, Jackson; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Anyinsah, Benson.

With our recent goal a game run matching exactly what we have managed in our three previous games against the Daggers, you'd think a 1-0 win was on the cards. But after snatching three points from the jaws of defeat in the last home game against County, Parky's gonna be really embarrassed if we don't do the same and more against a team stuck at the bottom. A 2-0 home win then with Benson getting his first goal, although you may not see any celebrating.

Meanwhile over at cafcpicks, of the 38 players there a massive 26 see a home win, 11 eternal pessimistics suffer a draw, while the one nigger in the woodpile is our dear old Frankie Valley who is really thinking outside the box once again and forecasts a defeat.......

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tranmere Rovers Preview

A very lucky three points last weekend, when outplayed, outshot and outcornered as well, against a County side that are reportedly gutted at the way things ended up. But after scoring one goal in our customary fashion we also did the business in what is fast becoming another trait of ours, winning in fouls committed and yellow cards. Parky clearly has some thinking to do on the long trip north to the Wirral. Dare he start with the same team again (surely not) and with what striker duo will he play, that's if he still believes in 4-4-2.
Anyway, Tranmere Rovers. That's the team that drew with Scunthorpe on the last day of the 2008/09 season therefore handing their Play-off place to the Irons so they decided to sack Ronnie Moore and employ John Barnes in an attempt to go one better. As we all know the plan backfired last season and after 14 games Barnes was sacked soon after a 0-5 loss to the spanners, Tranmere's worse result for 5 years. And it was that win, with the spanners languishing in 15th place and 12 points behind the Addicks that arguably turned their season around and propelled them up into 3rd place. Come on Parky we have score to settle.
After Barnes, the current boss at Tranmere is 52 year old Les Parry, ex physio, a rather strange choice but beggars can't be choosers and when Barnes was sacked last October with Tranmere 3rd from bottom, Parry it was. And just like Exeter, they survived, just, by winning their last game. Tranmere were at already relegated Stockport and they won 3-0.

Only 4 teams outside the top six won more games at home that Tranmere last season and the season before only Leeds won more home games. So it was all a bit of a shock when this year things once again failed to go to plan because they've started the season with four straight home defeats with two league defeats to Oldham 1-2 and Bournemouth 0-3 followed by losing to Swansea 1-3 in the League Cup and they also lost to the infamous Accrington Stanley on penalties in the Paint thingy which all in all didn't make it the best of starts at Prenton Park.

So on to September and the visit of Peterborough with Tranmere down to where they started under Parry at third from bottom with just 2 points from 4 games and with the lowest league crowd figure down to 4600 so clearly Parry's job was on the line. Thankfully for him the game was won 1-0 with 19 year old midfielder Frenchman Arnuad Mendy making amends for their bad start in his first league game for Rovers since his on-loan signing from Derby with a 44th minute winner.
But then last weekend away at Yeovil they once again came unstuck by conceding 3 goals in the first 27 minutes and this against a team that had scored only three times in their 5 League games. The final score; 3-1.

So one win then and 2 league defeats at home gives them the 21st worst home record in Tier Three and they are now 4th from bottom with just 5 goals scored in 6 league games. Not that we are much better currently with just 4 games scored in our last 5 games.

The Opposition

Nine different players have scored for the Addicks this season while only 5 players have scored for Tranmere but they do have a top scorer with 3, number 7, the Nigerian from Kilburn, Enoch Showunmi ( surely a windup) but he's a tall and bustling striker and possesses pace, so clearly Miguel will be on the bench once again.


Trenton Park was opened in 1912 so its nearly a 100 years old but with a capacity of 16789 was obviously built when Tranmere was bigger than it is now for the latest census shows a population of only 11668 and crowds are already falling to 4,600.

Last time at Trenton Park we had a team of Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton and after 4 wins in a row a draw looked on the cards, to me anyway. But this is how the game was reported on the official site "Clearly superior in midfield, where Sam was a constant thorn in Tranmere's side, the gulf was evident all over the pitch. This was a side, remember, that was relegated rock bottom of the Championship last season. But Parkinson has instilled a spirit and quality within the ranks that certainly looks likely to result in a sustained promotion challenge." Oh, if only we were able to say the same come the weekend and repeat our 4-0 win that saw Sam get a couple, Semedo score his only goal for us and Bailey get the other and complete a record breaking 5th league win in a row at the beginning of a season.

There's only been 12 long league seasons spent in the company of the likes of Tranmere and with two cup games thrown in during the very first season we played them leaves the honours in all games depressingly even with both teams having home records of 5 wins, 6 draws and only 2 defeats. Our massive total of two wins at Tranmere then in 13 games were last season's spectacular 4-0, our biggest win ever there and a 1-0 back in April 1975 during our promotion season.

You remember it, we failed to win our next 4 games after the Tranmere game, losing to Bury(!) and Chesterfield(!) and drawing with the Posh and Hereford - heady times, uh - so we had to win our last game at home to Preston to clinch 3rd place ahead of Swindon. Curtis missed a penalty and we conceded after 10 minutes. There followed 40 minutes of torment before Bobby Goldthorpe scored his last ever goal for us on 52 minutes and then Killer finished them off with two goals. Goodbye to the Third Division after 3 long years.

So What Are They Saying?

Confused? While the Addicks were falling asleep and checking their emails at the weekend, Magpies boss Craig Short was seeing it all quite differently, "I'm really disappointed, but I'm pleased with the way we've turned around the way we're playing. I thought today was a good advert for League One football.

Parky, trying to hide his embarrassment, "We've got a new team and there was a little bit of tentativeness in our play" but over in the Prem, "Considering several visiting players signed for Blackpool only last month, the sophistication of their regular positional interchanging was impressive, " against Newcastle that was, which just shows that it can be done.

Meanwhile, over at Tranmere, manager Les Parry is thankful it's half-time at Yeovil. "We were abysmal in the first half hour. I was quite happy to go in at half-time 3-0 , thats how bad we were. We could have been five down and that wouldn't have been flattering for them." And that was after Yeovil had scored 3 times in 30 minutes when its taken them 5 previous league games to score that exact number.

The Team

Only 9th in the table and heading for mid-table obscurity but on the plus side we're definitely getting stuck in because only one team, Oldham, have conceded more than our 86 fouls and we're in equal 5th place on yellow cards and share top spot on reds. And we've already given away 2 penalties.

But after last weeks gift of 3 points Parky will be keen to press on and get some points with two games against 2 teams in the bottom four. And with only 2 points covering the top nine its looking like the most competitive division there is. But after celebrating our first three goal league game for 27 games at Orient back in August perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that Leyton are currently second from bottom having let in 10 goals while Peterborough and Bournemouth are the two highest scorers with 16 goals ( while we have a grand total of 7 ) but then again only three teams (Plymouth, Brentford and the Daggers) have scored less than Tranmere's 5 goals.

And as we found out last weekend, its goals that win games. Perhaps Parky should look back to Trenton Park last year and remember our 5 man midfield and Burton up front on his own. Although any thoughts that you might have of seeing Johnnie Jackson in a 5 man midfield seem out of the question with Fry's pace needed at the back again to cope with Enoch, so Jackson seems stuck as left-back especially with the reported injury to able substitute Chris Solly.

So defence looks set to be the same as against County but what will Parky do with the midfield. With the change at half-time improving things and with Racon the only player to miss our two League defeats it would seem certain that the man on the left will start, but will Parky be content with that one change. Because the real improvement came when Abbott and Benson were taken off and replaced by Sodje and Anyinsah.

Sodje must have seen his prospects of replacing Abbott dip somewhat after a poor showing in Tuesdays closed doors reserve game against the Daggers. Missing a penalty and a one-on-one he could only watch from the dug-out as 18 year old Tamer Tuna scored the equaliser from a pass from 17 year old Tosan Popo. The replacement of Joe Anyinsah by Popo, after an hour, tempts the thought that Parky could be getting him ready for a starting place at Trenton after becoming only the 4th player in Addicks history to score on his debut.

And there's the ongoing question of what to do with the wandering Lee Martin. Our Phil from nothingelsematters suggests that Martin be moved inside behind a single striker but Martin and Racon together in the middle seems a bit too radical for Parky who does like a settled team.

Parky's team then:

Elliot; Francis, Doherty, Fry, Jackson; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Benson, Sodje


Both teams that a recent combined goal record of 10 goals scored in the last 1080 minutes, at an average of one goal every 108 minutes. (tranmere 6 in 7; addicks 4 in 5 ) so unless things are changed around goals may be at a premium even remembering last seasons success. But this is a game that the Addicks, if they are to mount any sort of promotion challenge, must win. Its therefore a 1-0 away win but thats more my heart talking than my head.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Notts County Preview

Many people are comparing this season with last and finding excuses for our midtable position. Well, this time last season we were of course top on goal difference on 15 points and look where it got us. And after 5 games, the spanners you'll be pleased to learn were 8 points behind us with exactly the same points as we have now, a meagre 7. Last year it was game 15 before we saw our second defeat at Carlisle and we followed up that result by losing to a non-league club in the FA Cup for the first time ever at Northwich Victoria and then went on to make it three in a row by losing at Southampton. Lets hope we can recover faster this time round because a revitalised Notts County are next up.

Notts County, the oldest "professional" football club in the world, apparently, with the honours for the oldest club seemingly going to Sheffield fc who play in the Northern Premier. County were born in 1862 which makes them an amazingly 148 years old. And it hasn't all been spent in Tier Three either. Like ourselves they've won the cup once and recorded a 3rd place finish in Division One when it was the real Division One back in 1891 and again in 1901, but that was all a very long time ago.
Unlike ourselves then, their glory day memories are a bit distant although they did enjoy 3 years in top flight football in the early 80's and they also had the debatable privilege of finishing 23th out of 24 (after only one years stay) in the death knell of the old Division One in 1991-92 in the last season before it became the Premier thingy. And if you think we've hard done by, also there that year were Southampton, Wednesday and Oldham. As for history, oldest club or not,they sit just behind us in the Top Flight League Table in 33rd place with more seasons but less points.
Craig Short is now manager and has returned to his roots for he started his playing career with County before moving to Blackburn, Everton and Sheffield United. But his first coaching and mangerial job was with Ferencvaros of Budapest although he didn't stay too long there after receiving death threats once he became manager.
He was there for 22 months and for the majority of that time he was employed as a coach, but when Bobby Davison was forced out as manager in October, he found himself looking after Hungary's most famous club amid growing supporter unrest.
His first match as caretaker did not even finish. "We were 3-1 down and the fans just emptied the kop and disappeared. The next thing rioters came through the family stand to try to get to the players and the match had to be abandoned. I remember we were in the boardroom afterwards and there was an SMS to one of the Hungarians, saying: 'We will hunt you down. There will be no hiding place.'"
And then after three games as caretaker they offered him the job fulltime and thats when he received a picture of himself in a Everton shirt with a sickle in the back of his head saying, 'Go home Englishman.' But he stayed on and Ferencvaros finished seventh in the League.

County didn't enjoy their return to Tier Three after 6 years away and lost 0-3 to Huddersfield at home on opening day and then by the same score at Oldham away next up. Things improved with a 1-0 home win over Dagenham, closely followed by a very stirring performance at Dean Court where after conceding 3 goals in the first 28 minutes they then fought back to draw 3-3 with the last 2 goals coming in injury time. And game 5 was convincing won 4-0 at home to lowly Yeovil.
And they have been enjoying themselves in the League Cup, winning away at Plymouth 1-0 a few days after the Pilgrims had beaten Southampton 1-0 and then in the next round they caused the shock of the night in putting out Watford at Vicarage Rd 2-1. And in the Paint job they had another difficult away fixture at Hillsborough and again after conceding early they only lost 1-2.
So they're in 12th spot, one below us again, unbeaten in their last 3 League games scoring 8 goals in the process and although only a couple of teams have conceded more than their 9 goals, they have twice as many clean sheets as we do.

The Opposition
After encountering one Harley last weekend we come across another one in the only member of County's squad that you've probably heard off in the shape of former Chelski and Fulham star Jon Harley. Fulham actually spent 3.5m on him back in 2000 but his career since then has been on a slippery slope through Sheffield United, Burnley and Watford. He joined County in the summer on a free transfer and wears number 26.
And another player we're sure to notice is number 11 Ben Davies. He plays on the left wing and he's County's leading goalscorer with 4 goals having got a total of 16 last season. Along with right-winger Craig Westcarr, who's now on 3 goals, he was named in this weeks League One Team of the Week after their performance against Yeovil.
There's no ex-Addicks playing for County that I can find but we do have another ex player with us in Johnnie Jackson. He only had a year at County last season but played 24 times scoring twice. Perhaps not what he had in mind to see his old mates just a place behind us so perhaps he'll be set on helping us to pull three points clear of them. Lets hope that his Achilles problem from last week has gone away.
Notts County have won twice at the Valley in Cup games (FA Cup in 1978, and League Cup in 1984) but only once (in August 1975) in 15 League visits. The Addicks have won 9 with 5 draws. We've also won the last 5 League games dating back to 1984.
What are they saying
Craig Short "It will be difficult at times. That's the nature of the job. But if I have a problem, I won't have people coming through the back of the dugout, like they were with Bobby in his last game in Hungary. If that happens here I'll have failed badly."
The Team
The first thing to note is that we've hardly started with just 5 games played. Last season after 5 games behind Leeds and the Addicks and in the Play-off spots were Colchester, Bristol, Brentford and MK Dons who finished 8th, 11th, 9th and 12th come May time. And as we said the spanners were 8th with 7 points and Norwich 19th with just 4.
And the first thing to do after losing 2 in a row is not to panic. We usually lose in Exeter and our previous managers Walter Raynor, Alex MacFarlane, Albert Lindon, Jimmy Seed (played 3 - lost 3) and Mike Bailey have all lost in Exeter over the years so there's no shame there Parky, its the norm. The only one to triumph was Alex MacFarlane in 1929 in a once in a blue moon win by 5-2 when Wilson Lennox (44 goals in a total of 78 appearances - where is he when we need him?) became the first Addicks player to score 5 in one match.
So a defeat not unexpected then as history usually has a lot to answer for but both Ketts and Deepest Darkest, amongst others, have already noted that our midfield is starting to prove a bit of a problem with a distinct lack of depth in the squad and more seriously a bit of a dearth in creativity. Ketts was rather enthusiastic about Johnnie Jackson providing this spark and after two defeats in a row we may see some changes this week.
And after enthusing about our attack after our two 3 goal games against Shrewsbury and Orient we have now gone 4 games scoring only 3 times and failed to score for the first time this season at Exeter. Pawel Abbott has still failed to score in any of our 5 league games (406 minutes played) and its two full games played for Paul Benson and no goals yet but if you're looking for precedents, and we all are, you'll remember that Super Clive himself didn't score in his first two games for the Addicks either back in that beautiful late summer of 1997.
But the biggest problem perhaps is Cristian Dailly who'll be out be the next 5 weeks. Jon Fortune was on the bench against the Daggers and Exeter without playing while Miguel Llera has chalked up nearly 400 minutes of play so far. There was a behind doors win for the Reserves against Palarse on Tuesday which saw Fortune play 70 minutes and Anyinsah 65 with a goal and an assist so it could be that both see some action on Saturday. Billy Smart also got a goal in a 2-0 win.
So Parky has some selection problems this weekend and we may see a more crowded midfield as he searches for an answer to a sudden lack of goals.

Elliot; Francis, Doherty, Llera, Fry; Martin, Semedo, McCormack, Jackson, Reid; Benson

Its been thirty five years since County's one and only win at the Valley in 15 League attempts but they have recovered from their bad start to the season, have beaten Plymouth and Watford away in the League Cup and know how to score with 8 goals in their last three games . Another tough game then and a draw may be the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Exeter City Preview

After forecasting something of a result last weekend, I find myself on the wrong end of a bad mood after our first League defeat of the season just 4 games in but the arrival of Benson and Anyinsah and the signing of Jon Fortune has helped restore my confidence as has last nights Paint win over the hard-working daggs.

So its back to the League. Don't know about you but I daydream a lot especially where the Addicks are concerned so when I saw that our next game was at St. James Park there was no holding my moment of fantasy. A return to St. James Park for our 5th game of the season where we've unbeaten on our last three visits and have only lost once in our last 8 games against them................but no, get a grip, this is League One and its not Newcastle we're off to, its the other St. James Park and home of little old Exeter City.

And believe it or not we've into our third youngster in a row with yet another 37 year old geezer in charge of the opposition, this time its Paul Tisdale. And another one with a good win ratio of 86 out of 211 for the Grecians. Five years younger than Parky they both started as trainees at Southampton but missed each other by a couple of years with Parky moving on to Bury 3 years before Tisdale arrived.
And as perhaps you can tell from his Wenger like appearance, this eulogy has been found on the net, "Tisdale's neat footballing style was warmly welcomed at St James Park, with his side's patient approach and desire to pass the ball in all areas of the pitch catching the eye amid the rough and tumble of the Conference. " OK, several years ago and he may have changed his spots but ......

Exeter have had a checkered past over the last few years, with a spell under administration in the mid 90's while in Tier 4 being closely followed by definitely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 2003 it was, when City finished 23rd, and second to last, in Tier Four but were unluckily relegated to the Conference with the timely introduction of a new rule that decreed that from now on the bottom 2 clubs are automatically relegated instead of only one. Exeter won its last game but to no avail as Swansea City's victory over Hull City left the Grecians one point short of safety.

But they were more successful last season when they again needed a win on the last day of the season, at home to Huddersfield, to leapfrog the Gills to safety. They did it with the winner coming from Ryan Harley with 8 minutes remaining.

After coming out of administration in 1996, the club remains owned by its fans, through the Exeter City Supporters Trust.


Three very strange games at home for Exeter have all had exactly the same format. Two home 2-2 draws in the League with Colchester and Bristol and a 2-3 loss to Ipswich in the League Cup (after 2-2 at 90 minutes) and in every game they have scored first, conceded twice and then equalised, so its looks odds on a 2-2 draw I suppose.

And that may be all we can look forward to as they don't lose very often at St. James and its now 9 League games without defeat going all the way back to February 20th when they lost 0-1 to Stockport County, which was a bit of a shock to everyone as it was Stockports first win in 17 League games. As for last season, only two teams - the spanners and the Gills - conceded less than their 20 goals at home and they only lost 4 times. And none of the top 10 teams last season won at St. James.

Their only away League game, after the postponement of their game against Dagenham after the death of 31 year old striker Adam Stansfield, was last weekend when they went down 0-3 to Orient but they did get their first win of the season in the local derby at Yeovil in the Paint thingy where they won 3-1 with two goals from Jamie Cureton.

So they are in 21st spot with just two points but with a game in hand and much like Huddersfield last weekend are in need of a League win.

The Opposition

They'll be no number 9 playing for Exeter on Saturday, nor for the next 9 seasons as the Grecians have retired the shirt as a mark of respect for the striker Adam Stansfield who died on Aug 12 with bowel cancer. He was 31.

Leading scorer is number 7 Ryan Harley with 3.
Captain and centre-half Matt Taylor, midfielder Marcus Stewart, and striker Daniel Nardiello are all out injured for the game at Orient and none of them played last night either.


Let's start by reminding ourselves that Exeter is the 3rd smallest ground in League One and that we have our second worst away record there in this league (after Colchester) with just .5 points average per game.

This is Exeter's 46th season in the third tier of English football. They have played more seasons in the third tier than any club who have never reached the top two tiers and as recently as 2008 was in the Conference. As for the Addicks, this is our 16th in Tier Three with fully half of those being when we started out in the Third Division South in 1921 until 1929. So this is our 90th year in the Football League, 16 in Tier Three (18%), 48 in the Second (53%) and 26 with the cream(29%).

So, anyway, our 12 seasons together with Exeter have always been in Tier Three, the first 10 as Third Division South, then Division Three and now League One and to add to your creeping depression, let me tell you that we haven't won at Exeter since 1929, a healthly 5-2 win in our Championship winning year, but now 81 years ago. And what's more its our only success there as well, with only 3 draws and 8 defeats in the 12 League games. And, if you need more, we've been there 5 times since 1929 with 4 defeats and only last season's 1-1 draw to show for it. In fact, we've had more success in our 33 League visits to the other St. James Park (where we've won 20%) than the Devon one.

The Team

Rumours are that Parky's getting a big cake as this is his 300 game as a manager and naturally he wants to celebrate it with a win.

And we've got a couple of new players in the Daggers 30 year old Paul Benson and Carlisle's Joe Anyinsah. Both are forwards with Benson being leading Daggers scorer for the past 4 years and getting 21 and 17 in the last 2 seasons and, if you believe his old boss, we're assured of 20 goals a season if we can get some decent crosses in. As for Joe Anyinsah he's 25 and has scored a total of 15 over the last two seasons for Carlisle and he scored in 3 out of the last 4 Carlisle home games last season. And his signing this week after being on trial for some time could be significant as Exeter have only lost twice this year at home - once to Stockport as mentioned and once to Carlisle in January whose dangerman on a cold night in Devon was Joe Anyinsah. He duly scored twice in a 3-2 win.

So we've bolstered our defence a tad with taking on Jon Fortune till the end of the year, and Parky's decided to get another couple of strikers. If you count wingers as attackers thats 10 forwards we have now, fighting for 4 places. Meanwhile, we've been lacking ideas in midfield recently and only have Semedo, McCormack, Racon (who's rumoured to be off to Greece) and an untried Stavrinou as backup. OK, Jackson can play in midfield but it does seem that the engineroom as everyone likes to call it is a bit short on stokers.

But at least this week team selection is not going to be the clearcut choice of recent weeks and we also have the nagging doubt about Elliot's back as well. Its all a bit of an unknown, which I suppose will at least throw a spanner in Tisdale's week as he does pride himself on playing teams that are designed to counter the oppostion.

Worner; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Jackson; Wagstaff, Semedo, McCormack, Martin; Sodje, Benson.

VerdictA home team without a home defeat for 6 months and a ground where we haven't won for 81 years. Can our two new strikers improve our goals for column and get us the three points or will we see another team like Huddersfield determined for a win.
Over at cafcpicks, the 38 punters shaped up with 6 wins, 10 defeats and a massive 22 draws. I was in the second category and I'm not going to change my mind. The good news is that I've only got one right so far.