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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sheffield Wednesday Preview

Well, are we happy? If you've been reading everyones views, seems not. A 4-3 win where nobody gave us a dogs chance doesn't seem to have had the desired effect on the fans and if we're not happy you have to wonder if Richard M is. And forgetting the games fluctuations, which had people tearing their hair out, its that goals against column that will do for Parky unless he sorts it out. Last season we had conceded 12 goals after 13 games, right now its 20, 15th worst in Tier Three.
And just when Parky wanted a few days to sort out our defensive failings, ie nine goals conceded in last three games, along come the highest scoring away team (equal to the Addicks of course) on a visit to the Valley that they must be relishing.
Manager at Wednesday is the Scot 52 year old Alan Irvine who knows all about Charlton as he was playing at Sainburys for the other lot when we were suffering those long years of exile in the eighties. He then went on to play from Blackburn where he retired in 1992. He became manager of Tier Two Preston in 2007, saved them from relegation and then lead them into the Play-offs the following season before being sacked the following December after only one win in 10 games. Memories are short in this business, aren't they Alan.
He then took over at Wednesday in January this year with the Owls in 22nd place in the Fizzies and two points clear of safety. But unlike at Preston he couldn't save them and they were relegated and he's now having his first taste of life in the Third Division.
With a massive 66 years in top flight football, 40 more than the addicks total, what the hell are a team like Wednesday doing down here. Its even harder to explain when you remember that they've won the League 4 times with back-to-back championships in the years 1903 and 1904 and again in 1929 and 1930. They're also FA Cup winners three times, all pre-war as well, and have a trophy room with 5 Division Two championships to complete the list.
It took them two years to get out of Tier three last time (2003-05), and they then managed to last 5 years in Tier Two before last seasons relegation where they had to beat Palarse to avoid the drop. They didn't. So Irvine's trying to cure past mismanagement and although he's enjoying high gates it seems that previously they've been spending too much as well because now they are currently experiencing severe money problems and received a winding up petition from HMRC last July and another two more since then, all of which have been staved off with bank loans and investments from "a consortium." Looks like they need promotion as much as we do.
What you might call an inconsistent start with 3 wins and a draw in their first 4 games that took them to the top of the table, followed by 4 defeats in a row to Brentford, Carlisle, Plymouth and Southampton and a slump down to 16th. But the alarm bells went off and it was back to another 3 wins and a draw before last Saturdays 1-1 home draw against Bournemouth. After a poor first half another run of defeats looked like beginning again until Preston loanee Mellor saved their blushes with a late 82th equaliser.
So they're now in 4th place with 21 points, 2 more than the Addicks, and with, discouragingly, the second best away record in Tier Three after the leaders Brighton with 3 wins (Hartlepool, Notts County and Yeovil), 1 draw (at Colchester) and two defeats to those stinging Bees from Brentford and to Plymouth.

As for the Addicks - when was the last time that we conceded 7 times in two games? Well, rather ominously you have to go back to November 2008 to Pardews last two games in charge when we lost away 2-3 to Birmingham and then a week later the cruncher for Pards, a 2-5 home defeat to Sheffield United.

The Opposition

One player that has managed to escape our attention is the captain Darren Purse although perhaps not as he supported Millwall in his youth. Born in Stepney thirty-three years ago and apparently played in the same Sunday team as Lee Bowyer. He started his career at Orient and has spent most of his career at Brum but has now been at Wednesday for the last two years. Much like the Doc he's started to slow down and as Ketts has already pointed out, Darren may find the pacy Anyinsah a bit of a handful.


As you all remember, Sheffield born Nicky Weaver played two years with us in 2007/09 playing 70 times but lost his place in December 2008 to youngster Rob Elliot and never got it back and finally returned to his roots this summer.


After two seasons with Deon Burton as top scorer, the last two years its been Marcus Tudgay with 14 and then 10 and he's close to becoming a Wednesday legend with 48 goals already to his name. This year number 33, Neil Mellor, on loan from Preston, is leading their charts with 5 but close behind is number 7 Marcus Tudgay, with 4 to his name.

Nostaglia Never Done Me Any Harm

If like me you've been knew to check the Prem teamsheets to see how our top class ex's are doing and have been heard to quietly utter the plaintive words of "he used to play for us" then you'll understand the reason behind this pathetic paragraph.

Across our screens last week were another couple of reminders of days gone by. Jonjo Shelvey played his first competitive game for the Reds last week in Naples, starting the game and playing the full 90.
And, going a bit further back, another player that appeared briefly for us in the summer of 2006, when we were all blissfully and innocently unaware of what was to befall us, was Christian Bolaños. He's now at Copenhagen and appeared in last Wednesdays Chumps League game against Barcelona.
Back in August 2006, however, when the sun was always shining and with the redoubtable Iain Dowie at the helm ( or should it have been paddle), Charlton announced that they had clinched their third new signing in the space of 24 hours by snapping up Costa Rica international Christian Bolanos.
Having completed the £4m joint capture of Djimi Traore and Amady Faye the day before Addicks sealed a one-year loan deal the following afternoon with an exclusive option to buy the player before the loan expires. But there at the end of the report was the phase that nobody noticed - The signing is subject to a work permit being granted.
But, as we all remember, after appearing for Charlton in pre-season matches against Welling United and New Zealand, and creating a goal for Marcus Bent in the latter, it was announced that he had failed to get the required work permit. Oh dear, what a pity that the other two didn't need one.

Just like Carlisle its a shame this is not a cup game because we've had three cup games, all in the FA Cup, and we've won every time including a 4-2 win at Hillsborough in 2006.
But Wednesday have beaten us 4 times in the last 5 games League games played at the Valley including sending us down to Tier Two in May 1999 with a 0-1 defeat. In fact, they have done the double over us in 3 of the last 5 seasons spent together over the last 20 years. Overall, at the Valley, its 9-6 to the Addicks with 5 draws although in total its level pegging with 15 wins a piece with 10 draws.

What's Their Secret?

A mean defence, equal best with Brighton, with only 8 goals conceded. And with so much emphasis on defence, down the other end they have failed to score 4 times in 13 league games, twice as many as the Addicks, and have lost 3 of them. But, completely unlike the Addicks, they are the only club in Tier Three that have not conceded a goal after scoring first and Wednesday have done it 6 times and of course have won every one of them. Meanwhile the Addicks, although scoring first twice more times( ie 8), have now conceded 8 and that's if we forget another 4 at Shrewsbury in the League Cup.

So first things first. It would appear paramount then we stop them from scoring, and especially scoring first. A big, big problem this with our current defensive record. But don't be surprised if we've managed it to half-time because Wednesday have failed to score before half-time in their last 6 games.

What Are They Saying?

Parky before last weekends game at Carlisle "It's important to remember it's our fourth home defeat in 34 games which is a good record. The manner of the defeat creates a lot of unrest but the home record has been good." Lets hope it improves even more this weekend.

While Wednesday's Irvine had this to say after his teams 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth, "It was a game of two halves. Bournemouth controlled the first half and were much the better side while we were the better side in the second. Take note Parky, the first 45 currently seems to be a bit of a problem for Irvine's lot.

The Team

The Defence. We all know who its going to be - unless Parky surprises us and gives the hard-done by Fortune a game - and thats why we'll all be a bit apprehensive as we take our seats on Saturday. Only twice in the last twelve League games have we kept a clean sheet and it was a miracle in one of those that Notts County failed to score. What on earth is Parky going to say that will make any difference this weekend as we face the biggest away scorers in Tier Three?

One player on top form last weekend was Scotty Wagstaff but I even have a doubt about that for how important was the loss of left-back Sean McDaid to Carlisle? Ever-present McDaid is now out for the season with a knee problem and was replaced in the Carlisle lineup by Robson, a winger who just couldn't cope with Waggy. Carlisle then lost two other important ever-present players in the first half-hour of the game in defender James Chester and then midfielder Francois Zoko. Could all these disruptions explain the 3 goals we scored in the first 47 minutes?

Putting all that aside, there's no denying Paul Bensons hit form with 5 goals in his last 5 League games and alongside him Parky seems to have picked up a gem, if he can keep fit, of Joe Anyinsah. These two, barring injuries, will be up front but behind them there may be alterations as the boss seeks to convince Murray that he can solve the lead weight of 20 goals conceded thats threatening to derail our season.

But don't forget Parky, this lot have a tendency to start slowly and then build up steam with nearly half their goals coming in the last twenty minutes. So start with Semedo/Racon and try for a goal before getting McCormack on the field to tie things up.

On another theme, its almost a year ago since we suffered the embarrassment of three defeats in a row and surprisingly for all the talk of Parky's imminent departure we haven't suffered two defeats in a row since then. OK, the League is the most important thing and two of those defeats were cup defeats, and all away as well at Carlisle, Northwich (FA Cup) and Southampton (Painting job) and we put it all right with a 5-1 home hammering over MK Dons. What a funny game is football.

Elliot; Francis, Daily, Doherty, Fry; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Benson, Anyinsah.


A game between the Tier Three's two highest away scorers each scoring 12 times but with a fragile home defence with 9 goals conceded in the last three games. An Addicks team thats scored just 6 times at home against a team with the most clean sheets in Tier Three (7) and that hasn't conceded a single goal after scoring first. You would think that maybe a 0-0 draw would be worth a bet as Parky seeks to bring some calm to our troubled brows but no, I won't if I were you - this is Charlton we're talking about.

Forecast- I just don't know why, but 3-2 to the Addicks.

One final thought. After 13 games last season, the spanners were lying 9th with 18 points from 4 wins, 6 draws and 3 defeats, one point worse than the Addicks right now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Carlisle Preview

Its at times like this that you turn to philosophy for an answer. Stendhal, (no, that's not him on the left) our french romantic, realised that the pain of a defeat, especially a 0-4 hammering, stays for days and who said "If you need a thousandth proof that we are not fashioned by a benign being, it is that pleasure produces only about half as much impression upon our being as pain does".
OK, he said it a few years ago now and it needs reading a couple of times before the meaning sinks in but it does explain my beliefs exactly, ie that the pleasure of a win is only followed by a desire for another one next week whereas it seems almost impossive to shrug off the memory of our weekends 0-4 demise. I just didn't know until now that they played football in his day. And here's a picture of the glum Arthur Schopenhauer to let you know that its not going to get any better.
Of course, its at this point that we usually stroll out with all the excuses. Like "its been coming", "Reid got injured", "we were never four goals worse than them"; but that would just be a load of cobblers because its really not true and we are down in 14th because we deserve to be and the sooner we get used to this Division Three stuff the better. Because not only are we 14th in points but also 19th in current standings over the last 8 games, 12th in goals scored, 14th in goals against, and 22nd in October results. All of which makes our next game a bit crucial.
Parky's already demanding a response from the players, and what better place to begin than Carlisle this weekend. So another pic for you, this time its good old GA, manager of the Cumbrians. Its Greg Abbott, 46 year old ex Bradford City defender and he's been there since November 2008, and he's no relation to our own Pawel.

The Cumbrians are not a team with any great history behind it but they have done more than Plymouth for example by enjoying - well that's a bit debatable as they finished bottom - a season in top flight football back in 1974/75 and we all know what happens to teams that finish bottom. Since then they've had a topsy-turby 21st century with eventual relegation to the Conference in 2004 but like their stay in Tier One they didn't stay long and they had an immediate return the year after by winning the Play-offs. They then won Tier Four the next season and have now spent 5 years in Tier Three making the Play-off semis in 2007/8 but losing to Leeds. They finished 14th last season.
Unbeaten in their first seven league games, a run which took them up to 2nd a week ago but they slipped up last weekend with a 1-2 defeat at Exeter and now have exactly the same home record as the Addicks with 3 wins, 2 draws and a single defeat against the Posh 0-1. But they have conceded the least home goals in Tier Three (along with Wednesday) with only 2 goals let in in nine hours of football.
Eight places above us in the table but only three points away and have only scored one more goal than we have and have only scored seven times at home in the 5 games with 4 of them coming in one game when they thumped MK Dons 4-1. The other two victories were against Brentford on opening day 2-0 and in their latest home game 1-0 against Notts County.
Only one team has more clean sheets than the Cumbrians six while the Addicks have exactly half that with 3 but, although it may seem a bit obvious, it seems that the only way to get something out of the Saturdays game is to stop them from scoring because they have had two 0-0 home draws with Swindon and Brighton.

The Opposition
One constant about the top two teams is that they have quite a lot of ever-presents. The Cumbrians have a small squad and currently have no less than 8 ever-presents so there should be no excuses this week about unexpected triangles because barring any injuries its hugely possible that we'll see goalkeeper Adam Collin, defenders Simek, McDaid and Chester, midfielders Berrett, Taiwo and Zoko and striker Madine.
And to help out the regulars in midfield Abbott has bought in on loan 19 year old Oliver Norwood from Manure and he's played 5 games now.

We couldn't stop McGleish, Harley or Wright-Philips - all top 20 goalscorers in Tier Three - so how will we do against the enormous 6' 5", 20 year old number 19 Gary Madine. He's currently the Divisions second top scorer with 6 goals behind Craig Mackail-Smith of the Posh.
Whats Their Secret?
Second in the table in clean sheets with 6 and second in the table of goals conceded with just 8 goals let in - the Addicks have now conceded seventeen..
But if you think that defence is their forte, well maybe but they also have had with more shots on target than the Addicks and over 50 less fouls (the Addicks still top of the league here, 8 clear of Notts County), 7 less yellows and half the number of players sent off so they are clearly more efficient and disciplined that the Addicks. Shame then that they don't attract the numbers to appreciate this style of play because while the two big S's battle it out for top spot, the Addicks sit comfortably in 3rd place on average attendances with nearly 15500, while the Cumbrians lie in midtable with less than 6000 a game..

First thing to regret is that it isn't a cup game, 'cause we had four against the Cumbrians and won them all, three at the Valley and one up there. As for the League we lost our first ever game at Brunton Park 1-3 on New Years Day 1966 and almost exactly a year ago lost the last one by the same score. In between we've won just two of the other 13 league games, the first in 1981, 2-1 and then in 1986, 3-2. But that last one won't be forgotten quickly as it was the one that got us promoted to the top flight, still called Division One in those days, after 29 years away.
So overall up there its a meagre 2 wins in 15 league games but we have forced a draw six times over the years and there's only 7 defeats in the 15 games.
What Are They Saying?
Parky appeared in no doubt where the fault lay last weekend, "two goals from set plays and another where we gave the ball away at the edge of our box. We can't concede sloppy goals like that and expect to get anything from the game."

The Team
We should have a strike force up for it this weekend as not only is Pawel on a high after seeing his goal at MK Dons in the last 10 for the Paint competition goal of the round but Joe Anyinsah will also be going back to play against his mentor and ex-manager Greg Abbott. Our 26 year old number 23 had his best ever spell at Brunton Park scoring 13 goals there last season and how he performs, for he's sure to see some action, could be key to our hopes.
After getting a player in the Football League team of the week after the Plymouth game - Paul Benson - it was no surprise that none made it into this weeks team - and as Parky casts an eye over his players this week he must be seriously wondering what or who can be expected to put things right. That's assuming that he thinks there are things to put right because some of his comments aren't clear on that. But if the job of a football manager entails seeing whatever positives there are and getting to work then Parky only has to listen to Gus who tried to help him out by saying that it may have looked easy but it wasn't.
As Parky scratches his head, its possible that our only League ever-present, Gary Doherty, may be "rested" and find his place taken by Matt Fry. Unless, of course, Parky remembers Curbs' answer to a problem by putting-up shop and fielding a defensive formation, perhaps of Fry at left-back and Jackson in midfield or will we see a return of McCormack.

So in taking Gus's line all we can do is do our bit and raise the spirits by pointing out that a couple of weeks ago Hartlepool, after a recent 0-4 home defeat at the hands of Carlisle, had a long trip to Plymouth four days later and won 1-0. And its not unusual to see Brighton win at the Valley, even the spanners with only 2 wins in their last 10 visits can't get anywhere near Brightons record of 5 in their last 10.

Elliot; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Fry; Martin, Semedo, McCormack, Jackson; Benson, Abbott.


After last weekends pounding, Curbs would have engineered a goalless draw or three. Can Parky do the same? With Reid missing, and facing a settled side, a crowded midfield prepared to do battle seems in order but where are Holland and Kish (not to mention Parker) to do it for us. Will Parky drop Racon and recall McCormack?

A rather surprising eight out of 38 punters on CAFCPicks saw a win back in the summer and they do include the leading man Major Ken with nine forecasts right so far. A 0-0 draw is all we can hope for but I doubt we can achieve it. A 0-2 defeat for the Addicks and more doom and gloom on the northern horizon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Brighton Preview

Eleven games in now and how are we doing? Well, a midtable 10th place and six points behind the leader was not what we had in mind at the beginning of August. And after three away games in 8 days, although two of them weren't all that distant, they've left me feeling a bit detached and indifferent especially with the results neatly arranged at a average 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. I must admit to a little tad of indifference creeping in but that could be due to the arrival of winter.
I suppose you have to look at the facts and ask yourself whether we are improving or not. One defeat in the last 6 league games and 2 defeats in the last 9 if you want to include cup games. 14th best at scoring goals and 11th best at conceding them in Tier Three. 5th best home record and one of only 6 teams still unbeaten at home with an average attendance of 14, 700 - over double that of leaders Brighton. Crap against the bottom half teams but a cracking 6th in points won against the top half. Oh, and we never give up - or maybe just wake up late - with 6 of our 14 league goals coming after the 85th minute.
And for those hopeless pessimists out there we now face a bit of a lift. Because now that all the difficult bottom of the table teams are out of the way we now face 5 easy games in sucession, namely Brighton 1st (h), Carlisle 2nd (a), Sheffield Wednesday 5th (h), Swindon 14th (a) and Peterborough 3rd (a). If you are one of those with a pessimistic nature, five defeats in a row wouldn't be a surprise but I fancy we can get at least a point leaving us on a total of 17 with a slip down to 19th come the middle of November. And funnily enough, that's exactly where Brighton were last November when Gus Poyet took over as manager.

He's had plenty of grooming as they say. Swindon, Leeds, Spurs, all as assistant manager and then came his chance with the sacking last November of Brighton's Russell Slade. He was given the job and steered Brighton away from relegation and has obviously impressed a few important people down there as recently he's been rewarded a 4 year extension to his contract, an almost unheard period in his line of work.
Six points in front of us and top of the table with 22 points and unbeaten in their last 8 with the 4th best away record in Tier Three from 2 wins (Swindon 2-1, Plymouth 2-0), 2 draws (Carlisle 0-0, Tranmere 1-1) and only a single defeat at Sheffield Wednesday 0-1.
And in the latest form guide, home and away over the last 8 games, the Seagulls take top spot and are way in front of us with 18 points against our rather pathetic 10, leaving us in 18th place.
As far as goals are concerned, they are 7th highest scorers in this league with just one more than the Addicks but have only scored once in each of their last three games, but on the other hand are graced with the 3rd meanest defence in Tier Three behind the surprisingly highly 2nd placed Carlisle and the now 5th Wednesday, with only 7 goals conceded in 11 games.

The Opposition

Number 14 is Iñigo Calderón who will be disappointed that Miguel Llera is not playing because the two of them played together at Alicante in 2004/05 before Miguel moved to Gimnastic Tarragona.


There's only two this week, but what a couple of ex's. First there's a respected member of the Wembley Play-off team who played with his heart on his sleeve and always sweated blood for the team. His name - Stevie Brown. He played 228 games plus 55 sub appearances for the Addicks over eleven years from 1991 to 2002 scoring 11 times and Carles Puyol, capt of Barca and Spain always reminds me of Steve's head first style, except that Brownie hasn't got a World Cup winners medal. Steve's now returned to his roots and is Youth team manager at the Seagulls.
The other ex is, of course, Kish. Immoralized by the blogging world we can only wonder what his reception will be like. Now 36 and in his first season at Brighton, he's started 8 games this season for the Seagulls. He joined us in 2000 and stayed for 7 years before playing his last game in Jan 2007 and moving to Leeds.

Pi**ed off with relegations at Leeds and then Leicester to moved back to Bulgaria before Poyet enticed him back to the UK with a promise to let him play at the Valley. Capped 88 times for his country he played 167 plus 33 sub games for the Addicks in the Premier scoring twice and prior to that won two Bulgarian league titles in his time at Litex Lovech.

Top scorers are twenty year old number nine Ashley Barnes and number 17 Glenn Murray who have now been joined on 3 goals each by Kazenga LuaLua, on loan from Newcastle. And, no he's not the famous one, thats his brother Lomana.

Brighton have a good record at the Valley with 9 wins in the twenty-four games played at the Valley, all in the League, with 13 Addicks victories and 2 draws. And their last victory was on a wet night last February with Llera's mate right-back Calderon scoring the first on 36 minutes. Bennett added a second with 78 minutes gone and we only had a Sodje goal in the dying seconds to show for our efforts.
In fact, you could argue that they have one of the best records at the Valley of anyone for of the last 10 games at the Valley over the last 37 years they have won 5, the Addicks only 4 with a single draw.

What Are They Saying?
Parky was pleased after Saturdays game, "We are very pleased. Today was a good all-round performance with the second half very, very good."We conceded an early goal from a long throw which was disappointing, but football's all about reactions and you need character out there to make sure the team reacts in the right way and I felt we did that."

Whats Their Secret?
Especially clinical against the bottom half of the table with 4 wins and a draw and as we said before the 3rd best defence in Tier Three. But there does appear to be a lack of staying power present in the Seagulls. Because in complete contrast to the Addicks who have scored 6 out of our 14 in the last 5 minutes, the Seagulls do completely the opposite and have conceded exactly half of their 8 goals conceded in the last 5 minutes. And its a problem that sadly is getting worse for the Seagulls. Goals conceded last week at home to Bournemouth (in the 92th minute) and the week previous at Tranmere in the 87th have cost them 4 points in the last couple of weeks. Previous to that they lost another two points at home to Rochdale with a 92th minute penalty and the only time it didn't matter was a late consolation earned by Walsall in a 2-1 win.
And surprise, surprise, guess who else has gifted 6 points to the opponents due to conceding after being in front? Why the Addicks, of course, against Oldham, Tranmere and the Daggers.
They have what appears to be a settled team with 5 players who have started all 11 games whereas in comparison the Addicks have only one - Gary Doherty.

The Team

For Addicks strikers a brace of goals doesn't come along very often so we must heap praise on those that achieve it. Apart from Pav Abbott's couple in the League Cup against Shrewsbury in August, the last time anyone scored twice was Deon Burton's two, both penalties, in the 4-4 draw with the spanners at the Valley in December last year. Prior to that Lloyd Sam got two against Tranmere in our 4-0 win there in August last year but the last time a striker scored more than one in the League and not from penalties was Deon again on May 3rd against Norwich in our Tier Two 4-2 swansong, 57 league games ago. So it may have been a long time coming but at last we can say well done Paul.
As for the team at the weekend, Parky first of all has to decide who to play in central defence. With Francis failing to stop Brentford winger Weston the previous week and then being sent home at Andover for the Plymouth game, Christian has had time to fill in at right-back with a stirring performance that brought accolades from Parky. His class apart, perhaps we take this little gem for granted and as Parky discovered at the weekend there's far more to Christian than we normally see. At sixteen years of age in 1990, he became Dundee United's youngest ever player and, playing as a striker, scored in his first 3 games and as well as his 67 Scotland caps he's also played 34 times for the Scotland U21's, which is a world record for the U21's.
So its fair to assume that Dailly will be in the team for Saturday but will he be back in his normal role or flying down that wing again. With Gary Doherty being our only ever-present and Jon Fortune starting in the last 3 league games what will Parky do about new father Francis?
As for the rest of the team, with the second half performance last weekend reported by many to be the best of the season, it would be reasonable to expect the conservative Parky to start against Brighton with same players than started the second half with Francis replacing Fortune.

Elliott; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Jackson; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Abbott, Benson


Brighton's only defeat so far in the League was away at Hillsborough in front of 18,000 fans and with gates at the Withdean averaging just 6,800 maybe they are just not used to a little bit of noise. There were 10,000 at Swindon when they won 2-1 but perhaps our only chance will be to get behind the team, make a lot of noise and encourage them to attack until the very end especially in the last 5 minutes when Brighton are prone to concede.

All in all, Parky, its time for a Leeds-type performance to kickstart the season and bring these Seagulls down to earth. But as mentioned before, optimism is a bit lacking in this neck of the woods and for me its a 1-1 draw unless Benson can pop up with another late, late winner.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Plymouth Argyle Preview

An away win in a cup competition doesn't happen very often for the Addicks but full marks to Parky for fielding a full-strength side at the stadiummk and Waggy and Pav for getting the goals. And its our first come from behind win since the 2-1 victory at Roots Hall in February when Reid was again the star, scoring one and making the other. But you have to ask yourself, how will that result affect our game on Saturday? Have we turned a corner, or were MK missing a few regulars?
So with expectations again showing signs of sprouting forth how will the team perform after our ignominous defeat at bottom club Brentford. There's not a lot of time to dwell on the answer because unlike the cream of English football we don't have a break this weekend and its on to Home Park, Plymouth and what will be our third away game in 8 days. Manager there these days is Peter Reid, now 54, and ex-manager at Man City, Sunderland, Leeds, Coventry and Thailand. His list of honours as a manager number two, the Tier Two championship in 1996 and 1999 - the second one with a then-record breaking 105 points - with the Black Cats. Of course, he is most remembered as the opposing, and losing, manager at the greatest Wembley game ever where his side lost on penalties to the promoted ADDICKS.

Mr Reid was appointed manager of the Pilgrims in June this year when former manager Peter Mariner was demoted, after just six months in charge, to the Pilgrims coaching staff.
Plymouth's current claim to fame is a rather unwanted one, for after Hull earned promotion to the Premier League, the city of Plymouth is now the largest in England never to have hosted top-flight football. They're currently down there in 17th position in Tier Three with 12 points and not looking likely to reach the Premier any time soon.

So, after failing unsuccessfully to prevent Brentford from scoring their first goals in 5 games, almost akin to giving the Daggers two goals after they had also failed to score in any of their three previous away games, what better team to face now that Plymouth who have failed to score at home in their last three. Or to put it another way, the feeling of relief at Home Park must be massive at the pending arrival of so generous a team as Charlton who, as everyone knows, have not been good enough to beat three of the bottom of the table teams in the last 2 weeks. Perhaps we should consider the possibility of turning ourselves into a registered charity to gain the tax benefits or maybe rename ourselves Oxfam Athletic.

So how do Plymouth match up to our recent failures. Well, they're a lowly twenty-first best in home form in Tier Three which admittedly doesn't sound very threatening with just a single win, 3-2 over Sheffield Wednesday - the Owls third defeat in a row - in five home games. They did manage a 1-1 draw against Carlisle with an equaliser in the last minute in their first home game but most recently suffered two non-scoring defeats against high-climbers Peterborough and Brighton by 0-3 and 0-2 respectively.
But it all got even worse last weekend with the arrival of the less challenging 19th placed Hartlepool who, contrary to expectations, had rather a good away record, and had previously only conceded a single goal on their travels. And a single goal it was that decided it and of course it wasn't Argyle who scored it, it was Hartlepool in the 87th minute.

So following on neatly from last season when they were the Championships second lowest scoring team with only 2 wins out of last 13 home games last season which means only 3 wins out of 18 home games in 2010. Not surprisingly they're not happy bunnies down at Home Park.

As far as scoring at home is concerned, you'll be surprised to see that the two lowest scorers at home so far this season in Tier Three are the two pre-season favorites to be promoted - Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday - with just three goals each in 5 games with close behind, or should it be in front, are the boys from Devon with four. Of course, the second worse home scorers last week were Brentford; who aren't any more.
And if you want another pointer to the result, its another team (just like Brentford before the weekend) whose only previous home league win has been against Sheffield Wednesday.

The Opposition

A crazy mix of approximately 13 nationalities in their squad plus scouser Reid must make their training sessions a bit bizarre and there were eight different ones in the last defeat against Hartlepool.

And, of course, foreigners come with attitude as demonstrated by Dutch defender Marcel Seip who on 5 April 2008, refused to be a substitute in a league fixture against the Addicks, after having made four successive starts. He was subsequently fined two weeks wages, and placed on the transfer list, by manager Paul Sturrock. Obviously not one to forgive and forget, it took Seip 3 months before on 4 July, Seip apologised to Sturrock and his team mates over the Charlton affair. As a result, the club removed him from the transfer list. He's number 30 and so far there's no news of him refusing to play at the weekend.

Only one this week, although another player who never kicked a ball in anger for us. His name, forever associated with the Dowie era, is Simon Walton. He was, in fact, Monica's first signing for 500k as an 18 year old from Leeds. He came on in the second half at the Valley in the 1-1 friendly against New Zealand but was soon sent out of loan to Ipswich. A year after he arrived he was sold to QPR for 200k. He spent last season on-loan at Crewe and then suffered a cruciate knee ligament when playing, on-loan, for Sheffield United in a pre-season friendly this summer so he's not one you see on saturday.

Current top scorer at Home Park is Bradley Wright-Phillips, younger brother of Shaun, with 4 goals.

Nostalgia Corner

At this point in the boring proceedings of a Tier Three preview, I thought you would appreciate a little bit of nostalgia brought on by Blackpool's startling 2-1 success at Anfield, aided and abetted by an ex-Addick. Good luck to the Tangerines but the enthusiastic celebrations by the same ex caused by Derby's second late, late equaliser in the 2-2 draw at the Valley back in December 2008 prevents me from offering any congratulations to Mr Varney. Instead, I thought it would be nice to remember that the Addicks are currently unbeaten on their last two visits to Anfield (2-2 and 0-0) and have only one defeat in our last four games there which include our memorable 1-0 win in April 2004. That win with just 6 games remaining of the season, left us just 2 points behind 4th place Liverpool with a game in hand - we finished 7th, of course but completed our first double over the reds for 50 years. And that Blackpool result shouldn't surprise anyone really because they have now won 4 of their last 7 visits to Anfield and only lost once.

Things have sobbered up recently in games against the Pilgrims with nobody scoring more than a couple of goals in the last 12 games. In previous years it was all a bit different culminating in the amazing 20 goals scored over two days in 1960 with both teams winning 6-4 on their own patch. It was Christmas after all.

In recent form, a total of eleven games both home and away over the last 30 years have been pretty even - we've won 4, they won 3 and there's been 4 draws. Of the total number of games at Home Park we've won 6 out of 32 with 19 defeats but the last two games there have been pretty dramatic. The season before last was a 2-2 in November 2008 where, after being behind for nearly an hour, we scored twice in 4 minutes through Youga and Gray with a penalty in the last 5 minutes before conceding an equaliser in added on injury time.

And previous to that in April the same year Leroy Lita was the hero when we won 2-1 with 10 men after losing Weaver, sent in the 3rd minute, going behind to a goal on the hour before on-loan Lita scored his last two goals for us in the second half.

What Are They Saying?

I have to say that I see the same attitude in the Pilgrims website as seen in Addicks blogs, a sense of expectant doom and lack of hope. We're not happy with our financial problems and lack of consistency and maybe its past history but perhaps we didn't give Parky enough credit for our record-breaking start last year after finishing bottom the previous season. In comparison, Plymouth seem to be suffering a serious case of relegation blues and manager Reid can't figure it out, especially after last weekends defeat to Hartlepool.

"Our best player against 'Pool was our 16 year right back Stephens", said Reid. "They had a nine hour journey yet it looked as if my team had had a nine hour journey. They were sharper and came with a defensive game plan."

If you really want to give yourself false hopes of a result (not recommended) the full interview is here.

Parky after Tuesdays win at MK, "I thought we got stronger as the game went on tonight and with someone like Scott Wagstaff, who is probably the best athlete I've worked with in my time in football, it's no surprise he's popped in at the back stick to get the winner.”

What's Their Secret?
As you can judge by their home defeats to the Posh and Brighton they don't have a good record against the top teams in the table. However, it may not have passed your notice that they enjoy beating BIG teams, ie Southampton and Wednesday and also last seasons Play-off losers Swindon who were on a run of 3 straight wins when they lost to the Pilgrims 2-3.

As for the Addicks, we continue to confuse everyone. Do we start well or not? We've scored first in 7 out of the 10 league games but then again nearly half of our league goals - five of twelve - have come in the last 5 minutes plus added on injury time. We've been in front three times and let the opposition equalise (Oldham, Tranmere and the Daggers) whereas in the three games where we've conceded first (Huddersfield, Exeter and Brentford) we've got nothing out of the game. Unless, of course, you count Johnstone Paint games.

The Team

Man of the Match, apparently, (for the Addicks anyway) against Brentford was sub Pawel Abbott or was it Kyel Reid. Whatever, but I really can't see the point of putting a team in this section if Parky's not going to take any notice. Clearly impressed by Johnnie Jackson's goal against the Daggers and ignoring Reid's perfect cross for Benson first ever goal for the Addicks against MK he failed to see my recommendation to play Abbott and Benson together while the Anyinsah is injured.
OK, he did include goal machine Waggy, currently making our strikers look a bit sick, whilst they continue to remind us all of prolificity of Leaburn and Varney, who duly fired home his 4th of the season. As for Abbott and Reid, Parky had clearly forgetten about their contribution to our win over MK and they again started on the bench although at least this week the changes were made earlier - at half-time.

All in all we achieved the impossible against Brentford. A home team, scoreless in the last four, with not a single goal scored in the 2nd 45 minutes against a team that hasn't conceded a goal in the first 35 minutes in any of the eleven games played so far. Far from giving them just 10 minutes then in which to score a goal we gave them their first on 13 minutes and giftwrapped a second just 17 minutes later. Disaster, Parky. Our "solid" appearance of just 4 days previous had become jelly and all we could do at half-time was the same we did on Tuesday to get the result that we got then. Might I suggest Reid and Abbott to start this week.

As pointed out last week Francis was key to the team last Saturday so its regretable that he proved not to be good enough against ex-Addick Weston. What a shame it's probably the only position that we don't have a ready replacement now that Chris Solly is out injured.

And something else which can't be ignored is the lack of goals coming from the boots of our twin strike force, whether it be any combination of Abbott, Sodje, Martin, Benson or Anyinsah. In fact, we have the crazy situation where three defenders (Solly, Fry, and Llera) have scored the same number of league goals as the our strikers (Sodje, Anyinsah and Benson) with all of them only having scored once, while a winger Waggy has 4 League goals to his name and now 5 overall. What chance a 20 goal striker this season? Rather remote, I would say.

But what will Tuesdays win do to Parky's team selection? Reid is a clear starter as probably is Wagstaff and apart from Doherty's touch of flu which saw him replaced at half-time by Jon Fortune the only other question mark is who will be our strike force. On Tuesday, Pav Abbott played in place of Benson and scored his first goal since August and it was Benson who then replaced Martin on 78 minutes. Will we see Martin or Benson reduced to the bench?

The team-

Elliot; Francis, Doherty, Dailly, Jackson; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Martin, Abbott.

Maybe you've read the interview with their Mr Reid mentioned earlier and perhaps its made you think that this could be an easy game. BUT, you could read it differently and perceive what a thoughtful manager Peter Reid is and see how Hartlepool came good after a 0-4 home pasting to Carlisle. These two clues, for me, point to a team and a manager that won't want to disappoint their own fans twice in 6 days. Like Hartlepool, expect a reaction from Plymouth. Oh, and maybe he still wants to put one over us after that Big Disappointment in 1998.
So, don't know about you but I'm so confident of the result this weekend that I'll be probably be searching for a bookmaker come Saturday morning. Pilgrims 2 Addicks 1