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Friday, March 26, 2010

Huddersfield Town Preview

You have to admit that the Addicks have never been very good when it comes to local derbies and we are perhaps a bit unfortunate that this year we have a massive 6 of them against the Orient, the Gills and, of course the spanners. Thankfully, all of them are now out of the way with the sum total gained of a pitiful 4 points, out of a possible 18, to show for it. An average then of .66 points per local derby game which when compared, for example, with our figures against the top half teams of League One at 1.26 points per game ( from 4 wins, 4 defeats and 7 draws) shows pretty well where our strengths lie.
So perhaps we need to forget now all about the two points dropped against losing-away specialists Gillingham and concentrate instead on our remaining 9 games, seven of which are against top half opposition. A difficult run-in where we'll need everyone, including the fans , to perform well.
And its surely not escaped anyones attention that its the time of the season when tempers are getting a little frayed around the edges, frustrations are setting in and peoples patience isn't what it should be. Off the pitch, the fans, as you might expect, didn't react very well in the circumstances last weekend with resounding boos at half-time after finding ourselves 1-2 down. But the players responded and Mooney had his say, in one way and another, this time without opening his mouth, although it would probably have been better if he had resisted the temptation to behave like an opposing attacker rather than a home one.
And then there's the management story. Obviously also displaying signs of stress - who knows what's going to happen if he fails this season - Parky gives his own hard-done-by speech and, with everyone ready to jump down the others throat at the slightest wrong word, does himself no favours and all you can say is that its probably a good job for everyone that the next two games are away from home.

Yes, its the nervous, pressure end of the season and everyones' feeling it as we move on to Huddersfield, the only team realistically that can keep us out of 6th place. The last time we played the Terriers I wrote, "Huddersfield are currently 8th, seven points behind the Addicks with only 1 win ( and 4 defeats) from their 6 away games." That was back in October and not a great deal has changed since then. They are still outside the Play-offs in 7th place but have picked up a point on us and are now 6 points behind.

FormOver the season, Huddersfield have the 7th best home record, as far as points are concerned, in Tier Three ( the Addicks are 5th in home form and an impressive 4th best away from home) and suffered their first home defeat of the season last time out, a 1-3 loss to Norwich after going in front in the 3rd minute, and after leading for over an hour until the usual Norwich fight-back with three late goals in the last 20 minutes. And that defeat follows four succesive home draws against Bristol, Carlisle, Swindon and Leeds and you have to go right back to the 16th of January to find their last home win, 2-1 over Southend.

In fact, on current form, looking at just the last 5 home games of all the teams in League One, the Terriers are bottom of the pile with only 4 home points to show from the last 15 available. Not promotion form really and nothing that Parky should wet himself about.

And on form since the turn of the year when they reached 5th place their performances have dropped somewhat and its been only 6 wins in the last 14 games (with the Addicks only on 5) and at home after their early season goalscoring form with their 7 goals against Brighton in August and a 6-o win over Wycombe in November and two 4-0 goal walkovers over Exeter and Orient in October its been very quiet at the quaintly named Galtharm with no more than a couple of goals scored in each of their last 7 home games. They've now scored the same goals as the Addicks and conceded 1 more.
Twenty-year old Jordan Rhodes is their leading scorer with 19 and is another Ipswich Town youth star and he's been at Huddersfield since last summer. But has only scored twice in the last 13 games.
Whats Their Secret?
While the Saints, Leeds and the Addicks lead the half-time table, Huddersfield are a bit more cautious and only Leeds and Carlisle have been drawing more games at half time in the top half of the table. But they have been good at fight-backs all season and have won 4 times after going behind only bettered by Norwich with 5.
But their worst secret is their performances against the cream of Tier Three. Because rather worryingly for our Play-off prospects, all the current top 6 have a good record against the best but the Terriers are down there in a lowly 12th place and have lost half of their 'Big Games', ie 9. In comparison the spanners have lost only 2 (bristol and Norwich away), the Addicks ( Colchester, Carlisle, Bristol, and the spanners) and Swindon 4 each while the party-poopers from East Anglia and Leeds (!) have both lost 5 games.
We've won 5 of our last 9 games in Huddersfield streching back 37 years and we won our last Division Three game there in 1980 and our very last game, in 1999. So not a bad record at the Terriers with a total of 10 wins and 16 defeats in 35 league games. The home win last october saw the last Addicks goal by Izzy McLeod and he was replaced on 89 minutes by our new legend David Mooney for his first game for the reds.

What Are They Saying?
Everyone's been having their say this week so I'll just pass on these few words from you know who, "To come back out for the second half after being roundly booed at half-time and to show the conviction we did showed tremendous character. I didn't see anyone hiding or not wanting the ball so I give enormous credit to the lads." And if anyone remembers, there are a few games last season where you couldn't say that.

The loss of in-form Elliot for the next two or three weeks is a serious blow to Parky's plans and we can only applaud the club for facing facts and getting in the inappropriately named Anthony Randolph "Tony" Warner on loan till the end of the season. He's a 35 year old scouser and has been out of work since leaving Hull in February and is perhaps most famous for his 'mistakes' and being the spanners Player of the Year in 2003.

The rest of the defence will stay the same with another left-back available in young Matt Fry from West Ham and it will attempt to increase its number of clean sheets from the current 2 in last 17 games. In the same period even Huddersfield have managed 7, although at the other end we have only failed to score twice in the last 24 (Orient and the spanners).

In midfield, Jose Semedo is reported as being doubtful with a contusion to his thigh but Parky has sought no more additions to the squad in this area so it'll either be as you were or with his replacement by either Matt Spring or Jonjo Shelvey with Racon moving back to cover for the Portuguese. Sam is also suffering from a contusion to his calf and could also be missing.

Up front, Deon and, of course, Leon are also out injured and Akpo needs pain-killing injections in his foot. All of which means that we need Dave Mooney more than ever and its time to surely shut up and give him support and remind him, in the best possible way, that he is wearing one of our shirts. And alongside him, if a 4-4-2 is Parky's plan, we'll see new loanee 36 year old Nicky Forster from Brighton. He's on 16 goals for the season and back in October last year was awarded the Football League One Player of The Month award, for his impressive start to the season, netting 7 goals.

Warner; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje(S), Borrowdale; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Racon; Forster, Mooney


With injuries galore playing havoc with the Addicks line-up and training during the week and with a possible two new players on the pitch it may just be a question of how much the Terriers want it. But our record there is good and their form of late has not been so hot so a draw looks the only result we can expect, so 1-1 it is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gillingham Preview

Somebody remarked last week that Parky would be having a few sleepless nights deciding on his best team for the game at the den but I bet that's nothing to what he's feeling right now. But then again we could all see it coming and although a four goal hammering may not have been in everyone's forecast, a defeat was certainly expected in what has become for the Addicks a not unusual capitulation to the spanners. Much worst, perhaps, is the effect that the shock waves will have in the Addicks camp. Its a very sensitive time in the season and blackheathaddicted to name but one put his neck out and predicted that it would be a defining match in our season.

So its time for one or excuses to explain away what we hope will prove to be a expected blip in our fortunes. Because a defeat at the den is not that unusual neither were several of our other defeats and you could almost have predicted all 6 of them against Colchester, Carlisle, Bristol, Brighton, Orient and the spanners. Our first defeat of the season was at Colchester where we have our worst away record in this League and where we still haven't won in three visits and more recently Bristol is our third worse away venue with just 2 wins in 25 games. Defeat number two at Carlisle is harder to explain as its only our 9th worst place to visit in Tier Three but we only still have 2 wins there in 14 attempts. And as for away specialists Brighton, only 3 other teams in Tier Three have won more times at the Valley with their 8 wins in 23 games so that just leaves Orient really as our only unexpected defeat and in local derbies surprises are not unusual.

And moving on, as we must, the good news, perhaps, is that 7th place Huddersfield are still 8 points behind us and, after embarking on an 11 game unbeaten run, have lost the last three to Pardew ( a 5-0 stuffing), the Gills away and Norwich. Over the last 13 since the New Year they have won 5, drawn 5 and lost 3, a total of 20 points. In the same period the Addicks have 5 wins, 4 draws and 4 defeats for 19 points all of which sets up an intriguing game Saturday week at the oddly named Galpharm Stadium, due to a sponsorship deal after the builders McAlpine decided in 2004 it wasn't going to continue paying up.

So head-to-head and even on our scrappy current form they have only gained one point on us this year even with an 11-game unbeaten run so with only 10 games left any sort of result for us up there will surely seal our Play-off place. Of the 19 grounds in Tier Three where we've been before there's 11 that we have a worse history that at Huddersfield. In fact, the games against Southampton, Colchester and Leeds trouble me a lot more.

And there is the rub. Because, if we do discount Huddersfield, of the possible 4 other teams in the Play-offs (three from Leeds, Millwall, Colchester and Swindon ) there's only one that I would feel confident of beating in an home and away semi-final - Swindon. As we saw last season where Scunthorpe beat the spanners at Wembley 3-2 after finishing 6 points behind them, in a final anything can happen.

And while at the moment there's clearly at least two teams performing better than we are, Norwich and Millwall, while a third, Leeds, remain 5 points in front with 10 games left, perhaps we should consider that the only team from last seasons Tier Three that are enjoying the Fizzies are Leicester and that the other promotion teams, Scunthorpe and Peterborough, are currently occupying two of the relegation positions.

So, as Parky and the team seek to expel all thoughts of last weekend from our collective brains, its all a bit of an apparent godsend to be able to welcome a team to the Valley with the worst away record in Tier Three, without a single win all season and without a single goal in their last 4 away games. That's the theory anyway, in practise it's of course, another local derby.

Form What can you say about the Gills current form? Just 2 wins in the last 14 games (home to Bristol and Huddersfield) and only a goalless draw away last weekend at the home of the worst home team in Tier Three, Stockport, they are now only 5 points clear of the R-Zone. In fact they haven't scored away from home since the 26th January in a 1-1 draw at Hartlepool and the week before that even lost 1-0 at Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup.

Ex-Addicks?There's no less than 4 ex Charlton players now at Priestfield, Simon Royce, Barry Fuller, Chris Dickson and Rashid Yussuff, although its possible that we won't see any of them as Royce was on the bench last weekend and Chris Dickson, who only came on for 7 minutes, will be banned from playing against us. Fuller has missed the last three games with a hand injury and Yussuff hasn't been seen since January.

The obvious dangerman is twenty-two year old number 10, and the player that Parky never wanted, the Canadian international born in Jamaica, Simeon Jackson, currently top scorer with 17 goals.

Whats Their Secret?
Norwichs' fight-back against Huddersfield last Saturday has spoiled a top v bottom clash in the on-points-gained-after-going-behind table. The Addicks fighting abilities, so missing last weekend, have earned us 17 points from fightbacks with 3 wins and 8 draws after conceding first whereas the Gills have only managed a dismal two points after going behind. One was away to Exeter in December, while it shouldn't miss your notice that the other was back in October in our 1-1 draw at Priestfield.....

What Are They Saying?

Parky succinctly explained our mauling with, "There was not enough leadership and not enough men out there. All I asked was for players to do their own jobs. But there was a blame culture out there with players blaming each other."

While Christian Dailly added: "We can't afford to cry over spilt milk. We need to be mentally tough, that's one of the issues. But I think we'll be fine."

So its been confirmed by Parky that "Some people won't be playing on Saturday who played against Millwall because I feel there has to be some changes. There are people out of the team who deserve to play."

Meanwhile, Gills manager Stimson has not been happy with Chris Dickson down at Priestland and he hasn't started in the last two games and Stimson opted to use Dennis Oli as a substitute ahead of Dickson in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Stockport.
"When you saw Chris and what he brought to the table, Dennis brought a bit more. Twice he (Dickson) had the ball in the middle of the pitch and he gave it away and put their team on the attack. Dennis was on beforehand because he's been absolutely flying in training. It's been hard to leave him out because he's worked his socks off and looked a threat." Watch out for him Parky.

Gillingham are without a single win in 13 attempts at the Valley with 9 home wins and 4 draws and the last time they managed to avoid defeat at the Valley was back in January 1934, 76 years ago....

The Team
A return to a more usual formation with everyone in their normal position would be a start but Parky has come out strong and confirmed that there will be changes to the team this weekend. Heads dropped and mistakes were made and it seems that Parky's wise aversion to drastic measures will be thrown out the window in a desperate bid to liven things up.

Key to his changes will be the formation chosen so we'll probably see Sam back in the starting line-up on the right although there seems to some doubts as to Reid's fitness on the other flank which could point to a 4-5-1 in an attempt to build up confidence with midfield bodies. As for the defence one question mark appears to be what Parky will do about Christian's call to iron out our silly mistakes. Perhaps he'll ask for Nicky view's on things after his finger-wagging in one defenders face and its possible that we'll see the return of Sammy Sodje, who's only played 15 minutes in the last 5 games. While on the left, Chris Solly will step down with a few admirable words from Parky while he chalks up his fourth left-back of the season in the 24 year old loanee Gary Borrowdale from QPR.

On to the midfield then and after Semedo has his first full game in 8 and Parky citing his recent response to being omitted as the example to follow, its seems unlikely that he'll be one losing out while Racon was subbed at the den but could benefit from Reid's possible absence through injury.
Its also been another eight games since we've seen anything of Matt Spring who made a surprise appearance on the bench at the den and in fact has only played once since his perfect pass from midfield landed at Llera's feet in the last minute against Swindon back in December.
As for the forwards, there's poor old Leon McKenzie, missing from his place on the bench last weekend after 15 consecutive games, who can at least can take a well earned breather with a spell in the stands after his thigh injury got in training.
And then there's Jonjo who spent another game sat unused on the bench and its now been 6 games without a single minute played since his 90 minutes against Swindon Town.
The starting forward line at the den was Mooney and Akpo who between them failed to have a single shot on target the whole game. The four goals conceded and this stat are perhaps the best pointers to the changes Parky has in mind.

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje(S), Borrowdale; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey, Racon; Burton.

Only 2 of the 37 forecasters on cafcpicks saw an away win when they made their forecasts back in the summer but its likely that a few of the others may follow the example of Dave at drinkingduringthegame and have changed their mind after last weekend's performance.

But a clear home win, by my favorite score of 2-0, is needed badly. Whether we'll get it is another matter.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Millwall Preview

There's always two sides to every argument and all the optimists among us last weekend saw two gifted goals by Stockport in the first 10 minutes that allowed the Addicks to relax a bit during the second half and ease to three easy points whilst saving themselves for the spanners cup final. Meanwhile the pessimists will fret over how we failed to push home our advantage to improve our goal difference and dispair how we allowed the bottom club to force the issue in the second half when we were second best.

The action in midweek saw 4 other teams play games in hand, namely Leeds, Colchester, Swindon and the spanners. No surprises at Tranmere where Leeds extended their lead over us to 5 while both Colchester and Swindon wasted their chances with a goalless draw with Brighton and a defeat at MK Dons respectively. Meanwhile, the spanners eased past Carlisle with the pace of Morison playing havoc with the defence all night and he got two more goals and narrowly missed out on another couple.

So its on to Millwall's first home cup final for a long 15 years. How they have managed to survive so long without us is a mystery that nobody in the country cares about. Manager at the den is the 48 year old Kenny Jackett, now on his third managerial club and has been with the spanners since November 2007. Loyal as a player, he had 337 games with Watford, his only club, before retiring with an injury at 28. He took the spanners into the Play-off final last year, seeing off Leeds on the way, and this year he plans to do even better.


As for current form the spanners have been trying emulate the party poopers from Norwich and currently are managing it pretty well. Over the last 8 games you'll be pleased to learn that the spanners, are top of the league with figures of 6 wins, a draw and only 1 defeat in the last eight. In fact its an impressive 9 wins and 29 points in their last 12, while the team we're all chasing, Leeds, have only got 15 in the same number of games ( we have got 19 and its only bettered by Norwich with 30 points from their 12). And if they continue at the current rate we can all say goodbye to any worries abut playing the spanners in the Play-offs because it'll be Leeds that we'll be facing.

Meanwhile, we've noticed that if you're ever searching for an ex-player that enjoys playing his old team, look no further than ex-spanner Gary Waddock. Now manager of Wycombe Wanderers he loves playing the boys from the den and Wycombe's only win in their last 6 games was a 1-0 home victory over Millwall, 3 weeks ago and that, as it turns out, was the spanners only 1 defeat in their last 12. Millwall, meanwhile, are also listed as the 3rd best home team, after Norwich and Colchester, and have only lost once at home, and yes, you've guessed it, it was against Wycombe, 0-2 at the back end of November. That was Wycombe's first clean sheet for 7 months and their first win in 15 games.

Perhaps Parky should be ringing up Gary Waddock to find out how its done or get Kinsella to pop down to Adams Park for a quick chat with Waddock, a fellow ex-Irish international.


Last season's loanee Darren Ward was an un-used sub in December at the Valley but is back in favour at the spanners and is playing regularly at centre-back alongside captain Robinson.

The Opposition

Millwall have been unchanged in the last three, before the Carlisle game, whilst the defence has been unchanged for at least the last 5 games ( couldn't be bothered going back further) so at least Parky knows what to expect. As for midfield, while we have 35 game Nicky Bailey the spanners also have a midfielder that stands out in the 25 year old number 26, Frenchman Nadjim, Jimmy to his mates, Abdou, ex 0f Martigues, Sedan and Plymouth. He's played 30 games this season and once upon a time played a full season of Ligue One football with Sedan. And if you can't remember him from December, he's the one that left for an early bath after his red card.

The other three in midfield are normally Schofield, Hackett and the 21 year loanee Youth Cup winner from Ipswich, number 40 Liam Trotter.

Up front its usually that man Harris and the man from non-league Stevenage Steve Morison who got 2 at the Valley in December and already has 14 this season. And they also have the 19 year old Yeovil top scorer Jon Obika, on loan from Spurs.


All-time top scorer for the spanners is their number 9, Neil Harris, currently enjoying his best season on 17 goals despite starting only 18 games. Two weeks ago in their last home game versus Hartlepool, 'Harris picked himself up after being fouled and curled a deflected free-kick past Pools keeper Scott Flinders for his 11th goal in as many games.' But you'll be sad to find out that he suffered a bad knock to his knee in last weekends win at Walsall, missed the win at Carlisle, and is a tad doubtful for Saturday.

Whats Their Secret?Its their defence that wins all their prizes with only 35 goals conceded, and fourth best behind the mean experts Leeds with only 29 let in, while the Addicks are 7th best with 38 conceded.

But its those two Wycombe defeats that highlights the spanners' failings this season because against crap teams, sorry Gary, they have come unstuck with 5 defeats, whilst they raise themselves in games against the big boys of this League and have only lost once (0-2 away at Bristol in September) against teams in the top half of the table.

And it shows in their home games for while Carlisle, Brighton, Yeovil and the Saints have all drawn at the den, top boys Leeds (2-1), Norwich (2-1), Colchester (2-1), Huddersfield (3-1) have all been beaten. And, in fact, remembering Wycombe's surprise success in November, the key thing in our favour will be the spanners optimism of winning their first home cup final for 15 years.

But something to clearly bear in mind, especially after the 4-4 at the Valley, is that the game is never over till that final whistle, for no less that 11 of their 52 league goals have come after the 85th minute.

What Are They Saying?

Mark Kinsella never played at the den but he knows what to expect, "We're expecting a tough game. It will be big atmosphere and there will probably not be a lot of football played - both sides will have to earn the right to play first. Once that whistle goes, everyone will have to stand up and be counted."

Martin O'Neill, after Villa's cup win over Reading, "Sometimes it's nothing to do with pretty football. Sometimes it's to do with character, determination and the ability to fight and I think we had lost that there in the first half. It came back to us in the second half in great abundance."


OK, we have worst overall records against Colchester and Leeds but lets admit it the one that grates just a tad more is our dismal record against the lot from the den. You won't need any reminding what the score is over the 89 years (if you do its 11-30 with 22 draws) with just 4 wins at their place whatever they chose to call it. But hell, one of those 4 was a 2-0 win the last time we went there on 5th December 1995 - we completed the double with another 2-0 win on March 9th, only the third time we've done that ( you won't want to know but they have done it 9 times over us) - and, after the crazy 4-4 in December, we are now amazingly unbeaten in the last three games against them.

The Team

Johnnie Jackson only played 40 minutes on Saturday before a hamstring injury and is out for six weeks so its likely that Chris Solly will continue at left-back. And with Sam Sodje not even making the subs bench against Stockport the rest of the defence, especially after only its second clean sheet for 15 games,will surely remain as is. And we can only hope that after conceding 4 in December with a back four of Omozusi, S Sodje, Dailly, Basey, the changes perform somewhat better. But this is a derby and Parky will want players with the experience to handle it and he has mentioned that Llera could play left-back...

As for the midfield, will Parky dare to field a side with two wingers, from the off? Our last away game at Southend saw Semedo play the first hour before giving way to Reid with the score at 0-1 and the opposition tiring and Kyel played his part with an assist and a late goal but perhaps a key would be Parky's selection against the spanners in December where Semedo and Bailey were the central pairing with Sam and Wagstaff on the wings. Meanwhile Jonjo, just turned 18 and our 11th player on most minutes played this season, hasn't played a single minute in the last 5, after a full 90 against Swindon, and must be wondering when this, his longest rest period this season, is going to end.

As for the strike force, we must be one of the few teams where the number 9, the traditional main striker, hasn't started a game yet. Leon McKenzie must also be wondering when its going to happen but with games becoming more and more vital there's just no more time for experimentation. With only 242 minutes played from 14 sub appearances and only 1 goal from his third of those he only has 11 more games to impress but with Akpo getting three goals in the last 3 games his chances would appear to be fading.

Elliot; Richardson, Sodje(S), Dailly, Llera; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Burton, Sodje(A).

They always beat the top clubs down at the den so, with our dismal record against them, we really have no chance. That's the position and I have to say I'm proud of the 3000 Addicks that are making the short journey to witness what will probably be, if December was any pointer, a 5-3 thrashing.

But we have the fixture gift of them having a tiring midweek game against distant Carlisle in our favour (although we couldn't make an extra man count at the Valley) and home certs don't always win in football. But our bad form there and their form means there can only really be one result, so to increase their confidence even more, its bound to be a 1-3 defeat for the Addicks.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Stockport County Preview

Facing the prospect last Friday of our eighth 1-1 draw of the season as the assistant ref put up his board for 6 extra minutes, Parky thoughts turned away from the state of his finger nails and questioned if there really was life after death. The thought of facing Richard upstairs after the game and having to explain away the teams inability to beat 10 men was not something he was looking forward to.
So quite how he felt when Kyel Reid ran clear to bury the ball into the bottom corner a minute later must be obvious to all. For if ever a goal was vital, it was this one at Roots Hall. After throwing what many would interpret as the last dice, he had demanded that his team "stand up to the plate again" and asked for "more conviction in the final third and a bit more belief", and once again had to stomach losing the first goal and recovering from a first half deficit. Nothing seemed to have changed and once again we had conceded the first goal (now 7 times in the last 8) and had been trailing 1-0 for 42 minutes against a struggling side with only 10 men.
So in the end everyone drove home rejoicing in our third come-from-behind win this season (after Orient and MK Dons ) but the question must be asked, is it only a temporary repreive, for while the spanners have been enjoying February with 21 points from their last 8 games, with Norwich following on 18 and the chasing trio of Swindon, Huddersfield and Colchester close behind on 16, the Addicks have responded with a meagre 9 against teams placed 10th, 3rd, 14th, 13th, 11th and 24th in the current form table. Even faltering Leeds managed double figures with 10.
So we move on to March, with four fixtures that look doubly worrying when compared to the easy ones of February with away games against the 1st and 6th teams on current form. And our problems start straight away because this month we play the team with the worst away record in Tier Three, but its not Stockport County, its the next home fixture against the Gills. In fact there's seven teams that are worse than bottom club County away from home, who have won three games on the road, the last one being at Exeter two weeks ago.....

In fact, its probably not the best time to be playing County because, after 14 defeats in 16 games during the period October to January when relegation looked a certainty, they have had a much better February against MK Dons (h) 1-3, Colchester (h)2-2, Exeter (a)1-0 , Swindon (a)1-4 and Wycombe (h) 4-3 to help themselves to 7 points, only one less than the Addicks during the month, who played a game more. While the team that we struggled to beat last Friday, Southend, had the worst February of anyone with only a single point.

So we're up against a team, bottom of the table since the beginning of December, that are beginning to fight and have now won 2 of their last 5 games.

The Opposition

One reason for the change in mood at the Hatters is the addition of seven new players during the January window with 4 players (Swailes, Partridge, Johnson and Ibehre) joining from MK Dons and three more loanees joining from Colchester (Perkins), Watford (Sadler) and Plymouth (Donnelly). And perhaps not surprisingly, all of them went straight into the first team.

Injury problems have hit them lately though and defenders Mullins and Swailes were both missing from Tuesday's game at Bristol Rovers where they lost 1-0 to a goal gifted by their stand-in left-back Adam Griffin. And more problems hit them during the game with Jemal Johnson limping off with a muscle problem and then David Poole being red-carded which means he'll also be missing on Saturday.


Until January Carl Baker was their only dangerman on 13 goals but he's been snapped up by fizzy big boys Coventry. So there's now a fourway tie for top scorer with Bignall, Donnelly, Johnson and Thompson all on three strikes for the season but both George Donnelly and Jemal Johnson, on loan from Plymouth and MK Dons respectively, have got 2 in the last 4 games.

Whats Their Secret?

After three months without a win, and only one win in each of the months August, September and October the change in mood at Edgeley Park should not be underestimated. Although they conceded 12 goals in February they had their best month of the season with 2 wins and closed the gap to the team above them to 5 points and are now only 9 points from safety.

But, although the spanners, worryingly to most people, are the best team against the top half of the table with 8 wins and only 2 defeats in 15 games (the Addicks are 5th also with 2 defeats but a massive 8 draws), Stockport are rock bottom with not a single win against the top half of the table.


The score in League games before this season was even with Stockport at 2 wins apiece, each of us winning and losing once at home with all four games coming in our promotion seasons 97/98 and 99/2000. They did the double over us in 97/98 and we returned the debt two years later.

So anyone believing in omens will see it as good news that we only play Stockport in our promotion seasons but there's also been two cup games at the Valley with the Addicks winning 3-0 in the FA in 1948 and 4-3 in the League Cup in 2008. So after four games in all at the Valley they can only point to only one good result, that 3-1 win in September 1997.

Cheer Us Up Nels!

OK, while we somehow remain best first half team in Tier Three we have also added a further honour to our stats. In complete contrast to our early season habit of scoring first and as a result of all these recent second-half fight-backs, the Addicks now lead the table on points gained after going behind. Although Huddersfield, Norwich and Walsall enjoy coming from behind more times on 4 wins, our three victories and 8 draws mean we top the table with 17 points earned after giving away stupid goals to start with.

And if everyone is already writing off both away games this month, they should remember that although Huddersfield on March 27th are currently on 1 defeat in the last 15 and are unbeaten at home, 7 teams have drawn there including the likes of Brentford, Stockport, Tranmere and Carlisle. They are also not very good against the top half teams and apart from winning our last two games there we have won 5 of our last 9 games in Huddersfield and lost only twice.

The Team

After conceding first yet again but with our 4th 90th minute goal in 5 games coming from Reid last Friday its amazing that the Addicks are still the best League One side over the first 45 minutes with 16 "wins". And although we have only failed to score once in the last 22 games we can point to that Orient game, 8 games ago, as the time when things started to unravel.

And after scoring first 16 times in the first 26 games before facing the Orient and leading 15 times at the break we have now conceded first in 7 of the last 8 and in only one have we been leading at half-time. As for clean sheets we had 8 in the first 20 games but only one in the next 14.

So as Parky seeks to pinpoint the reasons for our Jekyll and Hyde behaviour perhaps we should point out that he only has 12 games left to solve it. Three "easy" home games against Stockport, the Gills and Carlisle (with only 1 League win between them at the Valley) are followed by the more taxing Colchester, Norwich and Leeds while away from home the hard ones come first with the spanners, Huddersfield, MK Dons and Pardew followed by a tailing-off at Exeter (where we have our worst away record of all in Tier 3) and then Oldham on the last day.

We've managed 17 points from our last 12 games so if we continue in our current jerky fashion we'll finish with a neat round 80 points, enough for last seasons 5th place.

As for the line-up, with Robbie Elliot taking the blame for the Southend goal, the defence will probably remain as at Roots Hall in another attempt to keep a clean sheet so the main discussion point will be the shape of the midfield.
Semedo gave way for matchwinner Kyel on 61 minutes last Friday and at the time it looked a useful tactic although the results of it came in rather late. So I think that, aiming for a settled side, Parky will field exactly the same team as as Southend unless Deon Burton is fit again to take Mooney's place.

Elliot, Richardson, Jackson, Llera, Dailly; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Bailey; Mooney, A Sodje.

This game is not going to be the walkover that it appears. Before Tuesday's 0-1 defeat at Bristol, the Hatters were dead level with the Addicks over the last 8 games with 2 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats and despite the Addicks being 3rd highest scorers in the League with the Hatters 3rd worst, over the last 8 they have outscored us, 10 to 9.

But at the other end no team has let in more goals, 16, than Stockport over the last 8 games and with the Addicks only failing to score once in their last 22 a goalless draw looks unlikely.

Verdict: its a toss-up between the Addicks two favorite scores, 1-1 or 2-1 and I'm going for the 2-1 home win.