Total Pageviews

Friday, February 25, 2011

Notts County Preview

We live pretty high up, 600 metres above sea level, and because of the mountains, sometimes in winter I wake up in the middle of a cloud and you don't know where you are. And right now thats how it seems with Charlton. Forgive me my apparent ignorance, I am after all 1000 miles away, but I was beginning to see some light at the end of our Tier Three tunnel and beginning to imagine that we would soon get to the end of a nightmarish period that we are clearly not used to.
Of course, others closer to home have been constantly trying to divert me from my fantasies and delusions and have tried everything to shake me out of my dreamy state by repeating over and over again that we were just very lucky to be in 5th place, and that one day lady luck would desert us.
I laughed, we always think we know better than the others, but now, of course, it seems that the majority were all correct in their pessimism. Its now been two dreary defeats after 4 wins in a row and we find ourselves out of the Play-off places again. Not that that should surprise us really, 'cause thats where we have spent 15 of the 29 games so far this season and we are now back where we were when Sir Chris took us over.

And, after giving Exeter their first ever win at the Valley after 14 failed attempts we can move onto the other foot this time because at Notts County we face a similar picture - after 16 visits we've won only one with 7 draws and 8 defeats. The only victory took place in May 1977, a 1-0 win in the last game of the season with the goal coming from Flanagan. Overall its an embarrassing 11 wins each with 12 draws. And perhaps we should mention that although we may not think we should be superior, in fact Notts County and the Addicks just about share equal success in the history of the Football League. We've each won the FA Cup once with a 4-1 win and their best finish was a 3rd place compared with our 2nd in the 30's. We've enjoyed 26 years in the top flight and they 30, although most of theirs was a long time along, and while the Addicks are 33rd in the all-time top flight rankings, County are just behind in 34th.
The Opposition
Paul Ince took over on October 28th last year after the dismissal of Craig Short when the club was sinking towards the relegation places after 7 defeats in their first 13 games. Perhaps highlighting their early successes in the previous century, County had a very sensible and conservative total of 7 managers in their first 51 years, which is in stark contrast to recent years where Ince is now their 13th manager in the last 10 and can by all the reckoning be expected to be sacked during the summer. Lee Hughes and Craig Westcarr and leading scorers with 12 and 11. Hughes it was of course that scored the Valley goal that saw us relegated to Tier Three back in April 2009 with an injury time equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Blackpool.
County are currently 18th, twelve points behind the Addicks and only 4 above the drop zone. Overall their home record is the similar to the Addicks with 8 wins in 15 but with 6 defeats to our 4. Over the last 8 games both teams are pretty equal with the Addicks getting 13 points to County's 12 but whereas Huddersfield, Orient and Rochdale are unbeaten over the last 8, nobody has conceded less goals in that time than Notts County whose defence has only been beaten 5 times. In comparison, the Addicks have conceded 13!
And to emphasize the difficult task open to Powells boys, after a dismal October/November with their 4 defeats in a row, County have now had a run of only 2 defeats in their last 12 League games.

Whats Their Secret?

Not letting in goals and keeping clean sheets have become a passion for Mr Ince. County only kept their opponents out 3 times in their first 13 games before he joined but after an initial learning curve have now enjoyed 7 clean sheets in their last 12 games. In fact over that last 12, they have accumulated 22 points out of a possible 36 from 6 wins and 4 draws which is exactly the same record as leaders Brighton over the same period. Take note, Chris.
But while keeping the opposition out has been Plan A for Ince, down the other end you could say he's not been so productive. After climbing to 13th on January 3rd after 4 wins out of 5, there followed 5 games without a win and with only 2 goals scored. That was rectified in a midweek game at home to Colchester where a 2-0 win was the result. Last weekend, of course, saw a 0-5 away defeat at the hands of Man. City in the FA Cup.
The Team
Its at this point that a bit of encouragement is needed. For those bloggers who see 7th place as the best we can achieve, perhaps we can give supply them with some reasoning for their anxieties and at the same time encourage the rest. Because, rather surprisingly, and although we've only had 12 games against the top half of the table, we are the team to have got most out of those 12 at an average of 2 points per game. That's better than anybody else. Meanwhile, however, in proof of our inconsistencies we have failed to beat any of the bottom four at the Valley, losing 2 and drawing the other 2 and while only losing twice against the beat half of the League we have lost 6 times against the supposed crap, ie Exeter twice, Hartlepool, Brentford, Swindon and Walsall.
As for the team on Friday night it'll be interesting to see if Sir Chris makes any changes. A howler from Doherty and a lack of goals despite lots of chances created could prompt some movement off the bench by Joe Anyinsah perhaps.

With our record at Meadow Lane of one win in 16 and County's form to date, another defeat is to be expected. County have only conceded 2 goals during the first half in their last 12 games so don't expect us to score in the first 45 again and it all points to few goals being expected.
0-1 to County, then?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Yeovil Town Preview

Maybe it was a fortunate three points on Tuesday but for sure Chris isn't complaining. Two clean sheets, six points and a three game unbeaten run now...

But after the changes in ownership, management and players its still hard to see exactly where we are. Are we improving from a bad run in December or has Sir Chris just been lucky? And its not helped by looking at the table, because after a winter of frost and disruption, the League One table is looking a bit of a shambles. Five teams - the Addicks, Carlisle, Orient, Notts County and the Daggers - have all played 25 games while the likes of Plymouth have played 4 more. And its all meant that the Addicks now have twenty-one games left
until the end of season and, as of Saturday, only have 91 days left to play them all. That's an average of one game every 4.3 days and with only 14 Saturdays left that means they'll be a midweek game every other week between now and the 7th May. Saying goodbye to all those cup competitions doesn't seem to have helped us and we can only help that we stay clear of major injuries between now and the end of the season.
All of which means that though we have slipped to 8th we have games in hand over all the 7 teams above us, with three games in hand over Bournemouth and MK Dons and two over Huddersfield and Oldham.

The Opposition

After 108 years in non-League football, Yeovil have only been in the Football League nine years and after two years spent in Tier Four this is now their sixth year in Tier Three with 5th place in 2006-07 their highest placing. Last season they finished 15th just 3 points away from the drop zone and this season didn't start too well either with only two wins in the first nine games which took the Glovers down into the relegation places. Worst was to follow with a disastrous run of 6 defeats in seven games in October and November, conceding 3 goals in 4 consecutive games including losing 2-3 at the Valley, all of which meant a second from bottom placing for six weeks and into the New Year.


Due to the weather, the Glovers only played one game in December, a 0-0 away draw at Colchester and they followed that up with another useful away point at Plymouth on New Years day. But those two games meant that they had failed to score for 42 days and were still in 23rd place. Something had to be done and during the January transfer window four new men joined the club - ex-Southampton midfielder Paul Wotton, 18 year old German midfielder on loan from QPR Max Ehmer, goalkeeper Richard Martin and ex-Exeter midfielder 37 year old Alex Russell.
And much to Terry Skiverton's relief, there was an immediate improvement. After the leaky defence of November, as witnessed at the Valley where they have been the only club to concede three, they continued the goalless draws with Colchester and Plymouth with a further three shut-outs against MK Dons (h), Brentford (h) and Swindon (a) and won all three games, 1-0, 2-0 and 1-0.
So after starting the year in 23rd spot with only 4 wins in 20 games and 5 points from safety, the Glovers, even after a disappointing 0-1 defeat to Rochdale at home on 22nd January, but with a 2-1 win over Brentford away last weekend and another 1-0 home win over Plymouth on Tuesday night, have now lifted themselves into 17th with 5 wins in their last 7 games

And perhaps more to the point, the Glovers now find themselves one of the Form Clubs of the moment with a record of 5 wins, 2 draws and only that one Rochdale defeat in their last 8 games. Seventeen points have been grabbed from those 8 games, 7 more than the Addicks have managed with only a couple of wins, and all with only 4 goals conceded, a complete turnover after leaky November with only 4 goals conceded.
So on to the good news. Only one team has suffered more home defeats than Yeovil's total of five this year and that's bottom of the table Walsall with eight and that helps to give the Glovers the 3rd worst home record. And the list of teams taking away all three points must give us hopes of continuing our good away record - Hartlepool, Exeter, Wednesday, Rochdale, and even Dagenham and Redbridge have all won at Huish Park this season.

Number 10 Dean Bowditch is the Glovers top goalscorer with 8 League goals and is just two behind his last seasons tally.

What's Their Secret?

The Glovers and the Addicks are both pretty useless when the opposition score first with Yeovil earning just 2 points from the 12 occasions when they have let in the first goal and the Addicks only a point better from the eight games where we have conceded first.
But we finish our games much the stronger because while the Addicks have scored no less than 10 times in the last 5 minutes plus added on time, the Glovers have done the opposite and conceded 8 times in the same 5 minutes.
Only our 6th game ever against the Glovers and so far we have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1 of the previous five. Four games have been at the Valley with only the single draw, a 1-1 affair last season, being at Huish Park. That was the game that saw Sam Sodje get his 13th red card of his career and we had to play over a hour with 10 men. Luckily, his brother Akpo, saved our blushes with a cracking 56th minute equaliser.

What Are They Saying?
Bradley after his move to the Addicks, "I failed a medical at Reading because they just didn't want to take a risk but Charlton are my local club, although I supported Arsenal, and I couldn't turn Charlton down. I feel good and my knee feels good. I think I'm going to need a few more games but I should be all right. "
And the Glovers man Terry Shiverton had this to say after Yeovils' 5th win in 8 over Plymouth on Tuesday, "A lot of teams were saying before Christmas that we had a soft underbelly and that were a good footballing side that could be turned over, but now they're having to come to Huish Park and work really, really hard."

The Team

Chris Powell made his second Charlton signing on Monday bringing in Federico Bessone on-loan from Leeds. He's a left-back, Argentinian, 27 years old and has played in the same team, Barca Reserves, as Leo Messi. He also knows Miguel Llera from their year together at La Liga side (in 2007-08 anyway ) Gimnastic before moving on to Swansea. He would appear to be a bit famous for his errors but I somehow can't see Chrissie Powell making a mistake with a left-back - a striker maybe but not a left-back and his first game on Tuesday showed just why Sir Chris had brought him in.

As for the second newcomer, only time will tell whether our taking on Bradley Wright-Phillips was a mistake or not. And Reading, who decided it was a risk not worth taking, may be watching his progress.

So we've never lost at Huish Park and can point to a four month unbeaten away run in the League. On the other hand the Glovers are enjoying themselves at the moment with 5 wins in the last 8 to earn 2nd place behind Bournemouth in the Form guide over the last 8 games. A draw looks likely but Chris needs to bear in mind that although our home form has now improved to 9th best, we have slipped to 5th best away team although we have outscored everyone with our 26 away goals. Southampton have now won 6 away from home while the leaders Brighton are on 5. The Addicks have done well at Brighton, Colchester and Wednesday recently but are still stuck on 4 away victories, the last one being at Peterborough in the middle of November. We need to start winning again.
But three wins on the trot in your new job may be asking a bit much against a team in form, a 1-1 draw then unless we can take advantage of their tired legs in the last 5 minutes to snatch a winner.