Monday, 14 November 2011

Professional Job

After a couple of weeks away in warmer weather, it was nice to return and see Charlton book their place in the FA cup second round. Some may think that beating Halifax should a given, but with our record in cup competitions, it is no mean feat.

Halifax started well and put us under a fair amount of pressure early on. I thought their style of football was decent and despite being part timers, they looked quite useful on the ball. That said, I thought our back four coped well and the hosts didn't really make a clear cut opportunity to make their pressure pay.

Charlton took the lead just before half time. Matt Taylor found the back of the net with a very well directed header that looped into the corner of the net, giving the goalkeeper little chance to stop it. You could say the goal was against the run of play, but Taylor had narrowly missed with a header 10 minutes prior, and we did have the ball in the net via a Michael Morrison header, but the goal was ruled out for a foul.

The Addicks would have been both happy and relieved to go into the break a goal to the good. Halifax must have been a bit disappointed that they didn't turn their good possession into a goal. They came closest when a Tom Baker shot almost dipped under the crossbar, but it seemed that Sullivan had it covered.

The second period opened in the same way as the first. Halifax piled on the pressure again but the Charlton back line weathered the storm very well and we never looked in danger of losing our lead. The Blue Square outfit retained the ball better than us for most of the afternoon, but as mentioned, they failed to do enough with it.

Neil Aspin introduced Jason St. Juste and the hosts had one of their best spells of the game, with St. Juste running at our defence and giving us something a bit different to think about. Credit to Chris Solly who coped exceptionally well with the pacey winger. Solly has been one of our most consistent performers this season and he is looking more and more accomplished as the season progresses.

Captain Johnny Jackson ensured the tie was safe on 80 minutes with a left-footed drive that deflected past Eastwood. It was a great shot and even without the deflection, the keeper would have been struggling. The goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors, and Danny Hollands added a third a couple of minutes later. The midfielder controlled well and tapped the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.

Charlton's fourth was a well worked move involving two of our young potentials. Michael Smith and Bradley Pritchard had just been brought on when Smith received a ball in the right channel, he fed Pritchard who ran into the box and slipped the ball through the goalkeepers legs. It was a great goal.

The hosts had Danny Lowe dismissed towards the end. A lunge at Wagstaff saw the referee show a straight red card. It was unfortunate, and looking over the replays I didn't think it deserved a red. Wagstaff made the most of it, but I thought it was a yellow card offence at most. The incident happened at pace and it definitely looked worse than it actually was.

All in all it was a decent enough performance from the Addicks, certainly better than I was expecting. I've seen us struggle to lower league teams many times over the years and I thought on this occasion we did a professional job. The scoreline did not accurately depict the real story, Halifax put up a good fight, but lacked quality in the final third.

I thought Powell got the team selection right, though as others have already pointed out, Jason Euell struggled to get into the game and probably needs to call it a day and hang up his boots. His touch was awful, his legs have gone, and he offered nothing of note to the performance.

A home tie against Carlisle United now awaits us, but our focus will switch back to the league with a tricky fixture at Brentford to look forward to.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Awayday success continues

Another good result on the road put Charlton three points clear at the top of League One after Huddersfield could only manage a draw at Scunthorpe. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 9th and 10th of the season to extend Charlton's impressive away record.

The Addicks were dominant in the opening 45 minutes with Wright-Phillips opening the scoring after only six minutes. The striker tapped in a loose ball after Yann Kermorgant narrowly missed putting Charlton ahead with a spectacular overhead kick, which came back off a post.

The move was started by Rhoys Wiggins who tore down the flank and his cross came off a Wycombe defender which allowed Kermorgant to get his opportunity. Wiggins has been excellent for us lately and his influence showed again.

Bradley's finish for the second goal was superb. A neat ball from Danny Hollands sent him away and he found the bottom corner brilliantly. It's another great start for the striker, his goals are going to be essential in our promotion campaign so I hope we manage to keep him fit.

The second half was a different affair. As seems to be customary with this team, we grab a two goal lead and things start to get a bit shaky. Wycombe had some good spells with the ball, and whilst in the first half they failed to create anything of note, in the second period they looked a bit more likely to do something.

The hosts got their goal on 63 minutes after Ben Hamer pulled off two amazing point blank saves to deny Wycombe, but the ball eventually fell for Stuart Beavon who made sure it was third time lucky. Beavon could have opened his account 10 minutes earlier, but Hamer pushed a long range effort from the winger over the bar.

All in all it was a good night's work for the team. The second half was a bit nervy, and there were times when we should have been holding on to the ball for longer, but chose long clearances over finding another red shirt. That said, Wycombe pressured us a lot more in the second half and deserved their goal.

A trickier tie is on the horizon next with a trip to Hartlepool. If we can keep our form going into November it should stand us in good stead, as we face some particularly difficult sides over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Perfect Response

I've been lucky enough to see the majority of games at The Valley this season, but have always found our performances a little bit lacking compared to our displays on the road. After losing to Stevenage last week, an immediate response was required, and the team delivered with the Addicks putting in probably their best home display of the season.

I was critical of Powell's team selection last week, not least because our style of football has suffered since Kermorgant replaced Paul Hayes in the starting line up. Powell however stuck with Kermorgant and in fact the only change he made was bringing Solly back into the fray, and it paid off. The majority of the football was played on the deck, I saw little of the long ball game, and we were back to the passing style that has elevated us to the top of League One.

Danny Green had impressed little up to this point, but against Carlisle he showed what many of us had been waiting to see. He was lively throughout, put plenty of decent crosses into the box, and was unlucky early on as he saw a shot turned away by the visiting keeper. This is the type of performance we need to see week in week out and I hope that he has turned a corner.

Carlisle came to The Valley with an impressive away record, having lost only once in the league on their travels this season, and must have fancied their chances. But, Powell and his team clearly did a great job of preparing the troops throughout the week and the players were fully focused and knew exactly what was required of them.

Kermorgant grabbed the first goal after some superb play culminating with Rhoys Wiggins putting in an inch perfect cross for the Frenchman to head home. Our second was courtesy of some great vision from Hamer who launched a kick for Wright-Phillips to pressurise the Carlisle defence. As a result, Tavernier failed to connect properly with a headed backpass to his keeper and BWP finished very well.

At 2-0 things were looking comfortable, all the play was Charlton's and Carlisle were struggling to get a foothold in the game. Rhoys Wiggins once again unlocked the Cumbrians defence and zipped in a low cross, BWP had a shot blocked but the visitors failed to clear and Kermorgant eventually blasted in his second from close range.

The day then got worse for United as Matt Robson was sent off for a second bookable offence. 3-0 down and only 10 men left on the field wouldn't be anyone's ideal scenario going into the break, but to be fair, Carlisle offered little resistance and Charlton were in the mood for dishing out a drubbing.

Danny Hollands grabbed his third of the season within a few minutes of the restart. The midfielder stole the ball, ran 20 yards and shot, fortunately goalkeeper Adam Collin somehow let the ball slip through his fingers, which sent the Charlton fans around me wild with a mixture of laughter and cheering.

Carlisle had the opportunity of grabbing a consolation goal after Michael Morrison was adjudged to have handled in the Charlton area and a penalty was given. It was a harsh decision in my view, it looked purely accidental, and even after seeing it on TV, I'm not convinced. It didn't matter anyway, Ben Hamer guessed the right way and saved the spot kick ensuring we kept a clean sheet.

Credit to Powell for sticking to his guns in terms of team selection. I was one of many calling for a return to the original team that started the season, but actually what was needed most was a return to passing game we had so much early success with. Solly coming back into the team helped a lot though as we had natural width on both sides of the pitch, which allowed us to exploit Carlisle's narrow midfield.

We now need to ensure that our next couple of performances and results are of the same standard. Once again we showed what this squad is capable of and it will be disappointing if we can't pick up a couple more wins before November starts, as it looks like it could be a tricky month.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Change it back Powell, it's not working!

I can't say 'I told you so' because I didn't predict the loss, what I did predict was that Stevenage are the perfect side for Charlton to lose their unbeaten run to. We just do not play well against the lesser sides. This has been the case for as long as I can remember.

I don't have an issue with losing, it was bound to happen sooner or later, in fact it probably should have happened against Tranmere last week but we got away with it. My problem is that we look a shadow of the side that started this season, and partly I think the problem is to do with Powell's player selection policy.

We started off the season with a consistent team selection, but as the weeks have gone on, Powell has made changes where they just were not needed, and it has upset the whole balance of the side. Whatever happened to not changing a winning team?

Chris Solly was dumped on the bench today. This is the thanks he gets for working his socks off in every game and actually being one of our most improved players this season. Leon Cort was brought in, most likely for 'tactical' reasons, but it didn't work. Morrison looked every bit the centre-back who had been pushed to right-back.

Scott Wagstaff may not have had the impact of late that he had in his first few games, but was he playing so badly that he needed to be replaced? I personally think not. The team was winning, he was a part of that, and his replacement (Danny Green) hardly set the world alight in his brief substitute appearances, so I find it odd that a change was made here. I could understand it more if his substitute appearances had been so great that he forced Powell to act.

Kermorgant did well in his first couple of games and grabbed a couple of goals, great, they were important ones too. I can see why Powell would want to give him a chance to start some games, he has probably earned that much, but Hayes adds so much more to the side than Kermorgant.

When Kermorgant is playing the ball goes long too much, we are a passing side, so hoof ball isn't going to work. Kermorgant doesn't have the ability that Hayes has to hold the ball and link up play, they are totally different players and I think Hayes is more suited to our style. Ok so Hayes isn't going to score 20 goals a season, Powell didn't buy him for that, his scoring record isn't great, but the job he does of supporting the midfield and bringing others into play is very under-rated.

We haven't been playing anywhere near the quality of football over the last few games, and it's no surprise that things have dropped off since Powell started tinkering with the side. We need to go back to basics, he needs to pick the team that got us this amazing points haul. Why is he messing with a winning formula?

I realise that some teams have worked us out a bit, and they know that a more physical approach yields better rewards, but it's not like we were losing, we were still managing to pick up the results. It's only two weeks since we beat Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, but since then we've had three totally different teams put out, and every one of them has struggled. In fact two of them have lost.

There is a worry that Powell is doing some damage to players confidence with his current selection policy. If they think they might be replaced for having one bad game, or making a bad decision, it will play on their minds and that will be reflected in their form on the pitch. We have to breed confidence in our players, and we were doing that. The same players were getting picked week after week and they delivered. We need that consistency and stability in the team, the changes are not working, it's time to change it back.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Stevenage Concerns

Stevenage have been a real mixed bag this season. After a fairly decent start they picked up 9 points in the first 6 games with comprehensive wins over Bournemouth, Rochdale and most memorably a 5-1 battering of Sheffield Wednesday. The last six games however have been far less fruitful; picking up only 4 points and losing thier last four on the spin.

The warning signs are there for the Addicks however. Their match against Huddersfield last week was a tight one, and the Hertfordshire outfit gave a good account of themselves. Not many teams will put 5 past Sheffield Wednesday this season so we have to be mindful of the fact they can and do score goals. They have had particular success scoring in front of their own fans with 12 goals to the good at so far at the Lamex, the same in fact as Charlton at The Valley.

It remains to be seen if Powell gives Green and Kermorgant starts after both failing to impress in the Tranmere match. Personally I would prefer to see Hayes start in front of the Frenchman. With Kermorgant up front against Tranmere we had a tendancy to pump it long to Kermorgant, not a strategy that we will get much joy with against this Stevenage team.

I'm indifferent to whether Wagstaff or Green gets the nod. Wagstaff had a good couple of games at the start of the season but hasn't offered much since, whilst Green hasn't really pulled up any trees in the limited appearances that he has made. Maybe Green needs a few more games to settle in so I don't want to be too unfair to the lad.

We are in a very good position to keep our unbeaten run going, and we definitely have the quality within the team, but I do worry that recent form has not been up to standard. It could be a little embarrassing if our first away defeat comes at the hands of Stevage, though knowing what Charlton are like, it wouldn't surprise me if we did lose this game.

If my comments sound a touch negative, it's probably because Charlton have had a habit over the years of beating the bigger teams yet fall short when faced with the minnows. Hopefully the squad will be fully prepared for a tough fight because there are going to be spells when they have to dig in.

I'm not going to make a prediction on this one, I just hope that we walk away with the points. The next few games gives us the ideal opportunity to cement ourselves as leaders of the division, but we need to start by winning tomorrow.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Second best but still first

Another weekend passes with Charlton sitting top of League One. It wasn't a great match on Saturday, and in the end we might have been fortunate to snatch the point.

The game was pretty awful to watch if you were an Addicks fan. The first half performance was very ordinary and Tranmere deserved to go in at the break a goal ahead. Their deflected strike left Ben Hamer no chance and should have been a wake up call, but it wasn't. There definitely seemed to be some kind of hangover from Wednesday's game against Brentford, even though there were changes made within the team.

There was improvement in the second half and Charlton created more but nothing clear cut. The referee awarded us a penalty, I'm still not sure why even after seeing it on TV, but Johnnie Jackson struck it well and sent the keeper the wrong way.

The crowd were both relieved and elated, not least because Tranmere had resorted to a fair amount of time wasting tactics throughout the second half with Owain Fon Williams being the major culprit. His antics ensured that JJ had to wait some time before eventually being allowed to take his spot kick. It was a well taken penalty which headed straight for the bottom corner.

Charlton stepped up a gear afterwards and put some pressure on the Tranmere back four at last, but it was not to be, even Bradley Wright-Phillips was off the mark and failed to properly connect with a great chance from six yards. A draw was probably the right result, though Tranmere were a bit aggreived at the penalty being awarded.

There was some disappointment at this result, but I think we need to accept that we are not going to win every game we play. We are still unbeaten and are in an excellent position. We are going to hit a bad patch at some point in the season, this might actually be the start of it, so we need to dig in and grind out a few results until we get ourselves back on track again.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Back to League business

Tomorrow sees our league campaign get underway once again with the visit of Tranmere Rovers to The Valley. We've played Rovers a lot over the years, particularly during the 1990's where both teams spent some time in the second tier of football.

There have been 28 matches involving the two clubs with each side winning seven games, and there have been 14 draws. In fact the last three fixtures all ended in 1-1 draws. Biggest wins for both sides came in the shape of 4-0 victories, all of them coming on Tranmere soil. Charlton of course managed this in 2009 in our first season in League One. Tranmere notched up two 4-0 wins against us, one in 1996 and one all the way back in 1972.

Tranmere made a decent start to the season losing only one of their first six games, an away defeat to Notts County. Results haven't been as good of late though having lost three of their last five league games, two of those defeats came at the hands of Huddersfield and Preston who are both on a good run at the moment.

Rovers are a side that like to play football. This is a bonus for us as we have done well against the footballing sides this season. Manager Les Parry has stated that they intend to stick to their usual game plan which means we could see a decent passing game from both sides if all goes well. Parry is confident of picking up a result against us on Saturday. Despite their recent losses the Tranmere boss thinks his team have been playing better than the results show.

Powell will revert to the usual starting XI though many are speculating that Kermogant and Danny Green could start the match with Hayes and Wagstaff missing out. The team should be fired up after the heavy loss against Brentford in midweek and Powell should not need to remind them what is at stake and what we need to do to get back to winning ways.

Other Charlton news worthy of a mention is that Nottingham Forest are trying to pry Paul Hart away from his position as Academy Director. It is said that the two clubs are in talks and it's just a matter of agreeing a compensation package. It seems that Forest are looking to bring in some more experience after David Pleat left the club last week.

It's hard to know exactly what kind of impact Paul Hart has had on Charlton. Hart hasn't been with us long, but he does have good ties with Nottingham Forest so it will not be a huge surprise if he does go. It will be disappointing however, as Hart has a good reputation for working with the young players, and finding a replacement with as much experience would prove very difficult.

Back to Saturday now and we are all hoping for a win. It's not going to be an easy game by any stretch, and I hope that the lads are fired up and ready to show the rest of the division that we might have wimped out of the JPT, but in the league, we are as strong as ever.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Charlton crash out. But who cares?

Brentford dumped Charlton out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last night in a pretty dire performance from the Addicks at The Valley. I watched the game on Sky, it was by no means a thriller. Brentford obviously cared about winning, Charlton were just about going through the motions. The side beared little resemblance to that which beat Sheffield United on Saturday with Powell making numerous changes.

Brentford scored after two minutes when Gary Doherty gifted them the opportunity. Instead of cushioning a header back to keeper John Sullivan, he gave it straight to the opposition who took their chance well. Sullivan saved the initial shot but couldn't do anything about the rebound.

If the fringe players are looking to break into the first team, then they didn't do much of a job of convincing the manager. Gary Doherty was pretty woeful throughout the game and Andy Hughes looked almost as bad. We finally got a chance to see Mikel Alonso in a red shirt and we found that his passing was poor, he couldn't control the ball and his tackling left a lot to be desired. A particularly clumsy one gave the visitors a penalty, which they duly converted to make it two nil before half time.

After the break, nothing much changed. Although there was a slight improvement for 10 minutes but there was no attacking threat from Charlton. Brentford passed the ball better, they closed us down better, they looked more dangerous with the ball. The Charlton players were just not interested.

Brentford finally killed the game off on 60 minutes after some hapless defending. The linesman raised the flag for what seemed like offside but after the goal went in, he had a chat with the ref and the goal was given anyway.

It was clear from the team selection that Powell wasn't interested in winning the game, despite his comments after the match. The players had none of the spirit we've seen throughout our league campaign, and they showed none of the quality either. Also, if fans thought we had good competition for places, I think last night's game showed that if we get a few injuries, we could have some issues.

Personally I'm glad we're out. I know there are some who would like the trip to Wembley and all that comes with that, but it would be disastrous if we lost some of our better players through injury in this competition.

Hopefully we can get back to winning ways against Tranmere on Satrurday when we go back the the competition that actually matters.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Put to the sword

Charlton pulled five points clear at the top of League One after a hard fought win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

The Blades edged the first half and had plenty of chances to get themselves ahead, but some good defending and some fine saves from keeper Ben Hamer ensured that the hosts were denied, and the teams finished all square after the first 45 minutes.

The second half looked to follow a similar pattern to the first with United having the better chances in the early stages. That changed however after 65 minutes when Chris Powell replaced Paul Hayes with Yann Kermorgant. The Frenchman was sent on as The Addicks won a corner and immediately put the Londoners ahead with his first touch of the game. Midfielder Dale Stephens provided from the corner and Kermorgant headed home his second goal in as many games.

Two minutes later a lapse in the United defence gave Bradley Wright-Phillips a one on one with keeper Steve Simonsen. The former Stoke and Everton stopper did well to deny Wright-Phillips initial shot, but the ball fell well for BWP and he put it away for Charlton's second.

Sheffield United still had enough opportunities to make a come-back but were again denied by Ben Hamer and at one point, by one of his uprights. It was a game that I didn't expect to win and maybe if the hosts had their shooting boots on the result could have been very different. The result is what is important however and we've stretched our lead though Preston could close the gap if they win their game in hand.

With games against Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and MK Dons now out of the way, we are slowly beginning to get a picture of the strength of our squad. We've played some of the better teams in the division and so far we haven't been found wanting. There are some big games ahead however, with Preston and Huddersfield still on the 'to play' list, but all in all we have done fantastically well to pick up 27 points from a total of 33.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Spirites and Dons

It's been two matches since my last update. Some extra work thrown my way has kept me busier than I'd hoped and unfortunately the things I enjoy had to take a back seat in favour of the things that earn money. Anyway I'm posting about both games so if you don't want to read about the Chesterfield game, scroll down for MK Dons report.

Addicks v Chesterfield

Watching your team win is (almost) always a pleasure and when it's coupled with spending time with people that you might not normally, it makes it extra special. I was sat in the East Stand with my brother on Saturday, a first for us as we both support different teams and it's sometimes hard to find motivation to go and watch a team that you have no affinity for. So I want to start by thanking Tom for coming along, it was a great day out.

The game itself was decent enough and it was nice to see Chesterfield playing a proper game of football. There are teams of higher reputation who play more direct or more physical, but their style obviously worked for them in League Two. I am one of the crowd who believes that playing attractive and expansive football will stand you in good stead in this division, so I will be surprised if they don't manage to survive this year.

Our three goals were all pretty good. Paul Hayes flick for the first looked fancy, Jackson's goal was courtesy of a free-kick which has obviously been practiced in training, and finally Bradley Wright-Phillips completed the scoring with a diving header from a pin-point cross. Chesterfield created little, and Leon Clarke looked like he had an off day and it was no surprise that when they did score it came from a penalty, as they didn't threaten with much from open play.

MK Dons v Addicks

I listened to last night's match via the internet. Clearly it was a game of missed chances rather than of goals scored. Dons had the best of the first half scoring once through a Shaun Williams penalty after Matt Taylor brought down Dean Lewington in the box. The game could have already been at 2-2 by this point. Both sides had some good chances early on yet neither could find a breakthrough. The Dons continued to pile on the pressure and Ben Hamer produced a couple of good saves to keep the Addicks in the match.

At half time the Dons were the happier side having not only grabbing themselves a goal, but they also gave us a lesson in how to play football at times. Powell's team talk however seemed to breathe a bit of life into the Addicks and the side looked much improved after the break. Both team again had some good opportunities and should really have done better.

The equaliser eventually came with 15 minutes left on the clock. Kermorgant and Green were brought on in place of Hayes and Wagstaff and it was the two substitutes that combined for the goal. Green managed to find some space on the wing and sent in a cross for the waiting Yann Kermorgant who headed his first goal for the Addicks. An important one too.

It was a well earned point in the end and I guess most fans were happy (relieved?) to have walked away with a point. I'm not a particular fan of MK Dons in general (the franchise thing sticks in my throat) so losing to them would have been particularly disappointing for me. But, it was more points on the board and we still sit pretty at the top of the table with a few points to spare.

Preston North End have somehow crept into second position. I haven't really paid them much attention to be honest, but they have quietly gone about their business and are now capable of taking top spot if they win their game in hand.

Another tough match awaits us on Saturday. Sheffield United have gone off the boil a bit of late; losing two of their last three games. I expect a hard game and would be happy with another point from the match.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Remember the last time Chesterfield came to The Valley?

We have to go all the way back to 1980 to find a league fixture between Charlton and Chesterfield at The Valley. Charlton ran out one nil winners on the day, but it was during a time where the club went through four managers in a two and half year period before Lennie Lawrence was finally brought in to steady the ship.

Charlton achieved promotion in the 1980-81 season by finishing third in the division under manager Mike Bailey, with legend Derek Hales scoring 41 goals. No play-offs were required as those were the days when it was three up, three down. Bailey quit the club soon after when he was offered the Brighton job.

More recently the two clubs met in a League Cup clash at Saltergate (the Spirites former home). The game was level at 3-3 after extra time with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2) and Darren Bent (1) grabbing the goals. Charlton won the resulting penalty shoot-out with Hermann Hreidarsson netting the winning spot kick.

History lesson over, and although the information is interesting it probably has no bearing on where both teams are at this point in time. Chesterfield are unbeaten in their last four games and in fact have won their last three on the bounce. After winning League Two last season the Spirites have stuck to their game of playing some nice passing football and it seems to be paying off for them.

Leon Clarke, will be Chesterfields main threat and man to watch. Clarke signed on a three month loan deal from Swindon after he spectacularly fell out with Swindon boss and former Addick, Paolo Di Canio. Since his switch however Clarke has scored five goals in three games, including a hat-trick against Carlisle last weekend.

Charlton could be missing Danny Hollands from the line-up after his wife gave birth to three baby girls this week, so congratulations to him, but we might miss his contribution if he isn't available. It's likely that Andy Hughes will be brought in to deputise, but there was also disappointment for another midfielder - Bradley Pritchard who picked up a metatarsal injury which could keep him out for up to six weeks.

As I've mentioned in previous entries our home performances have been lacking when compared to our away form. That said we have had the trickier games at home, but this is a tie that we should win on paper, though Chesterfield will have their tails up and will be looking to make life difficult for us.

The club has generously offered all tickets for this weekends game for a fiver, so I'm hoping for a large crowd and a good atmosphere. I've managed to rope my brother into coming along (a West Ham fan) and it will be the first time we've ever been to a football match together, and with both of us now being in our forties and football mad for our entire lives, it's long overdue.

In last seasons 'Football for a Fiver' fixture we played Exeter City. There were some 24, 000 fans in the stadium that saw us lose 3-1. Let's hope there isn't a repeat tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fans sweat again!

The Addicks seem to be in a habit of giving the fans some moments of anxiety. Once again we sailed off to a confident lead only to throw away a two goal advantage. Luckily this time we managed to pull it back again, but Charlton fans all over the country must have stubs for fingernails, I know I certainly do.

I was expecting a win, but I didn't think that we would make such hard work of it, particularly after going into half time with a 2-0 lead. The two goals came from new signings Danny Hollands and Rhoys Wiggins who both opened their Charlton accounts. Hollands getting a head to a Johnnie Jackson cross whilst Wiggins had time to pick his spot after the ball fortunately fell for him inside the Dale box.

Rochdale hit back in the second half when Ashley Grimes got up and put a looping header past Ben Hamer. Three minutes later the scores were level after some poor defending allowed David Ball to get a shot away which flew past the Charlton keeper.

At 2-2 the nerves were starting to get the better of me and I wasn't even at the game, relying only on some dodgy commentating via CAFC Player. Danny Hollands finally put the game safe with 10 minutes to go, heading the winner from a corner.

We really need to stop throwing away leads like we have. Better opposition might have punished us for it, and we have some tricky fixtures looming, so we need to tidy things up a bit.

Chesterfield are up next, and with our home performances being far from our best this season it's a potential banana skin. The Spirites have notched up three wins from their last three games and have scored 8 goals in the process so confidence will be high.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Rochdale Away

Having missed the last two games, I'm looking forward to Saturday's fixture against Rochdale. A break with the family meant I was unable to follow the games and unfortunately my wife banned me from bringing my laptop and therefore blog updates were impossible. Thanks to the wonders of twitter however I was able to stay up to date with the major issues during the games.

The Exeter win left a lot of fans with mixed views. I was personally happy to grab the three points albeit with a bit of help from the officials. Seems that their goal probably crossed the line but wasn't given, and although I don't know exactly what Nardiello said to the officials, a red card seemed harsh. Much has been said about how we took our time to break Exeter down, but in my view these things can take a fair bit of patience. We got the goals required to win the game however which is what is important to me.

Rochdale are having a decent enough run of form at the moment and will be looking to notch up a third win on the bounce having beaten Bury and Scunthorpe in their last two matches. Dale haven't done too bad against 'better' oppostion so far this season. I mentioned their victory over newly relegated Scunthorpe, they also grabbed a point from Huddersfield and dumped QPR out of the cup so we definitely need to be properly prepared.

Chris Powell will no doubt make sweeping changes from the team that lost against Preston on Tuesday. By all accounts the performance was average at best and nobody really took the opportunity to make a case for a starting spot, so it's likely he Powell will go with the same team that defeated Exeter last weekend.

The two clubs haven't played too often in recent times, last season in fact was the first meetings between the two sides since the 70's. Rochdale were worthy winners in this fixture back in March when we were going through our long winless streak. There are only four players left at Charlton that played in the 2-0 defeat, and things have changed Rochdale too with Keith Hill leaving Spotland to move to Championship club Barnsley.

I back us to walk away with the three points if we can continue our fine run of away form. We still have a 100% record on our travels, let's hope it stays intact as we have two tricky away ties ahead in the shape of MK Dons and Sheffield United. With Chesterfield up next we have a great opportunity to ensure we are still top of the table when we make the trip to Stadium MK.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Poor performance but still unbeaten

Charlton failed to capitalise on a good start against Sheffield Wednesday and had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw at The Valley tonight. Despite going a goal up inside 4 minutes with Bradley Wright-Phillips grabbing his fourth of the season, the Addicks once again squandered the lead in a home match. Wednesday found their equaliser from a corner when an unmarked Clinton Morrison, a substitute for the injured Ryan Lowe, headed the ball home.

I was desperate for us to get off to a good start tonight, and things couldn't have gone any better. Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring with a low drive that unsighted Wednesday keeper Richard O'Donnell. Charlton looked in control and were playing some decent football. Dale Stephens had a chance to make it 2-0 after the ball was played back to him inside the box but he put it over from 8 yards.

Wednesday had a miserable first half. Gary Megson played it safe by starting with a 4-5-1 formation which had Gary Madine playing the lone striker role. Clearly it wasn't working, Charlton were carving the Owls open with relative ease and Wednesday were struggling to retain the ball and create anything of note themselves.

After 20 minutes, Megson decided to make a change bringing on Ryan Lowe to replace the largely ineffective Chris Sedgwick and switching to a 4-4-2 formation. The new shape clearly suited the Owls and they started to work their way back into the game, although they still failed to create a single shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Ryan Lowe had to go off just after the break after a clash of heads ruined his night, and Clinton Morrison made his ominous appearance. As soon as he stripped off I had this feeling he would find the back of the net at some point, particularly as he came on to the field to a chorus of boos. Why does everyone we boo score against us?

Anyway, three minutes after coming on he grabbed the equaliser. It was more or less their first chance of the game and no surprise it came from a set-piece because in open play, they hardly got near our goal. The ball was floated in and Morrison headed on to the underside of the bar and the ball bounced down and into the goal.

After their goal Wednesday started to add a bit more pressure, but in all honesty they didn't look too threatening except with their set pieces. Charlton's game had also deteriorated into a lot of long balls looking for the run of Wright-Phillips or Wagstaff. When we got into more advanced positions instead of playing our probing passing game we were hitting crosses into the box which towering Wednesday defender Rob Jones was clearing away with little effort.

We looked a bit bereft of ideas towards the end and I thought we needed to bring on a couple of players to try to change things a bit to maybe give us more impetus. Unfortunately Powell only introduced Euell in a straight swap for Paul Hayes which did nothing at all to improve us. The closest we came to a winner was when Matt Taylor headed on to a post, but their keeper was quickly there to claim.

Overall I was disappointed with the game. Both sides were pretty average, and although I think we had the better of the chances, we certainly didn't do enough to win the game. We really need to pick up our performances at home. Although it's great that we are still unbeaten, our home form hasn't been the best. Hopefully we can put that right with the visit of Exeter on Saturday.

Tough Test

Charlton get the opportunity to pit their wits against another promotion favourite tonight when Gary Megson's Sheffield Wednesday visit The Valley. Wednesday have been very ordinary on their travels and Charlton are unbeaten at home so it could be an interesting contest.

Chris Powell may be without Bradley Wright-Phillips who also missed the Bury clash but otherwise has the pick of his squad with Paul Benson likely recovering from his hand injury. Benson may be brought in to deputise for BWP though Powell could opt to start Wagstaff alonside Hayes once again.

Megson will have new boy (and Bury's goalscorer against Charlton) Ryan Lowe ready for action. Lowe signed for the Owls on transfer deadline day which drew a very mixed reaction from the Wednesday fans. Jose Semedo makes a return to The Valley after joining Wednesday in the summer. No doubt the Addicks faithful will give him an exceptionally warm welcome. I'm sure Jose will want to do well tonight, but I'm hoping our new look midfield are a bit much for him to handle.

With the game being live on Sky I will not be making the 200 mile trip to The Valley and and get the opportunity to see my third home game of the season. Of course there's nothing like being there, and in particular I'm a huge fan of evening kick offs. The atmosphere is always electric on a cold night at The Valle,. and once I hear the crowd start singing tonight there will be more than a little tinge of jealousy aimed at those that are able to make it.

Both teams will be desperate to win this game as we are probably the two largest Clubs in the division and both have a point to prove. It should be a very tight game and I don't expect there to be too many chances. Recent clashes between the sides have the stats level. In the last 6 meetings there have been two wins, two draws and two losses for each side.

I don't want the call the game tonight. I'm hoping for a win to keep pace on the leaders, but it's going to be a real test for us. On paper I believe we have the better squad, but we have to perform to our maximum potential. We showed against Scunthorpe that we have some defensive frailties and Wednesday will be looking to capitalise on this. If we keep it tight defensively we will create opportunities, let's just hope we make the most of those opportunities when they come.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Elliot out, Benno next?

Rob Elliot has has finally secured his move to Newcastle United. I don't think this comes as any surprise to either set of fans. The Magpies put in a paltry offer a couple of weeks ago which Charlton rejected immediately. Who knows what the fee was in the end as it was yet another undisclosed fee, all we can do is guess that it was more than the 100k than was originally bid.

I hope Elliot does actually get some action with Newcastle. They don't exactly have a shortage of keepers, it's a bit of a puzzle why they actually wanted him. They have two decent keepers in Steve Harper and Tim Krul and presumably Pardew wants Elliot as their third choice keeper even though they already have Ole Soderberg who can perform that duty. Still, I wish Robbie all the luck in the world, I hope he breaks through and does well there, though I think it's going to be a tough ask.

In other transfer news it appears that Paul Benson could be the next player to leave The Valley with Bradford City and former boss Phil Parkinson seemingly the front runners. Parkinson has already signed Addicks reject Kyel Reid, so maybe he is looking to put his old team back together to hoof his way out of League Two...

In terms of players coming in we have been linked with one or two players though time is running out and we may have to grab a loan signing for a bit of cover. We will certainly need another striker should the Benson deal go ahead and although Powell isn't too fond of loanees, there might not be too much choice at this late stage.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Good Gigg

A trip to Gigg Lane provided a different test for the Addicks who fought back from a goal down to clinch the win against League One new boys Bury. Charlton were without Bradley Wright-Phillips who reportedly has knee issues so Scott Wagstaff was pushed further up the field with Danny Green filling in on the right. Rob Elliot was also missing from the line-up giving Ben Hamer his league debut.

The Shakers took the lead with a Ryan Lowe free-kick which caught Charlton napping. Lowe struck as Ben Hamer was attempting to organise his wall and Chris Powell's men went behind for the first time this season.

Charlton pulled one back after the break when captain Johnnie Jackson sent in a ball which Paul Hayes latched on to and headed in his second goal of the campaign. Jackson was then on target after Dale Stephens split the bury defence and Jackson sneaked in at the far post to put the Addicks into the lead.

Once again the Addicks forced a nervous end to the game by sitting deep and inviting pressure from Bury. As with the Reading game however, the team defended well and ensure the three points to stretch their unbeaten run to 5 league matches.

All in all a good days work for the boys. It was great to see them make the come back as it's not always an easy task. Bury made it hard for us and played a physical game in parts. Continuing this unbeaten run will give us confidence going into the forth coming game against Sheffield Wednesday which may well be our stiffest test yet.

With Bradley Wright-Phillips out I did wonder where our goals were going to come from this afternoon. Jackson proved again how much we missed him last season and I was especially pleased to see Paul Hayes add to his tally. Hayes has been putting in some great effort and deserves to be amongst the goals. We do however we need a forward that can deputise well for BWP as his ongoing knee issues will ensure he will miss games.

The fact that Paul Benson has been interesting a number of clubs and Charlton have apparently accepted FOUR £150k transfer bids is a cause for concern. It is likely that Benson will leave and unless the club moves fast, we could find ourselves struggling for front men. I don't think Wagstaff is the answer. He's a decent enough midfielder, but he's no striker. Time is of the essence however and we may have to rely on a loan signing.

On the subject of transfers, Rob Elliot was also missing today and with no reasons provided it leaves me to suspect that Robbie will soon be leaving The Valley. Although unconfirmed at this point, there has been speculation that Newcastle were to make an improved offer, and judging by his absence, it would appear that the club are ready to do a deal.

Elliot will receive mixed reactions from the fans if he leaves, he has many supporters and just as many detractors. I personally think he is a decent enough keeper and the fact he is a local boy adds to his charm. It will be a shame if he goes, but any player would find a transfer to Newcastle hard to turn down.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Bury Away

The staff at Bury may well have winced upon looking at the fixture list before the season kicked off. Being matched up against Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton in the first five matches might not have been ideal, but they have come through two of those three challenges very very well.

The 1-1 draw with Huddersfield on the opening day of the season was a surprise to many. They followed up that result by losing 2-0 to Carlisle and the Huddersfield result was looking like a bit of a fluke. Since then however Bury have beaten both Sheffield Wednesdsay and Wycombe and find themselves in 6th position.

Results so far must send us a warning that we are not to take this team lightly. Bury have played some decent football along the way and have caught out teams expecting them to be a push over. The Addicks will have to be very disciplined if they are to pick up a positive result.

There haven't been two meetings between the two clubs in recent years and we last met in our play-off winning season. Both matches ended in 0-0 draws with Bury having future Addicks legend Dean Kiely playing in goal. Kiely made 137 appearances for Bury before his switch to The Valley in 1999.

Powell will have to think very carefully about his selection for this game. The Addicks are unbeaten this season and with the excellent performances in the Carling Cup game against Reading, Powell will have to weigh up whether there are players who could add a bit more to the Charlton first XI. Danny Green might be an obvious inclusion as although Wagstaff has done well, his last couple of games have not been up to the standard of his opening two fixtures.

The team was disappointed to drop two points against Scunthorpe after taking a two-goal lead, and it was clear the team were not firing on all cylinders. If we can raise our game back to the level of the win at Colchester, we have every chance of coming away from Gigg Lane with three points. If not, we could become another scalp for the Shakers.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Second XI defeat Royals

Charlton booked their place in the second round of the Carling Cup after claiming victory against Championship side Reading. Chris Powell made 11 changes to his team opting to give a run out to the squad members that have played little or no part in the league games this season. Reading also made a number of changes but Brian McDermott blended in some senior players to add a bit more experience to his side.

The game started very quickly and there opportunities for both sides to get off to the perfect start but a mixture of good defending and poor finishing ensured the scores stayed level. Paul Benson and Jason Euell both missed decent chances for the Addicks whilst Jobi McAnuff went closest for the visitors.

It was Charlton who were to break the deadlock however with Paul Benson bundling a ball into the back of the net. Charlton went on to dominate the remainder of the half playing some nice football and creating some good chances but again poor finishing prevented them from adding to their tally.

The second half started in much the same way with Charlton using their passing and moving game to good effect. The Addicks doubled their lead on 65 minutes, Jason Euell claiming his first goal senior goal for the club since his return. Simon Francis was the unlikely provider. The former Southend full back sent in a pin-point cross with plenty of power leaving Euell to simply guide the ball into the back of the net.

Reading grabbed a goal back 9 minutes later and thoughts immediately turned Saturday's draw against Scunthorpe. But time the team managed to see the game out despite some late pressure from the Royals. A good night's work for the Addicks but some potential selection headaches for Chris Powell. Brian McDermott will be scratching his head however as Readings patchy form continues.

Powell's team took their opportunity it has to be said. I was pleased that he went ahead and made all the changes and it's great to see that we genuinely have competition for every place in the team. This is a great situation to be in, particularly as it's a long hard season in this division as the amount of games is huge if you take into account league games plus the Carling Cup, FA Cup and the JPT. We will need to utilise this squad over the course of the campaign.

With the focus now back on the League One competition Powell now has to decide on his team selection for the trip to Bury. Powell can take some confidence though knowing that if he does want to mix his team a little, there are players there who will relish their opportunity and give their best to stay in the team. A real contrast to the attitude of last seasons squad.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Carling Cup: Reading Home

Charlton's re-arranged Carling Cup clash against Reading at The Valley kicks off tonight at 7:45. This fixture was one of five matches that were cancelled due to the civil unrest in the capital earlier in the month. With that little episode behind us, we finally get the opportunity to pit our wits against a Championship side that went close to promotion last season.

Reading's early season form has been rather up and down, The Royals earning only 4 points out of a possible 12. The best of their results came in the form of a win at early bookies favourites Leicester but by contrast their worst result was defeat by Barnsley at the Madejski on Saturday.

Charlton will be looking to make some changes for this clash. Chris Powell has been up front with the fact that he wants to put in some of the fringe players to give them an opportunity to shine. I'm happy with this decision. I have not the slightest interest in this competition and to me resting our first XI seems like the sensible thing with the busy bank holiday period looming.

Im eager to hear how the second string perform tonight and if any make enough of an impact for Powell to have to consider them for one of the league matches over the long weekend. Danny Green will be itching to show what he can do, particularly with Wagstaff being a little quiet in the last couple of matches. Paul Benson might also want a run out. With Powell stating that Benson could leave should a suitable deal be found, Benson could do himself some good if he is able to get on the scoresheet. Any performance might have to be pretty special though in order to tempt Powell into changing an unbeaten side.

Prediction: Charlton Win. We might just be hungrier for the win due to players with points to prove.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Shared Points

There seems to be a fair amount of disappointment with our on Saturday. For me though, despite being 2-0 up at one stage, we never looked comfortable and Scunthorpe definitely saved their best performance of the season yet for their trip to The Valley. I thought they competed well and showed some good footballing skills. They were certainly better than their league position suggested.

Johnnie Jackson opened the scoring with a (lucky?) looping header. BWP headed home the second after a superb cross from Danny Hollands, and although the scoreline was flattering, Charlton looked on their way to making it four from four. Scunthorpe however were doing their best to ensure this was not the case.

The Iron found their opening through Bobby grant after 73 minutes which gave everyone around me the jitters. The Addicks still had opportunities to put the game out of reach but failed to do so and were made to pay inside the first minute of 5 minutes of added time. Scunny seemed to perk up at this point and they quickly grabbed their equaliser through Bobby Grant once more.

Charlton seemed a yard off the pace for most of the day. They definitely did not have the cohesion seen in previous games this season. Both opposition goals came from Charlton's failure to clear their lines properly, but we have to give credit to Scunthorpe, they worked hard and if truth be told, they were deserving of a point.

We aren't going to win every game this season, and I think before the season kicked off, most fans would have taken 10 points from a possible 12. We are still off to a great start yet there are signs of some inexperience within the team. There is plenty for Powell and his team to ponder on before Saturday's away trip to Bury.

In the meantime there is the simple matter of the Carling Cup tie against Reading tomorrow night. I'm hoping to see plenty of different faces in terms of squad selection. I'm not interested in the Cup and I'm hoping Powell puts out a second string against the Royals. I'm more interested in picking up two more good results against Bury and Sheffield Wednesday who we play over what will be a tough Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Scunthorpe United Home

After two successful matches on the road Charlton play host to newly relegated Scunthorpe United on Saturday where they will be hoping to continue their run of good form. Scunthorpe are yet to record a league win this season and after losing to a fairly average Oldham side in midweek their manager and fans will be looking for a reaction.

The two clubs haven't met that much in recent years. In fact our only two matches since the 70's were in the Championship during the 2007/2008 season. The last match at The Valley ended up in a disappointing draw despite Charlton having enough opportunities to win the game. Marcus Bent scored the only goal for the Addicks that day. The return fixture saw Scunthorpe run out 1-0 winners in a season where there were many forgettable matches for Charlton who were eventually relegated.

This time around things are a bit different. Scunthorpe appear to be struggling to adapt to life in League One much like Charlton in the 07/08 season, and Charlton are full of confidence having won their three opening matches. Things can turn around very quickly however and we will have to ensure we are not complacent.

Powell is unlikely to make any changes to his outfield players however it is possible we might see a change in goal. With the speculation surrounding Rob Elliot I would probably opt to play Ben Hamer if fully fit instead of Elliot. I'm not wholly convinced that Robbie would be 100% focussed on his job. I'm sure he will give his all if he is picked, but some of his thoughts must be on the move to the Premier League. It could be a risky move putting him in.

This is a tough match to predict. Scunthorpe will want to bounce back after their midweek defeat and what better way to build confidence by picking up a good result against one of the in-form sides in the league. I think Charlton have enough in their locker to win the match, but I'm going to err on the side of caution and plump for a draw.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Elliot off to Newcastle

Latest reports suggest that Rob Elliot will be signing for Newcastle United. Contract talks between Elliot and the Club had stalled and it seems there is to be no resolve. Although Elliot insisted he wanted to stay with Charlton, there has been previous speculation about a move to the Toon to link up with Alan Pardew and former Addicks goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman.

This news may not come as a surprise to many of the Addicks faithful, as most of us thought the writing was on the wall when Ben Hamer was handed the No. 1 jersey. There have been rumours linking Elliot with a move to West Ham though the Newcastle speculation has been fairly constant over the last couple of months.

Some further information that may give a bit more credibility to this story is the fact that Fraser Forster has been shipped out on loan to Celtic once more. Forster made 44 appearances in goal for Celtic last season but clearly the 23 year old doesn't figure in Pardew's plans.

Charlton sink U's

Charlton continued their fine form with a 2-0 victory at Colchester last night. The opening exchanges saw Colchester go closest though the Addicks quickly gained a foothold. The match was virtually put safe during a spell where Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged two goals and Scott Wagstaff, Johnnie Jackson and Paul Hayes all went close.

The first goal came after a Michael Rose pass was intercepted by Wright-Phillips. A one-two with Scott Wagstaff saw BWP receive the ball inside the Colchester United box and the finish was never in doubt. Wright-Phillips grabbed his second after a well worked opportunity involving three Charlton players. Michael Morrison ran the ball out of defence and found Johnnie Jackson. Jackson crossed into the box and found the head of Paul Hayes who unselfishly headed the ball on to the waiting Wright-Phillips who calmly slotted home from close range.

The hosts made a bit more of a fist of it in the second half but despite some half chances and a string of corner kicks, they rarely troubled the Addicks defence. The hero for the home side was goalkeeper Mark Cousins who pulled off a string of fine saves to stop Charlton adding to their tally and foiled Wright-Phillips who was desperately looking for his hat-trick.

Although Wright-Phillips managed the two goals, Paul Hayes needs to be given credit where it's due. Hayes was often a handful for the U's defence and looks to be playing a vital role for the team. Hayes was unlucky not to get on the score sheet for the second successive game having shot agonisingly wide and seeing an effort brilliantly saved by Cousins.

Danny Green made his debut for the Addicks but had little time to impress. Wagstaff had another decent game and Green will likely be sitting on the bench again when Charlton entertain Scunny on Saturday. Jason Euell was given 10 minutes to show us what he could do and was unlucky himself not to score. Cousins again was the man of the moment and pushed Euell's shot wide.

It was a professional performance from a side that seem to be growing in confidence. U's manager John Ward was complementary of Chris Powell's side in his post match interview and admitted that the better side won the day.

Next up is Scunthorpe. The Iron have yet to pick up a win and are currently languishing just above the drop zone. A defeat against Oldham last night might just be the tonic they need to get themselves fired up. There is no doubt they will be looking to knock the wheels of the Charlton juggernaut and Chris Powell's side will need take care not to get too complacent after their recent run of results.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Colchester United vs Addicks

Games will be coming thick and fast over the next few weeks and after our Saturday encounter up at Meadow Lane, there's no time to rest as we face a tough challenge tonight at Colchester United.

Last season this fixture provided a six goal thriller and the way both teams have started we could see this result repeated. The U's managed to collect 3 points in their opening match against newly relegated Preston North End scoring 4 goals in the process. Despite only managing a draw against Wycombe at the weekend, I understand that Colchester had enough opportunities to win the game but missed chances cost them.

It will be interesting to see how the team fares as there may be a bit of stiffness after only playing a few days ago. We were fortunate in a way that our game against Reading was cancelled as it allowed us a bit more recovery time for the Notts County match. Tonight however we will be on an even keel with both teams having played on Saturday. I don't expect to see any changes to the team as it would be a very brave decision to alter a team that has started so well.

Long time Addick Kevin Lisbie was a bit of a fans favourite at the Colchester. Lisbie had two spells at the club. He signed for them in 2007 and finshed top scorer with 17 goals in 42 appearances. Despite this the U's were relegated from the Championship after only one season and Lisbie moved to Ipswich Town. Colchester took Lisbie on loan from Ipswich for the 2009-2010 season and he again finished top scorer with 13 goals in 41 games. By contrast Lisbie only managed 16 goals in 155 appearances for the Addicks!

Other links between the Clubs include former manager Phil Parkinson who took the U's out of League One by finishing runner up, and it was Parkinson who brought Lisbie to Colchester. Former Charlton youngster Kemal Izzet moved to the U's in 2001 after failing to break into the first team. Izzet has made almost 400 appeareances for the U's since joining them.

Back to tonight's game. I expect this to be a very competitive game. Colchester are a decent side at home and they lost only two games at home last season. Therefore a draw tonight could actually be looked upon as a decent result, but we are going to need to be up for it otherwise I can see us losing out to a very combative midfield.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Notts County 1 - 2 Addicks

It's hard being a football fan when you can't actually get to see, or even hear your team playing on match day. My wife thought today was a good idea to entertain friends. I thought it a bad idea, but you know who invariably wins those battles. Don't get me wrong, I like the folks who had driven 100 miles to be with us, but sometimes the football fan in me can turn me into a selfish git.

My afternoon largely consisted of a bit of chatter, a nice lunch, and a lot of sneaking around with my iphone trying to keep abreast of the Charlton situation via Twitter. Needless to say my wife had her beady eye on me and I got more than a few of 'those' looks.

So with no live action available to me, I've had to make do with reading a glut of match reports from websites and blogs in order to build up a picture of what went on today. Luckily there are some great sources for this type of information.

The decision to keep Scott Wagstaff in the team was clearly a good one. I heard many calls for Danny Green to come in after sitting the Bournemouth game out through suspension, but I think Powell was right to keep the faith and Scott managed to grab his second goal of the season and send us on our way to victory.

Paul Hayes gave us a taste of what he can offer the team too. After supplying the pass that allowed Wagstaff to get the first goal, Hayes also managed to score his first ever goal in Charlton colours. Most of us aren't expecting lots of goals from Hayes, but if he can continue to bring players into the game and chip in with a few he will be doing a very important job for us.

Our defence has been an area that I have been concerned about. It appears Notts County threw everything but the kitchen sink at us today though, and the lads were equal to it. Some of the play was very direct by all accounts, but we are going to get a fair bit of that at League One level so it's important that we are able to deal with it.

Two wins to start of the campaign is as good as we could have hoped for. We obviously need to be mindful that it is very early days, but after two games, things are going according to plan. Our next match will provide a bit of a stiffer test as Layer Road isn't an easy place to get a result and Colchester will fancy their chances after beating Preston convincingly last week. Momentum is key in any promotion push and I hope we can keep things going.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Notts County Away

After claiming three points in our first match at The Valley, it's up to our new recruits to show that they are capable of winning games on their travels. Opponents Notts. County will have plenty of confidence going into the game as they beat Carlisle convincingly in their opening game and managed a respectable performance against Championship side and local rivals Nottingham Forest in their midweek Cup game.

Charlton will likely field and unchanged side. Chris Powell has intimated that if the players are performing then they pick themselves, which means Danny Green will probably line up on the bench with Scott Wagstaff keeping his place on the right side of midfield. Jason Euell was snapped up on a one-year deal earlier this week and I would be surprised if we didn't see him at least make the bench. Euell can play in a couple of positions which will allow Powell some options, this is particularly important since the number of substitutes have now been reduced.

Notts. County appointed Martin Allen as manager in April this year and became their eighth manager in an 18 month period. County had been on a run of seven straight defeats before the board moved for Allen. The club managed to stay in League One despite being in the relgation zone when Martin Allen took over. Allen has a fairly decent pedigree in the lower leagues and I will be surprised if Notts. County languish in the bottom third of the table again.

Honours finished even last season with both sides picking 1-0 wins at home. County have shown in that they are capable of scoring goals after grabbing three at Carlisle and another three against Forest midweek, so it's likely that our defence will have a lot more to do than against Bournemouth last week. I have concerns that this team is weakest at the back so Taylor and Morrison are really going to have to get their house in order. There were signs against Bournemouth that they haven't got their communication right, and I hope that there are no gifts for County as a result.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Perfect Start

There was a great buzz around The Valley today. Many people were excited at the prospect of getting their first glimpses of our new signings. The atmosphere as I took my seat was as good as I can ever remember and with the sun shining on the pitch, I had a feeling it was going to be a good afternoon.

AFC Bournemouth lined up with a 4-5-1 formation and were clearly hoping to overrun the midfield with numbers. A sound tactic one might think, but fortunately for us, the Cherries couldn't make it pay.

Our passing today was slick, accurate and we kept the ball very very well. It was a real contrast to what we saw last year. Chris Powell was vocal about his philosophy to play his way out of this division and it looks like he finally has the players who can do just that.

Hollands and Stephens look like they have been playing together for some time. It's hard to believe they were thrown together little more than a month ago. They seemed to be on the same wavelength and there was some neat inter-passing between the two.

The first 20 minutes were relatively even with both sides knocking it about pretty well. Michael Morrison went close after 8 minutes when corner was floated in by Dale Stephens, but the unmarked defender failed to convert. Bradley Wright-Phillips also had a good chance 10 minutes later when Chris Solly provided a superb cross, but the striker could only head the ball over the bar.

The first goal came courtesy of some excellent play from Chris Solly again. The young full-back picked up the ball on the right hand side and surged ahead, he found BWP with a good pass and continued his run into the box. His run was enough to provide some confusion in the defence and Wright-Phillips slipped the ball to Dale Stephens who coolly side footed the ball into the corner of the net.

Rhoys Wiggins, a target of the Bournemouth boo boys for much of the game, had a good shot from 30 yards. It looked speculative, but it forced a good save from Flahavan in the Cherries goal. The resulting corner hit a few bodies but didn't really fall to anybody, and it went out for a goal kick. Charlton were starting to assert their authority on the game.

Bournemouth at this point were starting to look very average. Although they passed the ball well, there was no cutting edge to their play and they were limited only to a couple of half chances. Danny Ings looked uncomfortable playing the lone striker role, but more than that, he was isolated for much of the first 45 minutes. If the Cherries were to get back into the game, they needed to find him some support.

Our final chance of the half was again involved Dale Stephens. Another corner was lofted into the box and Michael Morrison got up well but failed to connect well and the ball went across goal rather than towards it.

Lee Bradbury made a change as the second half kicked off. Matthieu Baudry was replaced for former Millwall youngster Lyle Taylor. Bournemouth were the fastest out of the traps and in the first 5 minutes had some good possession, but again they failed to create anything of note.

Scott Wagstaff then shocked both sets of fans with an early contender for goal of the season. A Dale Stephens pass found Wagstaff who hit it on the volley from 20 yards, and the ball crashed into the back of the net. It was a superb strike and which probably gives Chris Powell a bit of a selection headache, as it was widely accepted that Scott was only an understudy to Danny Green who was unavailable due to suspension. It will be interesting to see who plays in the next match.

The game was sealed on 77 minutes when Bradley Wright-Phillips went on a mazy run into the Bournemouth box. He rode one challenge but a second floored him; penalty, no doubt. New Captain Johnnie Jackson was the man on the spot and he didn't miss. It was game over. Bournemouth were offering very little and Charlton were playing keep ball magnificently.

Despite neither of our strikers getting on the score sheet, it has to be said that they both played very well. Wright-Phillips surprised if I'm honest as his work rate was tremendous. There were times last season where it was said that if he wasn't scoring goals, he didn't offer much to the team. That couldn't have been further from the truth today. He definitely gave everything, as did Paul Hayes. Hayes got into some good positions and shot agonisingly wide on one occasion.

It was a good all round performance and the whole team worked tirelessly for each other. It's hard to single anybody out as a man of the match though the headlines will definitely be all about Dale Stephens. I think we might have dug up a little gem here.

Bournemouth had a few half chances here and there, but the team that reached the play-offs last term has been stripped of it's major assets. You do wonder if they are going to be the next Swindon. I spoke to a couple of their fans after the game, and though some were upbeat as they lost to us this time last season and managed a good campaign, there were many who clearly think that the club need to spend some cash if they are to stay in this league.

Friday, 5 August 2011

New look, new season

After succeeding Phil Parkinson in January, Chris Powell's start to life as a manager has not been plain sailing. Despite winning his opening four games, the season ended in pretty mediocre fashion. His first foray into management was largely forgettable and most fans couldn't wait for the season to end. Powell definitely made some errors, but most fans agreed that a comprehensive rebuilding project was required before he could be fully judged.

The transfer market can be a bit of a minefield. For some managers however, their dealings in this area is what helps define them. Of course there are a number of staff involved in spotting talent and recommending them to the club. Ultimately however, it is the manager who must make the decision on whether these players will be right for the club, and he must quickly ascertain if the player will fit the mould for the style of football he is looking to play.

Powell has had a baptism of fire in terms of transfers. 15 players have been brought in, 15 have left, and new contracts have been negotiated with some of last years better players. At a glance, it would appear that the manager has had some success in the market and has landed some decent players for this level. Many of the new faces were targets for other clubs but the Charlton staff clearly did a good job of convincing them that their future lies with Charlton.

I think Powell got his transfer strategy spot on. The early capture of Danny Hollands for me was our best business of the summer. Not just because Hollands is a very good player in this division but because it was an early statement of intent. With Hollands in we could show other prospective signings where we were headed, and it wasn't long before we started to get players of the similar quality signing on the dotted line.

With all the transfer business now out of the way, Powell now needs to go on and prove that he can not only build a new squad, but he has the ability to motivate and manage his own squad successfully. It's all well and good putting together a promising team, but turning those players into a well oiled machine is where the work really begins. Powell has his team now, it's time to deliver some results.

Although it would be great to get off to a good start, it's by no mean a disaster if we don't. Historically many teams have won promotion despite some early set backs. More recently, clubs like Norwich and Millwall have shown that you can still get out of this league regardless of how well you start the season. Millwall won only two of their first 10 games but managed promotion via the play-offs. Norwich City won only 3 of their first 10 games and went on to become League One Champions.

Our own promotion winning seasons also prove that these campaigns can be won at varying stages. In the 1997/98 season we only won two of our first five games. Promotion still came our way however, as we were unbeaten in our last 10 games and we carried that form into the play-offs to eventually go on to become winners. In the 1999/00 season it was our mid-season form that helped us secure the Division One title after a 14 game unbeaten spell; this despite failing to win a single game from our final seven matches.

As the curtain is raised on Chris Powell's first full season in charge there will be some nerves from the squad and the fans alike, but there will also be plenty of excitement. As fans we now need to show our support and give the lads some time to find their feet. Providing the players show the drive and hard work we expect from Charlton players, I'm sure that support will continue throughout the campaign.

There is much expectation, but promotion is won over the course of a season and as always there are going to be plenty of ups and downs along the way.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Target Man

Our pre-season campaign came to a disappointing end last night as an Addicks XI went down 2-1 to Carshalton Athletic. Full match report here.

As with the Bromley match, the team consisted mostly of promising youngsters but there were a couple of others who needed the game in order to get their fitness levels up, Cedric Evina and Mikel Alonso being most notable. Also in Charlton colours was Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak.

Rasiak made his name in English football at Derby County. The Rams signed him on a free transfer when Charlton were enjoying life in the Premiership under Alan Curbishley. In his first season for County he managed to score 16 goals in 35 appearances, a decent return, and his performances caught the eye of a number of Premier League outfits though eventually it was Martin Jol at Tottenham who snapped him up.

Since, he has played for a number of English clubs including Southampton, Reading and Watford, and apart from Tottenham, where he made only 8 appearances, he has scored goals everywhere he has been. Obviously time has moved on a bit, and Rasiak is now 32, but I actually think that he might well be worth a punt. It's no secret that we are in the market for another striker, and Rasiak would definitely fit the mould for what we are looking for, more so than our other trialist and former player Jason Euell.

Rasiak is a target man. He can hold the ball up well, bring others into play and he doesn't do badly in front of goal himself. Bradley Wright-Phillips needs a partner with a different edge. Currently we have the two Pauls - Hayes and Benson, but I'm not convinced that either of them can perform the target man role well enough. Rasiak has played this part almost consistently throughout his career, and providing he still has the drive, I would prefer to see Rasiak over Euell.

Not that Euell is a bad player of course, but he is not a target man. In fact I actually thought some of his best performances for the Addicks came when utilised in an advanced midfield role. Clearly Chris Powell is in the best position to make these decisions as he is the one who will have seen the most of these players of late.

Of course, it may yet be the case that we sign someone totally different, but Powell has made no secret of the fact that he wants four strikers to compete in the forthcoming season, and with time ticking, he might have to make up his mind fairly quickly. Loan pickings might be a bit scant at this stage of the season as clubs will likely want to see how the first few months go before committing to any loan deals.

Whoever we bring in, I hope we bring them in for the right reasons and they fit the role that is required. I personally believe BWP will flourish with a partner that has the strength and the ability to feed the ball to him.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Elliot staying or going?

I'm not sure what's happening on the goalkeeper front but after signing Ben Hamer from Reading I was convinced we would see an exit from Rob Elliot. Judging by his twitter feed, Elliot isn't really sure what's happening either.

To add to the confusion the CAFC squad numbers were released today with Ben Hamer claiming the number one jersey, John Sullivan with number thirteen and Rob Elliot gets number forty four!

There are rumours that the contract which is on offer isn't what Elliot was expecting and talks have stalled. This could also explain the reasons why Elliot is saying that he wants to stay (though only for the right contract). I may well have all this wrong and it could be a case that Chris Powell just doesn't fancy him as our main goalkeeper for the coming season.

As well as Hamer coming in, we also picked up Andy Hughes on a free transfer. A friend of mine is a Leeds fan and he thinks we've grabbed a bargain. Hughes made over 100 League One appearances with Leeds, so if nothing else he has a fair bit of experience to offer. I understand that he is a 100% man. Not a player that will pull up trees, but someone who is solid and works his socks off for the team.

Hughes has been given the number two shirt which often goes to the right-back. I guess that's a big hint as to where Powell might be thinking of utilising him. Hughes can play in both full back positions and has also been used in midfield on a number of occasions.

As I mentioned,the CAFC squad numbers have been announced. No doubt most have already seen them but here's the link to the official page where you will find the full list.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

(Un)lucky Seven

What a game to miss. Unfortunately I could neither be there nor listen to the game on Charlton Live but it looks like I missed a seven-goal cracker at the new Den, with Charlton narrowly missing out as the score finished 4-3 to the home side.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is showing early signs of heading into the new season with the bit between his teeth again. Last season he was excellent and was scoring goals for fun, but I did wonder it if was a bit of a flash in the pan, a fluke season if you like. Bradley has been around a while and had never seen a return like last term. However he has never really been given a full season to show what he can do for a club, so maybe he just needed a proper run in a team before he showed what he is really capable of.

I haven't seen the goals, so I don't know if there were any defensive howlers, but shipping 4 goals isn't ideal, it's definitely something we are going to need to look at. In the games that I have seen this season, we look weakest at the back. I'm not convinced about the centre-back pairing, I'm not convinced with Solly either. I like him as a player, but his frame has got us into trouble in the past. Rhoys Wiggins has been a bit up and down in terms of form during pre-season, but he needs time to settle yet. By all accounts Rob Elliot had an excellent game, so there are some positives to come out of the game, despite the scoreline.

Overall though I'm pretty happy with the scoreline. Ok we lost, and apparently we were a bit unlucky not to have grabbed a draw, but once again we have shown we can compete with Championship sides. This must be a confidence boost ahead of the Bournemouth game. Just on the subject of Bournemouth, they managed a good win against Palace today at Dean Court. On the face of it, the 3-1 scoreline looked good and no doubt they will be keen to put in a similar performance against us on August 6th.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ravens and Lions

A much changed and albeit weakened team took on Bromley at their Hayes Lane ground last night. Amongst the squad that took part were Jason Euell, getting another run out after his cameo against Woking on Saturday and Mikel Alonso who I thought had gone AWOL. Apparently he had one or two issues to sort out before joining the squad. Cedric Evina also managed to get a game after recovering from his recent injury.

Jason Euell opened the scoring after the ball fell at his feet following some good work by Bradley Pritchard. Tosan Popo grabbed Charlton's second after the half time break, managing to beat the keeper in a one on one. Future star Callum Harriot notched up Charlton's third, slotting a low drive just inside the far post, before landing a cross on the head of unmarked Ade Azeez who steered the ball past the Bromley keeper for the fourth.

Attention now turns our neighbours Millwall and Alan Dunne's testimonial game. In a world where contracts mean very little and loyalty is more or less non-existent, it's nice to see a player who bucks that trend. Dunne joined Millwall when he was 10 years old and has notched up almost a life sentence with the club (19 years).

I'm sure it will be a very competitive game as both sides will want to get one up on their adversary, but my fingers are crossed for a Charlton win. It will be nice to go into the new season with the confidence of beating another Championship side during the pre-season campaign.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The People's Champions

Charlton ran out 1-0 winners in an entertaining game at The Valley last night. Den Bosch brought a trophy with them dubbed the 'People's Cup' to signify the historical plight of our two clubs where the fans have intervened and managed to keep the clubs alive. The match itself was pleasant enough, but the major thing I wanted to see was how the team had progressed since my last match at Aldershot. It was definitely a step forward.

Our midfield four in particular, looked very assured and more importantly well balanced, unlike last season where there were square pegs in round holes so to speak. It was also nice to see that each one of them actually wanted the ball, and their range of passing looked impressive. Hollands does a neat job of breaking things up, Green is happy to keep getting balls into the box, and we all know what JJ is capable of. But, it was Dale Stephens that caught my eye the most, he had a superb game and was happy to sit in the middle of the park spraying balls all over.

Defensively we didn't look too bad, but I am still concerned of the lack of pace. Neither Taylor nor Morrison are quick, and I think that they might be undone with some of the pacey players that we have in League One. Rhoys Wiggins seemed to have a bit of an off night. I saw him at Aldershot and he looked good, and judging by other reports he has had a decent pre-season, but it didn't really happen for him tonight. Still, rather he gets it out of his system before the Bournemouth game.

I guess it's now time I eat a bit of humble pie. I don't know if Paul Hayes read my blog yesterday (I admit, it's doubtful) but he definitely had a spring in his step, it was as if he was trying to prove me wrong on what I said yesterday. He succeeded. He looked a totally different player to what I've seen of him before. He showed some great touches, got in some excellent positions and was unlucky not to score. I hope he keeps it up. BWP was his usual self, often doesn't seem to do a lot, but when the chances come along, he buries them. Not surprising then that only goal of the game came from Wright-Phillips, a stylish lob over the keeper.

All in all a good night's work. The rest of the squad will get a run out at Bromley tomorrow night and the others will likely be rested for the game against Millwall on Saturday.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Benson staying put

Reports today confirm that Paul Benson has decided to stay at The Valley. After accepting a £150k bid from Notts County, Benson failed to agree personal terms. It's a good decision for all concerned in my opinion. Benson scored 10 goals for us last season. Ok, it's not prolific, but I think that's not bad considering it was his first season, and we didn't exactly create much in terms of clear cut chances.

Benson is a grafter, he puts everything in and I firmly believe that we'll see a bit more from him this season should he get the opportunity. I think he was treated a bit harshly by some of our fans last season so he now has a chance to show them that they were wrong about him.

Clearly the goal (no pun intended) is to find someone to play alongside Wright-Phillips. Although many would be looking at a proper target man to fill this role, we have to actually look at what we've got; and actually it isn't much. With Benson back in the mix, we have to pick two from three strikers. BWP obviously picks himself so that only leaves one starting slot plus a bench warmer.

Paul Hayes has failed to impress me thus far, and it seems the two are quite similar players in some respects, but I feel that Benson will pick up more goals than Hayes over the course of a season.

There is still talk of the possibility that Jason Euell joining us however. I think Euell ideally would rather be playing a division above, but thus far nobody has offered him a contract. I read that Doncaster Rovers would like to bring him back on a more permanent basis after his loan spell there last season, but I think he would prefer to find a club more locally.

I have no idea what kind of wages Euell would be looking for and what kind of budget is left, but you can be sure that he will be taking a significant wage cut should a deal be possible.

Whether Euell comes back to the club or not, I hope Powell is on the lookout for another striker as three just isn't going to be enough.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Den Bosch at The Valley

Reports suggest that the 0-0 draw with Woking was largely a forgettable match. The squad featured was by no means our strongest XI with Powell opting to play some youngsters and fringe players. It's worth mentioning however that Jason Euell played a part in the match, and Powell commented that Jason still has a lot to offer and hinted that a contract for the former Addick was not out of the question.

Dutch outfit Den Bosch are next on the pre-season list. This will actually be the first game at The Valley during the warm up campaign so our new recruits will get to see what it's like playing in a good sized stadium. For some of them it's going to be a real surprise having been used to playing in stadiums which hold only a few thousand.

Den Bosch play in the Dutch Erste Divisie which is the second tier of Dutch football. Their greatest claim to fame, other than becoming Dutch Champions way back in 1948, is that they are the Club where Ruud Van Nistelrooy started his career as a 17 year old central defender. His manager at the Club obviously spotted that he was playing in the wrong position and switched him to an attacking role where he scored 12 goals in 31 appearances during the 1996-97 campaign, before getting a move to Herenveen.

This match should provide a good test for us. After competing well against both Bristol City and Cardiff in Spain, it will give us another chance to see how well the team have developed and I would expect to see as close to a full strength Charlton team as possible. For many fans it will be the first opportunity to see some of our new boys in action and hopefully they will give a good account of themselves.

Paul Benson's move to Notts County has hit a snag. Benson becomes the third player to fail to agree terms with a Club, although it looks as if this time it's more about the length of his contract than the money on offer. It remains to be seen whether County improve their offer of two years with an optional third year based on appearances. I'll be happy if he stays. I don't think we got to see the best of him last year and hopefully with his old team-mate Danny Green banging some balls into the box, we might get to see a few more goals from him.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Disappointing Draw

After some good results and more importantly good performances in pre-season thus far, the result at the EBB stadium felt a bit of a let down. Of course these are only warm up games intended to ready the squad for the League campaign, but I can't help feeling a little disappointed that we didn't do better.

I understand that the squad is still very new, but the team used is likely to be very close to the starting XI against Bournemouth, albeit with a couple of absentees with injuries. There are only a few pre-season games left now to get these players working together, so there is still plenty to be done.

We competed well but were guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net at times, we need to have more shots and take a few more risks. Our style of play has however improved dramatically and instead of being an eyesore there is actually some eye candy in terms of ball play, we just need to see a bit more confidence from players to take some shots on. Defensively we looked OK, Taylor seems solid enough but we need to see a bit more from Morrison, though Rhoys Wiggins looks to be a superb signing at this early stage.

In other news there are rumours that we have accepted a 150k bid for Paul Benson. After arriving from the Daggers I think many of us thought that he would do well for us, but for whatever reason it never really happened for him. I was however hoping that in his second League One season he might settle down and show some improvement, but maybe Powell already has a replacement in mind. It's clear we can't just let him go without bringing someone in as we are already short in attacking options.

Woking are next up as we travel to them on Saturday. I hope we see a better all round performance and hopefully a win.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shots up next

After what must be viewed as a successful week in Spain, our next fixture sends us to Aldershot Town for our first of two fixtures against opposition in the Guildford area (Woking being the other match, which takes place on Saturday).

Aldershot looked doomed to relegation at the beginning of the year after a run of only two wins in ten games and their league position in freefall. The Club decided to replace manager Kevin Dillon with Dean Holdsworth and they managed to climb from 20th to 14th, only losing 4 games with Holdsworth in charge. So far they are unbeaten in pre-season, notching up a 4-0 win against local rivals Farnborough and a 3-1 win against Tamworth. Inverness Caledonian Thistle however managed to hold them to a draw.

The Addicks will go into the game full of confidence after their showing against Championship sides Bristol City and Cardiff City. Although we picked up our first pre-season defeat against Cardiff, it has been reported that we were always in the game and were unlucky not to score. It seems that the new recruits are settling in quite nicely and there is an excellent vibe about the team. They have now had plenty of time to start to get to know one another and Powell should be getting a clear picture of what his first XI is likely to be.

Speculation still surrounds Simon Francis and Alan McCormack. Both players are being linked with moves away with both Walsall and Brentford and or Bradford (depends which sites you read) being mentioned for McCormack and there might still be a possibility of a Bournemouth deal for Francis. I would imagine that both players would relish a move with their chances at making the first team looking fairly bleak with the influx of players over the summer. Neither player was really fancied by Chris Powell last term, and in fact although they both got opportunities, they never really took their chances and made a position their own.

I would expect to see at least a couple more faces before the season starts although this may only be in the form of loan signings. The Club have splashed out a fair bit already this summer, and I will be surprised to see further permanent acquisitions.

I hope to see us notch up another tomorrow night, although I expect it to be a tough encounter. Aldershot will give everything against a team of our stature but I think we should have too much for them.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Viva Espana

Through the wonders of Twitter, I managed to keep relatively up to date with Charlton's latest pre-season friendly against Bristol City, this despite the match taking place in Spain and me being in Gloucestershire at the time.

It seems the first half was a relatively tame affair, with only a few chances for either side. Best chance for City fell to former Plymouth winger Yannick Bolasie, but he could only manage to hit the Charlton upright. The Addicks should have scored through Sam Williams but he headed wide when unmarked. The half time whistle came to the familiar scoreline of 0-0, just as the Welling game.

Both teams made 11 changes in the second half and again, much like the Welling game, there were goals looming. Charlton opened the scoring with Bradley Wright-Phillips netting from close range. BWP almost scored a second soon after but for a good save by the Bristol City keeper. City equalised through Jon Stead after a mix up between Michael Morrison and Elliot. Apparently Morrison left the ball for Sullivan, but Stead nipped in and scored from close range. But the Addicks sealed the win after a decent cross from Ruben Bover Izquierdo was met by the head of Johnnie Jackson.

We apparently looked a "solid unit" and competed with City for 90 minutes, which is a good achievement considering City are in the Championship and we are a League One outfit with a completely new team. So far so good in pre-season. Two games, two wins, who could ask for more?