28 November 2012

Charlton 2 Peterborough 0

You'd think Darren Ferguson would have chosen another job. It's clear by now he'll always be in his father's shadow, never equalling his achievements. He seems to have done a decent job with Peterborough for now this time around, and they gave a performance that constantly stopped Charlton getting a grip on the game. Their tactics are fairly simple - a fairly solid defence and well-synchronised counter-attacks where they get a lot of players up the pitch quickly - but they executed them very well. It was a contrast with Charlton who were trying to play the patient game of passing the ball around, looking for an opening.

With better finishing, Peterborough could have won. The turn-around in the game came from a brilliant piece of finishing by Ricardo Fuller on 77 minutes. From 25 yards out he caught the Peterborough goalkeeper slightly out of position with a shot into the top left corner. It turned the game around, and Kermogant's goal 8 minutes later sealed the game. For once, Charlton kept their defensive heads for the last 10 minutes and the points were secured.

Once again, the game had the feel of last season to it, when Charlton managed to keep winning despite not always looking like they deserved to. The last five games have somehow brought in 13 points, which have put Charlton solidly in midtable. Peterborough, somehow, remain stuck at the bottom of the table.

26 November 2012

Charlton 1 Huddersfield 1

This report's a bit late, because I've been pondering my feelings about it. The heavy rain on Saturday night meant that my recorder didn't work, so I haven't been able to see the no-doubt detailed and extensive coverage of the game on the Football League Show, so I can't say whether the two crucial incidents - the sending-off and the penalty - were good decisions. The consensus seems to be that they were both dubious, so they, in a way, balanced out. And a draw was a fair result.

Once again, Charlton failed to take advantage of playing against ten men, yet I can't help thinking that four weeks ago, we'd have lost this game. It wasn't a great performance, and Huddersfield generally looked the more talented team. Perhaps the northern-style weather suited them better.

Through most of the second half Charlton looked like they were repeating last year's trick of doing just enough and no more to win a game but Huddersfield's late flurry caught them out, just like Cardiff's final struggles nearly did.

After the game, Chris Powell called on the team to show more killer instinct, and I'd say there's also a need to keep concentration going for the full 100 minutes. In November, Charlton have conceded four goals within 5 minutes of full time.

So it was a disappointing end to the afternoon, but spirits remain high. Just remember the last time we were playing in this division, four years ago. On 22 November 2008 Charlton seemed already doomed to relegation: a dreadful performance saw them lose 2-5 to Sheffield United, and the manager was sacked. He commented, with his usual incoherency, but with unaccustomed honesty "My record coming to this club has been good, but it's been difficult here. When I arrived they were on the slide and I haven't been able to stop that."

Today, in completely unrelated news, I've been enjoying reading about Newcastle United. The geordies are wondering what's going wrong with their team. Should we tell them?

Charlton website report by the brilliant and possibly-related-to-me Gary Haines

07 November 2012

Charlton 5 Cardiff 4

I think I'll have to renounce my title as the world's worst football pundit. Yesterday evening someone on twitter (I can't remember who, and it'd be kinder not to) predicted "a dull game. 0-0."

That prediction only lasted 4 minutes, when I can't have been the only person fearing another horrible home defeat. But even after the second goal, on 24 minutes, the North Stand crowd (my man of the match) kept on chanting, in the most astonishing display of solidarity to Chris Powell, clearly a response to the few idiots who've been questioning his position.

Did it affect the players? I honestly think it did. There was no sign of the defeatism that was evident in the second half of the Middlesbrough game. It felt as if the team felt they could, improbably, come back. And improbably enough they did.

It was absolutely fitting that it should be Johnnie Jackson who started the comeback. He's not the most skillful player in the team, but he's got a knack of being in the right place at the right time that any striker must envy. And of course he has a huge influence on morale: when he's on song, the rest of the team seems to follow. His two goals at the end of the half completely turned the game around, and an exuberant crowd was disappointed when halftime came. Could Charlton continue this way?

Well, yes. Dale Stephens got the third before 10 minutes had passed. I don't know if he meant his free kick to be a shot or if it was a misplaced cross that fooled everybody. I kinda hope it was a fluke because it would be the first piece of outrageous good luck Charlton have had this season, an omen that can inspire and encourage the team as the season goes on.

For the rest of the game, Charlton were in total control, adding two goals and causing scenes of delirium in the crowd.

But then the referee, who had a poor game, booking eight players in a perfectly clean match, found six minutes of added time from god knows where. I felt that Charlton's players were emotionally, if not physically, drained at this point, while Cardiff were given a boost by this. So just to keep it interesting they scored two late goals.

Those goals slightly spoiled the mood. At the end of the game I thought Chris Powell was torn between an urge to lay into the team for conceding them and the simple joy of beating one of the top teams in the league. And the players looked as if they knew they were in for a bit of bollocking.

It didn't matter. It was three points gained in the most amazing, palindromic, game I've seen in years. And this from a team still ravaged by injuries, where the best rightback in the Championship has to play on the left, and one of the centre backs has to play at right back. When the team is back to full strength, who knows what they will be capable of?

04 November 2012

Charlton 1 Middlesbrough 4

If you've got a recording of this match, and haven't yet seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it in reverse. The result will be the same but it will be much less depressing.

You'll find that, as expected, Middlesbrough are a very good team, and they will score with almost the first kick of the game. Perhaps less predictably, Charlton will play the first half like a bunch of strangers Chris Powell found in the local Wetherspooons. Generous strangers, though: they will hand the northerners two gift-wrapped goals before halftime, and stumble off 3-0 down.

For the second half, Powell will make a wonderful substitution, bringing on Lawrie Wilson to play at right midfield. You won't be able to decide if it's just him making the difference, but Charlton will begin to play better, making a few good chances, and you feel that with a bit of luck they could get back into the game.

But then 'Boro will score - Woodgate finding space to power in a header from a free kick, and really the game will be over. Charlton won't give up though, and will finally get the goal their fightback deserves. Even at the end, they'll still be trying, and the game will end with Bradley Pritchard heading just over. You'll feel upset, obviously, but you'll feel proud that Charlton didn't give up against a team that is deservedly on top of the table.

Sometimes you really need to be a time lord to enjoy Charlton matches.