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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dancing With Wolves?

Just six games left now and even Pards admits that we need to win '4 or 5' to reach that fast disappearing Play-Off position. Bit of a tall order really after just 4 wins in the last 19 fizzies and 1 win in the last 9 and especially with the next two opponents having similar ideas in mind.
And after the excitement of playing West Brom for the fourth time this season, next up are their near neighbours Wolves, currently enjoying a good run that has taken them past us into ninth place with a game in hand.
A rather strange team, Wolves, full of caution, that contest the title of 'draw specialists' with the likes of Leicester and Palarse, and only seem to come out of their shell after their half-time tea. In fact they've scored more goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half than the entire first 45 so be prepared for a boring first half before the fireworks.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, they are on a bit of a roll and looking at away games only, have the best record in the fizzies over their last 5 games with 3 wins and only 1 defeat - 0-3 at Watford, back at the beginning of February - and are now unbeaten in 4 on their travels. And over the last 8 games home and away, they've got the third best record in the Division with 4 wins and only a single defeat.
In line with their cautionary attitude, they'd had more clean sheets than anybody else with 16 (the Addicks have 12), but have failed to score 13 times, more than anyone else above us in the table which clearly emphasizes their favorite result, a 0-0 draw, of which they've had no less than 7 (the Addicks have only had one!).
There's more good news in looking at their games against the top half teams. While Wolves have picked up 3 doubles and 18 points from the bottom three teams, against the Addicks disgraceful total of 6 points, we have secured a massive 26 points against the cream of the Division. McCarthy's boys meanwhile have picked up a meagre 14 points in their games against the top 12. And the bad news for them is that apart from the Addicks, they face 4 of the racing pack in their last 7 games with a visit to Bristol City and home games against West Brom, Plymouth and Ipswich. And looking at their home record, the only team they've beaten in the top 14 in the table is, yes you've guessed it, Charlton...
But one positive for them is their success during the January sales. In marked contrast to our own sorry story regarding strikers, they have obviously done their homework and splashed out 1.5M on someone called Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Unlike Andy Gray or Leroy Lita he does appear to know where the net is and has scored 7 times already since the move from Plymouth. His style of play has been termed 'aggressive' and apparently there's a night club bouncer in Plymouth that can verify that after an incident in November concerning a bottle. Ebanks-Blake is currently on bail pending another visit to the courtroom in April and is presumably enjoying his dancing somewhere else now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

West Bromwich Albion Preview

It'll be a sombre mood at the Valley tomorrow and perhaps we should all be wearing black. The fans will be wondering what exactly they are doing there on a holiday afternoon when the wife expects at least a trip with the hubby to Bluewater. Well, that'll be Saturday then. And they'll have mixed emotions - the fans that is, not the wife. Do we grin and bear it or do we let our emotions run riot and show what we really think? Because how on earth can the club expect us to sing and cheer at this precise moment in time.
Take a quick look at the table and it shows the Addicks in 10th. A mountain has appeared in front of us and like the closure of Everest by the Chinese, it seems that the players have suddenly had the door slammed in their faces and have admitted defeat. And while there's no knowing how the crowd will react tomorrow perhaps we should instead be thankful that there's only 7 more games of this tainted Tier Two season to go before we can thankfully forget it all and take our long earned summer break.
But is it too late for a Grandstand finish? A late spurt to show everyone what we're really made of? Unless we can find the key to the door, I wouldn't bet on it.
As for the players, we have to say we expected more, but so too did Pardew. The talisman Leroy Lita, loaned from Reading, has now played three games and enjoyed three defeats. He has yet to score for the Addicks and has now apparently gone a total of 16 games without scoring. Andy Gray, ex of Burnley, after his first game against Watford in January has now played 11 games, starting in 7 of them, and has also failed to score.
Two million pound Luke Varney, 21 starts, plus 13 sub appearances, has scored just 7 times. Perhaps we were just too hard on Carl Leaburn, with his 53 odd goals from 344 appearances.
The only sign of any success up front, apart from Todorov, has been Chris Iwelumo with 11 fizzy goals from his 28 starts, and 11 substitutions. Perhaps, in retrospect, we should have kept Kevin Lisbie who's enjoying his best season ever and has already scored 14 times, twice as many as Varney, for a club at the very bottom of the League and clearly heading for relegation.
As for the teamsheet tomorrow, Pards is an advocate of a settled team and it'll probably read the same as last time out, despite the defeat, with a 4-5-1 line-up.
Weaver; Halford, McCarthy, Sodje, Thatcher; Ambrose, Semedo, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Lita. The only change maybe the omission of Semedo, who didn't play well against Ipswich, for Andy Gray and a return to 4-4-2.
As for the result, we'll have to wait for New York's flawless predictions to know what to expect but a pointless ( in terms of league position anyway ) 0-0 scoreline would appear fitting in the circumstances.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking Forward to West Brom?

Pardew only has another 56 hours to figure out how to stop the rot and prevent our next opponents West Brom putting more points between us and at the same time its vital that he prevents a permanently damaging fourth defeat in a row. But it wouldn't be easy against a team that we've faced three times already this season, and have yet to beat.
Two drawn cup games back in January, before losing on penalties at the Hawthorns, and the 4-2 away defeat on December 15th doesn't give us much confidence to draw on although we did come from 2 goals down to equalise then and only lost with 2 goals in the last 10 minutes.
To add to our current problems we sunk to 10th in the table last night after Wolves beat Scunthorpe with a Neill Collins' header 7 minutes from time. Oh, and Hull won again as well to go 6 points in front of us in our coveted 5th spot.
So it's a sizable dilemna for the gaffer to face and all in front of a nervous and extremely critical support. And perhaps support will be a key word for without some positive vibes from the stands, its obviously going to be another difficult afternoon.
But, despite it all, its probably just about the best time to be facing West Brom. We all know the Addicks form of only 4 wins in the last 20 games but the team from the Hawthorns are not a great deal better with only 6 wins in their last 15 fizzies. And while we are a lowly 22nd (!) over the last 8 games-table, they are only rated 12th.
With only two wins in their last 6 away League games since beating us in December, over Hull and Sheff. Wed, they've had surprising 1-2 defeats at both Preston and Barnsley along with another two upsets at Stoke 1-3 and Ipswich 0-2.
Perhaps, with everyone tipping them as promotion certainies for so long, they have allowed their mind to slip elsewhere. For in just two weeks come Saturday they'll be playing at Wembley in an attempt to beat Portsmouth and appear in their first Cup Final for 40 years when they beat Everton 1-0.
With a five point gap to 2nd place but with two games in hand, West Brom are still on course for automatic promotion and with 5 games left against clubs in the bottom half they don't need to win tomorrow against a team now so far behind them.
In their alarming weekend 1-4 defeat at home to Leicester, both of their key strikers, 20 goal Kevin Phillips and Man City loanee Ismael Miller, were on the bench and up front started Roman Bednar and on-loan Luke Moore. Probably it had something to do with the fact that Miller, otherwise known as the Moston Menace, and who will be signed on a permanent deal at the end of the season, seems to save himself for the cup games, scoring a hat-trick in the Quarter-Final against Bristol Rovers. For as far as League games go, he's only scored once in the last 23 fizzies, which obviously encouraged Mowbray to get a back-up and Moore was loaned from Aston Villa till the end of the season. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing him either as a straight red card in the defeat by Leicester means he will not be playing at theValley.
On another happy note, injuries are starting to affect Mowbrays team, with our main tormentor back in December, Chris Brunt going off injured with hamstring problems against Palarse last week and not appearing at all against Leicester.
On the history front, we can all remember the disappointing, at the time anyway, 1-4 home defeat on 19 March 2005 ( which was their first win at the Valley in 50 years) back in our illustrious Premiership days but overall we have a good record against them with 11 wins at home compared to only 6 defeats.
Perhaps to encourage the opposition to daydream, we 'ort to lower ourselves to chanting reminders of the Cup just to put their mind off the game. 'Don't Forget Pompey' - 'Only two weeks to Goooo' - but no, the most important thing we should be doing now is getting in training to make some noise come Friday and drown out any murmours of booing. Whatever we may think, the time for boos is past, because its getting too serious now and Pards' obviously needs us just as we need him.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ipswich 2 Charlton 0

Another blank scorecard and continued cheerful enthusiasm and manic optimism is at last proving distinctly difficult to maintain as we wait increasingly impatiently for normal service to be resumed.
After a stunning once-a-season strike on Tuesday from a player that has never done it before, we move on to a 35 yard floater, caught by the prevailing winds, sailing rudely over Weaver and going in off the far post. You got to laugh really or you'd be reaching desperately for the bottle.
Except that nobody, least of all Pards, is laughing and certainly not the board after they're read kingshilladdick sparkling analysis of Pardews use, and non-use, of his players, not to mention the apparent twelve million spent. Perhaps all we need now is the board's vote of confidence.
But just when you thought that everyone would be pulling up the bedclothes, surprisingly, there's been an unprecedented volume of posts over the last half-day reflecting at least a fighting spirit from the fans. Predictable back-lash maybe but most point out how stupid we've all been to think we would sail back up despite the the relative mediocrity of the fizzies. Perhaps it's a case of not the hope that kills, its our over-blown expectations, although one person seeing though all the optimism is newyorkaddick who continues to amaze with another spot-on prediction.
But its not what we feel or think that's important right now, its the players and of course, Pardew. He's got 6 days to figure out what the hell to do and who to do it with. As far as the players are concerned, I can only surmise that the second half comeback by Bristol, just when they thought they'd done enough, is still on their minds. Following close on the second-half comeback by Watford, its perhaps confirmed to them that they are really not strong enough to cope.
Somebody used the word relegation yesterday and I suppose that at least there's no fear of that so things could have been worse. And we can only hope that in the 7 games to go, the shock of at last being overtaken by all the over-achieving dross that surround us will somehow fire the players back into contention.
And what a chance to prove it next Friday against another team conceding 4 in their last game, West Bromwich Albion, 4-1 losers at home to Leicester. A clash of the titans then or two teams struggling in a worsening quagmire. Who knows but with all the frayed nerves on hand we could have a 6-6 scoreline that would at least give something to cheer.
As for the papers few of them have bothered and you really can't blame them. The posh_murdoch, although usually accustomed to its owners desire to bend the truth somewhat and to ignore the obvious, have, to their credit, in fact tried to raise the spirits of the dead and give four of our players a score of 7 out of ten - the same as awarded to the Tractor Boys - for effort and endeavour presumably rather than any successful end result.

Charlton: Weaver; Halford, McCarthy, Sodje, Thatcher; Ambrose, Semedo (Iwelumo 59), Holland, Zheng (Varney 83), J Thomas; Lita (Gray 83).
Subs (not used): Elliot, Fortune.
Booked: Semedo 26 (foul on Garvan), McCarthy 32 (foul on Lee)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eight to Go...Ipswich Town

A stunning strike from a player that hasn't scored all season somehow said it all on Tuesday and settled the game at Turf Moor. We were supposed to bounce straight back after a disappointing loss at home to Preston but it didn't happen. It was obviously going to be a night when the result was more important than the performance but it appears that we got it all wrong and ended up with just an improved performance, which at least appears to have satisfied Pardew. Indeed he failed to spot much difference between Tuesday and our win over Sheffield Uoo.
Perhaps we should be worried by that but in this League there's just no time to reflect on anything as tomorrow we travel to Ipswich.
And after two defeats in a row, one would think that the worst possible place to go now would be that little town in East Anglia. Because, with only one defeat in 18 games at Portman Rd this season - 1-2 against Watford on Feb 9th - they clearly have the best home record in the fizzies.
But, optimistic as ever, hope is not lost as they are currently suffering their worst run in the League this season without a win in 4 games and endured their biggest defeat of all on Tuesday by 1-4 at happy cup semi-finalists, Barnsley. Manager Jim Magilton was not a happy bunny and is reported to have read the riot act after the game.
With their 54 goals, 4th most in the fizzies and one more than the Addicks, they are clearly not shy in front of goal and have currently three players on 11 goals, the Spaniard from Galicia, Pablo Counago, the tall, 6' 3" strapping giant from Galway Alan Lee and the Irishman from Birkenhead, Jon Walters. However, injuries have hit Magilton and he'll unfortunately, depending on your point of view, be without Walters with a knee injury and probably winger Danny Haynes as well.
But clearly there's one player who will enjoy tomorrow, Matt Holland. Making his first return to Portman Rd since he joined Charlton in the summer of 2003. He made a total of 259 appearances for Ipswich in the six years 1997-2003, with an amazing run of 223 consecutive games and showed an unusual sense of loyalty when he even rejected a move to Premiership Aston Villa to try to get Ipswich back into the Premier after relegation in 2002.
We also have another Ipswich ex in our 9 goal Darren Ambrose. Starting his career at Portland Rd, he had two years there 2001/03 playing 30 games before Bobby Robson signed him for Newcastle.
So, in compliance with the law of the ex - even though it failed to galvanize Andy Gray on Tuesday - starting with Holland and Ambrose is a must, and there's only the decision as to which 9 to add to the team and then decide on the correct formation.
4-5-1 Pards. Don't know how many times we have to say it, but clearly its time once again for a 5 man midfield. Semedo, Holland and Ambrose please, and pick your one for the lone job up front. Leroy it is then.
The defence picks itself, or rather we know who playing, Weaver, Halford, Sodje, McCarthy, Thatcher so that just leaves the wide man to choose. And with Sinclair apparently not 'fitting-in', Lee Cook suffering low conditioning, and Lloyd Sam indisposed, that just leaves Jerry Thomas on the left.
So Weaver; Halford, Sodje, McCarthy, Thatcher; Ambrose, ZiZi, Semedo, Holland, Thomas; Lita.
Prediction. With only 4 wins in the last 19 games and only 6 teams getting less points than we have in the last 8, its a bit hard to see beyond another defeat at Fortress Portland Rd. But, this is football and strange things have been knew to happen, even with the Addicks.
If its going to happen, a winning run that is, it has to begin now and with Holland keen to impress at his old home and the law of the ex in operation its an Darren Ambrose goal for a 1-0 victory....
At least that's what the missus thinks. Me? I think I'll settle for a point.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deja Vu?

A narrow defeat suffered by Hull last night, 0-1 at Cardiff, means that remarkably, after 1 point from the last 9, we've still in 5th place. West Brom moved a point closer to the top two with a 1-1 home draw with Palarse and right now with only 8 games left there's definitely two separate races taking place.
The top four of Bristol, Stoke, Watford and West Brom are all alone in the race for the auto spots and are now covered by just 5 points with Watford and West Brom having games in hand. Meanwhile, there's now a 6 point gap before the second grouping of no less than 7 teams fighting for the 2 remaining Play-Off places. These 7 are again covered by 5 points with the last two, Ipswich and Wolves, having games in hand.
And even more remarkably Pards, optimistic as ever, remains upbeat after defeat at Burnley. Well he hasn't much choice, has he, because it's fast becoming crunch time.
Pardew has made many hints over the past months that it's his experience of this situation that will see us right in the end and looking back three years it's not difficult to see a distinct parallel with his last season in the fizzies back in 2004/05 with the Hamsters.
On March 18th 2005 West Ham had 56 points from 16 wins and 8 draws with just 8 games remaining. They had scored 53 goals and had a goal difference of plus 4. They were seventh and out of the Play-Offs.
With only 2 points from the last 5 games things were not going well for Pardew and the fans were screaming for his head when suddenly things started to improve. Three straight wins followed and 5 weeks later they had done enough with five wins and 2 draws to finish the season in the coveted 6th position on 73 points, three clear on Reading in seventh place.
Strangely enough we find ourselves in almost exactly the same position now. Exactly the same number of points, 56, and the same goals scored, 53, from 15 wins and 11 draws but with a better goal difference.
It all finished well for West Ham when, Pardew, after a two legged win over an Ipswich side containing Darren Bent, took the Hamsters to the Millenium Stadium on May 30th and beat Preston 1-0.
Revealingly, one man was clearly responsible. Of the 5 goals scored in the Play-Offs, Bobby Zamora scored 5 of them including the winner at Cardiff. And it had been Pardew who had insisted on including the 6' 1" 24 year old Zamora in the Defoe transfer deal with Spurs, taking him to Upton Park in January 2004.
Is Pards dreaming that new-boy Lita will do a Zamora? Both started their playing careers in Bristol, Lita with City, Zamora with Rovers.
Perhaps we should let Pards have the last word, "I won't hide from the fact that we've got ourselves into a hole. We've lost three league games in a row. The pressure on me and on the team is increasing, and it doesn't make it comfortable. I will look in my team to find who will be up for the challenge."
Well, that was 3 years ago but obviously nothing changes in this world as a challenge we most definitely have now with an upcoming visit to a team with the best home record in the fizzies, Ipswich Town.
Perhaps its time for Leroy Lita to light the touchpaper and do a Zamora......

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Looking Forward to Preston?

I can only call Tuesday a stunning disappointment and after the second-half display there's only the realisation that there's definitely better teams than us in the fizzies. Meanwhile, it's perhaps a point gained and we continue to stagger hopefully towards the Play-off lottery.
Still six points behind Watford in 2nd and with Stoke and West Brom also to overtake, perhaps we should remember that we still have to visit two of our closest rivals in Ipswich and Plymouth and of our 5 away games we have to visit three teams that have some of the best home records in the fizzies, Ipswich, Plymouth and Burnley with only 6 home defeats between them in a total of 54 games. Perhaps we should concentrate on retaining our 5th place after all.
Preston, meanwhile, are down in 20th, on 40 points, with only 4 teams below them. Preston's home form is good with 8 wins - the same as the Addicks - and with only one defeat more than we've had and Charlton are the only team in the top 10 to have taken away all three points from Deepdale. But its their away form that has dragged them down to the relegation area. With only 3 away wins and 3 draws, they have suffered more defeats on the road than anybody else in the fizzies, a total of 12, and only Ipswich and Barnsley have picked up fewer points away from home.
And a further bad sign for a team at the lower end of the table, they don't seem to be very good at fighting. Compared to Bristol City, as we sadly experienced, who have fought back and scored 14 points on the 17 occasions that they've gone behind, poor old Preston, after conceding first 16 times have only won a meagre 4 points in those games, a feat equalled by Leicester City.
But the good news for Preston fans is that they are slowly improving and with the three points on Tuesday, have now dragged themselves out of the bottom three. With more points than the Addicks over the last 8 games, 13 to 12, Pardew should take note that at the same time as we were drawing with Bristol, Preston were gaining their third away win of the season by winning at Leicester by the only goal in the last minute.
As for the Addicks, nothing less than 3 points will do on Saturday, and while there have been many disparaging comments about the acquisition of yet another forward, perhaps its worth noting that the Addicks for all our firepower only have one player in the top goal-scoring 20 players in the fizzies and he, Gray, scored all of his 13 goals this season at Burnley, and hasn't now scored for over three months. By contrast, West Brom have 3 players in that top twenty, and Stoke, Watford and Ipswich all have two.
Perhaps we shouldn't worry too much about that what with the highest scoring team by far, West Brom with 71, are still only 4th while Bristol City, outscored by 11 other teams, are 3 points clear at the top. But while we have 2 midfielders in ZiZi and Ambrose both finding the net 9 times, I can't help but remember that in our last promotion years, Super Clive got 23 in 1998 ( and then another three in the Final) and then Andy Hunt going one better and getting 24 in 2000.
So the arrival of Leroy Lita, 14 goals last season but only one in this, is Pardew latest attempt to force the issue. Perhaps those with a long memory can recall the arrival of striker Jim Melrose for the last 11 games of the successful promotion-winning 1985-86 season. He only got 5 goals in those 11 games but they included a face-saving equaliser at Sainburys against Millwall after they had gone 3-0 up in the first 19 minutes.
And it does seem that we need to do something about the accuracy of our finishing. Only 4 teams, West Brom with 71, Stoke 59, Watford 57 and Ipswich 53 have scored more goals than we have with our 52, but Stoke and Watford have managed it with roughly 60 less shots on target than we have. And with the distinct possibility that we'll have to face at least one of these teams in the Play-Offs its perhaps vital that we find an answer now before its too late.
So we can only hope that Pardew, with his contacts at Reading, has this time got himself someone who we can rely upon to hit the back of the net.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Eleven Games to Go...Bristol City

Just eleven games left now before the season ends and another 8 wins is still not enough to get us into the 80's, the very minimal for a automatic spot. So therefore aiming for 8 wins, a draw and just 2 bad days in the last two months of the season what better start today than the arrival of top-dogs Bristol City.
After analysing Bristol's form yesterday, there's nothing left but to cover the players.
Star man, above, for Bristol is Number 35, the 6' 3" Nigerian striker Bamberdele Adebola, 'Dele' to his mates. He's now 32 and has been around with Crewe, Birmingham, Palarse and Coventry and he joined Bristol in January for an undisclosed fee. Scoring 29 in 122 games at Crewe, 29 in 128 at Birmingham and 31 in 163 at Coventry, he's also started well at Bristol with 3 games in only 6 games.
Another big number at 34, is the Jamaican international Darren Byfield from Birmingham who's played for Millwall and the Gills and is this seasons top goalscorer with 8. Captain Louis Carey is rumoured to be suffering from an ankle injury and won't play while his right-back teammate Bradley Orr, who was sent off in August 2006 for attempting to head-butt Carey, is unfortunately also missing. They've also got a Brazilian goalkeeper in Adriano Basso who has just been voted BBC West player of the year....
Manager Gary Johnson, apparently up against a 'Premiership' side and keen to get started, will leave Byfield on the bench and play the same 4-4-2 side that beat Hull 2-1 at the weekend:
Adriano Basso; Ian Wilson, Jamie McCombe, Liam Fontaine, Jamie McAllister; Ivan Sproule, Lee Johnson, Marvin Elliott, Michael McIndoe; Nick Carle and Dele Adebola.
Turning our attention to the Addicks, it'll be a surprise if the back 5 are changed after a pleasing and determined performance at Sheffield and the only decisions that Pardew has to make will affect his formation and attack.
Beefing up the midfield with a 4-5-1 at Bramall Lane was the obvious option after the 5-3 mauling at Bloomfield Rd but this is a home game and the last time he played that format at home was the debacle against Colchester on January 1st with Iwelumo as lone striker.
After containing Sheffield the midfield also looks clear with Holland, ZiZi and Ambrose which leaves just 3 places up for grabs. There's no news about the 'illness' that has kept Gray, just voted second-best player in the fizzies, after Kevin Phillips, out of action which could be a ploy to keep the opposition guessing. Gray's already scored against Gary Johnson's side this season back in September for Burnley.
New boy Scott Sinclair is also looking for a start but Pardew will probably opt for Thomas on the left after his full 90 minutes on Saturday.
So expect a line-up of;
Weaver: Halford, McCarthy, Sodje, Youga; Ambrose, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Varney and Iwelumo.
Subs: Elliot, Fortune, Semedo, Sinclair, Gray
And a prediction? Killer sees it as a 2-1 home but Pards will be more keen on stopping them from scoring as they are still unbeaten when they score first. That said, a single goal will be enough for me, a 1-0 with Sodje scoring again.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Best in the League?

While we make the usual slow crawl through the traffic into work this morning, but this time with a wry grin on our faces, its perhaps best, after a quick tour around your mates milking the applause, to waste no more time and to consider the prospects of overcoming little old Bristol City tomorrow night.
Because with a fixture list of 7 games in March there's just no time to rest on your laurels in this League and what better feast can we have than 2 games against perhaps the best in the division, Bristol and West Brom, plus another two against two of the oldest and famous, Preston North End and Wolves.
And with just 11 games remaining and a gap of 7 points to make up on the coveted 2nd place there's no room for dropping further points. So what better chance can we have of closing the gap than the visit of a team currently 9 points in front of us.
After our 1-0 win back in November at Ashton Gate, there's a chance of our third double of the season over a team that last season was in Tier three. On the other hand, its perhaps not the best time to be facing a team obviously in form in table-toppers Bristol City, who, with only 7 defeats in their 35 games, fewer than anyone else, also have the best current record in the fizzies over the last 8 games with 16 points out of 24.
However, its also been the miserable recent away form of their rivals that have seen them go 2 points clear at the top of the table. For while all the other four teams in the top 5, apart from Bristol, have only won 1 away game in the last 5, City have put the pedal to the floor in winning no less than 3. OK, two of them were single goal victories against bottom clubs Colchester and Scunthorpe, but we, of all people, know how difficult it can be to get points at these grounds.
On the plus side they have lost 5 away games so far, the same as us, and two of them occurred just before their Colchester and Scunthorpe wins, in their last two visits to London being at QPR 0-3 and Palarse 0-2.
And if we need more encouragement, you only need to look at their low scoring record of 44 goals - ten fizzy teams have scored more - and their low goal difference to realise that something is wrong somewhere. In fact, they do seem to have bad days at the office and as testimony have suffered several threshings apart from the 3-0 at Lofus Rd in January. In fact, once a month, on a regular basis they do seem to implode. A 4-1 defeat at West Brom in December, was preceded by a 0-6 embarrassment at Ipswich in November and before that a 0-3 at Barnsley in October. Perhaps its time, at long last for a hat-full from the Addicks?
But, and there's usually a but, with their meagre 7 defeats they are hard to beat and although they have scored first less times, 17, to the the Addicks 21, they are one of only 6 teams that remain unbeaten once they have gone ahead.....
In fact, you just don't want them to be the first to score because of the 17 times they have scored first they have won 16 of them - and they've only won 18 games in total. So the first goal tomorrow is vital.
And if you're interested in history, its been 40 years since Bristol won at the Valley, a 2-1 win back in 1968 and they've only managed a total of 4 wins and 4 draws in 26 games at the Valley.
So come on Pards, pedal to the floor....its time to catch up and prove that WE are the best in the League.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sheff United 0 Charlton 2

Well, nobody saw that coming with just about everyone steeling themselves for another disappointing away defeat. Silly of us to forget the old adage that says that teams conceding lots of goals one week, will miraculously recover and greatly improve the next, and so it's been proved with a headline quote of 'terrific' from Pards.
Thankfully, Pardew took notice of our advice of last week and returned to a 4-5-1, last used with non-affect against Colchester, with strongman Sammy Sodje bolstering the defence although with the inclusion of a seemingly lightweight midfield trio of Holland, ZiZi and Ambrose. Andy Gray was dropped completely and Chris Iwelumo, starting for the first time since Stoke, was reinstated as lone striker with Luke Varney and Jerry Thomas on the wings.
And while I did wonder at the wisdom of informing everyone that we've only won at Bramall Lane once in the last 21 visits, it obviously worked to our advantage instilling in our opponents thoughts the anticipation of an easy game and this time it was the turn of the opposition to be slated by their manager in a performance termed by Blackwell as 'insipid'.
And as we stretch our lead our 7th placed Plymouth to 3 points, we're back in our coveted 5th spot and consequently there's still not a lot about us in the papers. In the telegraph you'll only find a round-up of the fizzies with the Addicks getting, true to their league position, the fifth paragraph.
The sportinglife, meanwhile, calls Pardew 'inspirational' in bringing back Iwelumo and in the stats page also highlights the captains new-found aggression with Matty Holland's second yellow of the season.
Over at the posh_murdoch there is, supposedly, a report from John Aizlewood but at the moment a technical hitch prevents any expansion of what he saw. Perhaps they'll cure it later, or perhaps not.
But there's also a paragraph, this time that works, about that 'ittle irish fella that we sold January in posh2, which as you would expect combines an appreciation of his creative skills with an awareness of a lack of fitness.
But probably the most pleasing of reports can be found on the suffering Blades site where, for a pleasant change, we can read that both our goals came from set-pieces with an alleged 30 yard throw-in from Greg Halford creating the havoc that caused the first.
The Addicks: Weaver; Halford, McCarthy, Sodje, Youga; Varney (Sinclair 71), Holland, Zheng, Ambrose (Semedo 83), J Thomas, Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Elliot, Fortune, Cook.
Goals: Iwelumo 45, Sodje 82
Booked: Holland 43 (foul on Quinn), McCarthy 54 (clash with Morgan)