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Monday, November 30, 2009

Brighton Preview

A week away when you've got problems always seems to work wonders and on returning from my 10 days spent on the east coast its back to civilisation and it seems the sea air, at least for me, has worked wonders and the idea that there was a death in the family seems to have been a little premature.
Ten goals and 7 points in three games after three straight defeats couldn't have come at a better time in the season. So, a look at the table. 36 points from 18 games. So five more - Brighton (a) (20th), Southend (h)(11th), Stockport (a) (23rd), Millwall (h) (10th), Swindon (h) (7th) - before we reach halfway on Boxing Day and if we win all 5 we'll equal Leicester's halfway total of 51 points last season.
But what of the chasing pack? Two teams stand out in 3rd and 4th places as the ones to beat. Norwich, in 4th, are now just 4 points behind and have only a single defeat ( at Leeds) in their last 14 games, scoring 34 times ( seven in the FA Cup against non-league opposition), while our nemesis Colchester, 3 points back in 3rd, have only 1 defeat ( at Millwall) in their last 15 games. We've played them both away so crunch time comes in a critical 5 day period next April when we face them both at the Valley, Colchester on Tuesday 13th and Norwich the following Saturday.
And both have had good winning runs this season. Both have won 3 in a row twice this season whilst the Addicks, after our 6 match winning start ended on 5th September, haven't managed even two wins on the trot. Its time to put that right, Parky and this week seems the right time to do it.

Its our first visit to the Withdean stadium tomorrow night where Brighton have been based since the summer of 1999. Previously a zoo and an athletics stadium it has been voted the fourth worst stadium in the UK back in 2004 by the Observer, (it was kept out of the top three by Priestfield, Kenilworth Road and Millmoor, Rotherham) and houses, if that's the correct word, 8850 fans.
The season started badly for Brighton with only 2 points from the first 5 games and they were bottom of the table for two weeks in August before recovering with wins over Wycombe and away to Carlisle. But after a run of only one win in 8 games which saw them slide into the relegation places again, manager Russell Slade, only in the job since March, was summarily sacked. So we have yet another game against a man in his first manager job, Uruguayan Gus Poyet, more recently assistant manager at Swindon, Leeds and Spurs.
The arrival of a new manager usually has some effect and Brighton are no different. Away to Pardews lot in a south coast derby was his first game and they dispatched the in-form Saints 3-1 after the home team had won 13 points out of the last 15. Unfortunately for Poyet his first home game the following week was against rampant Leeds and the fun couldn't last, the game ending in a 0-3 home defeat followed last Tuesday with another hammering 1-4 at Norwich. But beware Parky, they are still in the Cup with a late winner over Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday.
Brighton finished 16th last season, three points away from the R zone but nobody conceded more at home than their 40 goals. And this season looks like continuing in the same vein with only Stockport County, with 20, conceding more than their 17 goals let in. Their home record is 2 wins, 1 draw and 6 defeats.
OK, wins first. They've beaten Wycombe and the Gills at the Withdean, drawn with Hartlepool and lost to Walsall, Stockport, Southend, MK, Oldham and finally Leeds. So the Seagulls are currently in 20th with the second worse defence in League One with 35 goals conceded.

The Opposition

There's five grounds in League One with less than a 10000 capacity and we've already done Hartlepool, Orient and Yeovil, which just leaves just Brighton and Exeter.

The Dangerman
Back in October, club captain and number nine Nicky Forster was awarded the Football League One Player of the Month Award, for his impressive start to the season, netting 7 goals in the first 8 games. He's slowed up since then, he is 36 but only a couple of months older than Christian Dailly, with only another four in his next 11 games. There's also number 10, Liam Dickinson, on 6 goals who we have meet before. He it was who upset Parky in his third Addicks game in charge last December when he scored twice for Blackpool in a 2-0 win at Bloomfield Rd and he got himself ready for the Addicks with another two in the Cup at the weekend.

Whats Their Secret?
Whilst the Addicks have improved to have now to have the second best record against the top half of the table (with an average of 2 points a game from 4 wins, 2 draws and a single defeat), Brighton have the third worst with no wins and only 3 draws to show in their 8 games against the cream.
And they tend to relax towards the end of each half with their worst 5 minute spell being the last 5 minutes of each half, conceding 6 in both.
And while everyone likes to get the first goal, its a moral-raising fightback that we all love. Three teams in League One have gone on to win three times after going behind - Bristol, Walsall and Huddersfield while the Addicks lead the rest with 2 winning fightbacks - Brighton on the other hand haven't done it at all.

Over the years Colchester and Exeter are the only grounds in this league where we've got less than half a point a game - and not improved this season - and are even worse than our records at Millwall and Leeds. But you may be surprised to learn that our record at Brighton, after 23 years together, is not so bright either. We've managed less than a point a game there with only 5 wins and 6 draws in the 23 games. We first went there in 1921 and played them throughout the 20's and Brighton were obviously a force to be reckoned with back then because it took us 8 years before we managed a win, 3-2, in 1928. And it then took us another 32 years before we managed a second win in 1960.

In recent history, in the last 36 years say, we've been there 11 times, including two cup visits, and won 4 of them, lost 6 and drawn once and the last game was a 2-1 win for us back in February 1992.

Doing A Leicester?
After 18 games they had 38 points (from 11 wins and 2 defeats) and something to aim for is their total at the halfway mark on 23 games of 51 points (15 wins and still only 2 defeats). And a timely warning that second after 23 games last season were MK Dons on 49 points and they still missed out on promotion.

What Are They Saying?
Akpo Sodje, on staying with the Addicks after December, "If it happens I'll be very, very happy, but if it doesn't happen then I'll just keep on playing for Sheffield Wednesday. My contract is up at the end of the season, so I need to play more games wherever I'm going to be. We're just all happy - the whole team, the manager and everyone - that we've got a point and we had a few more chances as well. It just tells you that we're not just a passing side, we can grind out results as well, and we're very unlucky that we didn't win. Hopefully it continues in the next game and we get a result."
As for the opposition, Gus had this to say on taking over the reins at Brighton, "This is another challenge for me to take the club where everybody in Brighton wants to be and that's in the Championship. Being realistic I think 18 months is possible. If that is the goal of the club it's no problem."

Tell Me Some Good Stuff, Nels
OK, good stuff time. There's eight teams now that have scored first in their League One encounters more than ten times this season and only three of them remain unbeaten on scoring first - Leeds, of course, Swindon (?) and the Addicks (ten times scored first).
And on the other hand when the other lot score first, a fighting spirit is vital for a team looking to gain promotion and the Addicks stand in 2nd behind Leeds in the average points gained in the games where the opposition have scored first. Six times our opponents have scored first and of those six we have won 2, drawn 2 and lost two while Norwich, who have also gone behind six times, have lost three and drawn three with no wins coming after conceding first.
The Team
Parky celebrated his year in charge on the 22nd November and has now got 16 wins in 53 games. Its's his 42th birthday tomorrow and what a birthday treat he'll have with win number 17th.
So what of the team then? With 10 goals in the last three games after three successive defeats with one goal scored a remarkable turnaround appears to have occurred. Key to the success appears to be the change to 4-4-2 and twenty-five year old Dave Mooney is a key component. Bought by Steve Coppell from Cork City in August 2008 he has never settled at the Madejski and has only played in the League Cup for Reading. Two games in 2008-09 ( and no goals) were followed by loan spells at Stockport and Norwich and it was the same this season when he had another two League Cup games, both during August ( scoring twice in his 180 minutes) and was loaned out again. So naturally, with seven Charlton games under his belt, he's clearly keen to stay at the Valley.

Meanwhile, 28 year old Akpo Sodje, youngest of the 10 Sodje offspring, is another one keen to stay. He made his debut at Sheffield Wednesday in September 2007 and has played 30 games for them scoring nine times. This season he's played 9 times for the owls but all without scoring and has dropped down the strikers pecking order, behind Tudgay and Johnson and even falling behind Derby loanee Luke Varney who's scored three times.
Who's in goal tomorrow is the first riddle with Wolves goalie Ikeme now at the Blades. I can't see Randolph getting picked as he's only played one of the six games that Elliot has been out so the return of Ikeme suggests that Elliot is fit again. There's no news either about the injuries to Richardson ( who's only played an hour in the last six games) or Youga, who went off after 23 minutes against Bristol with a twisted knee but with the accumulation of yellows threatening four players ( Youga and Daily in defence) perhaps it would be best to hope that Frazer is ready and can be paired with Basey at full-back because loanee Omozusi doesn't seem to inspire anyone. Dailly needs just one yellow to miss a game which seems odd as he played the first 14 games without getting a single one and has stacked up 4 in the last 7. But he mustn't allow a possible suspension to worry him with two tricky forwards like Forster and Dickinson around.
Sam, Semedo (also on 4 cards) and Bailey are certain to start but the left wing remains a bit of a problem area. It'll be Shelvey or Racon but neither have looked good there in the last three games since Bailey has moved inside.
Up front Mooney and Burton with Akpo in reserve looks right.
Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Mooney, Burton.

Direct opponents Norwich scored four against Brighton in their last League game and tomorrow it's Parky's birthday. A bigger challenge couldn't be found so after 10 goals in our last 3 and fresh after a weekend off while our opponents had a cup game should be enough. Brighton's record against the top half is also pretty bad with the third worst record in League One so its the Addicks to win 2-0.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MK Dons Preview

Vladimir Nabakov (he of Lolita fame) once said that our existence is a brief crack of light surrounded by two eternities of darkness. Well, you're wrong Vladimir, 'cause the lights have gone out in the middle of my existence and I'm none too happy about it.
No, I haven't died yet but my football team definitely has. Three straight defeats, all to teams supposedly below us in the pecking order and with only a single goal scored and I'm wondering exactly how long this eternity of darkness is going to continue.
So, perhaps it would be worth while at this point to make it quite clear that the Addicks haven't always left Division Three at the first attempt. In modern post-war times we've been down here twice and everyone knows that its been 29 years since we last graced (!) these pastures in 1980/81 when we only stayed one year after claiming third spot. But back in the early '70's we needed three long years (a la Leeds) before finishing 3rd in our third season in 1975. And you'll have noticed that in those days third was good enough for an automatic spot; no Play-Off nonsense in those days.
OK, as its our policy to bring you a balanced amount of grief and optimism every week we have to say, as the really cold winds of winter approach, and in our completely sober condition, that we only appear to have a couple of difficult games remaining this year - against MK Dons this weekend and the Spanners on December 19th. The rest should be easy.....
And before we go on, you'll be pleased to learn that there's another team in exactly our position - 2nd in their League and just dumped out of the cup by inferior opposition. Its, of course, none other than big spenders Real Madrid where, unlike ourselves (?), its rumoured that another defeat will mean the end of the manager.
So what can we tell you about MK Dons that you don't know and care about. In a sentence, in 1967 the Government decided to found a new town (designed as a "New City") in north Buckinghamshire next to the village of Milton, and subsequently called the shopping centre Milton Keynes. And the fusion between a boring new shopping centre, sorry town, and a boring football team took place back in 2003 when Wimbledon started playing their games at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes and the following summer the name was changed to Milton Keynes Dons or Franchise F.C if you prefer. They started in Tier Three after relegation and administration but then dropped into Tier Four before Paul Ince came along and won promotion back to League One in 2008.

Ince then left, of course, but he's back again, returning during the summer, after his short stay 5 month at Blackburn.

As you all know they start the day level on points with us but mainly because they've scored 6 times less than us they have a goal difference 4 worse than ours. But they are the second best away team in the Division ( after Leeds) with 4 away wins already and their current form is good as well with only one defeat ( away to the Saints) in their last seven games since the beginning of October. Make that one defeat in eight as they beat Northampton 3-1 in the JPT this week.
But you have to say that their away wins have all been easy pickings at Brighton, Exeter, Tranmere and Norwich and only 6 teams have scored less goals away from home than the Dons with their paltry seven goals in their seven games.

The Opposition
In goal is frenchman Wily Gueret now 36 but ever present this season as he has been for the last two as well. Good at saving penalties apparently, but we don't care about that really 'cause we never get any.
Number three is captain and left-back, and only sole survivor from the old Wimbledon days, Dean Lewington. And we're all dying to have a look at number 16, Jason Puncheon, and see why Parky was so determined to bring him in during the summer. He's a local boy from Croydon, and top of Parkys wishlist but the takeover talks killed the transfer and he joined the Dons on loan for the season from Plymouth.
Star of defence is a true Dons man, Mathias Kouo-Doumbé (or MKD for short) who started his career with Nicky Anealka at Paris St. Germain but unfortunately its been all downhill since then and he moved down to Tier Three during the summer in another of Plymouth's clearouts. And then there's Luke Chadwick, ex Manure and Norwich at number 26.

And the Little and Large act up front are target man in 6' 3" number nine Aaron Wilbraham and his fellow striker, midget 5'9" Jermaine Easter.

The Dangerman
There's only one hotshot this week to worry about and that's number 8 Jermaine Easter. A Welsh international and a pacy little handful if you believe the Dons website he's got 10 goals so far this year, seven of them in the League.

What Are They Saying?
Dons Assistent Manager after their last League game, a 2-1 home win over Bristol, "The pleasing thing today was that it was a solid, strong performance, and that's the sort of performance that good teams need to put in. We had 76% of the possession in the first half, which is frightening." Take note of the Solid and Strong combination, Parky.

Whats Their Secret?

Look out for a boring first half as they have only conceded 2 goals in their 15 League games before the break. That's one goal every 337 minutes or one every 5 and a half hours so quite clearly all that first half possession mentioned above is almost completely wasted. And another conflicting stat is that they have won 8 games by a single goal, more than anybody in the Division, while the Addicks are the only club in League One that hasn't lost by a single goal yet this season - in the League anyway, although we've been practising that scoreline in all of our cup exits.
And owing to the current crisis, if you've looking for a stabilising goalless draw, a la Curbs, then take note that both teams are up there in 4th and 5th places in the Clean Sheet Table with the Addicks on 6 and MK on 7.

Well, there's no history here because we've never ever played this lot before and I see no point in dragging in our appalling record against who they used to be just because there's a Don at the end.

Doing a Leicester?

Fifteen games in and Leicester were pulling away with 31 points from 9 wins, 4 draws and only 2 defeats, at home to Millwall and a dismal 2-3 away to Brighton.

The Team

After a nightful of errors from Ikeme on Wednesday, its odds-on that Randolph will return in goal and Sodje will surely in alongside Dailly in place of Llera in central defence but will Parky choose to retain his playing Youga and Basey as the two full-backs as there's been no news of the injury suffered by Richardson.

Semedo had a bad game at St Marys and suffered one of the few games when he's been subbed and could start on the bench on Saturday with Spring being preferred.

Up front, and following his elbow at Northwich, there'll be no place for Izzy, much to everyone's relief and it could mean that Mooney is set to start a League game at last.

Randolph; Youga, Sodje, Dailly, Basey: Sam, Spring, Racon, Bailey; Burton, Mooney

A good away team against one that will be extremely nervous after three away defeats. A another defeat is surely staring us in the face. But my heart hopelessly sees a goalless draw....

Another thing bothering me at the moment as a recurring nightmare that won't go away and comes back at least once week. It really is a pain and is one of those that torment you regularly and it concerns something silly that can't possibly happen now but because I don't know why it didn't happen in the first place I can't get rid of the dream.

Let me explain. We used to live in Welling, years ago. And after we moved my old man used to tell me what a pig of a journey it was every winter riding his motorbike all the way across London to the Guiness factory at Park Royal. It was especially bad whenever it rained 'cause he was always falling off over those slippery tram rails.

Anyway, it occurred to me after he died why did he buy a house in Kent when he worked in West London? And that's the scary bit, because I don't know why and it's too late now to ask him. And my nightmare is that instead of going to the Valley for the first time on Sept 20th 1956 we would have gone instead to a ground somewhere in West London.

So every now and then I wake up in a cold sweat having dreamt that I was in a crowd of people all wearing blue and cheering a goal by some geezer called Didier and being in the middle of them I'm forced to cheer as well. What a nightmare - can you imagine having to stand up, smile and cheer your head off every time Drogba scores a goal. It's hell, I tell you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Southampton Preview (JPT)

Ridiculous. Shame. Humiliation. And if you believe in Group Therapy, those were the words that appeared in this mornings papers over here after the once-mighty Real Madrid failed last night at the Berniebow to overturn a 4-0 deficit from the first leg of their Cup game against small Alcorcon from the regional Third Division. To protect the big clubs over here the cup ties are a two game affair - a policy we badly need in the UK - and the final result was 4-1 on aggregate.
As for ourselves, seems, like Madrid, we're saving ourselves the effort of all those boring cup runs, which are bound to end in failure anyway, and are devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to League success. Our worst defeat in 104 years was one headline. No, probably not but for sure the most embarrassing in our 88 year League history. Parky speaks of an appalling dressing-room after the game but I was thinking instead of the never-ending journey home of the 200 diehards who had the courage to see the game live.

Anyway, we used to strap on a Matty Holland at times like these so we've found a suitable mugshot to try to inject the required lost determination and desire. Well, it was either Pardew or a tin of paint, and I guessed you'd choose the paint.

We mentioned the last time we meet back in September that Pardew takes a perverted delight in putting it over his old teams. Both Reading and West Ham have failed to win in three away attempts with three home wins the end result. So are we to be number 4? Well, with the Saints 12 points behind a Play-off place at the moment, it's possible that this ex-glazier might just remember his building past and see this Painting Trophy as the best he can hopefully achieve this year. With all the other big clubs - thats us - putting points and promotion first, at least at this stage of the season, Pardew is planning a long cup run.

And clearly the fans are of a similar mind. A massive crowd of 9,300 turned up to see them have a close encounter with League Two basement men Torquay in the last round. After being 2 goals down at the break they stormed back with two second half goals from Papa Waigo and finally won 5-3 on penalties.

The Opposition
Clearly a night when the opposition only need to turn to win, it doesn't really matter who they are. So we'll give you their team in the last round and you can use the rest of the day guessing who's going to score the many goals we look like conceding.
Davis; Harding, Thomas, Perry, James; Gillett, Wotton, Hammond, Antonio; Lambert, Papa Waigo


After only one win in their first 10 games, the Saints have hit a rich run of form of late and before their 2-2 draw at Orient in their last League game had won four League games on the trot with convincing wins over the Gills 4-1, Southend 3-1, Oldham 3-1 and MK Dons 3-1. And with a home victory over Torquay on penalties in the Painting Round One and a 3-2 away win over Bristol Rovers in last Fridays FA cup game they are now 7 games unbeaten.....


Only one! No, they'll probably be a place, and a goal for the old fans favorite, ex-defender Chris Perry as well.

Whats Their Secret?
Since losing in the 96th minute to Bristol Rovers at St. Marys at the end of Sept, Pardews' sorted out their generous attitude and they are now 7 games unbeaten. And instead of gifting points to the opposition ( they are still the most generous League One club losing 11 points through drawing 4 times when winning and losing once when winning ) they have turned it all around, beating MK after going behind and drawing with both Torquay and Orient after being 2 goals down.

What Are They Saying

I read the other day that Meryl Streep thinks that one of the secrets to a happy marriage is sometimes keeping your mouth shut. An appropriate sentiment because I'm not sure words are of any use in the situation we are now in. Its surely a kick-up-the-arse time.

Looking at our cup form against the Saints, we lost there in the League Cup in 1973 3-0, drew 1-1 in 1976 before beating them at the Valley, and lost 1-0 in 1989.

The Team

If you can remember Nicky Bailey and Scott Wagstaff were shortlisted for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Ultimate Finish award after scoring against Barnet in the second round three weeks ago. The contest - specially introduced for the current campaign - rewards the scorer of the best goal in each round of the competition en route to the Wembley final next March. Well, the award went instead to Bournemouth striker Brett Pitman and that'll probably be the last chance we had of winning any silverware in this particular competition.

Ketts over at the Surgery gives a in-depth analysis of who's going to play taking into account the rules laying down the use of six of the best. And, of course, its not just us that are suffering at the moment. Barcelona, with only 2 wins in the last six, took the drastic measure of dropping Xavi, Iniesta and Messi from the game against Mallorca last weekend and won 4-2. So Parky take a leaf out of Guardiola's book and drop a couple of midfielders and a forward.

Pardew's record against his old employers would probably be enough on its own to secure the win, but coupled with our current form plus no wins in 3 cup visits to Southampton, the only conclusion one can arrive at is another defeat. Exit stage left for the Addicks.

I once read a story about a mother on the day after her eldest son died, discussing the new decoration of her bathroom. It was obviously her way coping with her loss. So in similar vein, but obviously several miles less important, I asked Mrs Nelson for her views on the impending crisis in Manchester.
"Of course I know why people support Man. U"


"You have to understand that they are Government supported, I mean financed. How do you think they manage with such huge debts, don't you know anything? They're a big part of the Government Drug Prevention Programme. Seems there are people who can't cope with normal life and need a reliable weekly fix to help them get through the drudgery of life. What, did you think they hand out knighthoods for winning a silly football match?

Of course, the big problem is that when they start losing its going to give Gordon a big headache - that's what gives Brown the worried look that he always has - because unless the state pumps even more money in to get the results, thousands, perhaps millions of people will probably turn to drink or even hard drugs to drown their problems. It would be a social catastrophe. So you see, its not a case of people supporting ManU but its the exact opposite - its ManU supporting the people. 'Cause, you tough Addicks lot, you don't need supporting, you can manage all by yourself - even in times like these."

OK, its all sorted. When you need an answer, to what is a non-footballing question, ask Mrs Nelson. Its a social catastrophe whenever the reds lose, whereas we simply take it on the chin. Not quite sure she's right there though.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Northwich Victoria Preview

Another off day it seems up there in the wilds of Cumbria last weekend but it has to be said that they're becoming a bit too frequent now for everyone's liking and even Parky is losing his cool with an enforced visit to the stands for the second half. He'd clearly read the paragraph last week that told him the only time we beat Carlisle is when we get promoted. So the jitters are setting in but don't worry Parky it didn't say we only get promoted when we beat Carlisle.
But while Parky attempts to get some fire back into our bellies and sort out a team for Saturday, there's that awful phase déjà vu that's starting to creep into my head. Because it can't have escaped everyones notice that it's all beginning to look like an alarming repeat of two years ago when we launched into an attack on Wolves' runaway leadership in the fizzies with 9 wins in the first 17 games and were up there in 2nd with 4 wins on the trot over Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff and Preston. But we all know what happened next as Pardews men inexplicably imploded and after only another 8 victories in the remaining 29 games finished a lowly 11th.
So its onto another difficult northern trek. At the Vics, they'll tell you that Northwich are a very old club. That records go back to 1874. That they were once a Second Division club from 1892 to 1894, and in 1884, they reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but were knocked out by Blackburn Olympic, whoever they were. But a town of less than 20,000 couldn't support a League club so now they now find themselves down in Tier 6.
On 19 May this year the club went into administration for the second time in five years, following their relegation from the Conference National. They were threatened with a double relegation to the Northern Premier League as a result of this, but ultimately won an appeal to be placed into the Conference North for the 2009-10 season.

Manager for the Vics's is 42 year old Andy Preece who once upon a time played for Palarse after they had paid Stockport County 350K for him back in 1994. He only stayed a year, played 20 times scoring 4 goals, but clearly not finding the Croydon air to his liking (no surprise there), moved back north, this time to the bracing sea breezes of Blackpool. More recently he's been player manager at Bury and was there back in 1999 when we nicked Dean Kiely and was brought in as caretaker manager at the Vics last February and made full-time boss during the summer.


Some people will tell you it's the Blue Square North, others that its Conference North, but anyway they're a total of three Leagues below us in Tier 6 and are currently 15th out of 22 with 7 wins 4 draws and 3 defeats. A good enough record which should give them 25 points and sixth place but a 10 point deduction for administration problems leaves them just 2 points from the drop zone.

But its now 9 games unbeaten since they lost to Corby on Sept 5th and they only have 1 home defeat this season to bottom club Redditch. In the FA Cup they've beaten Bardon Hill of the East Midlands Counties Football League (Tier 10) 8-0 and then Chorley, of the NPL Division One North (Tier 8), 4-1. And then in the 4th Qualifying Round they beat FC United of Manchester of the Northern Premier (Tier 7) 3-0. Read about it here if you want.

Any Giant Killing Then?

Nothing recently but there's another hint that we've not all that special any more. Successful Cup runs are an important source of income for non-league sides especially those who have experienced recent administation. It's common for the non-league team to move a home tie to a bigger ground when they face big league opponents but there's been no mention of moving the tie this time. In reality they could never expect the 29,000 that saw them reach the Fourth Round in 1976, losing out 3-1 to Oldham in a home tie moved to Maine Rd.

Then in 2005-06, Northwich reached the 3rd round again but were drawn away this time, losing 3-0 to Sunderland.

What Are They Saying?

Andy Preece on hearing the draw details said, It’s going to be a great experience. We can pit our wits against League One opponents and I’m confident we can compete because I believe we have players who could play in League Football. We don’t really have to worry about the result because there won’t be any pressure on us so we can play with freedom and enjoy the occasion.”

And Paddy Powell has memories of games like this, "They are horrible games, no question about it, and most of the pitches are not up to the standard that the players are used to. I know it will be difficult, but you just have to treat it like a league game."

And Parky has been giving fulsome praise to Deon Burton for the way the striker has continued playing in recent weeks despite needing a hernia operation saying, "I don't think I've probably given Deon enough credit. He can hardly move in training on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after games, and it's not until later in the week that he starts to loosen up again. It's credit to his spirit and determination this year that he has carried on playing with it." But before he can come under the knife we have to test Mooney as a reliable replacement. Do it Parky.


Of course, we've never played Northwich before and its our first visit to the Victoria Stadium but we have had loads of games against non-leaguers before. In the mid twenties when we had to play the Qualifying rounds there were five in a row starting in 1924 when we beat Dulwich Hamlet 4-0 in the 5th Qualifying round and in 1925 we beat Windsor and Eton 4-2 in the first round. In 1926 we beat Woking 3-1 and in 1927 it was Merthyr Town 1-0 and again the following year, 1928, we beat Northfleet 5-1. In 1933 we beat Bath 3-1 and Burton Albion were beaten 7-0 in 1956, Tonbridge followed 5-0 in 1972, and Chelmsford 1-0 in 1974.

Then came the bust-up between Killer and Flanagan in January 1979 at home to Maidstone. Both were sent-off with the score at 1-1. Luckily there were only 4 minutes left and 3 days later Hales was sacked, although later re-instated. Neither played in the replay, which we won 2-1. Harlow were beaten 2-0 by Paddy Powell in 1980 and in 1989 we beat Kettering 2-1. And lastly in 2001 Dagenham and Redbridge were only 4 minutes away from becoming the first non-league team to beat a Premiership club when John Salako scored with a "wickly deflected shot" in the 86th minute to make it 1-1. And we needed extra time at their ground before Shawn Newton scored in the 91st minute of the replay.

So that's twelve cup ties that I can find and every one a winner. But the 5 and 7-0's seem to have vanished a long time ago and the games are now a lot closer with 2 of the last 3 going to replays.

The Team

Our current form is appalling - 14th over the last 8 games and with 16 League One teams outscoring us now over the eight and with only a goal a game average over those eight games it would be no surprise if we didn't see Dave Mooney given a start this weekend in an attempt to inject some spark.

So whats the Plan? With two cup ties in five days there's a chance to put our League form behind us and try something new. Pardews' Southampton are unbeaten in their last 6 games, League and Cup, but at least they are a known entity, Northwich are not. And there's the added complication that the Painting rules are tougher than FA Cup ones and we'll need to include 6 first teamers at St. Marys.

Has Parky given us any clues before as to what he will do? We've already had two cup games in different competitions and Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Sam, Racon, Shelvey were all rested for the League Cup game at Hereford as were Richardson, Sam and Burton against Barnet in the Painting thing. And Basey, Spring and Wagstaff played both games and Tuna played nearly an hour against Barnet.

But here's some advice from Curbs. Back in 2001 against Dagenham and Redbridge and although Charlton had never lost to non-League opposition, Curbs was taking no chances. There were just two changes to the side who beat Arsenal 1-0 on New Year's Day (oh, happy days - but there I was in bloody Morocco ), John Robinson and Martin Pringle replacing Jonatan Johansson and the suspended Graham Stuart.

So if I was you Parky;
Randolph; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Youga; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Mooney.


Predictions here are going to be pretty useless and as Paddy said these are horrible games - and without knowing the team a forecast is going to be pretty meaningless. But if Parky can get the players to face up to a game at Elland Rd after our last defeat at Colchester then he's capable of doing the same this weekend. 2-0 to the Addicks.


I just can't understand anybody supporting that Man. U. thing. I mean, it's a monster; waddling down the street advertising an US insurance firm whose directors take home millions of tax-payers money in bonuses after filing for bankruptcy; and this theatre of dreams bollocks and they've got more debt than Northern Rock, I mean where's their values, get out, get a life or whatever. OK, if you're born in Trafford, or live there or if your grandfather was Matt Busby then I suppose you'd had an excuse but the rest of them. I just can't fathom it out. Did their dad take all of 'em there when they was kids? I mean all the way there from where they lived with an 8 year old kid at those prices? I just can't see it. So why then?