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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tranmere Rovers Preview

Last Monday just had a bad feel to it and there were too many things to go wrong. A televised local derby against a team we'd already beaten away and that hadn't won two games on the trot all season and who hadn't won at the Valley for 30 years. A gilt-edged chance to go equal top against a team that hadn't kept two consecutive clean sheets for nearly a year but ominously with an ex-addick striker leading the line.
It all looked too easy and maybe an element of casualness had crept into the players minds or you might say it was typically Charlton to lose just at a time when they could have put some pressure on the other two but then Orient clearly deserved their win. Maybe its easier to watch your neighbours style and identify his strong points but they had done their homework well and knew what to do to stop us playing. And in a crucial first half they managed to stop the divisions highest scorers over the first 45 from getting a single shot on target.

At one point it looked as if all three leaders would fail midweek but although Leeds continued their dire League form, the party-poopers from East Anglia can't do anything wrong at the moment and came from behind to win their 7th game in a row.

On to our opponents then and Tranmere just missed out on the Play-offs last season finishing in 7th and had high hopes of more of the same this year, especially with a new high-profile manager. Their home form was second only to Leeds' last season and Parky must have expected his toughest test so far when we visited in August. A 4-0 win followed and things clearly didn't work at Prenton Park and the manager now is 52 year old Les Parry who took over on 9th October after John Barnes had been sacked after just two wins in the first eleven games. A strange choice as Parry was the clubs physio at the time and had no managerial experience at all.

But after 13 defeats in their first 17 games, things have been slowly improving and its now only two defeats ( at Southampton and MK Dons) in the last 9 and as far as away games are concerned they even scored three goals at home bankers Huddersfield in a 3-3 draw.
And if you fancy our chances against a team still stuck in 22nd spot then take care because their record over the last 8 shows them level-pegging in eleventh place with none other than Leeds United with a recent record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats.

Ian Thomas-Moore with 7 is top scorer. He almost qualifies as an ex because he is, of course, the son of ex-Addick Ronnie Moore who we all chipped with our fivers to buy back in 1983.
Whats Their Secret?
Have only gained a single point after falling behind. Have failed to score 13 times, the most in the Division (along with Oldham who drew 0-0 at the Valley) but have had 6 clean sheets only two less than the Addicks. But a strange team that have won every game where they were in front at half-time but have lost every one where they have been losing.
You all know that we have the best first half record of all in Tier Three but you may not know that a record we also hold is that we are the worst team at getting a result when we've been drawing at half-time. OK, it doesn't happen often, only 8 times, (against Leeds, Oldham, Huddersfield, the Gills, Carlisle - all strangely in a row - then Millwall, Brentford and Orient). Only once in those games did we go on to win, Huddersfield, with two defeats and 5 draws.
Before this year, we have a middling record with Tranmere, 6 wins each and 10 draws. With our 4-0 win up there in August, our 5th League win on the trot, we've gone in front 7-6 but they've only won twice at the Valley with the Addicks winning 5 with 4 draws with both of their wins being 1-0 Tier two games in 1992 and 1995.

The Team
Parky has some thinking to do before Saturday and although he ruled out making wholesale changes, one or two may just creep in. Belief in ones players comes first I suppose and casting my eye back to Wigan's 9-1 defeat at Spurs back in November, its interesting to note that Martinez, after a result suggesting changes, made just one alteration to his lineup for the 1-0 win over Sunderland 6 days later.
Starting at the back he has to decide who to play at centre-back, red-card expert Sodje or accident-prone Llera. They've both contributed 3 goals but with Miguel looking more nervous with every game, looks like a return for Sammy in an attempt to keep a clean sheet for the first time in 8 games. We can only hope that Grant Basey is given a rest by the timely return of Kelly even if he has been left exposed at times due to our floating left-wing problem but there's been no news of a return this week.
As for the midfield and despite playing the full 90 on Monday, JonJo Shelvey may find himself on the bench as Parky seeks to find an answer to our lack-lustre performances. Sam, Semedo and Bailey are certs but Parky must choose between Shelvey, Wagstaff, Spring or a forgotten Racon. Therry hasn't been seen on the field now, strangely enough, since that last clean sheet when he effectively took over from the suspended Semedo, seven games ago.

Up front will Dave Mooney be punished for his miss on Monday, giving Leon his first start? No, can't see it happening.

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Mooney
A recovery or another 0-0 draw like Oldham, that's the question. No, 1-0 to the Addicks.

There I was the other day reminiscing while walking the dog and going over all the great players we used to have but, showing my age, I just couldn't remember that Italian guys name. Then I found this by David Pleat on his 11 best players,
"I'd liked what I'd seen of him on television so I went up to Glasgow to see him play for Celtic. I took a cab to my hotel and the driver kept saying: "What are you doing here? Don't you dare try and take Paolo off our hands." When I got to the ground I found out he'd been ruled out through injury but, to be honest, I'd heard enough. He was fantastic in training and, while he could be selfish on the park and on some days played as if in a daze, at his best he was superb. He was temperamental – I remember him overturning the physio's couch in one half-time tantrum, and stripping off at Blundell Park at the break refusing to go back on the field. He ended up going back out and playing better in that second half. He was wild, but he was also wonderful on his day: a great shooter, a fine crosser and a top-class dribbler."
Yeh, that was Di Canio.....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Leyton Orient Preview

We've over half way through the season now and its a mad downhill chase to the finish line hoping that one of the others misses a hurdle or two, or maybe goes into administration. Just 20 games left and its neck and neck at the top with only three points covering the top three. Delia's party-poopers got another revenge out of the way with a useful 1-0 over Brentford even with 10 men after Grant Holt's dismissal so with Leeds otherwise detained, a winning result this evening would see a crazy three-way tie on 57 points.

Leeds did well at White Hart Lane at Saturday with a 2-2 draw that keeps complicating their fixture list but its a shame they can't play Carlisle every week. Carlisle have already drawn 1-1 at Elland Rd this season before their 2-1 win in the Johnstones last Tuesday and of course they were the last League One team to win there, 2-0 back in January 2009.

But with two home games left in January, it's February that could be make or break time for the three leaders with 6 league games in 24 days for the Addicks. Leeds also have 6 League games planned plus their Johnstones semi with Carlisle and now another FA Cup game so looks as if one of those league games will suffer while the party-poopers from East Anglia have it easy with only five games. The end of February then could see Leeds relegated to third place but there's a couple of difficult games in there for the Addicks first.

In total we have a nice neat 10 home games and 10 away to go and as far as difficult away games are concerned we have six games out of the 10 against teams in the top half of the best-home-record table. We face visits to unbeaten-at-home Huddersfield (Mar 27), Swindon (Feb 6) and Millwall (Mar 13) both with only a single home defeat, Saints (Apr 10) and Exeter (Apr 24) with just 2 home defeats and Bristol Rovers (Feb 13) with 3. So a neat two a month but results in these games could decide our season.

And we'll have to do better than our history in these games as at the moment it doesn't make pleasant reading. You won't need telling that its been 17 defeats at the spanners (our biggest away loss anywhere in the current company), and 16 times at both Huddersfield (out of 35 games) and Southampton (out of 27). And we've only won once at Exeter in 11 visits and twice at Bristol Rovers in 25.

As for tonight, one of Parky's old work-mates is current O's manager 48 year old Geraint Williams. They were together at Colchester whom Williams have managed on a four-week caretaker basis during the 2002–03 season prior to Parkinson's appointment in February 2003 for Parky first job in management. In July 2006, after three years together, Parky left to manage Hull and Geraint took charge of the U's and spent two years there before being sacked. He joined Orient last February and they finished a healthly 14th last season.


It was 5 games without a win before Tuesday which saw Orient drop into the bottom 4 for the second time this season. They badly needed a win and they got it, 2-0 over Yeovil at home moving up to 18th on 27 points, exactly half the Addicks total.

But their away record is currently the 18th worst in the division with 2 wins ( a 2-1 win on the first day of the season at Bristol Rovers and a 1-0 at Wycombe in October), 3 draws and 7 defeats and they have managed only 2 points in their last 6 away games although those were the last two at Brighton and Walsall. But don't get fidgety Parky during the first half, for they have only conceded 1 goal (at the best home team Huddersfield) in the first 45 in their last 10 away games including games at the party-poopers, Leeds and Swindon!

The Opposition

Parky, watch out for that big geezer, number 5 Tamika Mkandawire from Malawi, he's already got 5 from centre-back including their goal against us in August and another last Tuesday against Yeovil.


Scott McGleish turns 36 next month and its now been 15 years since he left the Addicks but is Orients top scorer on 9 for the season.

Whats Their Secret?

If you believe that its only tough teams that keep battling when all seems lost, then step forward the spanners and MK Dons, the only two teams to win twice after arriving at half-time losing. I suppose you could argue that it depends on how many stupid goals you give away in the first 45 and both of them have gone in for their tea losing 8 times.

But its not like that over at the Orient. They have only conceded 9 goals during the first half of their 25 games while letting in 18 in the last 15 minutes. And it gets more confusing while you read that they score more goals in the first 5 minutes of games than any other period while conceding more in the last 5 minutes than any other. Not a staying team then and amply demonstrated last August when we came from behind and scored two second half goals to win 2-1, which is of course our favorite scoreline as well as being their's (1-2 that is).

On the other hand Leeds, despite their dismal record of late, have only been losing at half-time once while next best at half-time are, of course, Leyton Orient, who amazingly have only been losing at the 45 minutes twice.

Cheer Us Up Nels

While we were suffering during the poor first half on Tuesday we should remember that we are by far the best team of the season over the first 45 minutes. Fifteen times now we have been leading at half time and only Leeds and the party-poopers come close with 12. We've also scored more goals than anybody else in the first 45 with 27 while Leeds and Norwich have only enjoyed 20 and 22.


The party-poopers knocked 4 past a hapless Orient on their visit to carrow rd in September but don't expect such a generous performance from Leyton in a local derby. It took Orient 30 years to get a result at the Valley with their first win there in 1962 and after three wins in the 70's its now been another 30 since their last win, a 1-0 on 12th January 1980. There's only been one league encounter since then, a 5-2 canter in 1982, but they have made a habit of knocking us out of cups, in 1982 and 1990 while we've done the same to them in 2006 and 2009.

The Team

Two wins on the trot, something that we used to dream about, and the question is will Parky made any changes. There's no Sodje ( game 4 of his suspension, is Miguel getting nervous?) and Kelly's signing autographs in the shop so an unchanged squad looks likely. But there were some low scoring marks all over the teamsheet last Tuesday and the question of Super-Sub Scotty staking a claim to a starting berth. Parky explains it away by saying we were tired after a tough game at Wycombe and a lack of training due to the bad weather.

One problem with starting Scotty would be the lack of creation in midfield once JonJo leaves it although that didn't stop our number 16 from making his own mark last Tuesday. And Scotty's 5 goals come from only 841 minutes played while Dave Mooney has now got 3 from his 758 minutes.
And there's also the question of missing pace given Parky's liking for the Mooney/Burton duo and if Mooney hadn't scored last week then perhaps we'd see both JonJo and Scotty playing and Mooney sat on the bench. But he did and scoring after three minutes after coming on shows that Wagstaff wants to prove something and maybe Parky will want to keep that desire as a special weapon on the bench.
Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Burton, Mooney.


Another game where both teams enjoy the same scoreline reversed. We love the 2-1 and they suffer more 1-2's than anything else. So a 2-1 win then? The first half will be crucial as its the best first half team against the second best. We've scored the most and they have conceded the second least. But don't panic Parky if its still 0-0 at half-time, the second 45 is when they let the goals in.

So looks like a 2-1 win but then its a local derby and our experiences with the spanners showed that in derbies the rules go out the window. And there's also the question mark over our nerve to go equal top. So many teams blow chances when the summit is in sight. We haven't been at the top since our 2-1 win over Huddersfield in mid-October and goals from Sam Sodje and McLeod got us there and both are missing tonight, some would say thankfully so.

So I'll stick with a 2-1 but its a time for cold nerves on a cold evening and a driving start Parky to settle us down.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I said a few weeks back that before we get onto our difficult away period, which begins on February 6th at Swindon, we must make hay while we can. The next three January games, all at home, are against teams that we have already beaten away from home and Parky will be keen to pick up the nine points to get us up to a nice round 60. These three games are vital in keeping up the pressure at the top and improving out home record which currently is only 4th best in the division after Huddersfield, Norwich and Leeds.
Meanwhile, League leaders Leeds, currently six points ahead of us, but with only 15 points from their last 8 league games ( 22 to Norwich, 18 to the Addicks) have only two League games left in January due to their FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint action and they aren't the sort of fixtures set to ease the mounting nerves of the Leeds faithful. First they visit in-form Swindon (2nd in the table on current 8-game form) on Tuesday 26th and then have Colchester (5 wins in the last 8) the following weekend at Elland Rd. We can only hope that Leeds manage to get a result at White Hart Lane on Saturday to confuse their League efforts even more.
And since Christmas Leeds have been having an uncomfortable time of it, in the League anyway. On Boxing Day todays visitors Hartlepool became the first away team to score first this season at Elland Rd (apart from Liverpool) before the whites scored three and won 3-1 and then in the following match the whites found themselves 2-1 down at Stockport with half-an-hour left but managed to win 4-2. Then they were outplayed on their own pitch by Wycombe in a 1-1 draw in their first game in 2010 before losing their second game of the season 2-0 at Exeter on Saturday.

And after Leeds' defeat at Exeter last weekend Grayson was full of praise for the Grecians, "I have to give a lot of credit to Exeter. I thought they played well today. They worked our back four as hard as probably a lot of teams have so far this season(!)" Sadly Stuart Fleetwood didn't play a part, spending the whole game sat on the bench.

But, disturbing our cozy little promotion twosome are the party-poopers from Norwich, currently three points in front of the Addicks although we have a game in hand, who also have only 2 games in January, at home to Brentford ( one of the four teams to beat them this season) and Hartlepool before a tricky little trip to only-one-home-defeat Millwall at the Den in Feb 6th. Thirteen games without defeat now ( since that one at Leeds) and with 14 wins in their last 17 league games the canaries must be dying to suffer a reverse. It has to come, of course, but maybe not before they run out of breath after reaching first place, which could well be at the weekend against Brentford.

Parky will be determined to keep it a three-way battle although a year ago League One, if you took any notice, all looked so much clearer. Run away leaders Leicester on 17 victories and only 2 defeats were on 57 points after 25 games, seven points clear of second placed MK Dons on 50. Twenty-one games later and Leicester would finish on 96 with only 2 further defeats.
Meanwhile, down at Hartlepool, despite their goal at Leeds, things are also going badly with 6 defeats in their last nine including a 5-0 home hammering by MK Dons at the weekend. Chris Turner had this to say afterwards, "It was shocking. We were very poor in every department; it was the worst I've seen us play and when the first goal went in we just collapsed."

He'll make changes after that result and will probably include Irish striker Denis Behan, on 4 goals, who made a comback from injury against MK Dons after being out for the last couple of months.

On the stat front there's proof that that goal at Leeds was not a fluke as only two teams have scored first more times than the pool's 16 times this season (Leeds and the party-poopers) while the Addicks are on 15 but while we have not lost after going in front the pool have lost 7 times - more than everybody added together - well nearly. And the pool have another good record in clean sheets with nine against the Addicks eight.

The Team
Parky, of course, won't be in need of any changes but will probably bring back Frazer Richardson after his appearance on Saturday after 68 minutes. But there's no news about Kelly Youga, missing now for seven games, so Grant Basey will continue at left-back.

Only the party-poopers have scored more goals than our 48 but we still lack a consistent striker. Four of Burton's 12 have been penalties and while Parky clearly likes what he sees in Dave Mooney, its now been five games for him and nearly 400 minutes since he last scored against Bristol Rovers.

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Burton and Mooney.

There's only 5 teams in this league that have scored more goals away from home than Hartlepool and their weekend 5-0 defeat by MK was their first non-scoring game in twelve.
But they have conceded three goals in each of their last three away games at Leeds, Southend and Carlisle, losing all three, so there's no reason why we shouldn't expect to bang in a hatful. Although then again we are Charlton and with a favorite score of 2-1 its more probable that we'll resist the tempation of scoring loads while we can expect Hartlepool to react to their generous display against MK Dons last weekend by tightening up a bit. And they may even score first....
Verdict: Addicks 2 Hartlepool 1

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wycombe Wanderers Preview

If Saturdays game goes ahead it'll be eighteen days since the Addicks saw any action in an away 1-1 draw at Brentford but with Norwich having a difficult trip to Colchester a good result could see us back in 2nd place. Colchester have had only one defeat at home, 2-1 to Leeds back in August, and until the embarrassing 7-0 defeat at Preston in the FA Cup had only had one defeat in the following 21 games.
But of course there's the question of that growing goal difference between us and Norwich, currently at 7 more than us, to make up as well and as we shall see Wycombe won't be likely to help out in our need for goals.
Before that however, just a comment on our status during the transfer window. Norwich with four new arrivals - defenders Russell Martin (Peterborough, previously on-loan) and Zak Whitbread (the spanners), winger Anthony McNamee (Swindon) and striker Oli Johnson (Stockport) - all on permanent deals while Southampton have signed the expensive Jose Fonte from Palarse. Colchester have signed three players Ian Henderson from somewhere in Turkey, while converting midfielder John-Joe O'Toole (Watford) and Kayode Odejayi into permanent moves. Clearly the opposition are using the opportunity to bolster their chances while the Addicks, much like Leeds, remain relatively unbolstered, ( apart from a months extension for Omozusi and an agreement with Reading to sign Mooney for the rest of the season) although Leeds with 9 wins in last 13 league games perhaps have a bigger reason to be content with what they have.

So on to Wycombe. St Patricks day boy Gary (Patrick) Waddock is the new manager down at Adams Park having taken over on the 13th October. His claim to fame, apart from playing in QPR's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs in the replayed 1982 Cup Final ( alongside Mike Flanagan) is that he was born in the same place I was, Kingsbury. He previously managed QPR for three months before being replaced by John Gregory and took over at Adams Park after Peter Taylor was dismissed after only 1 win in the first eleven games of the season. Waddocks career at the Chairboys was also looking a bit precarious with 2 draws and then 2 defeats in his first month and culminating with a bruising 0-6 away defeat at the hands of Huddersfield.
That heavy defeat at Huddersfield was the Chairboys eleventh game without a win and dropped them to the foot of the table and next up was an away game at the spanners who were on a 14 match unbeaten run at the den. Waddock had this to say after that Huddersfield defeat. "Our season starts today. The honeymoon period has finished and decisions will be made. I told them that at half-time and I told them again in no uncertain terms afterwards. Thats fighting talk and I want to see it in my players. Its time to make decisions." Out went goalkeeper Young, after only one game and so to did centre-back Duberry and in one of those strange upsets that are a key part of football the Chairboys won at the den with a shock 2-0 scoreline - also the spanners only home defeat so far this season - with two second half goals from Westwood and Betsy. And although they narrowly then lost at St. Marys 1-o, Waddock followed up with two vital home wins over Brentford and Stockport.

Since that win over Stockport however, they have got only 2 points from their last 6 games with three straight defeats before Saturday at Leeds and it looked as if they were heading back to the dismal run they had in September, October and November with eleven games without a win. But after shipping nine goals in their games at Yeovil and at home to Brighton they once again showed that they much prefer class opposition as they embarked on a run of three games against the top three in the table.

Norwich managed just one goal against the Chairboys - their lowest score for nine games - but it was enough to get a tough 1-0 win backed by 2200 travelling fans and with MOM going to home goalie Shearer while their following game took them to Elland Rd. Leeds scored first but were second best for long periods of the game which finished in a 1-1 draw and it must be said that Wycombe have had their best results against the top half of the table winning three times against Bristol, Millwall and Brentford whilst only managing one win against the lower half of the table.

So its five points adrift of Brighton for the Chairboys at the edge of the safety zone having played 2 games more, and its only the appalling form of Stockport with their eleven straight defeats that prevents them being rock bottom.

The Opposition

Waddock changed the formation for the Leeds game to an attacking 4-3-1-2. Thirty-year old Tommy Doherty is the creative key to the Chairboys midfield and alongside him is fellow Irishman 21 year old Scott Davies, on-loan from Reading while Harrold, Pitman and Beavon form the attacking trio.

Oklahoma born Jon-Paul Pittman is now top scorer with 8. Still only 23, he wears number 16.

Whats The Secret?
A team with six 1-1 draws and a favorite scoreline of 0-1 ( 8 times) they clearly see defence as the best form of attack. And while the Addicks have failed to score 3 times, Wycombe have 10 no-scoring games. But in 18 of their 26 games they have conceded no more than 1 goal, a commendable stat for a team second from bottom.

Well, as far as games at Adams Park is concerned there isn't any history 'cause we've never been there before. But if you want a history lesson the reason we've never been anywhere near Wycombe is because, despite the Chairboys being 123 years old, they've spent most of that time as an amateur club and have only been in the League since 1993 when they had the extremely good fortune to have Martin O'Neill take over for his first real job. And if you believe Wiki, it was all down to a chance meeting in a toilet at Carrow Road.

What Are They Saying?
It's not very recent but, Peter Taylor then manager of Wycombe, after completing the signing of the 24-year-old Crawley Town striker John-Paul Pittman last February, told the club website: "I'm excited to have him here, he's a very, very quick player."
But more recent is the worrying and surprise capture of Jose Fonte from Palarse by the clearly flush-with-cash Pardew. The fee is believed to be in the region of £1.2 million. Fonte says "playing for Saints is a dream come true! I was happy at Crystal Palace and I only have good memories of my time there but I have made a decision that I am very happy with. This might seem like a step back but it may be two steps forward and that's how I see it. Southampton has the stability which Crystal Palace does not have at the moment and I made this decision because the situation at Palace is delicate and I have to think about my future." Lets hope he takes a while to settle into life down here in the doldrums, around June should be fine Jose.
And if you're looking for any tips Parky on what NOT to do come Saturday, here's what Millwall's Kenny Jackett had to say after the Chairboys had demolished the spanners 14 match unbeaten run at the Den back in November, "It was a really poor performance from start to finish. We never got going, didn't show any fight, didn't show any personality, didn't show any zip."
The Team
After eighteen days off, will our first choice defence return to the action? Kelly was almost there before the Bees game but the word is that he'll still be missing while Frazer Richardson, although back in training will probably still be out specially given Parky enthusiastic interview last friday regarding Elliot Omozusi.
So expect to see a defence of Omozusi, Dailly, Llera and Basey with Sam Sodje serving his second game of his four match suspension.
Burton, however, is back from suspension and will break up the strike duo that played at Brentford of Akpo and Dickson. Dicko was subbed on 73 minutes with Leon coming on but Parky was full of praise for Chris afterwards - "I thought Chris did well. He worked hard and he's looked good since he's come back from Bristol Rovers. He put in a good honest performance, and there were a couple of good chances which Chris would normally take; that's his forte when he gets in there. But then he kept going, kept going and got the penalty for us. In the end, he's got us back in the game with his sheer determination." So expect a strike force of Dickson and Burton then, although there's a possibility that Dave Mooney will get his place back after making a recovery from his knee injury.

Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Llera, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Mooney, Burton

Norwich won 1-0 at Adams Park on the 2nd of January but Leeds could only draw 1-1 last weekend so its a direct comparison for the Addicks. The Chairboys clearly prefer playing the best there is and have conceded only 3 times in four games against Leeds, Norwich, the Saints and the spanners, with three of them being away although only getting four points in the process.

So, beware Parky - we need the three points but don't expect it to be easy. After the season-begins-here rave from Waddock their home form has been: Brentford (win), Stockport (win), Oldham (draw), Brighton (5-2 defeat) and Norwich (1-0 defeat) but Parky will not like to hear the remarkable stat that Wycombe have only won 4 points less than Norwich in their games against the top half of the table.
Verdict: Wycombe 0 Addicks 1

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hartlepool Preview

After last weekends match at Walsall was postponed, Norwich were able to play their game in hand rather earlier than we expected and so its down to 3rd for the Addicks after the bleeding canaries record their 12th win in 15.

The last time we suffered the disappointment of relinquishing an automatic 2nd place was back in November 12th 2007 when West Brom won 4-0 at Coventry to overtake us in the Fizzies Tier Two table after 16 games. We had won 8 out of the sixteen but would go on to win only 9 more of the remaining 30 games that season as a slow sinking feeling creep into the squad and we finished a lowly 11th. Nobody can imagine a similar scenario this year but Parky now has his work cut-out to avoid the Play-offs.

Nevertheless it seems light years ago since we last played the Pool as we were at the time simply praying for two successive League wins ( in the same season that is), not previously achieved by the Addicks since December 2007....70 games ago.

We got the win of course, 2-0 by goals by top scorers Burton and Bailey, but we have another target to aim for this weekend because after the draw at Brentford we are still chasing our first double of the year.

The Pool have no manager at the moment, only a Director of Football namely Chris Turner. He took over as caretaker in December 2008 after Danny Wilson, now at Swindon, was sacked and was upgraded to the grandiose title of Director of Football during the summer.


Following their first double whammer of the season back in October with consecutive wins over Swindon (a) 2-0 and Tranmere (h) 1-0 its been mostly downhill for the Pool with only three wins in the last 10 over those contrasting London sides Orient and Millwall at home and last weekend against Oldham.

But an impressive performance at Elland Rd in their last away game in which they went in front on 25 minutes becoming the first away team to score first at Leeds this season, apart from the other pool, Liverpool. True to form they then caved in and lost 3-1.

In fact their away record isn't bad with 3 wins ( they are one of only two teams to win at Gillingham and they are the only team to win at Swindon ) 3 draws and 6 defeats and as far as goals is concerned they have scored the same, 18, as we have away from home.

The Opposition

Last weekend it was Andy Monkhouse who crossed for Ritchie Jones to head Hartlepool in front after 32 minutes and added the second himself five minutes before the break. But they'll miss defender Peter Hartley next wekend as he was sent off seven minutes from time for an off-the-ball incident.

Both Hartley and centre-back Sam Collins are on 23 games for the season but Collins will also be out with an Achilles injury so Turner is struggling a bit with missing defenders while experienced centre-half Gary Liddle (hamstring) is also out.


Top scorers are Andy Boyd and Monkhouse both on 8. Number 10 Boyd is a local boy but was a teammate of Matt Spring at Luton and then spent a couple of years at Orient. Number 11 is Andy Monkhouse whose claim to fame is based on the fact that he became Dennis Wise's first signing as manager of Swindon Town on June 22, 2006, signing a one-year contract.

Whats Their Secret?

The Pool start strong and have scored twice as many first half goals compared to the second half, but sadly they are hopeless at holding on to a lead. Sixteen times they have scored first, only one less than leaders Leeds, but seven times, just as at Elland Rd, they have gone in front but then wilted and lost the game whereas the Addicks are one of only 6 sides that haven't lost once after scoring first. But at the other end, while Leeds and Norwich lead the Division in clean sheets (13 and 11 respectively) you'll be surprised to learn that the Pool are the next best with 9 followed by the Addicks and Brentford with 8.

Cheer Us Up Nels
Upstarts Norwich remain one of only 6 teams in League One that have failed to win after falling behind, scoring only 4 points on the 7 occasions that it has happened, whereas the fighting Addicks have gone on to take 10 points on the 8 times that we have let the other lot in first. OK, they usually score first - 16 times against our 14 - but have also managed to lose 4 (Colchester (h) and Brentford, MK and Leeds all away).

As for the remaining games, obviously the teams to avoid playing are the top 7 away with only 4 home defeats between them. The Addicks are, of course, one of the 7 and have already played 3 of the others so are left with Huddersfield, Swindon and Millwall to visit while the canaries have 5 games left in Colchester, Millwall, Huddersfield, Swindon and lastly Charlton. And of the nine best away teams all with 4 or more away wins we have played 5 leaving just Colchester, Norwich and Leeds ( our last three home games) exactly the same number as Norwich with Southampton, Leeds and MK Dons. So on paper Norwich have a harder run-in with two more difficult away games than us and also have to play us at the Valley in April, a true six-pointer.

B**ger, I seem to have missed out lowly Brighton, somehow also on 4 away wins. We haven't played them at home but the canaries beat them 4-1 at the Carrow place so they can't be so hot, but they have won a remarkable 8 times in the 23 games played at the Valley so be careful Parky.

With only two games played there's not a lot of history about. Apart from our win at Victoria Park in August the only other game was a League Cup tie in September 2005 which we won 3-1.

But, of course, that short history can mean only one thing - there's a chance of a banana skin for Hartlepool are one of an unprecedented 8 teams (Carlisle, the Gills, Exeter, MK Dons, Oldham, Wycombe and Yeovil are the others) in League One that have never won at the Valley.

The Team
We can expect Christian Dailly to return at centre-half after his illness and partner Miguel Llera for the first time since Sam Sodje's previous suspension against Bristol Rovers. That was also Kelly Youga's last game as he limped off on 23 minutes with an injured left knee but Parky did say on the 23rd he was only 10 days away from returning so 17 days later will we see Kelly? Grant Basey has started the last 8 games but if Kelly is fit he's sure to start.

With Semedo moving back into midfield, Matt Spring, after enjoying the full 90 in the last two games, will move to the bench but will we use the same 4-5-1 formation that beat the Pool in August? That game was also the last appearance of Andy Gray before his, undisclosed fee, move to Barnsley. He cost Pardew 1.5m and made a total of 47 appearances for the Addicks scoring 9 times while Parky's purchase of the unheralded Deon Burton for a song has now made 49 scoring 17. Perhaps the comparison is unfair bearing in mind Gray's personnel problems but perhaps the truth is that neither come near Norwich's Grant Holt, now on 20 for the season who also have another two, Hoolahan and Martin, on 13.

Anyway, Deon is a must to start, barring any dead leg issues and with Sam, Bailey and Semedo in midfield Parky just has to decide on a formation to work around Wagstaff, Shelvey or Akpo Sodje. Which just leaves the question marks over Therry Racon, with only one appearance in the last seven, and Izzy McLeod with 4 minutes in the last 10 games??

Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, A. Sodje.


I don't like teams that have never won at the Valley, especially after last seasons Barnsley and Doncaster fiascos, but this seasons team is a whole lot different to last year so we shouldn't expect to lose. However, after going behind in each of the last three games, we must be careful of this team who start well even if they do tend to fade. They have scored the same number of goals as us away from home and scored first at Elland Rd recently but they have conceded three goals in each of their last three away games at Leeds, Southend and Carlisle, losing all three, so there's no reason why we shouldn't bang in a hatful.

Addicks 3 Hartlepool 0