Charlton slip up at the Ricoh

Charlton succumbed to their first double defeat at the Ricoh as Coventry ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late strike from Tom Bayliss gave the hosts the three points.

It was a sluggish performance from the Addick’s and the injuries to this small depleted squad looked to have finally taken their toil. The hosts were definitely the better side and deserved their victory.

A first league goal from Darren Pratley sandwiched the two strikes from Hiwula and Bayliss with Charlton unable to produce the kind of slick movement and attacking play we’ve seen from them before this season.

Joe Aribo was a huge miss, we lacked the midfielders ability to pick up and take the ball forward. The young midfielder looks set to be out for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

The defeat puts a slight dent in the promotion push but results elsewhere mean it wasn’t a dreadful result for the visitors. A defeat always has an impact to fan morale but despite the recent run of good form it seems like this squad doesn’t quite have the depth, with the amount of injuries, to make an automatic spot.

There was further woe for Lee Bowyer as George Lapslie took another blow to the face and also could be out for the trip to Barnsley on the 29th of December.

One positive for the Addicks was Mark Marshall, the wideman looked hungry and had an instant impact on the game when he came on for Ben Reeves. He provided much needed energy for Charlton and put in a good quality cross for Pratley’s goal. He may well be a very important player for Bowyer’s men as the busy festive schedule continues.

On to the next one, there is little time to mourn the result and the Addicks must dust themselves down and get ready for the next one against promotion rivals Barnsley.

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We’re half way there

Charlton continued their excellent run of form with a 2-0 victory over local rivals Gillingham, thanks to goals from Reeves and Fosu, to make it an impressive seven wins from the last eight.

The Addicks received a boost before the game with the announcement that league one top goal scorer Tom Eaves was absent with injury and the game showed how important Eaves is to the Gills. The visitors started the better side, in stark contrast to previous opponents AFC Wimbledon, but lacked cutting edge in the final third.

Indeed it was a scrappy and sluggish start from the hosts, despite some good free flowing moves and a good number of chances created the Addicks gave away lots of sloppy fouls and couldn’t get going as well as we know they can.

However, Charlton managed to grow into the game, by and large able to deal with anything the visitors threw at them, and it wasn’t long before Bowyer’s men were able to take the lead. A defence splitting pass from Fosu sent through Ben Reeves who was able to slot home in the 6th minute.

The reds carried on to control the match and had numerous chances to put the game to bed. Ben Reeves had another chance to make it 2-0 but couldn’t quite strike the ball cleanly and saw his effort saved by the legs of Holy. Fosu also saw a deflected strike hit the cross bar.

Fosu, who hasn’t really hit the heights of last season, continued to be a threat throughout the first half and caused full back Barry Fuller all kinds of problems. The tricky wideman got his reward as he played a one-two with Aribo and struck a beautiful shot from 25 yards out into the back of the net.

The Addicks professionally saw out the remainder of the game to make it four straight wins at home. Despite it not being a classic performance, as Bowyer spoke about after the game, it is the mark of a good side who can grind out results like this. Maybe if Eaves was present it would have been different game but you can only beat what’s put in front of you.

Huge credit must go to Bowyer and Jackson. What they have achieved so far given the state of play at the start of the season with the injury crisis and not being able to name a full bench at the first game at Sunderland seems a lifetime ago.

In years gone by we would have crumbled in games like this but the management appear to have instilled a great sense of togetherness and belief in the injury hit squad. You have to think, if we can continue to grind through back to a fully fit squad, that anything is possible this year.

Billy Clarke is still building back his match sharpness, Josh Cullen’s return is on the horizon, George Lapsile and Jamie Ward should be involved against Coventry on boxing day. All this returning players will be a huge boost to Bowyer, the need to rotate the squad over this busy period will be vital.

Indeed even having Darren Pratley back was a noticeable boost, the former Bolton man put in a good shift and helped to keep Charlton solid as he replaced Aribo who picked up a knock.

At the halfway stage of the season the Addicks are certainly beating the expectations I had at the start of the season. They find themselves in fourth place and four points away from an automatic promotion spot. Although Sunderland have two games in hand and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I still think an automatic place will be a step too far for the Addicks but with the momentum they currently have, anything is possible. Much will depend on January, I’m not expecting anything more than possibly a new left-back, the extension or replacement of Jamie Ward will also be important. As well as obviously ensuring we keep all our players, although if this will happen under Roland remains to be seen.

But things are positive and we have every reason to be happy, the December hoodoo looked to continue with with Blackpool defeat but Charlton now have more wins in December than they’d managed in the previous 33 games that fell in the winter month.

Maybe, just maybe, something special is brewing down in SE7. A huge congratulations to Bowyer and the players, it hasn’t always looked good this season but something seems to have clicked recently and have the potential to get even better with returning players.

Long may it continue, we’re half way there but there’s still a long old way to go. Come on you reds.

Sick Note Steve – Well Done Charlton!

Things around SE7 have been much more positive since the Blackpool set back and it would have been nice to write some much deserved praise about Lee Bowyer’s Charlton. Unfortunately I’ve been wiped out by some kind of Hanoian super bug. You’ll have to forgive me for lack of detail on this one, still feeling rotten but I’ve got the Charlton bug too. 

At the peak of my sickness, drifting between freezing cold and boiling hot, being half deaf from some kind of sinus infection and feeling vaguely levitated from the obscene amount of drugs they prescribe you here, Charlton managed to follow up on their impressive victory over table-topping Portsmouth with a 2-0 win against AFC Wimbledon. 

Happy days, sod infections, Lyle Taylor’s bagged another one and Mark Marshall is up and running again. 

It looked to be a tricky afternoon for Charlton at the beginning with Naby Sarr being sent off after just 39 seconds, an impressive, if unwanted, record.  The makeshift left back was late in his early challenge against Watson and referee Trevor Kettle, who has a reputation for liking his cards, wasted little time in giving Sarr his marching orders. 

Much to everyone’s surprise the Addick’s remained the better side, keeping hold of possession and probing to find a way past the Wombles defence. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a side refuse to attack so much in all my time watching football. 

11 v 10 became 10 v 10 around the half hour mark as, former school mate, although I don’t think ever said a word to each other, Mitch Pinnock was sent off for being adjudged to have dived and received his second yellow card of the afternoon.  

Charlton pushed on from here and it was former dons striker Lyle Taylor who put the hosts ahead. Ajose got the ball out wide and whipped in a low cross for Taylor to knock home. 

Ajose spurned a golden opportunity to double the Charlton lead after a beautiful through ball from Ben Reeves set the striker through one on one. The Wimbledon keeper did well to rush out from his box and clear the danger. 

Finally Wimbledon appeared to attempt to make a game of the afternoon and it was in the final 10 minutes when they seemed the most dangerous with some fresh legs from the subs bench. But Mark Marshall ensured there would be no panic for the home side. 

Charlton countered quickly from a Don’s attack and Bielik played the ball to wideman Marshall whose strong low strike fizzed through the legs of a Don’s defender and slammed in at the far post. Game over. 

It was important to follow up with another result after the Portsmouth victory, that’s 5 points gained on them in a week. Although if catching them is a realistic ambition or not remains to be seen. Charlton remain 5th after Peterborough drew their game and find themselves 4 points off an automatic place. Although Sunderland, in 3rd place, have two games in hand and you would expect them to pick up more points. 

Nevertheless, an impressive response from Charlton after the Blackpool set back and the terrible injury crisis we find ourselves in. What an incredible job Bowyer and Jackson are doing in the circumstances. 

Long may it continue, come on your reds. 

Charlton fall victim to late Blackpool sucker punch

Charlton lost out in play off six pointer against fellow promotion chasers Blackpool as Delfouneso netted in the 87th minute to give the hosts the three points. 

Gnanduillet had put Blackpool ahead in the early stages as Charlton struggled to deal with the hosts in the first half. The Addick’s never really got going in the first half and it looked to be an up-hill struggle from there. 

Things improved towards the end of the half, good work from George Lapsile, who spun past the defender, allowed him to put a good ball into the box but Karlan Grant couldn’t slot home for the equaliser. 

After presumably receiving a sound talking to at half time it was Charlton who had the better of the game in the second half. The early pressure from the Addicks was rewarded in the 55th minute 

Charlton undoubtedly miss the quality of Josh Cullen at the base of midfield but Bielik did incredibly well to take the ball from deep and drive past two challenges. The Arsenal loanee played the ball out wide to Grant whose low cross into the box was poked home by Aribo. 

Things continued to look positive for Charlton as they went in search of a winner and the Addicks were disappointed not to be awarded as Mark Marshall’s low cross to Taylor appeared to be handled by the sliding defender but nothing was given. 

Karlan Grant went cross with a curling effort from just inside the box but it was Blackpool who would take home the spoils. A neat pass through the middle left Jason Pearce on the blackfoot and Delfouneso was able to run in behind him and slot past Jed Steer from close range.

A bad day for Charlton and it doesn’t get any easier as they travel to table topping Portsmouth on Tuesday night. There is little chance of the Addicks to dust themselves down but they will have to get back to their best to have any chance of getting something from the south coast side. 

If Charlton as to be challenging for the play-offs or hoping to snatch an automatic place games like this need to be capitalised on. There’s still a long way to go but it’s a bitter set-back for Bowyer’s men. The result means the Addick’s slip down one place to seventh while Doncaster go above them by a point and Blackpool stay eighth thanks to goal difference. 

So the winning run comes to an end and the terrible December record goes on. Bowyer will be hoping for a quick response from his side, a poor run of results this month will quickly undo the hard work and good results achieved in November. 

A tough week ahead

A second string Charlton side were knocked out of the FA cup second round thanks to second half strikes from Andy Butler and John Marquis. Bowyer opted to completely rest his main side, although the likes of Billy Clarke gained further minutes and Mark Marshall put in a good performance. It was also a good experience and test for some of our younger players, who could well find themselves playing in the league this season against similar opposition.

Bowyer received some criticism for his line-up and didn’t appear too fussed to have been knocked out, citing he needed to look at the bigger picture. With the recent horrific injury record it’s hard to argue with him, although would it really have been too much to ask to have some of the senior players available on the bench to be thrown on for the final 20 minutes?

Maybe less games is now to our benefit, although this by no means guarantees promotion or better performances, especially given our obvious injury hoodoo at the moment.

What’s done is done, it’s over now and all concentration now goes to the promotion push. The Addicks find themselves in 6th place and will need to keep up the recent league momentum if they are to remain in the play-off pack and put pressure on the automatic places.

With all cup competitions now settled, Lee Bowyers’ men return to league action this weekend against play off chasing Blackpool. The Addicks will be looking to build on their four match league win streak but it will be no easy task against a Tangerine side who appear to finally be putting their pitch struggles behind them.

Karlan Grant, Lyle Taylor and Kystian Bielik were all rested against Doncaster and should be involved against Blackpool. Ben Reeves played against Doncaster following his return from injury, the midfielder has been in form this season and could be in line to start. Billy Clarke is still looking to build up his match sharpness following a long spell out but will be hoping to be involved in the league match day squad soon.

Blackpool, meanwhile, will be looking to put the pressure on Charlton for a play-off spot and a 4-0 victory for the hosts would see them overtake the Addicks. November was also a positive month for Terry McPhillips’s men, with them going on a five game win streak in all competitions. Although a recent league defeat to Doncaster Rovers and draw to Solihull Moors in the FA cup show that the Addicks have every chance of coming out on top.

A possible advantage for Charlton could be that Blackpool play this Wednesday for their FA cup replay, although this will depend on what team Blackpool field. It will be a tough game either way and the Addicks will need to be at their best to take the three points.

The following Tuesday see’s Charlton face against Kenny Jackett’s table-topping Portsmouth. Pompey would have been disappointed to have missed out on the play-offs last season but look set to battle it out and try to make top spot their own this season.

It will be a tough game, against a Portsmouth side that have only lost once so far, but we’ve often looked better against sides who come at us and try to play. Tough but interesting to see how this squad handles two difficult games in quick succession.

Should the Addicks come out with 4-6 points they would be well set to push on and hopefully enjoy another successful month in the busy festive period. Personally I’m predicting a win against Blackpool and a defeat to Portsmouth. Time will tell, come on your reds.

A perfect month?

Football is a bi-polar world. Things have certainly improved for Lee Bowyer’s men since my last post as they go in search of a fourth league win to seal a perfect month against Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion.

The injury hit Addicks have responded well after a dreadful October with league 2-0 victories over both Doncaster and Walsall, the recent 3-1 win over Bristol Rovers and of course the 5-0 thrashing of Mansfield Town in the FA cup replay.

It maybe wasn’t the prettiest of performances but a beautifully chipped finish from Jamie Ward, assisted by the quick thinking Jed Steer, and strikes from Aribo and Grant gave the Addick’s a much needed three points at The Valley.

Charlton may need to show their grit again tonight as they travel to Burton but will be happy with the return of top scorer Lyle Taylor after the former AFC Wimbledon man served his suspension against the Gas. Lewis Page remains sidelined while Bowyer hinted that Patrick Bauer and Jamie Ward may need a rest, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see them start.

The Addick’s will be looking for a positive result as they try to close the gap with the teams above them. Tricky games against play-off chasing Blackpool and top of the table Portsmouth are just around the corner and Charlton will want to go into these games on a good run of form if they to continue their promotion push.

Things change quickly in football, Bowyer’s men find themselves in 6th place yet they are only six points off second placed Sunderland. Automatic promotion seemed unlikely, and it will still be a big ask of the small, injury ridden squad we have, but it shows that consistency will be the key to success in what appears to be a relatively open playing field at the top end of the table.

I’ll be tuning in from Hanoi, 3am local time, god help me.

Come on you reds.

 

A view from the East.

It’s been a disappointing few weeks in the world of Charlton recently, despite a promising performance against high-flying Barnsley, the following showings against Oxford United and Rochdale have certainly slammed the brakes on immediate expectations for the campaign.

Being unable to attend games, the trip from Vietnam is just a little bit too much for me, I’ve been watching the games via iFollow and listening through ValleyPass at stupid o’clock in the evenings and mornings.  Getting to sleep after the Rochdale game was actually fairly easy given what I’d just seen.

What happened to the quick, skilful counter-attacking side we saw against Barnsley? Against Rochdale we were outfought, closed down quickly and unable to get any real flow into our play. You have to give Rochdale credit, they had obviously done their homework and you have to say they did nearly everything right on the day.

In games like that with a smaller pitch and team who knows they need to press us hard at the back I can’t understand why we insist on passing it between the centre halves when we’re clearly doing exactly what the opposition want. I like the way we try to play, I really do, and when it works it’s outstanding to watch but I think we need to get back our gritty side when we need it.

It’s not like we can’t do it, it was the first most noticeable change in the side under Bowyer and we’ve fought hard to get results where it looked like we were going home with nothing this season.

As has always been the case under Duchatelet the squad size and injuries haven’t helped, an unbalanced backline is the most glaring issue at the moment and reinforcements in January in that area will be critical but it’s something we have to deal with. Slices of bad luck play a part, the missed penalty, the offside for Cullen’s freekick but ultimately the performance was very poor and we never looked like getting anything from Spotland.

Bowyer has challenged the players to respond and a good response is now vital. We’re worse off than we were this time last season and the team must now put a run of good results together if we’re to stay in the race for the play-offs.

Personally I think talk of automatic was always wishful thinking but hopefully Bowyer, Jackson and the team can get back to doing what they do best and help get the side back on track.

Let’s not even go into Duchatelet’s interview with Jim White, I’ve had enough of evening thinking about the man. Takeover or no takeover, we have what we have.

Time to pull our sleeves up and push on.

Over and out from Vietnam, come on you reds.