Sunday, October 29, 2006

Point Made

Newcastle United 0 Charlton Athletic 0

It certainly wasn't very pretty, but Charlton picked up their fifth point of the season at St James' Park on Saturday evening, and made it three games without defeat, and three clean sheets on the trot to boot!

Dowie took this websites advice once again on team selection, and recalled the rested and fit (in the losest possible term of the word...) again players who had missed the midweek cup win over Bolton - Reid, Diawara, Carson, Darren Bent, and Faye. Marcus Bent retained his place from midweek, as Jerome Thomas was missing injured.

Unfortunately, all the passion, confidence and commitment evident in the cup game seemed to disappear early on, and Charlton were lucky to survive shots from Parker (more than once), Duff (also several times), Rossi (at least twice), and Solano. Carson made a few good saves, and got a whack in the face from Rossi for his troubles after fumbling one Parker shot. The 4-4-2 formation just was not working, with both Bent's unable to retain what little ball they were given by a profligate midfield. In fact, some of Reid and Faye's passing was attrocious. Half time couldn't arrive too soon, and it was a great relief to see the Addicks survive till then.

After half time, Dowie changed things a little, first recalling big Benty to a wider role, then replacing him with Bryan Hughes. Reid lasted little longer, eventually falling with cramp. We have all heard many jokes about the rotundness of our small Irishmen, but the fact that he could not last an hour without his muscles seizing up does not bode well when we are told he is working additional hours in training to bolster his fitness. He was replaced by Kishishev. These two changes worked in Charlton's favour, and all of a sudden, the team was able to compete.

Darren Bent chased everything up front; Rommedahl, who flattered to decieve in the first half, set off on a few pacy runs, and efforts on goal became more frequent. Luke Young made many a foray down the flank and tried to help the attacking options of the team. Bent got free and flashed a volley wastefully over the bar; Hughes curled a shot narrowly wide with Harper beaten; then Bent again won the ball after beating Craig Moore for pace but was denied by a last ditch tackle when about to shoot.

At the other end, Newcastle continued to threaten, but less so, and Carson seemed to deal well with anything that came near him. The game petered out, and a point apiece was all either side got from the game.

Dowie accepted that Charlton played poorly most of the time, but was grateful for any return. The crowd were not too pleased, but the Geordies seem to be getting used to games like this these days.

For Charlton, a week off is time to be spent getting the unfit players back on equal terms with the rest of the Premiership; I don't mean the injured ones, I mean those that cannot seem to get through 90 minutes now without having a week off afterwards to recover. Diawara is great, but must get fitter to cope with the Premiership pace; Reid must just get fitter, as he seems to stroll around most of the time anyway, and now gets cramp for just doing that!

Next week sees another bottom of the table clash, with Manchester City and under pressure Stuart Pearce. A home win is needed, but win, lose or draw, it might not be very pretty again.

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