Monday, November 06, 2006

History in the Making

Yes, it's true - the fourth round Carling Cup game at Chestefield tomorrow night could see Iain Dowie make history as the first Charlton "Head Coach" to lead the team into the quarter finals. Scary eh?

Way back before even I first went to The Valley - through Eddie Firmani, Theo Foley, Andy Nelson, Mike Bailey, Alan Mullery, Ken Craggs, Lennie Lawrence, Alan Curbishley and Steve Gritt - no manager has got Charlton to the last eight in this competition, but at his first attempt, Iain Dowie could do it with a win tomorrow. Folklore starts in strange places, and this may be true for Dowie.

The team that stands in his and Charlton's way are Chesterfield. So what division are they in then, and how come they have got this far in the cup? The Saltergate team currently lie in 18th position in the First division - that's divison three to us old heads. They have 19 points from 17 games, and five games without a win, which isn't exactly great form! Their season has been punctuated though with three major cup wins; first they beat Championship club Wolves, then Premiership duo Manchester City and West Ham. We can therefore presume that they will not be a push over. What else do we know about them? Not a lot - their manager is Roy MacFarland, and their most famous fan (to come out of the closet now they are winning) is Jo Guest (left). It was struggle to find a printable picture of Miss Guest, and you can go to her website if you want to see (a lot) more of her. I actually met her once, at a party after a movie premiere, where she donated her knickers to charity (I swear it true!). She also managed to have one of her breasts pop out of her dress while sitting chatting to a couple of lads which livened up the conversation (and my evening as I witnessed it) I can tell you! She didn't mention football that night to my knowledge...

The Spireites also have injury problems with top player Caleb Folan (8 goals this season), and with luck, he will miss out. So the odds should be with the Addicks. Paul Shaw (ex-Millwall and Gillingham amongst others) is probably their most noticeable name.

Charlton will be going in to the game bouyed by four successive clean sheets - Bolton, Watford, Newcastle and Manchester City have all failed to get past the Charlton back line recently. Hopefully, this sequence will continue. I expect Dowie to change his team slightly from that we have seen in recent Premiership matches - Dennis Rommedahl is out with a groin injury - using the opportunity to give some squad players a game. Bearing in mind the previous cup results at Saltergate though, he will do well not to mess too much.

I would have expected Thomas Myrhe to play in goal giving Scott Carson a rest, but his ankle knock looks like preventing that option. Whether Dowie is prepared to play Stephan Andersen in this match remains to be seen; he is certainly good enough, but is he "match fit"?

Luke Young will continue at right back, but Jon Fortune may get a run out in the middle. Hrediersson and El Karkouri are the other players likely to make up the defence, with Diawara having a rest, and Sorondo, Gibbs, and Traore not yet fit enough.

In midfield, Bryan Hughes will hopefully continue his knack of scoring in this competition and against lower league teams. Matt Holland will also probably play, as will Jerome Thomas, who needs the games at present. Other options are Amady Faye, Andy Reid, Omar Pouso, and Radostin Kishishev.

Up front, I expect Darren Bent to be rested (especially as he limped off at the weekend), and the front two to be Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent.

This, therefore, is the team I expect to start tomorrow night in a fairly open 4-3-3 formation -

Stephan Andersen
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Jonathan Fortune
Hermann Hreidersson
Bryan Hughes
Radostin Kishishev
Matt Holland
Jerome Thomas
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Marcus Bent

Subs - Carson, Sankofa, Faye, Reid, Bent (D)

With recent results, Charlton fans have to be pretty optimistic on this match, but we all know how banana skins have a habit of slipping Charlton up at the most inconvenient of moments. Blackburn in this cup last season (2-0 up with fifteen minutes to go, only to lose!) will be a stark reminder of what can happen if players do not take the games seriously. Chesterfield have done very well so far in the competition, but I think their time is now up, and a third Premiership scalp unlikely. Pedro45's score prediction is a 2-1 win for the Addicks, with the front two and Hughes the likely scorers.

My one-to-watch tomorrow night is Marcus Bent (above) - Big Benty played a blinder in the last round, and is close to his best form in a Charlton shirt (although that's not saying much). If he can start to work a partnership with Jimmy Floyd, then we will at last have an option up front should Dazza get injured.

We got to the quarter finals of the FA Cup last season, so cup runs are getting to be a bit of a habit. Hopefully, Dowie can get us there in the Carling Cup for the first time ever tomorrow.

Come on you reds!

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