Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WANTED - Replacement fingernails

Chesterfield 3
Charlton Athletic 3
(Charlton won 4-3 on penalties)

I hope that Peter Varney can bring forward the order he has for 20,000 replacement fingernails that are stuck on some big ship coming from China; I think most of us fans would prefer them now rather than go without and wait until late April, when the shipment is expected.

We just about made it last wasn't at all easy, but we just about deserved it I think.

We went behind early on, then equalised late in the half, coutesy of JFH (above). Lesson learnt? No.

We fall behind again, in exactly the same manner (left), at exactly the same stage of the second half as we conceded in the first half. We equalise. We miss chances to win, so the game goes to extra time. We take the lead. We miss a bagfull of chances to make the game safe. They score with the clock showing no time left, from another set piece. The game goes to penalties.

Now I know as well as the season ticket holder sat next to me that penalties are dear to every Charlton fans heart, but listening on the radio, as all but 700-odd hearty souls did last night, they play havoc with the hard bits on the end of your fingers!

I hate penalty shoot-outs, I really do. Yes I was at Wembley in 1998. Yes, I was enthralled with the drama, tension and atmosphere, but I didn't really celebrate in the twenty seconds after Sasa saved Gray's kick - I was too busy crying my eyes out, releasing that pent up nervousness and anxiety.

I have been there and seen Charlton win great shoot-outs (Wembley '98, Goodison Park '87), and lose poor spot-kicks competitions (Cambridge - some time in-between); it's not much fun, whether you win or lose - it's only the neutrals who think it is! No, much better to win or lose in 90 or 120 minutes, the start thinking about trying to get home safely.

But last night, a static defence after 120 minutes of football left ancient Wayne Allison unmarked, and he took his chance to bring about the penalty drama some love so much.

Step forward the heroes and villains of the hour. The first two kicks are scored. Then villain Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sees his poor effort saved. Should we lambast him over this error? No. In order for there to be a winner, someone has to miss. Jimmy had scored twice in the match - without that, we wouldn't have got to the penalties! Hero Scott Carson (left) then saves, to give Charlton a chance to draw level again, which they do. The next two are scored, so it's basically sudden death at 3-3 after four penalties each. Super Hero Scotty then saves again - the man is a star in the making, if he isn't one already. It would be fabulous to think that Peter Varney had agreed a fee for him at the start of the season should Charlton have wanted to sign him after this season long loan, but some dreams don't come true...

Step forward the added-bonus hero. Last year it was Bryan Hughes who made the headlines after Stephan Andersen set up the penalties win at Chelsea; this time it was Hermann Hreidersson who belted Charlton through and into the League Cup quarter finals for the first time ever. Forty plus years of hurt and all that, finally, we have made it!

I wasn't there last night, but I can draw some opinions about the game and Charlton from the radio commentary.

First, corners. What is going on? I guess we have got used to Curbs, Merv and Gritty boring us to death at some point in a season with an insight into how they spend hours practising who marks who, on both attacking and defending set plays. Does Dowie bother? We were lucky on Saturday, not for the first time this season, yet a third rate team (sorry Chesterfield fans) can score three times from dead balls against us? Seriously, if Dowie is to last; if Charlton are to survive in the Premiership, this needs dealing with NOW!

Second, JFH. Yes, he is overweight. Yes, he is old. Yes, he is slower than Dazza, but who isn't? I know it takes time to gel with new players, systems, surroundings etc. I don't think he has played anywhere near his potential this season. I know that he is supposed to have an attitude problem (though that hasn't been in evidence at all at The Valley in 2006). But we have to realise that, at least until January, JFH, Marcus Bent, and Dazza are our ONLY forwards. Do we want to play Lisbie (when fit), Walker, Carvill, or an unknown youngster in the Premiership? No. So let's ease up a bit on the JFH abuse. I thought it a bit much when all the jerk radio commentator could do was read out anonymous text abuse about Jimbo, and cummuppence that he should score almost immedaitely afterwards.

Finally, it was sad to see a couple of the players given a chance to force their way back into the limelight fail miserably. Marcus Bent and Radostin Kishishev really didn't seem to want to know based on the radio and match reports from those that watched it live. We may be able to pick up some cash from the sale of these two in a couple of months, and replacements (I doubt Caleb Folan would cost too much if we went back for him now?) should be sought as soon as possible.

It's back to league action this weekend, and by then we'll know who we face in the quarters. Wycombe is a ground I haven't been to see Charlton play at, so I'd be happy with that option, though I think my heart is looking for a home tie.

Well done the players last night. Don't ease up now though!

Great summary Pedro. Re corners, defending them is a worry but equally when was the last time we scored from one? Or a free-kick? Our dead ball situations are awful.
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