Sunday, September 23, 2007

Less Means More!

Charlton Athletic 2 Leicester City 0

Up to second place in the league, following another two-nil home victory, the Charlton promotion-chasing machine rolls ever onwards. This victory was nowhere near as sweet as that of Tuesday’s game against Norwich, with some of the football quite often dour and cluttered, but Charlton were still way too strong for Leicester.

The goals came from Chris Iwelumo, after 18 minutes, and a first Charlton goal for Luke Varney (left), just five minutes later. The Foxes’s only noteworthy attack came early on when Clemence’s shot was tipped onto the outside of the post by Nicky Weaver.

Alan Pardew, unsurprisingly, named the same starting team, plus the same bench, as he had in midweek. Sadly, the first twenty five minutes of glorious open football that we witnessed then was not to be repeated, as Leicester retained the ball, and stifled anything that Charlton tried to create. Ironically, whereas against Norwich Charlton had failed to score during the early period, they found themselves two goals up thanks to some generous defending in this match.

First, a long Danny Mills throw in from the right was not dealt with as Zheng Zhi challenged. The ball actually bounced over ZiZi and the defenders head and fell to Iwelumo, who gleefully thumped the ball into the net unchallenged from just six yards.

Five minutes later and a long diagonal ball in from the right wing had Iwelumo’s knock-down falling to the unmarked Varney, and he knocked home his initial Charlton first team goal into the net of the team of his birthplace.

After that, Charlton went into a lower gear, possibly wary of how the defence has gifted opposition goals earlier in the season, and mistakes were kept to a minimum.

At half time, Radostin Kishishev came on for Leicester, and he got a warm reception from The Valley faithful in recognition of his seven years as an Addicks player. He actually had a couple of shots, one of which warmed the hands of Weaver, and therefore showed more attacking intent than he did during a large proportion of his Charlton career.

Kishishev’s introduction, plus that of another defender in N’Gotty, meant a change of tactics for the away team as they engaged damage limitation mode, and less option for Charlton to play expansive football. Little of note happened in the second half therefore, as the midfield became clogged, and the two Charlton forwards were marshalled by three central defenders.

The only other really notable things from the game were bookings for Izale McLeod (on as a sub for Varney) plus, in the first half, one too for Chris Powell. It has to be said that Chrissy fully deserved his yellow card, as his foul was an absolutely shocking and atrocious piece of shirt-tugging that could have caused some serious damage to the cotton material! Luckily, both the shirt and player involved were able to finish the match.

My man of the match award went to Jose Semedo (left, congratulating Iwelumo on his goal) who really did look a classy player all day long. His work rate is exceptional, his passing generally accurate, he tackles well, and challenges at every opportunity. If I have to make one criticism of him (which is harsh, I know…), it is that he might want to think about shooting from 25 yards every now and then when he has a chance, rather than passing. If he started to hit the back of the net occasionally, we would have a very, very valuable player on our books!

Others who had very good games were Danny Mills (with no nasty stuff this match thankfully!), Chris Powell (apart from that booking!), and the central defensive partnership of Fortune and Bougherra.

Those who didn’t shine were Lloyd Sam, who was marked tightly and had little chance to impress, and Andy Reid who looked like he had had a few Guinness’s too many watching the Irish rugby team the night before.

Up to second place and into the automatic promotion places, the team must guard against complacency and continue to gel and push on; they can definitely get better! Thankfully, the next match is a midweek league cup tie against Luton, and the great squad that Pardew has built will be used to the maximum. This should ensure that those currently in the starting eleven for league games cannot sit back as there is always another player pushing for their place.

The future is a rosy Charlton red, and most definitely bright!

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The bench wasn't quite the same Todorov instead of Moo2kill
Ooops; yep.
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