Sunday, October 07, 2007

Zheng Zhi Goal Earns Draw

Charlton Athletic 1 Barnsley 1

After a hectic round of seven games in 22 days, this may have been one game too many for the Addicks. Having taken the lead with just eight minutes left on the clock, Charlton could not hang on to the lead, and let Barnsley snatch a last minute equaliser to share the points.

Zheng Zhi (left), who was immense in midfield all game, scored the Charlton goal, heading into the corner after Andy Reid's deep cross had been headed back into the middle by Chris Iwelumo.

Barnsley, who had seemed to have settled for a draw very early during the second half, immediately threw on extra forwards, and when a cross was not cleared, sub Kim Christensen crashed home the loose ball. The Tykes actually almost won the game deep into the five minutes of added time, but Charlton survived.

The other notable points from the game were that Andy Reid hit the bar, and had a tremendous influence throughout; ZiZi also hit the top of the bar with a header; Sam Sodje, on as a repacement for the ill Jon Fortune, had a header cleared off the line; and the wide right berth is still looking to be Lloyd Sam's once he is back from suspension, as neither Darren Ambrose, nor sub Jerome Thomas seemed to put in that strong a performance. Oh, and I thought the referee had a reasonable game too...

Overall, Alan Pardew will be happy to see Charlton sitting in second place in the table after ten games of the season; whereas this may mark the quarter point in a Premiership year, Charlton have several games to go before reaching that point in the Championship. It is a good marker for how well (or badly) each team is doing, and an unbeaten run of eight games is excellent form that should bode well for the long winter months ahead.

As we now enter another two week internation match break, here's a quick appraisal of how I think each member of the team is doing -

Nicky Weaver
Definitely the number one keeper at the club after initial doubts; has made good saves but not instilled great confidence when dealing with crosses. Communication with his defence can be fraught with danger, but that may not be his fault if they cannot understand his nothern English tones.

Danny Mills
Oh Danny Boy - where did you go all those years ago. A friend asked me if it was just like the old Danny, and I had to say yes! Powerful, direct, strong, experienced, and that superhuman ability to wind up both opposition fans and players without trying too hard! Great to have him back, and he is keeping a good French full back out of the team on merit.

Chris Powell
At 38, he thought he'd be doing other things, I'm sure. But he is still the best left back at the club. If his legs can keep him going - one game a week is fine, but two is a problem - then he could even be player of the season!

Jon Fortune
It took a while for Forch to get into the team, but now he is there, he looks solid, and able to cope without too much trouble at this level. Striking up a pretty good partnership with Magic...

Madjid Bougherra
Good to see our Algerian settling into the team on a regular basis. His skills compliment Fortune's solidness, and they go together well. He does make errors, but the crucial thing is not to make them when they will hurt the team.

Jose Semedo
An excellent buy, and a player who is playing well below his class. As a centre half, he may have struggled with the physical aspect of playing in this division, but in midfield, or at either full back (when called upon to play there in an emergency), he is excellent. I do think he has more to give, and wish that we could see him shoot every now and then when in a position to do so. This will come from confidence, and another early player of the season contender.

Zheng Zhi
A fantastic purchase by Pardew; this season, we are seeing ZiZi pay in his best position in central midfield, and he is great. Other teams are now starting to recognize how good he is and have started to kick lumps out of him; luckily, he hasn't got injured or reacted to this pummeling. he could end the season with more than ten midfield goals, and that may be enough to get back to the league where his countrymen will be able to watch him on TV each week.

Andy Reid
Keeping Reid was another Pardew coup; he manages the game from onfield, dictating where the ball goes, and at what pace. A slight criticism is that he does like to play the pinpoint ball through minute gaps most times, when an easier pass might retain possession and be a better option. The captain is a great little payer, and could be the one to hold the Championship trophy aloft if the season goes to plan.

Lloyd Sam
Homegrown Lloyd is starting to become the player that we hoped; fast, direct, an eye for goal - all those things that Dennis Rommedahl had, but with bottle too! And he didn't cost a penny!

Chris Iwelumo
Big Chris (left) might end up top scorer for Charlton this season. He is very good in the air, but mobile too. He's also unselfish, and is setting up goals for his onfield partners simply through his presence and vision. A key man to keep fit...

Luke Varney
A sluggish start caused by injury, Luke is now settling in to playing for the Addicks, and has two goals already. Quick, and willing to work hard, he gives Pardew options. A good buy, and we have yet to see the best of him.

Svetislav Todorov
Toddy banged in goals in three consecutive games, but niggling injuries have kept him out recently. A good sqaud player, he will see plenty of minutes as a sub, especially when we are chasing games or off-form.

Izale McLeod
Strangely, although Izzy has won four penalties so far this seaosn, he has yet to shine. The reason for that is that he has yet to score a goal, even contriving to mess up the one penalty he took! He is fast, direct, and gets into great positions, but is so keen that he snatches at chances, or takes the wrong option. A goal would make a great difference to him I'm sure, and it will come. He could have a great second half to the season, a la Martin Pringle about eight seasons back.

Paddy McCarthy
Not my cup of tea; slow, lumbering, not great in the air, and not too good at distribution. A definite weakness whenever he plays on the evidence so far. Hoefully the other three centre backs will stay fit...

Yassin Moutaouakil
I haven't seen him play live yet, so cannot really comment, but I do think he is a great improvement on Osei Sankofa as back-up right back!

Darren Ambrose
Darren has had a strange start to the season, one which started promisingly for him. He led the way with shots early in season, but now, after niggling injuries and the birth of his daughter meant he took time out of the squad, he looks back to his lightweight worst. We want the Darren who made goals for Dazza, and thumped in twenty five yarders against Manchester United, not someone who stands out on the wing unwilling to work.

Jerome Thomas
I remember Yorkshire (and then Sussex) bowler Paul Jarvis once saying that someone thought he was the best batsmen in Yorkshire. Sadly, that person was Paul Jarvis himself. JT is a bit like that; way too good for the Championship back in August it seems, but not anymore if he cannot even get in the Charlton team. He has strange mates too, who have led him astray... Part of the baby Bentley brigade, JT will have to buck up his ideas if he doesn't want to end up as a Big Time Charlie, or with Footballer, Part-Time on his CV.

The others - Therry Racon, Dean Sinclair (who has now gone out on loan), Darren Randolph, Ben Thatcher, Matt Holland, and Sam Sodje, haven't really played enough to give much thought to. They are all good players though, and may well get their chance in the second half of this long season.

One quick word about Pards - he's doing fine!

Ten games gone; 36 to go. Another 72 points will see us back in the Premiership!

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