Friday, February 01, 2008

Snow Forecast for Scunthorpe

That was a hectic last day of the transfer window for Alan Pardew and Charlton – out went Andy Reid to Sunderland for £4m, and Aswad Thomas to Accrington on loan, and in came loanees Greg Halford and Lee Cook from Sunderland and Fulham respectively.

Hopefully, the weekend will be quieter.

Charlton’s new looking squad take on Scunthorpe on Saturday afternoon, weather permitting. The forecast itself is poor, with arctic winds blowing snow down the east coast today, and a very cold night in store for Lincolnshire it seems. It the snow does get as far south as Scunny, and if the pitch is not protected, then there is a possibility that the 1000 plus Charlton fans making the trip may be in for a disappointing day out.

Hopefully though, the game will go ahead, and forking out for my train ticket will not have been in vain.

Now Alan Pardew has his squad settled for the last few months of the season (barring emergency loans which have not been ruled out yet), he can concentrate on continuing the good form shown recently, and try to get the Addicks even higher up this league. Reid, who will be missed in the long term, was injured anyway, and would not have featured for a few weeks yet, having only just returned to training after resting his knee for a couple of months. Thomas only made the bench for League Cup games, and is one for the future; the experience he gets in tier four will stand him in good stead.

But with the two new signings hopefully fit and ready (why get them in if they are not?), and with almost all the rest of the squad fit, Pardew has a large group of players to pick his team from this weekend.

We can expect midweek hero Nicky Weaver to start in goal once more. It has taken some time, but at last we are seeing what a good goalie he is. His two second half saves on Tuesday (one early, one late) won us the game, and though Darren Randolph is an able deputy, Weaver is cemented between the sticks for the foreseeable future based on recent displays.

The defence is, all of a sudden, looking like a strong area of the team. Gone has gone the lack of communication and unforced comic errors of early in the season, and in has come a steely determination coupled with a “they shall not pass” attitude.

The two full backs – Yassin Moutaouakil and Kelly Youga – have fitted in to the side extremely well since the new year, and it would be a surprise if either was dropped for this game. Halford is most well known for his play at right back, but he is also a utility player – it would be surprising to see him played in favour of Moots on the right side in this match but you never know with Pards. Youga has been a revelation recently, but Chris Powell is rested, and has been sitting in the wings for a month now, and Grant Basey has also bided his time since coming back from his injury. Both are keeping Kelly honest – he knows that if he fails to deliver then either the veteran or the youngster will be aching to step in and replace him.

The centre back pairing of Madjid Bougherra and Paddy McCarthy has now gelled, but Jon Fortune and Sam Sodje, when his cut hand/arm heals, will both be able back-ups.

In midfield, we have the incumbent Matt Holland and Zheng Zhi, who are both doing a fine job. We seem to criticize one when they fail to be man-of-the-match, but both are playing at a consistently high standard at present, running their hearts out, making tackles, and producing a goal threat too. With Jose Semedo and Therry Racon (who failed to get out on loan anywhere it seems) in reserve, this area is covered amply too.

The addition of Lee Cook is interesting, simply because Jerome Thomas is still at the club. If JT had waltzed off somewhere, then fans would see the reason why Cook has been brought in. Now, we have wingers in spades – Darren Ambrose (who can play centrally too) and midweek goalscorer Lloyd Sam have the shirts at present, but Thomas and Cook will be pressing hard for a bench place. I’m not sure who Pards will pick here, but he does tend to stick with players until they fail to perform, then switch things, so Dazza and Lloydy had better keep doing the business.
In attack, the injury to Chris Dickson is a blow to the lad, and us fans who love it when we see a Roy of the Rovers character burst through. He will be back, but not for a while sadly. Thankfully, the other forwards are still around, and no potential loan deals were agreed before Dickson fell over (metaphorically). Izale McLeod will see this as an opportunity to push hard in reserve games, and Chris Iwelumo, Luke Varney and Andy Gray will no doubt be rotated as the various games dictate.

I make that 22 squad players who realistically have a chance of getting a game at least every now and then in the last four months of the season. With Ben Thatcher, and Dickson (and maybe Cory Gibbs?) likely to be available in time too, we have the players who can get us promoted if they play to their potential. Sure, Andy Reid is a loss, but not a season ending one in the way that selling Parker or Murphy could have been seen.

This is the side I think Pards will play at Glandford Park –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Madjid Bougherra
Paddy McCarthy
Kelly Youga
Matt Holland
Zheng Zhi
Darren Ambrose
Lloyd Sam
Andy Gray
Luke Varney

Subs from Randolph, Halford, Fortune, Powell, Basey, Semedo, Cook, Thomas, Iwelumo, McLeod.

Scunthorpe themselves have made what they hope will be a key signing – Geoff Horsfield. The feed the horse man will be hoping to bully some defenders into conceding goals to him and he will try to take the Iron out of the relegation zone.

Scunny haven’t won for quite some time (12 games I think?), and are not in very confident mood. They do score goals, especially at home, but have a leaky defence that Charlton should be able to breach a few times. The home team will have nothing to fear though, and will look at this as a no-lose game so can really go for it. A real minnow against the giant (of this league) as it was on the first day of the season – they upset Charlton and forced a draw that day, hopefully they won’t be able to do the same in Lincolnshire. Pedro45’s score forecast is a 2-0 win for the Addicks. That should warm up the travelling fans!

My one-to-watch in this match has to be Kelly Youga. Our Kelly became something of a legend in Lincolnshire during his initial loan spell between August and December, and it was only the loss of other left backs that forced Pards to recall him from his time with Scunthorpe. Since then, he has maintained his blossoming legend status, but in SE7! Kelly did get sent off for the Iron twice in December, but he also scored his one and only goal that month. It will be interesting to see what sort of a response he gains from the home crowd, but hopefully they will be thankful of his time with them and the kind words he said once he had returned to Charlton.

A win in this match, weather permitting, could see Charlton move up a couple of places above the fifth place they currently occupy. It would also take Charlton to fifty points, and almost safe from relegation (I'm ever the pessimist!). Without Andy Reid, we may be gloomy, but at least we won’t go down. And if we aren’t going down, we might as well concentrate on trying to win promotion. Three more points at Scunthorpe will keep the pressure on and with the other clubs near the top of this league also meddling in the transfer window we may see some subtle changes in position over the next few weeks as the men are sorted out from the boys.

Up the Addicks!

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search