Sunday, November 30, 2008

Only the Loanee

Charlton Athletic 0 Southampton 0

No goals, but plenty of positives from Phil Parkinson’s first home game in charge of the Addicks.

Parky’s first problem was choosing which of his seven loanees to play in his squad; sensibly, in my opinion, he started all five of his choices, rather than have any of them on the bench. He was always likely to go with two from the three defenders he could choose, and three out of the four wide men and forwards at his disposal. He finally went with Martin Crainie and Jay McEveley (left) as his full backs (leaving out Linvoy Primus), and playing Keith Gillespie, Hameur Bouazza, and Deon Burton more forward (and surprisingly leaving out Martyn Waghhorn).

Waghorn will feel a little aggrieved I feel, as he did receive plenty of plaudits from the new manager for his performance on Tuesday, but Parky preferred new man Burton to play alongside Andy Gray. Primus was replaced by the returning Jon Fortune, and also dropped was Kelly Youga, while Therry Racon annoyingly succumbed to a slight knee injury. This was particularly hard on the Frenchman, as he has only just got back into the team after injury, and scored Charlton’s equaliser on Tuesday in his first start since August. Nicky Bailey deputised.

Mark Kinsella once again got the players warmed up on the pitch before the game, and it was the home side who settled better early on. In fact, although Southampton played with some confidence, the first half was very much Charlton’s as only Kelvin Davis, in the Southampton goal, kept the scores level, making three good saves. Bouazza was foiled on a couple of occasions and the pick of the saves was from a Burton overhead kick just before half time (left), which squirmed round the post for a corner. Prior to that, Gillespie had come close, and two handball shouts were ignored by both linesman and referee. The second of these was quite blatant from my position, as a cross penalty area pass was guided away by the defenders arm; why the lino dismissed shouts is open to judgment but he could have been fast asleep as he did little all game really.

The second half saw the visitors improve, but it was still quite even apart from a fifteen minute spell mid-half when Charlton just could not keep possession. This may have been down to some tiredness, and Parkinson moved quickly to replace Gray with Todorov, Gillespie with Sam, and Semedo with Holland. Nicky Weaver had a few saves to make, but once more put in a very solid display.

Charlton huffed and puffed for the last few minutes, trying to snatch a late win, but it couldn’t be – Bailey’s curling shot which was a little too high being the closest to a late goal.

Positives to take from the game were the display of Burton, who is much more than the channel runner I thought. He linked particularly well with Gray, as each flicked on headers and found the other in the right place to receive – something that has been rare over recent years! McEveley was solid in defence, and tried to get forward at every opportunity; he reminded me a bit of Danny Mills, though without the brutality, even if he did get booked midway through the second half. It was also good to see Jon Fortune back and in control; when Forch is having a decent game, the whole defence looks much more comfortable.

On a slightly negative front, Bailey was short of confidence it seemed, and Bouazza (left) was back near his enigmatic best (shooting from a long way out when others were better placed…). Some of Crainie’s passing was also suspect, though he defended well.

The management team now have a week to bed in the new recruits, and their new style, and hopefully we will see the continued improvement up at Blackpool next weekend.

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