Monday, December 08, 2008

Rock Bottom

Blackpool 2 Charlton Athletic 0

A late post as I've spent all weekend in Blackpool, and I haven't been able to get online. Suffice to say that the result was poor, and as a consequence of this defeat, Charlton find themselves bottom of the Championship.

At least Saturday was a lovely day weather wise, albeit very cold. I spent the morning on the tram travelling uo to Fleetwood, and back, but apart from the coastal stretch, it's actually quite a boring ride. Blackpool itself is a complete analogy; lots of lights, glitz and glamour – we had a group of made up show-girls join us at breakfast yesterday – but also full of hoodies, bin-dippers, and scallies.

I walked up to the ground after some lunch, and it's the first time I've ever been to Bloomfield Road. It really is a poor ground – one of the worst I have been to in many a year. The stands which run round two sides are OK (but not vast), but one end is completely empty (and you could actually watch the match through the fence at this end if you reall wanted to!), and the Addicks fans were strung out along temporary uncovered seating along one side of the pitch. Even then the setting sun in the opposite corner caused problems with viewing the match! The benefit of the seating was that the players warm up was carried out right in front of the fans a matter of yards away (top pic). Strangely, very little encouragement came to the players from those close fans, but neither did any negative comments either, luckily!

Unchanged Charlton started reasonably I thought, with Gray forcing an excellent save out of ex-Addick Rachubka from Burton's (left) knock down early on. Soon after, Burton's volley was turned over and you could be forgoiven for thinking that Charlton do seem to encountering opposition keepers on top form at the moment!

Blackpool had plenty of possession, and forced a lot of corners, but the Charlton defence coped reasonably well, and only once – when Weaver flapped and made minimal contact with a corner - was there any danger in the first forty minutes or so. Late in the half, the regular 'Pool corners started to wear Charlton down, and one effort had to be cleared off the line, and then Weaver made a good save from another. I really thought the half was even, so Charlton had something to build on come the second period.

The temperature dropped at half time though, and the sky darkened, and with it, Addicks hopes were apparently dashed. Soon after the restart, another corner was swung into the six yard box and this time no white shirt defender attacked it and on-loan Dickinson stooped to head home firmly past Weaver.

You could see the Charlton heads drop, and the half time team talk just seemed forgotten. Soon after, a ball forward was flicked on once, flicked on twice, and Dickinson was clear bearing down on the Charlton keeper. To his credit, Weaver made an outstanding save from the first shot, but was helpless as Dickinson ran to the rebound and could control before knocking home past the despairing Hudson trying to cover.

For a few minutes, you felt that the Addicks could cave in, and concede more goals falling to a really heavy defeat. Luckily, they just about held, and after Sam and Dickson came on - for the anonymous Gillespie and struggling Gray – at least some renewed attacking effort was made.

Dickson struggled, but he did have a couple of efforts (which sums his play up nicely really), which over the whole game were in short supply. Bailey had another awful game, regularly giving the ball away and admonishing himself before chasing after someone else; but he did hit the bar with a stroked shot from a lay back just outside the area; Rachubka again getting the critical touch.

Not much else happened I guess, although a few fans did have time for abuuse of both players and officials, some of which could be argued was justified. One supporter (who was not that young either!) did go on and on when the ref gave a corner even though a Blackpooll player had tried to punch the ball into the net; he seemed not to understand that the ball was behind well before his arm came into contact with the ball so it made no difference.

Of the team, Bouazza seemed to give up after a run in with the ref just after the hour mark; Semedo tried very hard but had little control in midfield and ended up at right back when Crainie went off injured; others just seemed to lose heart or got tired on the heavy pitch.

Other results mean that the team dropped to the foot of the table, not the best thing to happen but at least we can get no lower!

In an effort to cheer myself, I spent Sunday in Liverpool, visiting the Anglican Catherdral, Albert Docks, taking a ferry across the Mersey, and the like. A nice day, but not enough to take my mind off the problems Charlton have in dragging themselves up this league.

The only way is up, but it's gong to be a hard road to travel.

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