Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pride Before The Fall

Derby County 1 Charlton Athletic 0

An inauspicious end to Charlton’s away day games this season, finishing as it started with a one-nil loss. Rob Hulse headed the winner for Derby in the 70th minute, and from the reports I have read, Charlton offered little to a pretty poor game.

Phil Parkinson picked an unchanged team once more, preferring Deon Burton to Tresor Kandol, and also included youngster Chris Solly on the bench. I would have preferred Solly to have been given a start, especially as Danny Butterfield’s loan will end after next Sunday’s final game of the season.

Zheng Zhi had Charlton’s best chance, but his first half burst and shot was blocked by home keeper Bywater. Parky used his subs to boost his attacking options late on, but even with three at the back, after Scott Wagstaff came on for Darren Ward, little additional threat was offered.

The final game of the campaign will be at home versus Norwich, who will need to win to have any chance of staying in the Championship for another season unless they can pick up something in their penultimate game at home to Reading. If Barnsley then gain a solitary point at Plymouth, Norwich are down, so the Canaries could be in for a desperate day at The Valley.

The other end of the table does offer some interest for the neutral, with Birmingham’s loss to Preston adding considerable pressure to them, as they now need to win at Reading to gain automatic promotion; Sheffield United could leapfrog them with a win in Croydon, where Neil Warnock may help his old team by playing a bunch of youngsters. Should they both stumble, two wins for Reading this week could have catastrophic consequences for Norwich and Birmingham…and see the Royals back in the top tier.

Below us, we now know that we will not be playing Peterboro next year, who have gained promotion along with Leicester. I will look forward to confirmed third tier matches against Southend, Yeovil, Stockport, Colchester, Orient, Brentford (who have won league two) and hopefully Hartlepool, Brighton and Northampton if they can all stay up, and also either Gillingham, Rochdale, or Dagenham & Redbridge who will fight out a play off place with Bury. Overall, the number of games in the south of the country should be much greater than it has been for quite some time, and I could potentially get up to seven matches against clubs I have not seen Charlton play against away from home previously, and take my total into the nineties.

That fact is possibly the only bright thing to look forward to when the fixtures come out in June. By then, we may also have a better idea of who will be playing for the club come August, and who will be managing the team too.

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