Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Godsmark a Bad Sign for Charlton

Hereford United 1 Charlton Athletic 0 (AET)

Another loss in the league cup to lower league opposition, but in some ways, this defeat was a lot less unexpected than those from previous years.

Manager Phil Parkinson chose the tie to give some much needed experience to a crop of youngsters, who all seemed to acquit themselves very well, plus game time to those squad players who needed it.

The result could have been so much better if Andy Gray’s penalty hadn’t been saved midway through the second half; Gray himself had been bundled over before the award. Indeed, the game was not short of chances, and in terms of good play and excitement was on a par it seems with Saturday’s 3-2 win over Wycombe.

Charlton held the ball well early on, as they had done at the weekend, and Izale Mcleod (above pic) and Gray had headers at goal that could have given the Addicks the lead. Danger man Pugh was a constant threat to Charlton with his pace, but the makeshift defence of Chris Solly (making his full debut), Kelly Youga, (captain for the day) Jose Semedo, and Grant Basey held firm. In midfield, Alex Stavrinou competed well on his debut, and Matt Spring will be all the better for a good workout. New signing Wade Small also made his debut on the left wing, and he was balanced by another hardworking performance from youngster Scott Wagstaff.

Although the home team had more of the play in the second half, the chance-count was pretty even, with Gray and McLeod going close again, as did substitute Stuart Fleetwood, who finally got on the pitch to make his debut after two years at The Valley. In goal, Rob Elliot had to make a couple of smart saves to keep Charlton in the tie, especially late on when Hereford almost won the game.

With some legs tiring, Nicky Bailey came on for Small, and Charlton did become more direct with the club captain on the pitch.

In extra time, players from both sides started to get cramp, and the deadlock was finally broken by Godsmark who fired home from a good cross in the 98th minute to give Hereford the lead. Parky immediately brought on Deon Burton for Wagstaff, and he almost equalised when his clip beat the ‘keeper and hit the post.

The last twenty minutes saw much huffing and puffing, but with Stavrinou and Solly almost out on their feet, Charlton couldn’t engineer a late saver.

This defeat was hardly a surprise, given the extent of injuries that the club has, and it would be nice to think that we will not need to throw as many youngsters in at once in any further games this season. The experience that Solly, Stavrinou, and Wagstaff gained, plus the bench time for Yado Mambo will stand them in good stead for when they are required in league games in the months ahead.

Hopefully, most if not all the injured defenders will be back at the weekend, and normal service will be resumed in the league games.

I should also apologise for my incorrect assumption in yesterday’s blog about home-grown player qualification. It does seem that it is a rule dreamed up to keep significant overseas players out of match-day squads and is perceived to have little effect outside the Premiership. The only rule change for this year we need to think about is having enough bodies to fill the seven substitute places now available.

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