Sunday, August 09, 2009

I Wish I Had Curly Hair Too…

Charlton Athletic 3
Wycombe Wanderers 2

A first win of the season for Charlton at the first time of asking; what could be better? Sure, it was a little hairy at the end, but a great save by Rob Elliot was enough to secure the three points.

I took my place in my new seat for this season, closer to the half-way line, and right behind the away dugout, which will be good for when Southampton arrive in a few weeks time. The weather and atmosphere were good, and a healthy crowd of over 16,000 fans watched the game.

It would be very easy to pick up on some of the negative aspects of this match, and I will mention some of these areas a little later on, but ultimately, we are in League One now and players will make errors in accordance with their divisional playing level.

Charlton scored first through the curly-bonce of Christian Dailly, heading home a Jonjo Shelvey corner after 21 minutes (top pic). A couple of minutes later, it was two-nil, when fine work by Therry Racon and Lloyd Sam freed Fraser Richardson to gallop into the penalty area, and his pull back was stroked home confidently by my one-to-watch Nicky Bailey (left). Wycombe pulled a goal back just before half-time while Charlton were down to ten men – Miguel Llera off the pitch getting his head stitched at the time – but the two-goal lead was quickly restored after the break. Again, Shelvey’s dead ball delivery was the provider (after Sam had been hacked down on the touchline), and this time the bandaged Llera (bottom pic) knocked the ball in from close range after a near post flick. With plenty of time left, Charlton tried to kill the game off but seemed to get a bit tired, and Wycombe did finish the game a lot stronger, reducing the arrears with fifteen minutes to go after a good through ball put Zebrowski in for his second of the game. Typically, Charlton – and their fans - panicked a little at the closeness of the match and chances were then missed at both ends of the ground. Andy Gray, on for Deon Burton, saw his goal bound effort (after excellent work by Racon) cleared of the line with the ‘keeper beaten, but the closest either team came was when Elliot had to make an excellent diving save to deny Phillips right at the death. By this time, the referee had gone off with a muscle injury which required an ice block to be strapped to his leg, and Bailey and Llera had both been booked. The referee's replacement had earlier caused a stir to the female contingent in the West stand when he ordered Llera to change his blood splattered shorts before returning to the pitch!

On a positive note, the midfield completely dominated the game for the first hour or so, and Racon made some good breaks when the ball was won. Jose Semedo did well initially, covering the defence and providing the creative players with the ball, though he did tire and give the ball away a couple of times late in the game. Shelvey seemed on the periphery of most things and didn’t have the best of games, especially once he had an altercation with the much larger Michael Duberry. Sam was dangerous and creative in the first half but was much closer marked in the second period before he was withdrawn. Bailey had a typical game, always looking to be involved, and he did score a well worked goal.

The new defence looked OK in parts, with the un-dreadlocked Kelly Youga now obviously the weakest link. In attack, Burton played well, holding the ball intelligently, and after the substitutions, Izale McLeod and Gray looked as if they could both score at this level. Elliot dominated his penalty area, as he should, and had little chance with either goal conceded.

The level of Charlton’s dominance at times was indicated by the state Peter Taylor got himself into while watching his team succumb; on at least three occasions he raged out into the technical area and swore madly at his own team, and on the last occasion, he was warned as to his language and had to apologise to fans sitting close by!

My concerns, which are all reasonable and could quite easily be rectified off the pitch, are that our central defence lacks pace, though not experience; the team did get tired on a hot afternoon, though considerably more than the opposition which is worrying; and that the confidence in the team is still fragile with recent memories of conceding goals while leading to Blackpool, Cardiff, and to a lesser extent Norwich still fresh in the memory.

The defensive problems will disappear hopefully as the players get used to playing with each other – we did have three debutants after all – while the fitness issue may also go a way quickly as the days become cooler and games come thick and fast in August. Confidence should also improve as wins are won, and as the team realise that the likelihood of other teams fighting back and cancelling out an effective lead is not going to happen too often.

So that’s one win in the bag, and three points; the first league table of the year has Charlton sitting nicely in fifth place, behind the headline makers of Colchester (who thumped Norwich away 7-1 with a certain Kevin Lisbie getting his first hat-trick since he scored a more famous one at the Valley against Liverpool some years back!) and Gillingham, who beat a poor Swindon team 5-0. The key now is to make sure that we maintain this position with two away league games coming up.

Labels: ,

Nice summary Pedro. I'm also sure the central defence partnership will improve with experience. Daily was outstanding in the air, and there was a alot about Llera I liked too.

The passing game we played through most of the first and some of the second was so good to watch. Burton's contribution as lone man up front was deservedly recognised when he was subbed. Whilst a few have rightly questioned the wisdom of that substitution, it showed that the Gray/Macleod partnership does have some real potential - if we keep both. And that would give us some real options for offensive play.

Pembury Addick
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