Sunday, November 08, 2009

Is Vic There?

Northwich Victoria 1
Charlton Athletic 0

I doubt this will be a long blog, as I’m sure that I am as upset and angry as many other Charlton fans must be feeling after the Addicks first ever defeat to a non-league club in the FA Cup. Suffice to say that the Addicks simply failed to come to terms with the match against very limited opposition who relied ever so heavily on set-plays to create chances. Such was the home teams ineptitude, that they never looked like scoring from open play until they actually did! And that just goes to show how badly Charlton must have performed…

With Darren Randolph in goal, manager Phil Parkinson chose to start with Jonjo Shelvey and Izale McLeod in attack, and the rest of the side as per expected. The pitch, often a leveller in games such as these, was like a billiard table, but for some strange reason, Charlton always seemed to want that extra touch on the ball, and that allowed Northwich to close them down and disrupt and passing movement.

It quickly became apparent that the main thrust of any home attacks would come from either the long throws into the area aiming at the six foot seven inch centre back Bailey, or from corners also aimed in that direction. Sam Sodje, Christian Dailly, Jose Semedo and Kelly Youga all had trouble dealing with the plentiful balls into the box, but did enough to prevent any near misses. When one ball did come to Bailey, his header was saved well by Darren Randolph in goal at the expense of a corner.

Charlton had little to show in attack, with Lloyd Sam crowded out, McLeod lonely and with no service, and Shelvey, Nicky Bailey and Therry Racon only visible in defence. Even though the home side kept giving the ball back to Charlton, the Addicks often simply ran the ball out of play when nobody was near to challenge, resulting in another heave into the penalty box and more pressure. One throw led to an almighty goalmouth scramble with five shots being blocked on or around the line before Randolph fell on the ball, Charlton surviving on level terms thanks to Dailly's positioning. Just before half-time, Bailey headed on another long throw and this time a Northwich player was able to connect with a header on target, but Randolph pulled off a tremendous save.

You hoped that the half-time talk from Parky might have livened things up a bit, and it was true that their was more fight from Charlton early in the second half, not least from McLeod who’s use of his elbow may yet see him banned for a game or two. The pattern continued, with Charlton conceding throw-ins,, the resultant heave headed up in the air and clear, then being presented back to Northwich for the cycle to start over. Even the substitution of Deon Burton, still yet to have his hernia operation, and Leon McKenzie (for Shelvey and McLeod) did little to change things, though Burton did have a shot blocked.

It was left to the home side to break the deadlock, when a punt from the ‘keeper was headed out by Sodje, then headed back past him for the substitute Riley to chased through and poke past the hesitant Randolph. Scott Wagstaff came on as a last throw of the dice, and did give one of the best 10-yard passes by a Charlton player all day (it may also have been the only accurate one?), but sadly it was in his own half and the home ‘keeper will not have had an easier afternoon. He simply did not have one single shot to save all match, showing how rubbish Charlton were.

Credit for Northwich; their fans were great and they celebrated like they should after their famous victory. They now have another home tie against league opposition - Lincoln - and I hope that they win that game too.

Where to go from here then? Parky has it all to do now in my opinion; the confidence that was so prevalent at the start of the season seems to have vanished into thin air. Maybe it was the disallowed goals versus Southampton, and/or maybe it was Holt’s injury-time goal at Carrow Road, but since those games, the confidence has slowly leaked like a punctured tyre and is now completely flat.

The management now have a midweek cup game of far less importance (but also on TV) to try to turn things around, though that will not be easy. Too many players are not on-form, and the style and tactics seem to have been forgotten. Failure on Wednesday, and in next weekend’s crucial league game could see the tide turn against the man at the helm once more, as fans will refuse to see a repeat of the mistakes of two years ago made when a similar start to the season went wasted by missed opportunities and lack of direction.

History was made by Charlton today, but it was not the kind that we wanted.

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Department S - quality track Pedro

Pembury Addick
Great band live too....shame Vaughn passed away all those years ago...I knew him quite well.

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