Sunday, November 01, 2009

Out of Lucker

Carlisle United 3 Charlton Athletic 1

Another poor game from Charlton resulting in the second defeat of the season for Phil Parkinson’s side. It always seems to be the way that when a manager gets a new contract, or a loan player signs permanently, that performances dip; Parky extended his managers deal for another year on Friday which gives him security and the club stability, but possibly at the expense of this result.

The manager did at least try to earn his corn, having to make two enforced changes after injuries last week to Rob Elliot and Frazer Richardson. Two players arrived on loan as replacements – Carl Ikeme, a goalkeeper from Wolves, and Elliot Owuzusi, a young right-back from Fulham – and both made reasonable debuts at Brunton Park.

Charlton made a slow-ish start, as they seem to do in most games these days, while Carlisle merely sat back and waited to see if Charlton were as good as they had been built up to be and that their lofty league position suggested. Eventually, the game burst into life in a mad five minute spell just before half-time.

First, Christian Dailly was beaten for pace and fouled Dobie, earning himself a yellow card that could easily have been red. Ex-Charlton triallist Harte then crashed the resulting free-kick against the post, with Ikeme beaten. The ball was cleared for a corner, and when that came in, Sam Sodje appeared to be climbing all over a Carlisle player in an attempt to get to the ball. Penalty appeals were waved away as the ball went out for another corner, but when this came swinging over, a mere nudge by Deon Burton warranted a spot-kick award according to the inept referee. This was the first penalty - either for or against - in a Charlton match this season.

Ikeme (or Carly Keyma as the radio commentator seemed to like calling him) guessed right and dived left to save Harte’s penalty but, unfortunately for him and the 550 Addicks supporters who had made the trip, Harte was on hand to scramble home the rebound. The manager, Parkinson, was then sent to the stands for complaining about the initial decision, and having viewed it and the previous claim, you have to say that two wrongs (for that is what they were…) do not make a right!

Almost immediately, Charlton bounced back when a passing move led to Burton bursting into the Carlisle penalty area and he was tripped; Charlton therefore had their own first penalty of the season. Like buses, when you wait ages for one, two come along together! Burton confidently despatched the kick and Charlton made it to half-time on level terms. It was Burton’s 100th league goal, and one he has been seeking for quite some time.

The game was really calling out for Charlton to take control, but for some reason (which I am sure Parky will look deeply into) possession was easily relinquished on numerous occasions, and few chances seemed forthcoming. Just after the hour mark, veteran Kavanagh seized on an Owuzusi clearance and with nobody coming out to close him down, thundered in a shot from 25 yards to give Carlisle back the lead.

This led to Parky making three on-field changes, with a tiring Owuzusi, a disappointing Izale McLeod, and Jose Semedo sacrificed for Jonjo Shelvey, Dave Mooney, and Grant Basey. Kelly Youga switched to right-back to accommodate Basey, and the Welshman seemed to have most passion driving forward and getting in several dangerous crosses. Dailly then came close to being sent off when he fouled again, before Therry Racon forced a good save. It was all Charlton pressure now, but a break would not come as Mooney headed wide, Shelvey had a free-kick saved, then Mooney had another header saved.

The game was settled when, eight minutes from time, Kavanagh strode forward again and, once more unchallenged, stroked the ball into the top corner of the Charlton net to make it 3-1.

For Charlton to take just one point from their last two away games is not good enough, and the real danger now is that all the good work over the opening weeks of the season is going to waste. It seems obvious to many that Deon Burton (despite his penalty goal yesterday) is a shadow of his former self and that delaying his hernia operation (as Charlton have) is doing the side more harm than good. With Clinton McKenzie close to fitness, and with Mooney chomping to get a start, Parky has enough options to accommodate the loss of our top scorer for three weeks, especially as one game during that time is the cup tie at Northwich Victoria next weekend. The break from league action at least gives Charlton the chance to recover and take stock, while the next two games (in the FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy) should be used to give the various options a try, and to bed in the new players if possible.

Not a good week for the manager, even after putting pen to paper, and not a good week for Charlton (or Zoe Lucker!).

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