Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saints and Sinners

Southampton 2 Charlton Athletic 1

Well, that’s any dreams fans may have had of a trip to Wembley over for another season. A 2-1 score-line that may paper over some cracks, but for an hour, Charlton were abysmal yet again.

Phil Parkinson made plenty of changes, recalling on-loan Carl Ikeme in favour of Darren Randolph, switching Kelly Youga to right back to accommodate Grant Basey, resting Sam Sodje and Therry Racon in favour of Miguel Llera and Matt Spring, playing two wingers (Scott Wagstaff and Lloyd Sam), and finally starting with Dave Mooney alone up front.

The home team should have taken the lead in the first minute, when a free header went wide after Ikeme completely missed a corner. Southampton then put much pressure on Charlton and it was a good twenty minutes before the Addicks settled into the game. By then, Ikeme had fumbled another cross, and also let a shot slip under him that luckily hit the post and bounced out. The defence, marshalled by Christian Dailly, were so so busy again, with Jose Semedo having one of his worst games in a Charlton shirt and completely failing to protect the back four as the Saints surged forward.

When Charlton did settle, Wagstaff had a shot blocked, but that was about it until the first goal; a corner was missed by a couple of players and Youga stood still as Thomas walked past him to tap into the net. Ikeme may have done better if he had tried to claim this ball, but maybe he would have dropped that one too?

Having just about made it to half-time one goal down, it was once more left to Parky to read the riot act, and at least there was a marked improvement early in the second half. Mooney started to find balls played up to him rather than over his head, and Sam and Wagstaff out wide had help as Youga and Basey pushed on. Spring had a shot go wide, but then Parky chose to switch things around a bit, bringing on Luke Holden for his debut in place of Sam. Almost immediately, the lead was increased as Lambert’s snap shot flew under Ikeme’s outstretched hand and, without the luck of the post this time, another poor defensive goal. This led to a complete change of tactics as forwards Leon McKenzie and Deon Burton entered the fray, with Wagstaff and Semedo trooping off. Holden switched to the right to accommodate McKenzie, but this really didn’t look like it helped him as he continually lost the ball when trying to bring it back on his left foot.

The game was drifting to a wet and forgone conclusion when Youga got lucky with an offside flag, played the ball back to Holden who had time to hit a sweet left foot cross which McKenzie turned home from six yards - his first goal for the Addicks. Sadly, there were just two of the three minutes injury time left and Charlton could not mount another attack in the time left.

This has been a disastrous week for Charlton, culminating in three consecutive losses and crashing out of two cup competitions. The management have tried to switch things around, play the whole squad, and try out different tactics, but it has all looked so disjointed, and the team do not seem to believe any more. Saturday’s home game is a chance to bounce back in the league, and it is a chance that they have to take if the wrath of Addicks fans is not to befall the squad and hierarchy.

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Well, that’s any dreams fans may have had of a trip to Wembley over for another season.

no playoff final this year then?
Jon - It's automatic promotion or nothing! Play-off finals? Who likes them???

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