Friday, November 06, 2009

Victorian Values

It’s been one of those weeks; Charlton lose a game and the World is coming to an end! Sure, the result at Carlisle was poor, and the Addicks do currently sit in 18th place in the League One form table, but we aren’t going to get relegated (famous last words!) and we will finish near the top of the table. The defeat at Brunton Park was just the second Charlton have had all season in the league, and all of us fans would have been happy to be where we are if we had been given this option back in July. It was obvious, after the first half a dozen games, that a dip in form would arrive at some point in the season, simply because you cannot expect to go through the whole season unbeaten. As this blog has said before this season, we will lose some games as we progress, but the simple thing is not to panic when we do…

But enough of that; we now have two cup games to play and thoughts of league form can disappear for a week or so.

First up on the Cup calendar is Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Northwich Victoria. Charlton have, of course, never lost to a non-league club in the FA Cup, so a little bit of history is on the line here. I don’t sit with the suggestion that we should play a weak team in this competition (so we can concentrate on the league) but I fully expect to see at least some changes in the Addicks starting eleven. The line-up is further complicated by the situation with loan players (of which we currently have three) and injuries (of which we also have a few!).

Phil Parkinson will have weighed up his options, and the first thing he will have decided, with little alternative, is that Darren Randolph will get his first start of the season in goal. As Rob Elliot is injured, and loanee Carl Ikeme is unable to be cup-tied, Charlton have just two goalies to call upon, and Randolph, even though he has been told he can leave Charlton if not holding down a regular first team place come January, will get the nod over youngster Jack Binks.

The second of the new loanees, Elliot Omozusi, should be able to play; his situation is that although his registration is held by Fulham, he has signed a contract at Charlton, so technically it isn’t a loan. Unless Frazer Richardson has recovered from his thigh injury (which I doubt), then Omozusi should start at right back for the second week running. He will also have benefited from an extra weeks training, and hopefully can last the 90 minutes this week.

The third loanee is Dave Mooney, here from Reading until the start of December. I do not know if Reading will allow him to play, and it will be a shame if they don’t, because he may well have started this game from the off. It has been well over a month since news of Deon Burton’s hernia problem leaked out, and his performances since then have been full of effort, but little skill. I really hope that the club took the opportunity to get Deon’s operation done earlier this week, so that Mooney can at least begin a few games before Deon return’s from injury. Should Burton be out, and Mooney unable to play, then the attack will focus more on Izale McLeod, who hasn’t had much decent press recently. I think it fair to say that McLeod will never be a favourite with Addicks fans, probably in much the same way that Kevin Lisbie, Kim Grant, and Martin Pringle weren’t. All had pace to burn, but were profligate in front of goal, and to supporters brought up with clinical finishing (by the likes of Derek Hales, Darren Bent, and Clive Mendonca) simply will not accept missed chances. McLeod does at least get into those scoring positions, which is more than some recent Charlton forwards have, and if he scores on a regular basis (about every third game in this league), I am happy to see him start games.

The rest of the team will probably be the pick of those that need a game, need confidence, or replace those needing a rest. I doubt that Parky will want to make wholesale changes that might unbalance the side, but he will need to beware the underdog and put enough talent on show to enforce the win.

This is the team I think he might start with but I could be very wrong –

Darren Randolph
Elliot Omozusi
Miguel Llera
Christian Dailly
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Matt Spring
Nicky Bailey
Scott Wagstaff
Izale McLeod
Dave Mooney
(or Jonjo Shelvey)

Subs from Binks, Basey, Sodje, Clark, Stavrinou, Racon, Sam, Shelvey, Tuna, McKenzie.

I will stand corrected, but I think that you only get five substitutes in FA Cup this season?

As an aside, and knowing that our next game is the Johnstone’s paint Trophy cup game at Southampton on Wednesday, I would not be at all surprised to see both Llera and McLeod booked in this game so that their suspensions fall for the JPT game and not any following league game.

As for our hosts, Northwich Victoria, they are a club with financial worries and the fact that this game is being shown on TV will be a huge boost to their finances. Sadly, with the game moved to a Sunday lunchtime kick-off, the travelling support from London will be much reduced, with maybe less than five hundred Addicks in attendance. Also missing will be two of the better Vics players – Danks and captain Grand - who are both suspended. Of the rest of the team, striker Newby played well over a hundred games for Bury, full-back Brown played 40 times for Port Vale, and winger Elam has played for many successful Conference teams. Charlton will also need to beware of Matt Bailey, Northwich’s six foot seven inch defender, at set-pieces. The Northwich supporters really seem to have got excited over this game, and who can blame them! It will provide a welcome financial boost to them, and their rivalry with Witton has had many fans laughing on the Charlton Life forum site.

Pedro45 is well aware that cup games can and do provide upsets, but I think that Charlton will have just a little too much, whatever side starts, for the home team to handle. I am predicting a 2-0 victory for the Addicks, and a relatively comfortable game on a good pitch. With two of Vics key players out, McLeod and Llera should have easier games (if they start) and provided that nobody drops any clangers, we should see the Addicks safely through to the second round at 3.15 on Sunday.

My one-to-watch in this game has to be the only player that I am confident will start – Darren Randolph. With it likely that he can cement himself into the team for the JPT game too with a good showing, Randolph will be keen not to make any faux-pas like he did on his home debut against Southampton about 18 months ago. Not as big as Elliot (or Ikeme) it will be important for him to take control of his penalty area and deal with crosses coming into the box. If he can do that, and clear his lines quickly, then the shot-stopper should have a good afternoon.

I am confident that Charlton's record of never having lost to a non-league team will be maintained on Sunday, and even have a (small) hope that the game is drawn so that Northwich get some additional revenue from a replay. Other than that, we should be simply too strong and have too much skill and desire.

Up the Addicks!

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if only we'd had some desire and some teeth up front, parky's got to get it right soon.
if only we'd had some desire and some teeth up front, parky's got to get it right soon.
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