Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Bristol Rovers 2 Charlton Athletic 1

Charlton lost in front of the Sky TV cameras again, and were left battered, broken and frustrated by the home side in another dismal performance. Dave Mooney was the battered player, suffering a horrific clash of heads which left him with a golf-ball size lump on his forehead, while Grant Basey was broken – his ankle snapped by a poor late challenge after just 12 seconds of the match. It was desperate luck for the Welshman, and now means he is unlikely to feature again this season. The rest of the side were simply frustrated (left) - by lack of ability, tactical nous, and form.

Whether the early injury affected the players I do not know, but the team played with a lack of confidence, and were hassled and hustled into errors regularly. The first goal was conceded from another corner after fifteen minutes of play; the ball was flicked on at the near post and whoever was meant to be marking Rovers centre half Elliot wasn’t, and he had time to fire a powerful volley past his despairing Charlton goalkeeping namesake.

Charlton huffed and puffed a bit, with Nicky Bailey shooting whenever he had the opportunity, and Akpo Sodje saw two headed efforts come to nothing, but it was the Addicks ‘keeper who kept the team in the match with fine saves from Heffernan and Lines. The midfield battle was very definitely lost in the first half, and the forward players saw little of the ball for any length of time. Although Lloyd Sam had a couple of good runs, most of Charlton’s good work in that opening 45 minutes came down the left through Bailey.

Dave Mooney replaced Akpo Sodje at the break, which either suggested that Akpo was injured or Parky did not like the fact he had missed two good chances; if it wasn't this, then why did Parky pick him to start in the first place? Mooney brought more movement, but with the inept Deon Burton totally overwhelmed by two big defenders, Mooney had little support. With half an hour left, Parky went for broke and played the usual card of removing Jose Semedo in favour of a more attacking player; this time it was Kyel Reid, who came on to play on the left with Bailey moving inside.

Almost immediately, Heffernan burst free and this time Elliot could not save the one-on-one situation, and Charlton fell two goals behind. With this lead, the home team seemed happy to concede possession for the first time in the game and sit back and soak up some pressure. This allowed Therry Racon to start to influence the game, and he at least strung some passes together now where he had been unable to before. Mooney was helped off with fifteen minutes to go, and the ten men battled on, with Sam supporting Burton centrally whenever he could. As Lines had also been carried off (with a self-inflicted knee injury), there was plenty of added time at the end of the game, but the ten men struggled to get possession, and it was into the 97th minute that Racon half-volleyed a late consolation goal for the Addicks from the edge of the penalty area (left).

The game hinged on big moments, and there was none bigger than that opening tackle which did for Basey; had Blizzard been rightly sent off (as everyone on TV agreed he should have), it may well have been a very different game. As it was, the same problems Charlton had a couple of years back are surfacing, as the management tinkers with the team in an effort to find the right formula. At this stage of the season, we should be playing our best players in their best positions in a set formation. I don’t mind if we go back to 4-5-1 with one leading the line, but we should not be dropping the guy who has been our best player in the last three games, or switching the next best player out to the wing. Pedro45’s opinion is that we need to run with 4-4-2 for the rest of the season, and that means also playing with two wingers. We may concede more goals, but at least we might look a little dangerous going forwards on occasion, which is something we do not at present.

The danger is that Charlton are now going to be that "seventh" club – the one that misses out on even the play-offs; from automatic promotion candidates to also rans in just over a month. Why?

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