Sunday, April 04, 2010

Don and Dusted

MK Dons 0 Charlton Athletic 1

Sometimes performances are not reflected in results, but it seems fair to say that Charlton’s narrow win yesterday was hard fought but well deserved. Nicky Forster’s first goal for the Addicks, from the penalty spot midway through the second half, was enough to split the two teams, though Darren Randolph had to be the man of the match for three tremendous saves that kept Charlton in the hunt.

It was a wholehearted all round performance, with everybody on the team contributing: the defence played well in patches and looked pretty solid; the midfield chased and harried and broke when able; and the forwards all ran and ran and closed down whenever they could. Even the three substitutes – Lloyd Sam for Scott Wagstaff, and Akpo Sodje and Jonjo Shelvey for Dave Mooney and Forster – played their part, with Sam and Shelvey both playing key roles in holding onto the ball in the closing stages and winding down the clock.

Although you could hardly claim that Charlton played exceptionally well during the game, it is fair to say that they did not play badly, so maybe the poor run of results and performances has been broken at last and things are on the up.

For a wonderfully written version of being at the game with MK Dons see this superb review.

Coupled with other results, the team now sit just two points off an automatic promotion place, and with certain other teams (who have yet to visit The Valley) in worse form than Charlton have been of late, the situation is certainly looking rosier than it did a couple of weeks ago. Parky even broke into a smile briefly after the game (see top pic!).

The key now is to build on this victory by backing it up with three more points at home tomorrow versus Carlisle. Easter is a tough time for all clubs, and though the Cumbrians had an extra days rest after their win on Friday, they have had to travel three hundred plus miles to the capital to fulfil their round of fixtures.

Carlisle’s latest win (over Bristol Rovers) has seen them past the magic 50 point mark for the season, and with no chance of making the play-offs either, their season is over bar playing for pride and next season’s contracts. While in some ways this makes them an easier team to play, it could also make them more positive and therefore more dangerous. Free kick and penalty expert Iain Harte will need to be denied a chance to swing his left boot, and on-loan striker and all round big boy Jason Price (Laura says “hi!”) will be hoping to finally make an impact after several substitute appearances in SE7.

Charlton will be hoping not to have incurred any injuries from Saturday’s game, and are unlikely to want to change the side too much. The defence will be retained I suspect, and with the forwards both given a rest toward the end of the MK Dons game they will also probably start together once more. If Nicky Bailey is still out injured (and there seems no point in rushing him back if there are any doubts bearing in mind the last two results when he failed to play) then Therry Racon and Jose Semedo will continue to patrol the centre midfield, and Kyel Reid is likely to play opposite Lloyd Sam I hope. Sam brought fresh life to the side when he arrived as a second half substitute on Saturday and he does offer more threat – when on form – than Scott Wagstaff.

This is the side I suspect Parky will send out to make Easter bunnies out of Carlisle –

Darren Randolph
Frazer Richardson
Sam Sodje
Christian Dailly
Gary Borrowdale
Jose Semedo
Therry Racon
Lloyd Sam
Kyel Reid
Dave Mooney
Nicky Forster

Subs from – Warner, Solly, Llera, Fry, Spring, Shelvey, Bailey, Wagstaff, Akpo Sodje, Burton.

Pedro45 was buoyed by the result from yesterday, and has to be confident that the players and management have finally got the idea and will attack the end of season games in an effort to get maximum points. If they can play with the same gusto and passion (back in small quantities…), then I forecast a 2-0 victory to keep up the pressure on the teams above.

My one-to-watch at The Valley is going to be Dave Mooney (left). The on-loan Reading striker has had plenty of adverse publicity and reaction following his ear-cupping celebration to the equaliser last time out at home, whether he or anyone else thought it justified. I am one of the few bloggers to have a good word for him it seems, and I do think that he offers the team something that no other striker on our books currently can – movement, intelligence, and whole-hearted effort. He also makes goals, and it was his pass that played in Forster against MK Dons that led to the penalty award. I don’t like to see him miss chances, but the goals he has scored have all been pretty important (three times he has scored the first goal of a game). Two or three more between now and the end of the season, and a burgeoning partnership with Forster will go a long way to deciding where Charlton finish the season, and I for one hope he is more than successful.

A win on Saturday is worthless if the Addicks throw away all that good work by being sloppy in another home game. It will not be easy I suspect, but then no game is to Charlton these days, but if we can gather some of that confidence recently gained and turn it into a further positive performance then I am sure we will win through once more.

Come on you reds!

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