Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Charlton Athletic 1 v Coventry City 2

Rock bottom and still sinking. A very average Coventry side walked off with three points this evening and it's becoming almost impossible to see any way out. Phil Parkinson didn't get the performance we needed and it was some way below the Southampton showing. His team selection didn't help but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that his chances of a "bounce" have gone and he's sitting on an unimpressive 1 point from 12. Hard to predict what he can say after this showing.

If the Board are still considering appointing a new manager, they need to act this week. If they are not for whatever reason (e.g. no money), then they should appoint Parkinson until the end of the season so we can all get on with it.

I won't bother to attempt a match report as there wasn't much to remember. Things looked doomed from the start with the inexplicable front pairing of Burton and McLeod. McLeod? Why? Perhaps in his desperation, Parky was trying to throw a double-six. I wouldn't have minded so much if our options were restricted but Todorov and Gray were subs. McLeod went on to have an absolute stinker and it was a surprise that he was still on the field to fall over for a dodgy penalty on 50 minutes. The man is out of his depth in the Championship; he is not a natural footballer; he can't tackle; he can't shoot; he can't jump; he doesn't read the game well (always offside); all he can do is hare about and it's high time he hared off somewhere else. After two whole-hearted performances, Deon Burton hardly got a touch tonight. Having seen McLeod in training, he might have been as shocked as the rest of us to see him starting as his "strike partner." That or maybe this is more like his normal performance that has made him surplus to requirements at Sheffield Wednesday.

Behind them, Bouazza had a good first half and looked like the player who most wanted a win. Perhaps he was trying extra hard to appease the home fans having given the travelling Addicks the finger at Blackpool. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough to sustain him second half and once again he disappeared after the break - barring a three minute spell when Todorov and Gray came on in a double substitution. You could see him thinking "I must look like I'm going to step it up now that we've brought on two better forwards."

Gillespie had his quietest game since he arrived and looked more like the player I thought he had become at Sheffield United i.e. no hunger and seeing his days out.

Matt Holland ran around but didn't see a lot of the ball which again put a bit more pressure on Nick Bailey and it showed. Bailey couldn't cope with Tabb and Gunnarson; he was repeatedly caught in possession or passed straight to one of them having won the ball in the tackle. All of a sudden he is looking like a player recruited from the third division for a "big fee" of £500,000.

At the back, Hudson was probably my man of the match although to be fair there wasn't much to choose from. He worked tirelessly and got in a good first half header from a corner that was probably our best chance from open play. Jonathan Fortune was ok but boy is he annoying to watch when he trots through games we are losing like he couldn't really care less. 

Semedo played most of the game at right back having come on early for Jay McEveley who injured himself -  it looked by getting his studs caught in the turf - I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see him again. Jose did ok in the circumstances. On the other side, Cranie was marginally worse. He struggled with Michael Mifsud all night and was fortunate that Eastwood and Morrison both had quiet nights.

That leaves Nicky Weaver. He couldn't do anything about the first goal which was poorly defended and fired home from close range but he was beaten from a 30 yard free-kick for the second which wasn't hit with pace. I really do think we should try Rob Elliot. He might give the back four a bit more confidence or inspire 5% more concentration if they feel they need to protect him a bit better than they do Weaver.

On top of that the officials were equally poor. The linesmen flagged for anything remotely close to offside and the referree got a host of important decisions wrong including the penalty we were awarded. He was finicky with his bookings and both sides suffered, especially to towards the end. Bouaazza picked up a card for dissent following his wrongly awarded a goal-kick when it was plainly a corner. Fortune was booked not long afterwards for a good block tackle in which he won the ball and Simpson was booked in extra time for throwing a ball up in the air that wasted all of three seconds.

The crowd were patient and supportive first half, although there was muted booing at the break. The team gave less to cheer about in the second half and they went off to a chorus of "what a load of rubbish" which just about summed it up for me.

We might find oursleves five points or more adrift from safety as we take the field next Monday and it's looking like we might be cut-off with Doncaster and Forest. If I didn't live around the corner and had nothing better to do, I'd give Monday a miss and watch it on the box.

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