Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Charlton Athletic 2 v MK Dons 1

The machine grinds on. Another win and another rival despatched. Ten points clear of third-placed Sheffield Wednesday with two games in hand. We should have no complaints, but I am afraid I do. I am not a satisfied punter this evening. After establishing a first half-lead through two penalties, the first of which included a sending off to reduce our opponents to ten men, we let our fans down badly in the second-half. There was very little ambition and even less entertainment.

I will be very interested in Chris Powell's post-match comments because I suspect he has to answer for the anathema that was the second-half. If I hear "it's never easy to play against ten men" I will scream. Two-up and ten men ready to be demoralised further and the game-plan was to knock it about in our own half and see it out. If you can't turn it on for your fans in that situation, when will you? Our home gate wasn't given out this evening but it didn't look great and neutrals might wonder why we haven't seen a notable increase in the numbers of Charlton fans attending home games. We may be victims of our own success to some extent but the entertainment factor is the elephant in the room.

Neat and well organised though they were, I didn't think Milton Keynes offered much in terms of a cutting edge and if we had played the second have with attacking purpose it should have finished up four or five nil. As it was we invited them on for forty-five minutes and it was inevitable that they would pull one back for a nervy last five minutes. Alan Smith looked every year his age this evening and bar a decent first-half contribution to their best chance of the game, he did little and was unsurprisingly subbed. Stephen Gleeson caught my eye and reminded me very much of Ray Houghton, both in terms of looks and style. He prompted everything they tried in the first period but faded a bit during the second.

Our first penalty came from an incident I suspect most of us missed. A ball in was cleared out and as my eyes fell to the Charlton player who ran on to it, there was a roar and Gary Mackenzie was left squaring up to Yann Kermorgant in the back-line. The referee hurtled into the box and flashed a straight red at Mackenzie who had already been booked for flattening the same player in an aerial dual by the Charlton dugout. That challenge drew a strong enough complaint from Chris Powell and Co in my book to make the referee's mind up to show the yellow. Nonetheless, we weren't complaining at the penalty and Johnnie Jackson did what Johnnie Jackson does best. 

Barely ten minutes later and Danny Green fired a scorcher on the run which beat David Martin in the MK goal but struck the bar and post and bounced out. Danny Hollands collected the rebound at the edge of the box and managed to play the ball inside and drop at the incoming tackle. It was a soft second penalty but the result was the same. Two-nil Johnnie Jackson.

I was really looking forward to the second-half and a chance to fire the imagination of my impressionable ten year old nephew. We blew that and, as I have said, let our fans down in the process. 

There are often complaints on the message boards about our relatively poor away following and by-and-large we have played better away from home this season, but it's hard if you are season ticket holder and infrequent away traveller to make the effort when the entertainment on offer at home games leaves you feeling short-changed. I might sound like a spoilt git here but I think it's really important in the development and success of our club.

Johnnie Jackson was probably the stand-out player this evening and interesting that he was the first subbed in the second-half. Wiggins and Solly were peerless again even if Taylor and Morrison ambled about after the break invariably looking for the square ball or Hamer. 

Danny Green was poor in the second period and he should have gone off but Hollands and Stephens weren't prompting anything and I suspect Jackson was only too pleased to leave the neutralisation to others when he got his call. 

Once again, I can't fault Kermorgant once for his effort and running but Bradley Wright-Phillips had another poor showing. He saw much more of the ball this evening than of late but his touch was poor and he was tackled almost every time he touched it.

Tranmere on Saturday when we will probably show more ambition than we did this evening but only a few hundred Charlton fans will see it. If we want bigger gates in the forthcoming series of Tuesday home games, we will need to be far more positive and ambitious than we were this evening. 

PS, I got my Bournemouth tickets today.....


Kim Lewis said...

A spot on report.Won the first half 2-0 and were fortunate to only lose the 2nd half 1-0. Hopefully by the time Stevenage take another 3 points off us we will have at least secured another 4 ans maintain our comfortable lead.

Would really like to know why we took our foot of the gas for the second half. If it was an instruction by management at half-time, then they need to think again.

I want to be entertained at The Valley and there was no excuse for tonight's dismal 2nd half performance.

Come on you Reds you can do better than this!

Anonymous said...

Misery. The players are nervous at home due to expecting more recognition i would imagine. About time we just got behind them more and stopped analysing, as we did in '99.

All division winning teams have a period when they dont play to well but still win.


Dave said...

Anon - I don't accept that our players were nervous. We were two up and they had ten men for the entire second-half. what we endured was purely tactical.

Hungry Ted said...

Let our fans down? Short changed? Not for me. I'm still pinching myself at what I perceive to be a side over-achieving by some considerable margin.

Would I rather see us stroking the ball around for fun, scoring 4’s and 5’s? Obviously. But it’s not going to happen every week.

Last night looked a tactical decision to hold the lead rather than go for more (perhaps as a result of the number of games coming up?). Not one I'd agree with, and not one that was applied particularlt well, but a win's a win.

I left the Valley last night more than content. Another sizable hurdle overcome: another game out of the way.

I’d take last night’s performance in every remaining game if we escape League One come the season end (as would you, I’m certain).

Dave said...

Hungry Ted - agree re the main objective this season but you have to wonder whether we will ever turn it on for our fans for 90 minutes. We are eight points clear with games in hand and were two up against ten men. My point is, if you can't be positive then, you have to assume we will always be content just to edge past the opposition. I aspire to seeing us serving up better when we can afford to. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal etc would never sit back in similar circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ted on this one - I think Chrissy was thinking long term of the number of games coming up and went out there to hold what we had second half.

Thought Hamer had a good game (my son had him as MOM, and that first half save was critical; but wonder if he could have done better on the goal - he'd covered the angle but seemed to beaten by power.

I remember the season Hull and Stoke went up to the Prem - both played very, very ugly football but ultimately it did both of them a power of good. Given how we have dominated the division so far, there haven't been many games we have dominated that I have seen - but that is an observation, not a complaint. I'm tickled pink and I'm happy to see it continue like last night if it means we go up - and to win the league would be sooo good!

Pembury Addick

Kim Lewis said...

Amazing.......we are not allowed to be critical and should accept last night's performance. Don't forget we were at home, not away and that's where we need to show that we can play for 90 minutes.

Dave you are absolutely right in what you say in reply to the other comments. I'm pretty sure Brighton and Norwich were producing good regular performances as they escaped League 1. Is it too much to ask the same of Charlton?

Though we are gaining points the performances lately have not been entertaining to watch and I appreciate we can't be expected to turn it on all of the time. I think the Stevenage game will be a "real" test of our quality and nerve.

Anonymous said...

I think sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition and this is one of those times. They played a high defensive line and a high tempo, trying to compress the play into our defensive third. This tactic worked a treat for them. To counter this we should have had Kermit playing a solely holding role rather than trying to flick it though to BWP and Haines should have been played in the middle forcing their centre backs to retreat.

Team MK looked very good tonight as they did at their home. They are a well schooled disciplined and hard working team. Two young and inexperienced managers going head to head and we came away with the points. I agree we could have done better but equally we could have done worse.

Greens form is worrying as is BWP (although he looked a lot better last night than of late) both could be rotated in the coming weeks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

I concur with your views on the game.
It might seem to some that the end justifies the means in all cases and our league position obviously supports that view.

However, I've been taking three young grandkids to a few of the home games trying to get them interested and most of the games have failed to impress. Apart from the excitement with the penalties last night it was fairly dire stuff and the second half they spent chatting, oblivious to the game. I've got them tickets for the Stevenage game so hoping for at least something to entertain them before they get fed up with boring football!

Give my regards to N and love to M & H from us all.


Dave said...


Good to hear from you. Ray and Penny were up at the rugby the other week and were asking for you. I get in the Rose of Denmark before most home games. It would be good to see you for a pint before the season's out.

Love to all


Mike BARRY said...

Pretty much in sympathy with your points. It was a poor performance, and not just in the second half. I would not have been surprised if there had been a small amount of barracking after the game.
The square passing at the back worries me as it is invariably when we are trying to play football at the back and look polished that we cock it up. Certainly against better teams that will be the case.
Lie others, I was impressed with MKDONS in the away fixture and again last night. Perhaps they were just the better side and we could not combat that/.
Like both you and other contributors BWP's form is worrying as much as the frustration with Green. OK, a great shot but his general performance is neutral to say the least; he fouls unnecessarily in dodgy situations, and he (surprisingly) seems inseparable of delivering a fair number of decent crosses which is what we were expecting from him.
We seem to be carrying a couple of passengers at the moment and getting away with it, just hope that continues to be the case as the alternatives are thin on the ground. Haynes looks a good prospect and judging by his other appearances looks better in the middle and probably should have been brought on much earlier for BWP.