Saturday, 14 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 0 v Derby County 2

Ten games now played at home and the return is worse than from last year's dismal start. Last year we had managed 12 points at home from a 3-3-4 record and today's defeat means it's 9 points from 2-3-5. With no prospect of strengthening the side and with so many players working the last few months of their contracts, I am afraid we are headed back to League One and a further withering of the club. Tony Jiminez may yet earn my eternal emnity if we rue the day we lost Josh Harris.

Derby arrived warm favourites for the points today having won five in-a-row and climbed to fifth. They duly left with the points but they hardly looked world-beaters and we should have taken something from this game.

I know Chris Powell is looking to turn our fortunes and needs to keep looking for a winning formula, but why start the game with Bradley Pritchard as a nominal second striker alongside Yann Kermogant in a home match? Kermy's hardly been on fire since returning from injury and I'd say he's carrying a bit of beef again. Danny Green was once again handed a starting return to flank with Cameron Stewart on the other side. Sorry, but Green is a proven failure for me and his is a position we do have better options in. Stephens and Cousins were again the centre pairing and the back four were as-is in front of Ben Alnwick.

We bossed the first-half possession without really looking like scoring. Derby were content to settle and worked their way into the match before taking an undeserved lead after 30 minutes when the diminutive Jamie Ward saw his free-kick deflect off the wall leaving Ben Alnwick stranded. Alnwick was called on again before the break to push out a long range effort from Richard Keogh who was also unfortunate to have been carded minutes before for his first foul of the match. The ref (Andy Davies according to the programme) was certainly no homer and he and his assistants managed, infuriatingly, to get too many decisions wrong, particularly throw-ins and free kicks. They were at least fairly consistent with this for both sides although we suffered a bit more.

In the second-half and kicking towards the Covered End, we did improve but we simply made too many mistakes and there was a shortage of any real quality to create the opening and of any striking threat. Lawrie Wilson began to get further forward and we got a couple of his trademark surging runs to the by-line with good deep crosses from acute angles but there was no-one there to finish.

On 62 minutes Derby should have gone two-up. They played their way to the by-line on the right and the cut-back picked out Ward but he could only slam his shot against the underside of the bar. That was the signal for Powell to act and he sent on Harriott and Church for Pritchard and Green. All of a sudden there was far more urgency to our play and Derby were back-pedalling. We had them penned in for ten to fifteen minutes and sent in a series of crosses from both sides but we struggled to win the first ball cleanly or get a man on the end of anything coming back out of the box. 

Derby weathered the storm and then struck through Bryson who was put in one-on-one and slotted the ball underneath the desperate Alnwick and that was that. Time for thousands to depart prematurely.

Goal-scoring is still a very obvious problem and without the personnel upfront, we need to create more from midfield. That has been a problem for us for a long time now and I think we need to try something different in centre-midfield. Stephens was up against it from Jeff Hendrick today and he jumped into three tackles which could have earned him bookings if he had been a fraction later. He was already on a yellow for dissent so might easily have seen red. Jordan Cousins has an effortless loping running style box-to-box and can pass so you can see why he is being coveted by some of the big boys. However, he has still only played around ten first team games and he is too naive to really be playing in a struggling Championship side. His first touch is expensive and too often he looks like a youth playing with the men when he looks for the sympathy card when battled off the ball or after he has lost possession by going to ground and looking for the ref. Maybe it's time to bring Hughes or Gower back in for a spell, although I can't vouch for either of them threading too many killer balls for Kermogant or Church to latch onto.

I have agreed to head up to the frozen wastes next Saturday with Mexico Vic who is returning for Christmas and is desperate to see his beloved Addicks. It's not a match I really want to see, although I expect the locals will be chortling to see Marvin Sordell back and they will be itching for three easy points. The home matches during the holidays against Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday could be pivotal. 

Unless Tony Jiminez has an ace up his sleeve, I suspect he could be a man under big pressure with no money to spend and his asset sliding down the toilet come January. He might decide he has only one card left and that might involve a change of manager, which would rubber-stamp our relegation in my view. I hate to say this, but Administration might be our best hope of getting shot of the Jiminez and Slater. We need a cash investment they can't provide and they are racking up debt all the time they hold out for a pay-off. 

Finally, to end on a more positive note, a word of thanks and respect to the Derby County fans who applauded even more enthusiastically than our own supporters in appreciation of the Upbeats at half-time. Decent supporters.


Anonymous said...

Good post, I have also been thinking that administration might be our long term saviour, sometimes you have to take 2 steps backwards to go 3 steps forward.

Bob Miller said...

Going to start watching the first three episodes of season four of Breaking Bad this evening as a continuation of our marathon catching up exercise. Like you,I don't think my better half and I have ever been "addicted" to any television series of such high quality since The Sopranos.

Anonymous said...

Good report that - well balanced. Not the best performance from the Rams, and not a bottom 4 performance from the Addicks, except in terms of finishing. Ref was bizarre at best. Stick with Chris powell - great bloke and will always be a favourite with us. Our second was a lovely little dink over the keeper. All the best for the rest of the season - hope you pull away from the bottom.

Shaun - Rams fan

Dave said...

Bob - just finished series 4 last night and preparing for the finale which will finish this week. I can't understand why this hasn't been bought and is airing on terrestrial TV so more people can see it. Funny you should mention the Sopranos because it was a series I missed completely and one that I have been meaning to catch-up on. Sopranos over Christmas.

Dave said...

Shaun - thanks. The fans back Powell in heavy numbers. The problem is the current owners who aren't supporters and who are on the make. You had a better view of Bryson's goal than me. I had vision freeze when I saw the ball played through to him in space and had stood up to leave before it hit the net. Good luck for the rest of the season - hard not to admire a team playing well, like yours, as opposed a large and expensive squad of misfits, like QPR.

Geoff said...

Nothing to add on the footie, Dave. When you are down, your luck follows - the deflection off Wiggo.

McLaren was extremely honest on TV referring to a "fortunate goal" and relief at getting through the last 20 mins.

Re TV, I hope you and Bob did not miss "The Wire". If you did, that's another box set on the c/card.

Dave said...

Geoff - I nearly added The wire to the Sopranos when responding to Bob. Breaking Bad will inspire me to pick up on both. If they come within sniffing distance of BB they will be well worth watching.