Tuesday 12 August 2008

Charlton Athletic 0 v Yeovil Town 1

Ultimately a disappointing result although the performance deserved better and yet the match still gave cause for concern.

Pardew opted to change Weaver, Semedo, Hudson, Sam, Racon and Gray from the start, instead bringing in Elliot, Moutaouakil, Basey, Holland, Wagstaff and Bouazza. The line-up looked strong but obviously a bit dis-jointed with Youga partnering Fortune in the middle of defence and a packed midfield that saw Bouazza start upfront alongside Varney.

Nonetheless, the Addicks made a quick start and should have taken the lead. Jonjo Shelvey had a superb shot from eighteen yards finger-tipped around the post after six minutes by the fully stretched Wagenaar. Wagenaar dived bravely to intercept at the feet of Hameur Bouazza moments later and did very well to punch the ball from John Fortune's head as he rose to meet a corner. Luke Varney pulled a shot wide having cut in from a useful ball over the top from Thomas. Thomas himself found the ball at his feet and back to goal three yards out following a scrambled corner but again Wagenaar saved his back-heeled attempt.

At this stage you got the feeling that it might not be our night and Yeovil promptly went down the other end and scored against the run of play. It was poor goal to concede and not one I think they would have got with Hudson in the middle. They played the ball into the box from a set-piece where Youga was beaten to the header and the ball dropped for Warne in space between Youga and Fortune and he finished clinically low off of Elliot's left-hand post.

Charlton continued to press in the first half but Luke Varney was guilty of squandering two decent chances when supported well by several team-mates offering better options.Worryingly, there was time for John Fortune to limp off before the break as Jose Semedo came on to make an unlikely centre-half pairing with Kelly Youga. We know we have no proper cover in central defence since selling Madjid Bougherra and without getting adequate cover will be taking a major risk until the January transfer window.

The second half was a predictable disappointment as the game slowed down. Yeovil lacked any further attacking ambition and their back four slowly got to grips with what we had to offer as well as the substitutes who came on to try and influence the game; Sam and Dickson. Varney had a near post header which he lifted over the bar having beaten the keeper and Holland flashed another near-post header from a corner on the opposite side wide of the left-hand upright towards the end. We got the final frantic three minutes of added time as we forced a series of corners but it was too little too late as usual despite the advanced Elliot who got close to heading one of the corners.

The 6,000 crowd booed the team off at the end which was harsh but, I am afraid, a shape of things to come if we can't get a run going or improve the overall quality of our play at home.

For me this was not a bad performance as I have said. Moutaouakil had a nervy reintroduction although he did little wrong. His first touch was generally poor but he improved with the game. Basey was my man-of-the-match and it's clear he is going to challenge Youga for left-back. Youga himself did ok in the middle but cannot be expected to play in that position in league games. Fortune had little to do, as did Elliot in goal. In front of the defence we looked a bit uncertain as to the game plan. Bouazza kept dropping back and cluttering the midfield where Wagstaff looked lost. Holland and Shelvey were busy and Thomas again a class apart man-on-man but whose contribution in terms of delivery dried-up as the game went on. Shelvey was one of the few players to have a better second half.

Bouazza is a winger and doesn't look like he can play striker or central midfield. Varney was guilty of being selfish, although he can probably be forgiven for thinking he was best place to try everytime he got a chance. Lloyd Sam looked like he wanted to know and had a better showing than against Swansea. Chris Dickson did a lot of running but his chances were limited.

So, in summary, this was a frustrating game and yet another League Cup disappointment. Being out of this competition is probably a good thing, especially if we can bounce back at Watford on Saturday. Their financial position looks worse by the day and I understand they are having serious problems in avoiding going into Administration with the 10 point deduction that would bring, not to mention the attendant fire-sale of remaining assets. Probably a good time to reflect on the unpalatble medicine we have had to take of late. Perhaps they will have a central defender and missing-link midfielder we can get on the cheap?

We travel to Watford with a 100% league record and in realistic hope of maintaining that, at least into our third game of the season.


  1. I hate to disagree, but I thought Lloyd Sam was terrible. I have a particular dislike of wingers that cut inside too much, but Sam seemed to be playing central midfield at times. If this showing was better than Saturday (a game I missed)then I have grave reservations about his inclusion now that Bouazza has come on board.

  2. KHA - Sam did nothing on Saturday. Bouazza will have to play very poorly not to become the first choice left winger this season. My money's on Sam making substutue appearances in games we are chasing in the second half.

  3. Dave

    thanks for a thoughtful and readable piece.

    Do you think there was an element of experimentation by Pards here, to see what his options could be for league games?

    Go to wonder about the economic value of progressing in the League cup. With crowds of 6000, costs must exceed the income for such games. And we had one of the higher attendances last night. Then of course you've got the added risk to your assets.

    Pembury Addick

  4. PA - Possibly - Elliot deserved a shot and he ha sobviously grown in confidence to have come up for the final couple of corners. Not so sure about playing Hameur Bouazza upfront though. We have an abundance of strikers fighting to play. I think the time for giving Bouaza the role is when none of them are scoring. As far as the economics of the League Cup are concerned, ithe same thought occured to me looking around the stadium. However, it was our lowest home gate in this competition for many years although the last two seasons have seen it dip to 8,000. It could have been worse, Palace barely mustered 3,000!


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