Wednesday 30 November 2011

Kermorgant OK

That was the main news yesterday in the wake of ending Huddersfield Town's 43 year (sic) unbeaten reord. Chris Powell explained on the OS that Yann had suffered no more than a twisted ankle and shouldn't be out for too long. Paul Hayes is an able deputy against the likes of Carlisle and Walsall, so I expect Yann to be soaring through the air against Oldham if he doesn't make the Walsall game.

The London Sub-Standard must have been desperately short of Sports news yesterday because we made the back page for the first time in a number of years. Shame then that the article attached that referenced the game was written by a hack who clearly didn't even watch the game on Sky and instead chose to comment based upon the fact that we were two up at half-time and on Ephraim's comments that we had played better in recent games. He managed to describe Huddersfield first-half performance as "abject" and something to the effect that we weren't at our best. Pathetic really but I guess London fans outside the PL shouldn't be surprised.

Good luck to our neighbours Palace as they head of to a thoroughly deserved League Cup game at Old Trafford this evening. They haven't managed a goal in five games but their focus will be on conceding less than the nine they famously let in on a similar visit to Anfield. Good old Perry Suckling. Envious? You bet.

Monday 28 November 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Huddersfield Town 0

What a night at the Valley this evening! The single best result, to my mind, since we were relegated from the Premiership. We weren't the best footballing side on the night but we went head-to-head with the best team League One can challenge us with and we beat them with a powerful display. I am not going to replay what you all saw but will comment on the game overall.

The back four were outstanding and deserved their clean sheet. Ben Hamer was a point behind in my mind but he did make one crucial save from Jon Parkin to prevent the Terriers from scoring. I believe Matt Tayler got the MOTM award, probably for keeping Jordan Rhodes completely silent throughout, but Morrison was as good and Wiggins and Solly were better. Not since Mark Reid, have I enjoyed watching a left back more and Rhoys Wiggins is better than Reidy across the half-way line (Chris Powell was up there but I credit him with Wiggins' signing). What a runner when he's on the burst! For me, the best display came, once again, from Chris Solly. He was unstoppable in the first-half and his recovery in the second to make up two yards to stop a Town break was absolutely superb and worthy of the standing ovation it drew in the East Stand. To think, there were those who didn't think him good enough?

Hogan Ephraim capped a solid debut with a goal and he looked genuinely moved to receive his ovation when he was substituted. Darel Russell enjoyed a less impressive debut but he looked off the pace to me and I know he is a better player than we saw this evening. Having said that, I think Chris Powell was brave to sub him at half-time (unless he was injured) and Hughes was just the man we needed at 2-0. That we didn't concede in the second period confirmed that decision. Ephraim was effective without any special wing-play and I thought Green had a decent game although he is lightweight and something of a luxury against a fast and competitive side like Huddersfield.

Upfront, BWP ran his socks off and made the second goal but he was eclipsed by Yann Kermorgant who was colossal in the air tonight and his opening header made me recant my immature comments when he joined us that we looked like we had signed another journeyman striker. I want to wake tomorrow to find that he has nothing more bruising and will be ready to face Walsall in eleven days time. Paul Hayes is an able deputy but we need Kermorgant in the same way we need Jackson to keep our side firing on all cylinders.

Nothing much more to say but we are threatening to run away with this league and arrive in the Championship with a momentum that could carry us in the steps of Norwich and maybe Southampton, clubs who we are as similar to as anyone else in the English Leagues.

Sunday 27 November 2011

The lull before the storm

I had a very good day yesterday which culminated in winning four hundred smackers on the football, a night out in Rochester and a sleepover at my sister-in-laws at Halling. The Thai was canned in favour of a new Lebanese restaurant. Disappointing overall but we had plenty of alcohol and our wives walked home half-a-mile after midnight in stocking feet carrying their stilts.

Stunned like everyone else today at the death of Gary Speed. I tuned in to Radio 5 and it was obvious someone had died but I couldn't tell for several minutes who it was. The conversation was switching from the Welsh national side to Gary's league clubs but I couldn't imagine for a moment it was him. "Car crash" was my first reaction to his name, but suicide? There will be a story to emerge in the days to come but The Black Dog is no respecter of fame or fortune. The memory of his thumping header for Leeds from a corner, which I think won the game, will always be with me when I think of Gary Speed. I expect we will get a minute's silence tomorrow before the game to show our respect for a true professional and patriot.

Tomorrow evening's encounter with Huddersfield Town is getting far more media coverage than we are accustomed to, even if most of it features the "invincible" Huddersfield Town. We might have a long history of disappointing our fans on the big night and an horrendous live TV record, but I believe we will win tomorrow and put on a show in the process. The media hype may serve us well at Town's expense.

I have an old, retired, work mate coming up for the game tomorrow night. He's a Gooner but has struggled to get tickets in recent years. He lives in Tonbridge and I have booked him onto the Valley Express. He was unaware of this service but has shown a lot of interest - "what, it runs to every home game...for seven quid?" Hopefully he will get a clear run up, a few pre-match pints and a quick journey home. If its as good a spectacle as our last few home games, he may well be back.

Lastly, I see that the weakest of the three South London derbies was a goaless affair in SE25 yesterday. Fifteen thousand made the effort. We may be live on TV tomorrow evening and a division lower than Smallwall and Palarse, but we will still attract a bigger attendance tomorrow night with less than a thousand visiting Terriers. Number one in South London, even in League One.

Friday 25 November 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 19

After another long and tiring working week, I am looking forward to a restful and largely uneventful weekend. I have a mate returning to Charlton this evening from his home in Northampton this evening for a few pints and tomorrow night it's a Thai meal for my wife's birthday with her twin sister down in Kent. Other than that, it's let's hope some of our promotion rivals falter ahead of the division's biggest fixture so far this when season when unbeatable Huddersfield Town put their unbeaten league record on the line in SE7. So, let's have a look for a few upsets...

Chesterfield v Sheffield United
The Spireites are rock bottom after a promising start to the campaign and are plainly struggling to make the adjustment to League One. The Blades will blow into town in numbers and with James Beattie back on board their bus, should be full of confidence.
Prediction; 0-2

AFC Bournemouth v Oldham Athletic
The Cherries are fighting back after a horrible start and their away form has hauled them out of the relegation places. their problem has been at Dean Court where they have managed only two victories. They get another chance here but Oldham might present a tough nut to crack after decent recent wins.
Prediction; 1-1

Bury v Preston North End
Preston fans will not be relishing this Hot-Pot derby. They are also wondering how they can release a player of Darel Russell's quality at a time when they have an injury list that is nearly as long as their recent losing streak. They are actually a point worse off than Bury as things stand and this could be a large application of salt to open wounds.
Prediction; 1-0

Carlisle United v Colchester United
Long trek for an inconsistent Colchester side who aren't enjoying away matches this season. I'll take the Cumbrians to shade it here.
Prediction; 2-1

Exeter City v Tranmere Rovers
The Grecians have steadied the ship and have limped out of the drop zone. Their home form is recovering and they could do us a mini-favour here against 9th placed Tranmere.
Prediction; 2-1

Hartlepool United v Yeovil Town
If Hartlepool can't win at home this time, they may as well give up. Yeovil are the only side in division yet to register an away win.
Prediction; 2-0

MK Dons v Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe look like they are intent on following Chesterfield back to whence they came. MK Dons are unbeaten at home and I suspect they will make short work of their M1 neighbours.
Prediction; 3-0

Notts County v Scunthorpe United
A decent home record and a poor away one? Home win, although I can see Scunny keeping this tight.
Prediction; 1-0

Rochdale v Brentford
Brentford were unfortunate not to get something off us last week and they will go looking here knowing that they have only lost once on the road. Uwe Rosler appears to be making his mark with Brentford and I think they will hang around the fringes all season. A fifth away victory would do very nicely Herr Kapitan.
Prediction; 0-2

Sheffield Wednesday v Leyton Orient
Should be a routine home win here but the O's have nothing to lose and they have been harder to beat away from Brisbane Road this year than at home. That unbeaten Wednesday home record won't last too much longer and the O's might go close here.
Prediction; 2-2

Stevenage v Walsall
Stevenage will get a nosebleed if their climb much higher. Walsall linger where they usually do and will do well to get anything here.
Prediction; 1-0

The Big Match, Monday
Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town
Both sides have strengthened in the week with loan signings and our defence faces a possible encounter with the Beast. If he plays, it will be interesting to see Michael Morrison go chest to chest with Jon Parkin. He's a player who has bullied us in the past but at 30 and with all that timber he usually carries, I am confident we can contain him this time. Jordan Rhodes is an altogether different prospect but I am expecting Bradley Wright-Phillips to steal the limelight. I called up to buy hospitality today but "everything has gone." A sign of the times on a Monday night with the Sky cameras in town. A dew is probably the smart money but this season looks like it will finally be the one we have been waiting for a win here on home turf will put us firmly in the Guvnors seat and should finally win Chris Powell a deserved Manager-of-the-Month title.
Prediction; 3-2

Thursday 24 November 2011

Powell swoops for Darel Russell

Chris Powell moved into the loan market again today to sign versatile right-sided midfielder, Darel Russell until January. This is a smart move with Johnnie Jackson being sidelined for a couple of months.

Russell is another of those one-time Charlton targets who we have gone back for. He is a very solid and experienced pro who I believe we can rely upon to come into the side and make an immediate impact. He always impressed me when playing against us for Norwich and he's an East End boy, so will hopefully feel quickly at home - certainly more so than his present club, Preston North End.

From a squad perspective, it's also perfect timing with the crunch Huddersfield Town fixture for days away. He's a player I could imagine scoring or setting up a goal on his debut as a late substitute.

Tuesday 22 November 2011


Out last night as part of my better half's big birthday. Visited Scala at Kings Cross for the first time ever and was hugely impressed. Don't know how I missed this in my younger "gigging" years but always assumed it was a huge and impersonal cinema venue.

The seats have long gone and it's a perfect rock venue for c 500 devotees. Bush are a tad heavy for me but they were excellent and I have acquired sufficient Brownie Points for Walsall.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Brentford 0 v Charlton Athletic 1

First win at Griffin Park in 31 years. I was there last time (also a 1-0 win) but missed today and am kicking myself (makes mental note for Walsall). Sixth win in succession and the next game promises to be a classic when we attempt to break Huddersfield Town's record unbeaten league sequence which they extended today at home to Notts County. An historic match against Huddersfield? Who'd-a-thought-it?

Those who were there today, or who listened in to the commentary will know that this was a hard-won victory. We rode our luck in the first-half as the Bees hit the woodwork and when Donaldson missed a clear chance. However, we held on and following a lengthy stoppage for a serious sounding injury to Logan, Charlton pounced to win the match. Danny Green broke down the flank and fired a low cross which Bradley Wright-Phillips met and steered home.

Like many of you, I suspect, I had long-since tuned into the Brentford commentary in order to understand what was going on (Awful Emma) and you could hear the knowing heartbreak in their voices when BWP struck. The Bees fought on and Ben Hamer was called into action several times before the finish as we played out 10 minutes of injury time for Logan, but we held our nerve and took the points. There was a delicious irony in the commentators describing Hamer's time-wasting tactics which once "served us so well."

Huddersfield will now face us in as important a fixture as the one on 4th April 1981 when they temporarily halted our promotion push at the Valley with a 2-1 win. We took ultimate revenge that season by going up and pipping them to the third place spot. We lost the next three games after that before steadying the ship and securing the five points (two for a win) we needed from the last three games. Know your place Huddersfield!

Elsewhere in League One, the top five all won, so it's as-you-were but we have an enormous opportunity a week on Monday. It will mean beating the live TV hoodoo but you have to believe this side can see that off. If we come through that one, I am confident we could go unbeaten into 2012 and that we can collect most of the points in the process. 2012 - Year of the Addick?

Friday 18 November 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 18

Five wins on the spin. Nineteen goals scored with only three consolation goals in reply. A side full of confidence makes the short trip to Griffin Park tomorrow where we face an indifferent Brentford side who have been a thorn in our side in recent seasons.

They beat a weakened Charlton side rather easily in the JPT at the Valley and like the Preston game, this is an opportunity to set the record straight. We will be roared on by a packed away end (1800) and likely a few more in the home areas, although Brentford's decision to sell home tickets only to database members means they are selling themselves short of several hundred more and maybe another thousand or more had they made arrangements to accommodate those who would like to see the game.

Personally, my wife has a big birthday coming up in the week and I was committed to a birthday event which I realised, too late, is actually next Saturday night. I am therefore ticketless and contemplating turning up on the day and hoping to get in. Bit of a dilemma as I don't want to miss the match commentary....

Anyway, confidence amongst our fans is sky-high again as we look increasingly like we have discovered the knack of giving opponents a beasting and are defending very well and attacking with precision and effect. The Bees home record is 3-2-4 and that suggests we can win again, especially if we can score the first goal, something we have done in all of the last five games. With Huddersfield to come at the Valley a week on Monday, there is a good chance that we could increase our lead above ten points before Christmas. I don't want to get carried away but I know we need the biggest cushion we can because we know there will be a Charlton-wobble before the end.

Brentford v Charlton Athletic
I am going for the revenge-theme and a spirited two-nil Charlton win. Bradley Wright-Phillips had a beaming smile on his face as he was cup-tied at Halifax in the dying minutes and I can see him carrying that into this one.
Prediction; 0-2

Colchester United v MK Dons
Could be a decent encounter this. MK Dons continue to go well although this is the sort of game that brings the best out of the U's.
Prediction; 3-2

Huddersfield Town v Notts County
A no-lose game for us. There is the school of thought that says it could be good for us if Town beat everyone around us the top as it effectively increases the margin from the automatics to the play-off places. Personally, I think they will run us all the way to the end and a draw would be my preferred outcome although they will be focused on winning again am aiming to close the gap on us at the Valley with the aid of our TV Jinx.
Prediction; 2-1

Leyton Orient v Stevenage
The O's are getting their act together, slowly but surely. Stevenage are feeling increasingly at home in this division and are enjoying themselves at the moment. A draw is the most likely result but I'll take a late O's winner.
Prediction; 2-1

Oldham Athletic v Chesterfield
Neither of these sides has done much this season and more was expected of Oldham after last season's bright start.
Prediction; 1-0

Preston North End v Rochdale
Injuries have hampered PNE's progress and Phil Brown will be feeling the heat in the hot-seat. Rochdale could make this another uncomfortable afternoon.
Prediction; 1-1

Scunthorpe United v Hartlepool United
East Coast derby and a tasty affair in prospect here. Hartlepool have lost momentum in recent weeks and they might find this hard work.
Prediction; 2-0

Sheffield United v Carlisle United
The Blades are falling further behind in the automatic promotion race and they need to put a run together. Carlisle shouldn't hold them up for long.
Prediction; 2-0

Tranmere Rovers v Sheffield Wednesday
Another draw would be a nice ending for us although Wednesday haven't been able to get anywhere near their home form on the road. I'd have to take Tranmere here for a winner.
Prediction; 1-0

Walsall v Bury
Not one to fire the imagination.
Prediction; 0-0

Yeovil Town v Exeter City
West Country derby and it has draw written all over it.
Prediction; 1-1


Monday 14 November 2011

Marketing - (not CAFC related)

Regular readers will know I have a healthy dislike of many forms of marketing, particularly the arrogant ones that assume we are as transparent as the Marketeers who have devised them. Credit where credit's due however.

This appeals to me on so many levels...

Sunday 13 November 2011

FC Halifax 0 v Charlton Athletic 4

An assured performance from Chris Powell's charges saw us safely through to the second round of the F A Cup where we have the home tie I wanted.

I was really pleased to see us start with seven first team players and I thought Powell got it bang on with his team selection and substitutions. Sullivan (doesn't he look increasingly like Sasa Illic?) came in for Hamer and reserve keepers need every opportunity they can get for first team experience. Cedric Evina got another deserved start to give Rhoys Wiggins a rest and he joined Solly, Morrison and Taylor in the back-line. Other than that the midfield was as-you-were, so it was Hayes and Euell who came in upfront for Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant.

It was good to see Bradley Pritchard back as a sub and the seemingly forgotten Michael Smith making the journey. Good too that Powell included BWP just in case we needed more firepower.

Chris Solly played another blinder at right-back and was probably my man-of-the-match. Not sure though about our fans song about him that rhymed "Solly" with "quality!" Taylor got his first Charlton goal and the ITV MOTM award and, for once, he did more work than Morrison. Evina was comfortable enough at right-back but we didn't see much of him across the half-way line.

I thought Halifax had too much space in midfield but the performance and the result speak for themselves. Hollands had the wrong studs in during the first-half and the wet, lush turf had him slipping and sliding all over the shop. Johnnie Jackson had another good game and crowned it with the finish of the match. Nice to see him refuse to celebrate after scoring his goal which killed off a spirited Halifax side. Hollands also nicked a typical scrappy third which you get when your opponents are down-and-out and Bradley Pritchard rubbed salt into the wound with the fourth.

Paul Hayes will be a tad disappointed on not doing a bit more on his return north although it was his inch perfect deep cross which teed Matt Taylor up for his looping header for the opener. Jason Euell showed once more that he doesn't have the pace or the touch to command a regular place and he must surely be playing his last ever games in a Charlton shirt. Nature knows no sentiment.

All-in-all, another very good day for Charlton Athletic and I can't see Carlisle United halting our progress to the third round. If I am going to be picky, and I am, someone has to have a word with Whingeing Wagstaff. His constant moaning reflects poorly on his colleagues who are all admirably honest pros. He is the Boy Who Cried Wolf and it is so unnecessary. He may have been caught late on but his histrionics in pulling his legs up into the foetal position and thudding to the deck is something he has shown us numerous times in the past. He always gets up unscathed but it often gets his opponent a card more than they deserved. Today it earned a non-league opponent, playing probably the biggest game of his career, a straight red when I think a yellow was the correct decision.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Russian Roulette

It has to be done, but tomorrow's First Round F A Cup tie at Halifax is one most Addicks fans will watch from behind the settee or through their fingers. Our cup record is so dismal, it's amazing that we have actually won the F A Cup and made it to another proper final, although I often think we must have caught the rest of the country napping after the war.

I am back from a day down in Brighton where I fell on my sword and gave up the chance of a seafood extravaganza at Riddle and Finn in The Lanes for a "Mediterranean Vegetarian/Vegan" meal at Terre a Terre. This was in honour of my Niece who we were visiting to see how she has settled in at Sussex Uni. All well apart from collecting three driving points en route. Eighty-eight miles an hour, I ask you.

Anyway, I have just caught up with today's scores as well as Kenny Miller's stunning goal in Cyprus for us Jocks. Biggest scalp and warning for tomorrow, is that a below par Huddersfield were skelped 4-1 at Swindon. Wycombe also fell down and embarrassed themselves at non-league Fleetwood.

I know we have other fish to fry (not just 'Addock) and that Chris Powell will change the side around tomorrow, but I have a feeling we might see a stronger than expected line-up. The F A Cup offers us the prospect of two or three additional gates and a third round clash with top opposition could see us fill the Valley once again. That would mean real cash into the club and I suspect that would be particularly welcome in a year when Jiminez and Slater will want to show some decent numbers to match the success on the field to help persuade the big money men to hold their nerve and, hopefully, gamble a little more. Maybe wishful thinking on my part but a home tie after this should see us into the third round draw and the chance of some big money.

We should see Halifax off tomorrow and I am backing our boys to do the job even if laying off a bit of money on the Shay Men could recoup my anticipated speeding fine.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Loan winger arrives

After my post yesterday, in which I said Johnnie Jackson had no competition on the left and that neither Green or Wagstaff had nailed it on the left, we have today brought in a winger who can play on either side.

He is ex-Hammers and now QPR squad winger, Hogan Ephraim and he joins us until January. Wikipedia describes him as a midfield utility player, so presumably he will give us cover and more substitution options. He's a 23 year old North London boy, just in case you was wondering.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

A settled side

Our current fine form has coincided with a relatively settled side that has been largely picking itself - doesn't it always?

When we started the season we wondered whether Reading's former third choice goalkeeper would get the nod over Millwall's old reserve stopper. Hamer has won the day and established himself although he has yet to win me over completely. He has benefitted from a very capable and settled back four.

Rhoys Wiggins has anchored the left-back position for himself and his ability to overlap and deliver pinpoint crosses on the run has made him our best buy of the Summer in my mind. He is my Player of the Year although it will be very difficult to deny Mr Wright-Phillips if he continues to plunder goals at his current rate. Rhoys looks very capable of playing at the highest level and I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that Chris Powell has unearthed a gem in his old position.

In the middle, Morrison and Taylor have established a formidable understanding and look in no threat from Doherty, Cort or Mambo. Morrison has far more touches than Taylor and appears to make most of the last ditch tackles and stops but Taylor is extremely effective if you watch him. Both of them started the first half-a-dozen matches with what I am sure was a deliberate one-touch policy to put every ball that came their way into touch. It had the effect of slowing attacks and it minimised the numbers of goals we conceded. Since then they have been given license to play as they have got to know each other and they are now moving instinctively when one of them has the ball to make space for the other and they have developed an understanding with Hamer for back-passes.

At right back, Chris Solly has made it his own and I, for one, am pleased about that. I don't buy the lack of height argument and Solly has been one of our most consistent performers. We are finally loaning Simon Francis out to Bournemouth which leaves us no other recognised right-back although Michael Morrison did a decent job at Stevenage, even if he would have been better employed in central defence. A professional right-back cover for Solly must be a high priority.

In central midfield it looked like Dale Stephens and Danny Hollands had cracked it but I felt teams were learning to neutralise them shortly before Stephens' injury and we have looked surprisingly more effective with Andy Hughes in the middle. Hughes is a natural defender and he plays like one in the centre. His usual stance is with both arms down and out as he shuffles left and right to mark space and prevent the through-ball. He is also a "talker" and a very vocal one at that. He was shouting at everyone on Saturday and they all appeared to be listening which was all the more impressive. He could be a more obvious choice as captain if he can hold his place. Dales Stephens is currently undergoing an ankle operation but will surely challenge again when fit although it would be hard to justify dropping Hughes at the moment. He has certainly given Hollands a tad more confidence to express himself as we saw on Saturday.

From the other central midfield options, Bradley Pritchard has looked like being capable of offering something different and Bover Izquierdo has potential. Only Alonso has looked poor although fitness may have had something to do with that horror showing against Brentford in the JPT. I was told that he has since left the club?

On the left flank Johnnie Jackson has no serious challenger and his best competition comes from Wiggins who appears to have as many assists to his name as Jackson. On the other side, we don't appear settled yet as Wagstaff and Green battle it out. Green has a better cross but lacks Wagstaff's impact and has been guilty of wasting matches since making first-choice. We have to see more threat from both of them.

Upfront, Bradley Wright-Phillips has been a revelation and his goals are propping up the current revival that promises to turn into our first promotion season of the 21st Century. He has genuine first five yard pace and he has a goalscorer's instinct. The dream is of goal-scoring paring in the mould of Hales and Flanagan. Paul Hayes made an honest job of trying to do that but has come up short of the mark so far. To be fair to him, he is a seasoned pro and has never struck the high notes so he's hardly under-performing at the Valley. He may yet have an important back-up role to play this season in getting us promoted.

What you hope when you sign a journeyman is that you get that bit more out of him than anyone has managed before. That's precisely the case with Yann Kermorgant who looks like he's playing the best football since coming to the English league in 2009. More importantly, Kermorgant looks highly efficient in the air and has developed a goalscoring partnership that is bringing the best out of Wright-Phillips.

Paul Benson has become a forgotten man since the arrival of Hayes and Kermorgant and he can have few complaints. Another Honest Joe but not in the class of Wright-Phillips or Kermorgant and possibly even Hayes. I have to mention Jason Euell, whose signing is looking increasingly indulgent with every substitute appearance he makes. He adds very little and certainly minimal goal threat. I'm sure he's a good character to have around the club and his experience invaluable but he is clearly well passed his best. In the nicest possible way, I hope we don't see him start another game in a Charlton shirt and that his substitute appearances are all when we are winning games and not chasing them.

There is already talk of us strengthening in the January transfer window and it's always good if you can do it. However, I would rather we avoid any long-term injuries and any significant disruption to what is looking like a settled squad by limiting any January transfer activity. Right-back cover looks a priority (if not addressed before then) - beyond that we would need to spend in order to improve on what we have got.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Charlton Athletic 5 v Preston North End 2

A crowd of over 17,000 Charlton fans at the Valley today in a gate of 17,486. They saw their team cruise to victory against a weakened Preston side whose reserve goalkeeper had an absolute shocker. Fifteen goals in the last four matches and four wins on-the-trot are the facts we need to concern ourselves with as we stride on at the top of League One five points clear of Huddersfield in second spot. The only damp squib was the finale to the match when we allowed Preston to unsettle us with two goals and tempers were on the verge of fraying in the Addicks defence.

It all started so well with four goals in the opening 38 minutes. The buzz around the stadium after the fourth was startling and a brief reminder of some of the more special moments at the Valley. Everyone was speculating how many we would end up with - at least six looked almost inevitable at that point.

Johnnie Jackson helped himself to the opener after a piercing move involving Wright-Phillips and Danny Green which sent Green darting clear. His rasping shot was parried by Aristidou in the North End goal and the advancing Jackson slammed home the loose ball. Minutes later we forced a corner and the in-swinging ball was pushed onto the bar by the struggling keeper only to drop back into the melee where Michael Morrison was waiting to pounce from close range. On 26 minutes, Aristidou up-ended Yann Kermorgant as he chased a through ball and Jackson smacked home the third. The fourth was embarrassingly easy as a back post ball found BWP unmarked and all he had to do was head beyond the stranded Aristidou.

Phil Brown brought on a second striker at the break which opened Preston up a bit more and the fifth, when it came on 70 minutes was one of the best headed goals I have ever seen. The  impressive Rhoys Wiggins galloped down the left flank and ran onto his own ball as he burst beyond the last man.  As he looked-up to cross, Danny Hollands was on a diagonal catch-up run into the box and Wiggins' cross was an absolute peach. He got the perfect line and enough pace for Hollands to have to leap to meet it at full stretch and, my-oh-my, did Danny-Boy do it justice. Somehow, he managed to put pace onto the ball and it rocketed into the far top corner. Five-nil and still twenty minutes for the sixth or seventh.

Chris Powell made a double substitution at this point, deciding to rest Bradley Wright-Phillips and the tiring Danny Green. Paul Hayes was brought on to, hopefully, rub some salt into his old clubs wounds and Scott Wagstaff was fresh legs. It didn't really work and Preston were still labouring to salvage something before having to face Phil Brown again. They forced a goal from a corner that looked poorly defended and their heads were up. The second was a classy spin-and-finish from the substitute Daley and the Valley was silenced and flat. The mood brightened at the whistle and the crowd went home happy, although you wonder why we find it so hard to top the cake.

Having said that, we must see the big picture and it's all rosy right now.

Friday 4 November 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 17

As the rain lashes down in SE7 again today, tomorrow's home match against Preston is threatening to be a washout. We have the opportunity to make it four league wins in-a-row which would the best sequence of the season so far and would, in my mind, represent a full recovery from Stevenage and the fermentation of possibly another unbeaten run that might take us to Christmas.
AFC Bournemouth v Scunthorpe United
Who would have bet on Bournemouth winning at Preston last week? They are up to 18th and will be aiming to improve the worst home record in the division. They have the away draw specialists in town, so it may be very tight.

Prediction; 1-1

Charlton Athletic v Preston North End

This should, I repeat should, be a straightforward home win. Preston have strung together sequences of wins and defeats this season and are very much on a losing streak right now.They may come expecting to repeat their League Cup win but we all know there will be two different sides out there tomorrow. We appear to be learning how to play the ball around to control the pace and direction of games, whilst attacking with purpose and a cutting edge when we go forward. If this is actually the case, tomorrow is a great chance to prove it and we might expect another good day. The only cloud on the horizon might be the return of Hume and Mellor.
Prediction; 3-1

Chesterfield v Yeovil Town

Basement dogfight here and Yeovil are the only side left to win an away match in the division. Chesterfield to clamber out of the bottom four.
Prediction; 2-0

Exeter City v Carlisle United
A couple of weeks ago this would have looked like an easy away. Exeter were losing everything in sight. They have rallied since then and will look for their fourth home victory of the season. It's another long trip for the Cumbrians and it could even longer home.
Prediction 2-0

Huddersfield Town v Walsall
Can't see it, can you? Not even the unsettling of Lee Clark by the massive job on offer at the might Leicester City should distract Town sufficiently to prevent them putting several goals passed Walsall. Jordan Rhodes may be about to cash in on five years of primary education in Scotland by becoming a full-blown Jock and he will probably push BWP all the way to the League One Top Scorer title.
Prediction; 3-0

Leyton Orient v Hartlepool United
The O's recovery from no-hopers continued last week with a rare away win at Rochdale. They will fancy this one against a demoralised Hartlepool but the Monkey-hangers have an impressive away record and I'll take them to get a draw at least,
Prediction; 2-2

MK Dons v Rochdale
Unbeaten at home, I can't see Rochdale breaking the mould in this one. 
Prediction; 2-0

Notts County v Wycombe Wanderers
My home banker of the day. County haven't lost at home since we lowered their colours in their opening home game and Wycombe have a very soft centre.
Prediction; 2-0

Oldham Athletic v Bury
Lancashire derby and Bury have been marginally better away from Gigg Lane. A classic derby 1-1?
Prediction; 1-1

Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford
Seven straight home wins is impressive but the Bees are another League One side who have been having more fun away from home and they boast a 4-2-1 on their travels as well as having won at the Valley in the Noddy Cup. I am going to be very bold here and suggest that Brentford will win here.
Prediction; 1-2

Stevenage v Sheffield United
United have been stuttering a bit and find themselves eight points adrift of us in fourth place. They were beaten at Wycombe this season and this could be a potential banana skin. Stevenage good enough for a point?
Prediction; 1-1

Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United
Tranmere are keeping pace with the pack and have a solid home record. Colchester look a shadow of their former selves and whilst they have undoubted talent in their side, they are very inconsistent. This looks like an uphill battle.
Prediction; 2-0

Since I started posting this early today, the rain has moved away and SE7 is bathed in sunlight. Fingers-crossed for tomorrow. Up the Addicks!

Thursday 3 November 2011

I've finally done it

It's been weighing on my mind for the last year. Not the biggest decision of my life, granted, but an important one nonetheless. Do I replace my ageing PC or make the move to the Dark Side and get a Mac?

My old Sony Vaio Mediacentre was coming up for six years old and the hard drive was full. Shuttling files back and forward on an external drive is no way to live. So, I've bought an Apple Mac and I am now filled with the self-righteous smugness of a convert. Yes Sirree! I can smile knowingly at PC users from now on when I hear their tales of woe, safe in the knowledge that I have moved onwards and upwards in the world. Yes, it's very like being in the Masons. I would imagine.

It's taken me several long evenings but I now have all my data transferred and have a decent grasp of the basics. It's also given me the impetus to digitise my music CD's collection and get shot of 500 CD's and my old faithful B & O.

I-Cloud had a big part to do with it and it has been fantastic to be able to link my main home computer with other devices and no longer having to synch in order to update and share information. No doubt there will be some drawbacks but none so far and I have been very impressed that things have worked as expected. Doing anything new on a PC was invariably fraught with difficulties and when things did go wrong, it was often hard to find out why. There, smug enough?