Saturday 31 December 2011

Leyton Orient 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

A New Years Eve message of hope for the rest? No not really, more a case of the Sky curse again and having to play the majority of the game with ten men. Shame really, but these things happen and you have to move on, which I am sure we will, on Monday.

Hamer's sending off was controversial, he looked out of the box to me but I was down at the far end of the Charlton side and I think the bigger question was did it hit his arm? Makes little difference because he saw red and we had to reshuffle. I was pleased with the 4-3-2 as opposed to a 4-4-1 but it didn't really work. We were short on pace with Russell, Hollands and Jackson and it looked much better in the second period when Pritchard came on and we changed formation.

The O's went on to boss the first half and they played like we were two men down, not one. The goal, when it came looked like it took a deflection as it bobbled up and came off the underside of the bar. Chances were always on an ex-Addick scoring but I hadn't figured on Matt Spring. You have to wonder whether or not they might still have edged it with eleven men?

We looked better after the break but didn't do nearly enough until the last fifteen minutes (including added time) to deserve a point. Disappointing all-around but sometimes you have to take it on the chin.

I was saddened to see Charlton fans at each others throats late on over the singing of "the Kevin Lisbie song." It was the first time I had heard it and it was only being sung by a dozen or so behind where I was sitting but one Charlton fan took vehement objection to it and several overs leapt to his defence when things boiled up. The Stewards were required but it was all so unnecessary and, frankly, embarrassing. I try to live and let live and remember my own youth (stupidity) but it's sad to see, especially when this and the Addams family song upset so many of our own fans. Perhaps we do need to stamp it out?

I understand there was also another incident amongst our own fans further along the stand in the first half, although don't know what sparked that - I hope we've sorted it out before there are 7000 of us at Fulham next week.

Anyway, off to enjoy a glass with Mrs Peeps before the bells.

Happy New Year!

2012 - A Charlton Odyssey

I'd like to wish all visitors to this site a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Whatever economic gloom 2012 might bring, it's looking like we might all have something better to look forward to on Saturdays.

Charlton forever!

Thursday 29 December 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 23

The weekend is upon us and we reach the halfway stage of the season. Our game at Leyton Orient will be televised on Sky but that shouldn't stop over 2000+ Addicks fans crossing the water to see us push for our tenth away victory of the season. We had sold 1599 tickets for the game up until the office closed pre-Christmas but there will be pent-up demand when we start selling again tomorrow morning. Personally, I can't see why we haven't sold the lot but that will open another debate I don't want here.

A third successive win at the O's would put us on 54 points to start 2012 and a delicious looking home fixture on Monday. We could be within touching distance of the 60 point mark when we then go on to face the Sheffield clubs in successive weeks. I am getting ahead of myself, of course, because before that we have a bit of giant-killing business in front of 7000 buoyant Addicks in south-west London.

Anyhow, we must play the O's first and my head says we should expect a very close encounter and 1-1 draw is probably the smart bet. However, our away form has been scintillating and we play Leyton Orient on the back of a morale-sapping 3-0 reverse by MK Dons. The first goal could prove decisive if we get it and we might just be able to settle down and play some football in front of the Sky audience that will presumably include tens of thousands of bitter Sheffield Wednesday fans.

Having seen our lead cut to seven points by Sheffield United in the week, their match at home to Hartlepool will now have more resonance with Charlton fans but the ridiculously arrogant Sheffield Wednesday fans look like they might have more humble pie on the menu at Preston.

Huddersfield Town v Carlisle United
'Udders get the opportunity to claim second spot on Friday if they can collect all three points here. Might not be a slam dunk, but I expect them to win.
Prediction; 2-1

Tranmere Rovers v Bury
The other Friday match and Tranmere will be aiming to break their four match losing sequence. If they can't see Bury off here, they might well be staring at another elevation scrap that looked highly unlikely after ten games.
Prediction; 2-1

Colchester United v Exeter City
After their 6-1 home pasting by Stevenage, the odds on Exeter at 3-1 look like fantastic value. John Ward must be walking the tightrope and if his players don't perform again he could well fall off.
Prediction; 0-1

Preston North End v Sheffield Wednesday
This could be awkward fixture for Wednesday as they cross the Pennines. Shorn of the Orange Ego, Preston may just undergo a mini-revival under caretakers, David Unsworth and Graham Alexander. The main doubt in my mind is the presence of the Grim Reaper aka Peter Ridsdale lurking in the background.
Prediction; 2-2 

Scunthorpe United v Chesterfield
Basement scrap and I'll take the Iron to nick it.
Prediction; 2-0

Sheffield United v Hartlepool United
Neale Cooper's return to the managerial hot-seat at Hartlepool could be delicious timing for us Addicks fans. Pools won at Oldham on Monday and will be up for this one. They have been far better away from home this season and I'll go for an upset here. That might only be a draw but it would be an upset nonetheless.
Prediction; 1-1

Walsall v Rochdale
I'd rather sit cross-legged staring into the flame of a candle for an hour than suffer this one. It's a lower Fourth Division fixture this one isn't it?
Prediction; 2-0

Yeovil Town v AFC Bournemouth
The Cherries are a decent bet at 8/5 here and I gave it serious consideration as part of a treble but instead opted for Cardiff at Forest....
Prediction; 1-2

Brentford v MK Dons
The Bees get a chance here to re-establish their promotion bid and cut the eight point deficit between these sides. MK are the form side in the division but they might find Brentford too strong here to beat at home on New Years Eve.
Prediction; 1-1

Oldham Athletic v Notts County
Neither of these sides is currently firing on all cylinders and County have lost their last two. They might find this a struggle as the Latics seek to repair the damage of a home defeat by Hartlepool last time out.
Prediction; 2-1

Wycombe Wanderers v Stevenage
Stevenage are the Bookies favourites here and might look more attractive after their goal-fest at Colchester. However, it's a derby of sorts and Wycombe have a teenage scoring sensation on their hands in Fulham loanee Marcello Trotta. He could be the difference.
Prediction; 2-0

Leyton Orient v Charlton Athletic
As I have said, a 1-1 is probably the head-bet but I am going to be ruled by my heart again this week and go for a celebratory end to 2012. We have the ability to win comfortably here.
Predicton; 1-3

Wednesday 28 December 2011

The P Word

Forgive the quality of this but it's the best I can do with Blogger at the moment (unless anyone knows how to insert a file other than a photo?).

Anyway, I can't stop looking at the League One table and studying the stats. This season feels extra-special and I don't just mean in relation to the days since the Premiership. 

I have had a look at how we are measuring up against the four previous promotion seasons in the last 30 years and I think you will see that this is indeed looking like it may be extra-special. We are on target to smash our recent-history points total. Even allowing for a Sheffield Wednesday fans' predicted Charlton "blip" we should expect to surpass the 77 points that Lennie's boys managed in 85-86 and beat the 84 points from the comparable Division Three promotion campaign in 80-81. That would leave us looking to overhaul the 88 points and 91 point totals achieved in the Curbs promotion seasons of 97-98 and 99-00 respectively. 

Ours games lost column is looking pretty impressive. The  best we managed in those previous seasons was 9 lost in 99-00. With just the one against us so far, we stand every chance of finishing well inside that. If we can, the points total of 91 should be reached comfortably ahead of the final game of the season. 

We have already matched or bettered the number of away wins achieved in the 85-86 and 97-98 seasons and are only three behind the 12-best we managed in 99-00. By contrast, we need to pick up at home to get close to previous achievements but we have two home games in hand and 13 yet to play in all at the Valley. Those half-season tickets are looking like great value.

At the risk of tempting Danny Baker's "nothing can go wrong now" curse, chronic injury and/or irresistible transfer bids look like the only things that could de-rail us now. Hopefully, someone will have made the new owners aware of calamitous previous January sales e.g. Robert Lee and Scott Parker. Wright-Phillips' recent goal drought may have turned admiring eyes away and I am hoping Rhoys Wiggins' is still off the radar of the big boys. I suspect we are very unlikely to get silly big money offers for any of the others at the moment and that any interest from Championship or even lower Premier League clubs would be resisted. 

There is talk of strengthening in January too, with another striker being rumoured (Jeff Schlupp) and whilst it's great to be able to bring in fresh faces, we shouldn't forget the loan debacle of Pardew's first year back in the Championship where I think his ambition in bringing in four loanees ran away with him and upset the squad. 

So, if we can bring in one or two and hold onto what we have got, we should have enough to see it through until May when we can celebrate and prepare for a crack at the Championship. Oh to dream.

Monday 26 December 2011

Yeovil Town 2 v Charlton Athletic 3

A nail-biting afternoon for Addicks fans as we twice came from behind to win in dramatic late fashion with a cracking goal from Danny Green. Our players should take enormous credit for fighting back and for taking the game to our hosts in the final twenty minutes as we went for the winner. We extended our unbeaten run to eleven games and we are all set for Leyton Orient who were trounced three-nil at home by MK Dons today. It promises to be a fantastic end to 2011 as we look to increase our eight point lead at the top-of-the-table. Chris Powell, take-a-bow.

I switched to the Yeovil commentary before half-time and was able to follow the game far better listening to the local commentators. If BBC London commentators were a footballing side in our division they would be in the relegation zone. Fan pressure got Emma shifted for awhile and although we haven't had to suffer her so much of late, the Beeb have obviously decided to punish us with whoever else we get.

Obike opened the scoring after eight minutes with an overhead kick although it sounded like Hamer might have been at fault in the build-up. The Yeovil lead didn't last too long because Danny Hollands headed home at the far post from a Green corner.

We didn't seem to do enough first-half and could have few complaints when Huntingdon met a 50th minute corner to head home from close range to make it two-one. After that, however, we pulled our socks up and set about them. A free-kick was whistled home by Yann Kermorgant and the quality of it stunned the Somerset commentators. They were completely taken aback but full of praise. After that we moved into Yeovil's half and created a string of chances. Rene Gilmartin made two cracking saves from Morrison and Green , and Bradley Wright-Phillips skewed wide twice when put in on goal. It got desperate towards the finish and the ball was cleared off the line twice before Danny Green drove a shot home across the goal. Yeovil stormed back before the whistle but Hamer made a fine save and we stopped one on the line. It sounded like a fantastic game and one that the near 1000 Addicks in the crowd of just under 5000 will talk about for a long time to come.

The bonus was that the mighty Sheffield Wednesday conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 at Walsall, thereby extending our lead at the top and our breathing space. Huddersfield and MK Dons both won but it makes no difference as our side marches on. I am really looking forward to starting New Years Eve in East London and starting 2013 with more confidence and self-belief in my football team since the last century. Again, all those involved need a massive pat on the back. The best thing about all of this is that this squad looks so much better than the rest of the division that we might just take a run at the Championship next season if we can see it through and keep the best of the squad together.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Goodwill to all men?

Tis the morning after the Office Party. We still call it that but as most of us work from home, it should more accurately be called the Boss' Office Party as he's the only one with an office in Ivory Towers.

With a dozen or so direct reports making journeys from afar (Leicester, Brighton, Worthing, Romford etc) he selflessly chose a pub and restaurant close to London Bridge so that he was on his train line for Bexleyheath. No complaints here of course, although by the end he, predictably, insisted on a cab. The evening was pleasant enough but one of those where I got to know the colleague sitting opposite more than I have done in the last 18 months I have known him and it was also his last day before retirement. Indian restaurants hardly evoke the Christmas Spirit but the menu was unusual and the "Indian Shepherds Pie" was excellent.

So, thoughts this morning turn finally towards Christmas and, er, the things I have to get. I'm still working and have stuff to do but most everyone else has finished so I am not expecting to be hampered too much. It's a Christmas weekend of course, so we can "forget" about football until Monday and as that is an awkward and unpopular trip south-west, for the vast majority of us it will be a week yet until we see the action from Brisbane Road or the Barry Hearns Matchbox Stadium or whatever they call it now. I will be making the trip over the water but am short of takers at the moment to accompany me. I hope we fill our allocation for the viewing audience. Sky TV eh?

Whatever you are doing, season's greetings and best wishes (Promotion) for New Year. Special thanks to those of you who take the time to respond to my Bloggings. Talking to yourself for prolonged periods is unhealthy.

Monday 19 December 2011

News from the far north

I received an Elgin City programme from Davie Milne in beautiful Morayshire this morning. Elgin are enjoying a better-than-usual season in the Scottish Third Division. Bouyed by decent home form (five wins from six), they are holding their own in third place. 

They survive on gates usually counted in the hundreds and, as you can see from the programme, they have to print to cover two matches at a time.

Davie also points out that fellow Addick, Mike Whelan, also an Elgin City regular, now edits the programme. Mike relocated north a number of years ago is obviously well settled. Perhaps the Charlton influence accounts for the change in Elgin's form?

Sunday 18 December 2011

Charlton Athletic 1 v Oldham Athletic 1

Over a year ago I posted on a frustrating 1-1 draw with "Hold-em" and commented that it was the second successive season they had come to the Valley with the express intention of returning to Lancashire with a point. After a 0-0 towards the end of the season at their place, they have snatched another point from us. We can have few complaints. We didn't do enough and were too satisfied with having broken the deadlock.

The side was the same again; Hamer, Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison, Solly, Ephraim, Russell, Hollands, Green, Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant. Oldham enjoyed a decent first-half in spite of not having an effort on goal but we didn't create a whole lot more. Danny Green had a better game than not late and might have capped it with the opener when he burst clear of the back-line, closed in on goal but dragged his shot wide of the far post from 20 yards. Bradley Wright-Phillips also had a chance before the break but it was not his day and his first touch let him down throughout the match.

Paul Dickov's half-time talk was about how well they had done and that they just had to hang on for forty-five minutes for a point. Cisak began the time-wasting with every goal-kick and should have been booked after 50 minutes when he took a full minute to take one but the referred was struggling to keep up with the match so it was no surprise that he went unpunished. Every throw-in was delayed as one player left the ball for another and I feared a nil-nil. The breakthrough came on the hour. A delightful ball from Matt Taylor floated into the box and two red shirts were waiting on it. Darel Russell was first to it and he dinked it on beyond Cisak with a deft header. That should have been the starter but we simply didn't do enough after that to secure the game. Green had enjoyed a better than recent afternoon and his through ball on the break set BWP for number two but having out-paced the racing keeper, Bradley's touch let him down again and it went begging.

Oldham stuck to the plan and with the clock running down, began to probe down our right and throw men forward. We had a warning when they broke and played around Chris Solly and within a couple of minutes, they repeated the feat and found Morais in the box with our defence back-peddling and he picked his spot with a fine finish. It was more than the pathetic visiting support deserved and they reacted as if they had won the cup.

Yann Kermorgant deserves a mention for another whole-hearted performance which outshone Bradley Wright-Phillips. The midfield played well enough but didn't create and the back four were largely untroubled. Rhoys Wiggins is a joy to watch and I am amazed he is still playing League One football.

Disappointing that we couldn't really put them under pressure in the final minutes and the four minutes of added time were largely played out in our half. A 19,500 crowd left in frustration but it's a sign of the times that we have maintained our unbeaten record and consider this such a disappointment. Wednesday and Hudders shared the points and with MK Dons losing at home as I suggested they might to a Phil Brown-less Preston, it wasn't such a bad day. We need four points from the two away fixtures over Christmas to keep the ship on course and allow us to enjoy our day out in Fulham. 

Friday 16 December 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 21

Saturday's nearly here and having packed my work PC away and switched my phone off, it's time to concentrate on tomorrow. My mate Vic is back from Mexico City tomorrow and will be hot-foot to the Valley to feed his Addick Addiction. After dropping some special chilli sauces off at mine he will join us for a few pre-match pints as we eagerly anticipate another powerful home showing and three more promotion points that will move us onto the Bullseye. Assuming we don't trip up, there are some potential pitfalls awaiting the pretenders who covet our crown.

AFC Bournemouth v Sheffield United 
Pitfall number one; AFC Bournemouth are re-finding last season's form having finally got their act together and who better to see off than fifth-placed Sheffield United? I'm going to go with the Cherries to win only their third home game of the season.
Prediction; 2-1

Bury v Brentford
Can the Bees maintain their impressive away form at Bury? I reckon they can avoid defeat but more than three points may be hard to take pre-Christmas.
Prediction; 1-1

Carlisle United v Wycombe Wanderers
Carlisle are up to seventh and should see of feisty Wycombe who have goals in Ibe and Beavon but who have a defence like a sieve.
Prediction; 3-1

Charlton Athletic v Oldham Athletic
I was Über confident of three points last week and had to settle for a point. I am equally confident we will beat Oldham tomorrow. Home advantage and a desire to set-up for Christmas should be sufficient to see us home comfortably here in front of a 20,000 gate.
Prediction; 3-0

Chesterfield v Walsall 
Basement battle and the Spireites will be hoping to get a rare home win. Walsall will also see it as a chance for an equally rare away win. They looked capable last week at that end of the table and who better than rock-bottom Chesterfield?
Prediction; 0-2

Exeter City v Scunthorpe United
Can't see beyond the home team here. Long schlep down from Scunthorpe and this won't be one for the faint-hearted.
Prediction; 1-0

Hartlepool United v Colchester United
Hartlepool are going through a huge depression right now and one might be concerned for Jeff Stelling's well-being if it weren't for the fact the citizens of Hartlepool have seen it all before and most of it's normal. They have lost six successive home matches. it has to stop somewhere but I think a draw would be a step in the right direction.
Prediction; 1-1

Notts County v Leyton Orient
County are hard to beast at home and the O's are easy to beat away. Simple really.
Prediction; 3-1

Rochdale v Yeovil Town
Not one to threaten any attendance records here. Yeovil are resilient away should run close to a draw.
Prediction; 1-0

Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield Town
Pitfall number two and three! A no-lose situation for us. It's a Yorkie derby and I would love to see a blood n thunder affair. Several injuries, a wad of bookings and a red card or two would be perfect. I guess two points shared would be better than either side winning? A win could give Wednesday significant momentum.
Prediction; 2-2

Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers
Rovers are gradually finding their level and have sunk to 15th following their surprisingly good start to the season. They might find this hard going too.
Prediction; 2-0

MK Dons v Preston North End
This should be a straightforward home win. I see it's a late kick-off and one we can watch on Sky. However, Preston have something about them and freed from the burden of Phil Brown, they might just be itching to show what they are capable of again. Not sure where they are with injuries and it's a long-shot but one that's worth an outside bet.
Prediction; 1-2

Thursday 15 December 2011

Biggest away following since Old Trafford?

News that Fulham F A Cup ticket sales went through the 4000 mark yesterday with the first home game since they went on sale to come, suggests we might just sell our entire 7000 allocation. I am getting mine this morning if I get a chance en route to the City.

It has set me thinking about large Charlton followings away from home during the years. Invariably they have come in cup competitions and I immediately think of the Man U F A Cup 6th Round game in '94 when we took 10,500 up to the Theatre of Dreams. We lost 2-1 of course, a match I watched from my then home in Singapore. I believe we took c 6000 to Ashton Gate in the previous round.

Wembley aside in the Play Off Final, I remember the near 7000 we took to Palace the year they gave us the entire Arthur Waite in the Premier League and the circa 6000 at Ayresome Park in the latter rounds of the League Cup. London derbies saw some healthy Premier League followings but allocations were invariably limited to three or four thousand.

Could this be our largest away following in the capital? Did we take more to Arsenal in '69? There were plenty at the Battle of the Bridge in '88 but well shy of 7000.

Sunday 11 December 2011

More Walsall

Yesterday's report was flashed off on the train from the Bescot to Birmingham New Street, so I thought I would elaborate...

The country's second city really doesn't do itself justice. It's hard to find any redeeming factors (Balti?) about it. New Street is an undersized station for a city the size of Birmingham and it is a bit of a mess. I had a twenty minute wait for the Walsall train so thought I would venture out for a pint. I only got to the main road and confirmed what I already knew - it was a mistake. Half-baked shopping centres and beggars with Brummie accents. Back to the Shakespeare in the station then before the push and pull train to Walsall. The view out of the window is depressing although I guess the run into Euston station is hardly picturesque. Aston Villa slides past via two stations, Aston and Witton, and you know you have arrived by the Bescot when the railway line runs alongside the M6 by the RAC building. The "stadium" is on the other side of the motorway which is crossed via what looks like an poorly planned after-thought of an alleyway and car park.

The ground is someway from Walsall itself so there's not much else there. However, the Saddlers Club does at least provide a large working-mens type club with a members only bar and a larger one for visiting supporters which tells you as much as you need to know about Walsall Football Club. They survive on visiting fans as much as anything else. We had c 1100 fans there yesterday but the home areas looked like they held little more than two thousand. Surprised therefore to hear the gate announced at four and half thousand.

The view from the visiting end (and both sides) is marred by 19 posts but we got to see the action. We looked a class apart for most of the first-half and dominated proceedings despite finding the central back pairing hard to split. Danny Hollands and Darel Rusell anchored the midfield and we pushed on very effectively down the left although not so successfully on the right. Walsall broke pretty well but Morrison was everywhere and always appeared to have a couple of yards to play back or out as the situation demanded. Solly and Wiggins were as sure-footed as they have been and it looked only a matter of time before we broke the deadlock.

Kermorgant saw more of the ball than Wright-Phillips but was being well marshalled by Smith (the sponsor's man-of-the-match). With the break approaching, Walsall forced a corner and the inswinging ball fell into a melee of players. I think it was Taylor who tried to lash it clear only to see it spin back off a Charlton player and fall perfectly for John Macken to net from close range. We responded well and took the game straight back down to the other end and levelled before the break. Hogan Ephraim broke down the left flank and went on beyond the last man, He looked up and spotted Yann Kermorgant coming in at the far post albeit with Walsall defenders in attendance but Hogan's ball was raking and perfect as it cleared the keeper and fell onto the head of Kermorgant who out-jumped his markers and thumped home the header. Bradley Wright-Phillips had missed our best chance up until then we he burst onto a through ball but snatched at his shot early and drove it wide of the left-hand post.

After the break we came out strongly and, kicking towards the away-end, looked like we would win the game and celebrate in style. We were looking to play BWP in but Smith and Lancashire were very tight and were letting nothing past. Green was struggling to beat his man on the right and also looked like he was tiring. That enabled walsall to get a passage of the game where their neat short passing game played into into our half for fifteen minutes and they forced a number of corners but we rarely looked like conceding again. Hamer was forced into a good save when they did break through and Russell headed off the line when the parry from Hamer was fired goal-ward.

In the final five minutes we tried to suck the ball in. Wagstaff was on for Green and was running at the defence but was unable to create anything decisive. One of his runs from our half had forced a crude challenge from Sadler who was already on a yellow and got his marching orders. In the last minute we created a couple of corners, one of which looked like it struck a walsall arm as it was played in. There were strong appeals from the players in white (it's not easy to watch a game where the opposition play in Charlton's home colours) but the referred was adamant and I suspect he got it right. Ephraim always hit the woodwork but we had left it too late.

A point then on a the day when Huddersfield tripped up at home to Bournemouth and Wednesday and MK Dons both won away to close our lead. The current unbeaten run remains intact and I can see us getting to New Year unbeaten.

It was good to see some old faces yesterday. Al (the Copper), Peterborough Ray, George (Ray's Son), Nick (Southampton Addick) and his son as well as my old classmate Peter Roberts. I expect to see a lot more of them in 2012 as we push for promotion.


Saturday 10 December 2011

Walsall 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Good point at the end of the day but there will be some disappointment that we didn't take all three. We had the better of the first half with the lion share of possession and territory but they got the lead courtesy of a deflected clearance from a corner which fell for them, so going in level at the break was probably only fair.

In the second-half, Danny Hollands had a chance to put us in front but he headed at the on-rushing keeper when left or right would have done it. Walsall finished the game strongly although we had a good shout for a penalty at the death for a handball but the ball was travelling at speed and the ref may well have called it right.

Darel Russell had his best game yet and looked like the player he invariably has been against us. Hogan Ephraim had another good showing and he made our goal by picking out the hanging Kermorgant at the back post. Ephraim and Wiggins' inter-passing and movement was telepathic at times and it bodes well for the coming games. BWP had a quiet game but Smith and Lancashire were outstanding in central defence for the home team.

Danny Green had another ineffective away game and was the obvious first substitution, not that Scott Wagstaff had little more joy when he appeared.

As I say, a good point on a heavy pitch. I expect us to exercise some of our frustrations on Oldham next week.

Thursday 8 December 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 20

Walsall Football Club are now firmly in our sights as we seek to extend our winning sequence to nine successive matches. The Saddlers are currently 21st in the table and their home record is an unimpressive, 2-3-5. I can't see them holding us for long and we may well be looking at the Oldham game at the Valley next week before we finish on Saturday.

In many ways, the chasing pack will probably be aiming not to lose more ground on us this week. Here's who's got whom...

Brentford v Hartlepool United
Brentford remain on the fringes off the Play-Offs but. like visitors Hartlepool, it's due to their away form rather than their home showing. Hartlepool's disastrous run of six home defeats cost Mick Wadsworth his job in the week and back-roomer Micky Barron gets to drive the bus this week. That should be a green light for the Bees to record only their fourth home win of the campaign.
Prediction; 1-0

Colchester United v Bury
Bury have won as many games away from home as anyone else, save of course, the rip-roaring goal-scoring Addicks. So, I will take them for a draw at least here against an inconsistent and slowly worsening Colchester side.
Prediction; 1-1

Huddersfield Town v AFC Bournemouth
Looks like a home banker on paper but hold on a sec. Bournemouth have crept up to 16th and they have a 4-3-3 away record. No pressure here against Lee Clark's side who have to avoid a second successive league defeat following their defeat at the Valley. I'm going for a late Huddersfield rally to earn a point.
Prediction; 2-2

Leyton Orient v Exeter City
The O's haven't been much cop at Brisbane Road this season but the Grecians have been poor on the road. Pre-Christmas cheer in Leytonstone.
Prediction; 2-0

Oldham Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday
Four thousand Wednesdayites will descend on Oldham on Saturday as they attempt to maintain second-place. Their recent home form has been good and they may be good enough for a point.
Prediction; 1-1

Preston North End v Stevenage
PNE's 1-0 win at Hartlepool two weeks ago was their first success in ten matches. Phil Brown's boys are feeling the pressure and along come a Stevenage side who will grind it out and whose players are enjoying themselves. Could be another sticky day for the Perm-a-tan Brown.
Prediction; 1-1

Scunthorpe United v Carlisle United
The Iron go into this one on the back of three straight league defeats but Carlisle haven't particularly impressed me on their two recent Valley visits and I suspect Alan Knill's charges will win out here.
Prediction; 2-1

Sheffield United v Rochdale
Potential banana-skin here but the Blades should be well motivated with their neighbours up to second. Long struggle ahead for Dale.
Prediction; 3-0

Tranmere Rovers v MK Dons
MK Dons arrive on The Wirral in fine form having won their last four and scoring 15 goals in the process. The goals are coming from across the park, so they will all be keen to get on the sheet here.
Prediction; 1-3

Walsall v Charlton Athletic
I previewed this match earlier in the week and I am as confident as I can remember being about us winning away from home. I predict another well controlled 90 minutes and two well timed goals.
Prediction; 0-2

Wycombe Wanderers v Chesterfield
Come on Wycombe, this is your big chance! You may not have won in six league matches but Spireite fans haven't managed one in ten. They are rock bottom and their minds may be focused on a JPT Northern Final against the mighty Oldham. Fill your boots.
Prediction; 3-0

Yeovil Town v Notts County
Their 1-0 win at Hartlepool which cost Mick wads worth his job was only Yeovil's third win of the season. County aren't exactly firing on all cylinders but if Lee Hughes plays they probably have the match-winner.
Prediction; 0-1

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Chris and the Curse

Chris Powell will be named League One Manager of the Month for November. There is no way the powers that be can avoid handing him the award. Having been unfortunate to miss out three times already this season, Chris has overseen eight straight victories which has increased our lead at the top of the table, brought Huddersfield's unbeaten run to an end and battled our way through to the Third Round proper of the F.A.Cup.

The big question is, can our record breaking season include a defiant two fingers at the curse that accompanies the MOTM award? Walsall can be hard to beat at home and they are generally hard to shake-off-the-shoe but I am confident we can become the sixth team to beat them at the Bescot this season. They don't score many and we don't concede many so this should be a reasonable opportunity for another clean sheet, in which case a couple more Addick goals will do the job.

Another win would leave us the tantalising opportunity of making it ten-in-a-row in front of a bumper pre-Christmas Valley crowd swelled by the discounted offer on admission prices. After that only Yeovil and Leyton Orient stand between us and New Year. The O's game on New Years Eve could really see us cement a phenomenal first half to a season (max of 58 points!) which promises so much for 2012.

The funeral for Mark Pitts will take place at Eltham Crematorium (Falconwood) on Friday 30th December at 12.30.

Sunday 4 December 2011

It's Fulham away

The reward for making the third round of the F.A.Cup is a tie at Premier League Fulham. We can have few complaints at this. If you have to draw an away, then a London derby is great, especially against a top-flight club. It will be a good test for our current side and we can hope to go closer than the 3-0 at White Hart Lane last year. The draw may well be a good omen as we drew Fulham away during the 80-81 promotion season from Division 3 (League One) and beat them 2-1.

I have just booked my ticket to Walsall on Saturday. The opportunity to see a ninth consecutive Charlton victory is too good resist. Charlton Forever!

Saturday 3 December 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Carlisle United 0

As predicted, we strolled to our eighth successive win although it was a pretty drab affair until the last half hour. Chris Powell made a few more changes than I would have and I was a tad disappointed that those given their chance didn't really take it until later in the game.

John Sullivan was the most predictable change and Leon Cort came in for Matt Taylor in central defence. Solly, Morrison and Wiggins kept their places, so we were relatively stable at the back. The midfield saw Evina start on the left, Green on the right with Hollands and Pritchard in the middle. The attack was a weak-looking Hayes and Wagstaff.

There really wasn't much to report from the first half. Carlisle laboured away but couldn't make much impression against a Charlton side who refused to get out of second gear. The one notable exception was Michael Morrison who was a step ahead of everyone else, as usual, and who snuffed out what little threat Carlisle managed to present. Danny Hollands came closest to a goal but Collin saved at closed range.

The second-half picked up from we left off in the first and it was really only a case of who would score first. Carlisle kept trying to get forward and Sullivan had a couple of routine saves to make but they never really looked capable of scoring. Just after the hour we won a corner attacking the Covered End and when the ball traced it's way towards the back post, Morrsion met it ten yards out with a downward header than Collin could only parry and as the ball squirmed away from him, Morrsion was first to reach it as he continued his run and he lashed home from close range, very John Terry-like. After that we breathed easy and began to exert some control. Green rasped a shot into the side netting from twenty yards. Yann Kermorgant was a pleasant and unsuspected substitution and Bradley Wright-Phillips also came on. BWP should have scored the second when he burst through but his shot was blocked by Collin.

There was time for Jason Euell to get another cap and it was he who recorded the second. I will need to see it again but it looked like his first touch on the ball in was as poor as usual but it caught Collin flat-footed and trickled in at the foot of the post.

Morrison was man-of-the-match and I must mention Pritchard who came into the game strongly after we scored. His ability to kill a dropping ball is impressive and he switches play very quickly.

A disappointing gate of 7,400-odd and not much of an atmosphere but we have made it safely through to the third round which is a success at League One level. The draw is tomorrow afternoon following the Bristol Rovers v AFC Totton game and should be drawn c 2.40pm on ITV. I would love to draw the Geordies at home. That sort of draw would give us close to a full house and we could give them a good game.

Friday 2 December 2011

Win number eight?

Looking ahead to tomorrow's second round F A Cup tie with Carlisle, we appear to have lost sight of just how impressive our current run is. Seven straight wins and I am confident tomorrow will be the eighth as long as we don't field a seriously weakened side. It would be fantastic to be returning to the Valley on 17th December against Oldham going for ten-in-a-row having won at Walsall.

After another frantic working week, I have caught up today with the big South London derby story from last weekend. No, not the 15,000 crowd but the emergence of the Palace Utras! They have managed a You Tube post of themselves huddled together in a (presumably remote) pub before the Millwall game. They are all dressed in black and are leaping around Italian-mentalist style singing "South London is ours!" The singing is deliberately loud and it succeeded in attracting the police escort that saw them safely shepherded to their own ground. Hilarious.

The Laughable Newsshopper online also carries the email banter between these two heavyweights in terms of which of them is South London's biggest club and most passionate fans. The Millwall fans are on the wind-up of course, because they know their place in the scheme of things but the delussional Palace fans can't see it. After all, South London is theirs. So sure of themselves, I believe they are voting on changing their name, emblem or colours again as they look to break out of their Small Man Syndrome.

Just seen their Ultras bouncing up and down banging their drum on the Friday night game. Cringeworthy.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Mark Pitts RIP

Very sad to learn last night of the death of my-generation Addick, Mark Pitts who was the proverbial "larger-than-life" character. He was an old-school football hooligan (in the same way I was) and there are those who won't want to acknowledge his demise in relation to Charlton Athletic Football Club.

I have to speak of him as I found and I have nothing but the utmost respect for a man who had massive personal integrity and was prepared to stand up for himself and those he saw as his comrades. Mark was the "Leader" for my generation and was always ready to put himself on the line for other Charlton supporters and our reputation. He was no angel and I don't attempt to sanctify him here. However, make no mistake, he was a real football fan like the rest of us and loved Charlton Athletic.

I can tell plenty of stories about Mark but I will tell one that sums him up for me. We were at Derby County in a night match 25-ish years ago. We had a small turnout and by the time the coach fans made it back to the edge of the car park, we were 70 strong on two coaches. Very few "lads" among us but plenty of Derby Herbert's looking to attack us and no police. Mark was upfront and was first past the flashpoint and could have moved on (I think everyone else present would have). He didn't. He knew there were more vulnerable Charlton fans behind and he waited and encouraged some of us to do the same so we could all pass. We were well outnumbered and he was the focal point. We took the brief brunt of it but we all got away when I believe a more innocent Charlton fan(s) would have become a victim otherwise.

Mark was always there, never had any excuses and provided a much welcome diversion on many occasions for many of us. Sad day.