Wednesday 26 December 2012

Charlton Athletic 1 v Ipswich Town 2

Heightened expectations come with the risk of heightened disappointment. Like a child who didn't get what they really wanted for Christmas, we limped away from the Valley this evening in a cold downpour which felt like Mother Nature herself was laughing at us.

For those of you who weren't there today, and that will be quite a few given the empty seats (there must have been 3000 less than the 18,380 gate and Ipswich only brought 1000), this was a thoroughly unacceptable performance by a side who don't look up for it at the moment. Three consecutive defeats and we are heaping the pressure on ourselves and, more importantly I suspect, Chris Powell.

Hard to say what's going wrong but today it wasn't player selection or the timing of substitutions. It was simply the underwhelming first-half and our complete failure to spark anything as a side. We started with what looked like an attacking formation and I wasn't displeased to see Stephens back in for Jackson or Kerkar dropped for Haynes. Hulse got the start with Fuller and I thought that would be enough firepower to see us take control of the match. Green also started although you could be forgiven for not noticing.

The back four were as at Sheffield, Seaborne, Morrison, Cort and Solly, which is our best choice (Wiggins when fit) but they didn't look settled and were given far too little protection from midfield. Solly was again below par and Lee Martin had something of a field day. Seaborne's distribution on the other side was poor. 

To the game then and we lost it in the first half. To their credit, Ipswich came at us and were prepared to commit men when they got forward. That was to secure them the points and they could have taken an earlier lead than they eventually did after Lee Martin won them a penalty. Seaborne cut out a cross-field ball but mishit it back across to Martin who cleaned-up quickly and cut inside Solly. He was then tripped by Frimpong inside the box. I must have been the only person in the stadium to think Frimpong touched the ball first but maybe not, the place was like a morgue and Frimpong looked to apologise to Martin after the spot-kick was awarded. DJ Campbell stepped up and knocked his shot wide of Hamer's right-hand post in front of the Covered End but he was to have his revenge. This should have provoked an immediate reaction in the Charlton side but it didn't.

The game moved on and Ipswich continued to come forward looking for a goal. On 34 minutes, Lee Martin again got down the Charlton right and managed to get a cross in that was overhit but rescued at the far side of the Charlton area by Darryl Murphy who drove it back into the box where it appeared to hit Campbell in plenty of space and rebound beyond Hamer. To be fair, it was probably a better goal from Campbell than I am giving him credit for. Still no change or response and the inevitable happened before half-time. This time, Darryl Murphy managed to get on the end of another Ipswich attack which we didn't cope with and beat Hamer with ease.

We started the second-half with two changes; Jackson came on for Frimpong and Pritchard replaced the anonymous Green. For fifteen minutes it looked like we might recover. We began to threaten from the right with Solly and Haynes getting good crosses in on the run but it wasn't falling for us in the midfield and we were squandering good chances by missing simple passes in advanced positions with men committed. Ricardo Fuller misplaced more than most and he was also guilty of being selfish on a couple of occasions when we had superior numbers and real openings.

Hulse worked his socks off but got nothing although we did finally manage a goal even if it did come from the spot after Chris Solly was taken down on 72 minutes by Lee Martin. Again, that should have sparked something but it didn't and the game was slowed by the inevitably slow Ipswich substitutions and we also lost several minutes when a corner flag was broken. Fuller then lay injured for a minute and took as long to vacate the field of play before the game restarted with Kermorgant eventually replacing him.

I was expecting six or seven minutes of added time but we got four. Even then we seemed to wait until the last 30 second to threaten with a routine corner at which all 11 of our players were in the box desperately hoping for an equaliser.

Perhaps it was my personal expectations but this felt like a defining defeat. If not, then I have to say that Saturday's game against Derby County could be if our players manage to deliver another unacceptable showing. The victory at Portman Road earlier in the season and the resurgence of November look well behind us. This was a poor result and a worse performance - something's got to change.


  1. The midfield is simply not connected to the defence or attack, and is too easily by-passed by the opposition. We are desperately missing an attacking left back (Seaborne is not), and any ability to get to the bye-line and put in good crosses.

    What is the answer for Saturday? I suspect we will see more shuffling of the pack, and maybe a switch back to Dervite in midfield? What we need is some confidence, but that is more difficult to find.


  2. Pedro - don't disagree. We knew we were short at the start of the season but we have played so much better than today. Valley form a particular concern. I was wondering about Dervite in midfield earlier this evening. Not much to lose the way things have been going. Danny Hollands and Scott Wagstaff are looking like they offered more than some of those left behind....


Go on, you know you want to....