Tuesday 31 December 2013

Happy New Year Posters

Another year over and plenty to reflect on. Probably more than to look forward to. Noises last night that the deal with Duchatelet has come off the rails and we can probably guess what's gone on there if that's the case. We've taken a step backwards as a club and the next one we take will be important, so let's all hope it's in the right direction.

I would like to thank all of you who have taken time to comment on this blog during the year. Writing about the club helps me settle things in my own mind and it can be cathartic at times, but I would have given-up before now if I got no feedback. 

So thanks to all of you who have left a comment; Chicago Addick, Geoff, Tony P, Daggs, Wyn Grant, Pembury Addick, Tony R, Pete, Devlinpowell. the Exile, Bob Miller, Kings Hill Addick, Iain Ambler, Simon, Nick Gray, Joanathan Ackworth, Blucher, Marco, Kable1879, Phil, Iain, Simon, Cafca, Aitchy, BFD, DPN, JN and WattO.

Finally, great to learn that our very own Jason Morgan has been recognised for 20 years of industry-leading Community work in the New Years Honours list with an MBE. Just what these honours should be about, not just lauding millionaire sports personalities. Well done Jason, you are the toast of the club and all of it's supporters.

Happy New Year!

Monday 30 December 2013

Mud and Parrish

Sheffield Wednesday's stand-in manager, Stuart Gray, made a good point after seeing his side take one on the Valley quagmire. He said that if we had seen a minute's rain then the game would have been called off. That might be an exaggeration but the pitch wouldn't have withstood a twenty minute downpour. As it was there were obvious signs that Paddy Powell and his ground-staff had spent a lot of time trying to improve the drainage prior to the match - there were lines running back and forth scarring the pitch and there was less grass than ever.

I have been out with my dog in the pouring rain this morning and the forecast is for plenty more before Saturday. My bet at this point is that our F A Cup 3rd Round tie against Oxford United will be postponed to a night game.

Back to Sunday's disappointing draw and as I stood, pint in hand, outside the Rose of Denmark waiting on my step-brother's boy to be dropped off, I could hardly miss the yellow Ferrari that roared passed in the direction of Woolwich. I spotted the number plate "CEO 4 TAG" and guessed it was the previous CEO of Tag, Steve Parrish, co-owner of Crystal Palace. Bit of a coincidence seeing him headed our way on a match day and I was sure he wasn't returning a coat he bought in Woolwich's Covered Market prior to Christmas.

It has subsequently been confirmed that it was indeed Parrish and that he watched the match along with his manager, Tony Pulis. It's good to support local football (I am thinking of getting over the hill to Welling v Dartford on New Year's Day - 12.30) but I fear the visitors may have been on a scouting trip. I will hope it was to watch Connor Wickham but perhaps they were looking at Jordan Cousins and hoping to see Wiggins or Solly? If that's the case, then I feel slightly better about Solly having been rested and Wiggins getting the day off to be with his expectant Missus.

Raiding your local rivals for their best players is a good move when you have the money and they don't. You can pick up a bargain with minimal disruption and help build the case that you are a better and bigger club. Palace have a had a good record of getting value from the few players they have poached from us over the years (Ambrose and McCarthy more recently) but I really hope we don't lose anyone to them at this point in time as it could have catastrophic consequences given our fragile league standing. 

Sunday 29 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 1 v Sheffield Wednesday 1

Well, first thing's first, Roland Duchatelet wasn't introduced saviour-like on the pitch prior to the match today and it looks like negotiations concerning our sale are ongoing. If he was present today then he probably left as disappointed as the rest of us. 

The feel-good factor seemed to disappear with the team line-up. The best-choice back four was broken again after only a few matches together. Solly and Wiggins were out and raider Wilson was back at right back and Cedric Evina back down the flank at left bank. If that wasn't enough disruption, space was found to accommodate the returning Jackson in central midfield but why was Stephens put on the wing? Cammie Stewart retained the left wing and it was Church and Kermogant up front. It didn't work. 

It was a generally poor game in which we struggled to create goalscoring opportunities throughout. Wednesday showed more adventure, especially after the lurch Nuhiu came on to provide a towering partnership with Connor Wickham in the second-half. 

The first-half was pretty uneventful and I can't remember us making Kirkland save anything. He had to shepherd a deflected cross over the bar but that was it. Yann Kermorgant tried but too often he went down looking for free-kicks and Frederick Graham was having none of it. He made Kermorgant get up at one point and told him he wasn't going to conned. Simon Church was less involved than of late and seemed to prefer picking the ball up on the grassy flanks rather than plough a furrow in the sticking middle.

We saw little of Jackson first-half and I only really noticed him colliding with our players in the second. Wood and Morrison were kept busy clearing balls in and keeping tabs on Connor Wickham who was a handful. Evina and Wilson were tidy enough but presented very little across the half-way line and the link-up play was well short of what we managed against Brighton with Solly and Wiggins at the back.

After the break we managed to score within two minutes. Wilson took a throw-in deep in the Wednesday half and found Stephens unmarked and in space. Dale seized the ball and ran on into the box. There was still no challenge and it was only as he shaped to shoot that Wednesday player came flying in. Stephens anticipated it and side-stepped the slider which brought him squarer on goal and left him an easy finish one-on-one against Kirkland. 

Suddenly there was hope of a prolonged rally and a second goal but it didn't come and Wednesday began to press forward in search of an equaliser. They were winning corners and were first to most of the 50/50's. Atdhe Nuhiu was launched on 55 minutes and from then on we were defending our lead and it didn't last long. Nuhui won a header outside the box on their right and took two Charlton challengers out as he flicked on. The ball was picked up by an advancing Wednesday player and there was panic in our defence as we threw men at it and I think Alnwick parried one as well but it eventually quirked out to Wickham in the six yard box and he had a tap-in to level.

We survived a good penalty shout after that and as the pressure continued, Chris Powell decided it was time to hang on to the point. He may argue that more height was needed against Wickham and Nuhiu but bringing Dervite on for an outfield player is what he has done in the last two games to secure points and he did it again today on 73 minutes. I wasn't impressed but it might have got us something we may have lost otherwise. Green also came on at the same time for the ineffective Jackson and whilst he provided a welcome outlet, there wasn't much to aim at in front of him. With four minutes of added time, Wednesday flashed a ball through a crowded Charlton six yard area but no-one could get a touch on it. At the end we had a chance to win it on the break when the ball fell to Simon Church in space and Kirkland scrambling to cover his left-side. All that was needed was a firm shot on target but Church lashed at the shot and it cleared the bar. It would have been hard on Wednesday and we had already taken a point we barely deserved. 

CP will no doubt tell us we are unbeaten in three and he is looking for an unbroken run but this was an opportunity to pick up three points against one of the division's strugglers and we missed it. Ipswich on New Year's Day will be tough and then I expect most of our first-teamers to be rested for Oxford at the Valley in the F A Cup on Saturday along with the East Stand and whoever else won't be making an appearance because of our decision in recent seasons not to prioritise Cup matches.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Fresh takeover rumour but not yet on the OS

The Daily Mail Online is reporting that we have been taken over "on Friday night" by Belgian millionaire, Roland Duchatelet. Duchatelet is the 67 year old owner of Standard Liege who top the Belgian league. He is also the leader of Vivant, a Liberal political party in Belgium.

Hard to know what to think about this, especially as the price being touted is £14m. First question would be why did Josh Harris back out? Perhaps Jiminez has paid the price for gambling with a poor hand? Anyway, I will be happy if this is true as it should give us the security we need. My second thought is to wonder whether the manager and players were aware of this on Boxing Day and it reflected in their play, although I will quickly discount that on the basis that they are professionals and there would be no reason for them to have been aware any earlier than anyone else (Twitter also a huge risk at that stage in negotiations).

If you want to look for a negative, Duchatelet's tactics when taking over at Liege was to sell all the best players and start from scratch which provoked a very strong reaction from the fans. That's not to say he would do the same here and I am guessing he will need to be far more cautious not being as familiar with Championship football.

If it gets confirmed on the Official Site, then Sunday should be interesting. 

Thursday 26 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 3 v Brighton & Hove Albion 2

Sometimes, supporting Charlton is a bit like being a 28 handicapper at golf. Every now and again you par a hole and you realise that it is a simple game and convince yourself you have cracked it. Today was one of those memorable days.

Brighton and Hove Albion arrived as a form side with a healthy 3000 backing and from the off they looked like they were out for the win. They passed around us for 20 minutes before the impressive Ulloa broke the deadlock after collecting a ball on the edge of the box, moving it from right to left before shooting early and sending the ball back across the adjusting Ben Alnwick. It was a well taken strike and it looked like we were in for a long afternoon.

However, we had stood up well to Brighton's passing and there was a sense of quiet determination about the Addicks and some unexpected confidence. We stuck at it and ten minutes later we silenced the visiting hordes when Lawrie Wilson rattled in an equaliser after a fine break down the left and a centre from Cameron Stewart which Kermogant controlled before finding Wilson in space on his right. We went in even at the break but there was much more to come in the second-half from the Reds.

Brighton started the second-half without the impressive Bruno although Inigo Calderon is an able replacement. Charlton picked up where we left off and got at the visitors. Stephens and Cousins were doing much better against Andrews and Bridcutt and we were finding space for Stewart and Wilson. Kermogant and Church were lively upfront against Upson and El-Abd who were solid. It was going to take something special to take the lead and on 52 minutes we got it. A lightning fast raid down the left flank with Wiggins and Stewart combining saw Brighton stretched and the ball in find it's way, once again, to Wilson at the back post. This time he had an opponent within three feet and he was presented with a half-chance. Sensing the opportunity and, perhaps buoyed by the presence of watching family members (he saluted the Upper West on both occasions he scored), he rifled a shot home high into the top right-hand corner beating Brezovan by inches in the Brighton goal.

Two-one up and there was a swagger to our play. Suddenly everything was going right for us and we were sweeping forward from the left and the right. Wiggins and Solly were joining the attack and Brighton were in danger of being swept aside. It took us another 17 minutes to settle the result but it was worth the wait. A poorly conceded free-kick by a tiring and increasingly cynical Albion saw Yann  Kermorgant facing goal 25 yards out. Much was made by the wall but Yann moved the ball back a crucial yard or two before Brighton's line settled. Brezovan looked too far set to the left of his goal so it was hardly a surprise when a Kermorgant Special sizzled over the wall and beat him easily to his right. 

After than we should have managed a fourth but the erratic Mike Russell was attempting to get every single decision wrong and, ably supported by the Lino in the Brighton half, we were halted from getting a fourth that could even have lead to a fifth the way we were going.

As it was we had to suffer the customary late scare. Brighton hit both posts from one attack before substitute Augustien made a late equaliser for Ulloa. We saw out the added minutes relatively comfortably for a memorable Boxing Day win.

Ben Alnwick was again steadfast between the sticks and deserves to retain pole position on merit. The back four were again outstanding and were unfortunate to concede twice. Richard Wood was excellent once again and he enables Michael Morrison to venture forward as he likes to be able to do. Wiggins and Solly were superb and won the match by enabling Stewart and Wilson to attack with such freedom.

Stephens and Cousins did very well in a congested midfield, especially in the second-half when Brighton noticeably lost their grip. Simon Church ran the channels looking for the ball and he made a few fine runs with one notably deep cross on the gallop which was headed clear at the back post to prevent a flying Kermorgant from notching again. Referee Russell somehow managed to award a goal-kick from that particular effort and if I were Matt Upson I would have been keen to let him know I had headed out.

Once again Chris Powell needs special recognition today for managing to keep the squad focused and to get them up for this performance despite the off-the-field shenanigans and uncertainties for most of the players. The fickle minority should take heed.

Elsewhere, Millwall were hammered 4-0 at Watford in which may be Steve Lomas' last match in charge (although we hope not). Palace tarnished the perfect ending with another 1-0 win, this time at Useless Villa courtesy of a last minute winner. Having said that, it should be all about what we do and we have a chance on Sunday for a rare back-to-back double against stumbling Wednesday who find themselves four points adrift of us. A seven point margin going into New Year would be marvellous.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Bolton Wanderers 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

All the pre-match chat email with Mexico City Addick was whether or not he would get to see a goal on his annual return to the UK. He was to be disappointed but we took a precious point home from another  away performance that was better than we seem capable of dishing up at home.

We took the 9.40 from Euston which appeared to have more of Manchester United's international following on board than either West Ham or Charlton supporters. In fact I only saw four other Addicks and a couple of West Ham. Not much different on the return leg either, only more Asians and Africans (South) sporting fake replica kits. You'd think they would make the effort to get a real shirt if they can afford to to fly half-way around the world for their lifetime visit to the Theatre of Disappointment this season. Anyway, enough of Glory Boys, this was a day for the Old School Die-Hards.

We managed to talk our way through our routed change at Stockport but a platform switch at Manchester Piccadilly didn't delay our progress and we were walking through the unremarkable Bolton High Street by 12.20. We found the Blue Boar, an old man's pub (I know, I know), just off it and settled in for a mini session as we continued to catch-up on a year's news and reflected, inevitably, on the state of the country, the plight of our beloved Reds and what has happened to the ten others who we travelled with every other week in the 80's and 90's.

The landlord told us we were 15 minutes from the Reebok in a taxi and that he could whistle us one up at a moments notice. When push came to shove we waited outside the pub for 15 minutes before high-jacking one and missed kick-off. Predictably, the driver was obviously not familiar with the layout of the stadium and managed to drop us of at the opposite end of the impressive Reebok from Entrance E where the sub-300 visitors were huddled. As we scampered somewhere passed J, I heard the unmistakeable roar, muted admittedly, but unmistakable nonetheless, of a goal celebration and the muffledness told me one thing - we had scored and we had missed it!

As we made our way into the visiting section we looked for friendly faces and were quickly jeered but half-a-dozen smiling Addicks who recognised us and knew our predicament. Yann Kermorgant had turned and beaten the keeper. It was apparent that Wood and Solly were back in defence and we looked better for it (Wood was my man-of-the-match once again). Lawrie Wilson and Cameron Stewart had the wide places and it was two up front as Church and Kermy fought for chances. 

The match with lively with the ball moving quickly from one end to the other. Chris Eagles was impressive in the first half as Bolton strove for parity and he and Jay Spearing were giving us problems. Lawrie Wilson had a decent half-chance at the back stick but fired over. Alnwick made a fine reflex stop before half-time from a great Wanderers attack where Eagles charged in on our left and his pass was flicked goal ward between the legs of their striker. Alnwick can't have known much about it but moved to stop the effort and he managed to keep it out. 

Bolton weren't to be denied though and before the cup of tea, Aberdeen old boy, Kevin McNaughton was advanced enough to collect a pass of the edge of the box and he flicked home a pin-point shot which Alnwick could only watch nestle in the top corner. Even-Dale Stephens at the break then and I was expecting a second-half defeat. Bolton didn't do enough to deserve a winner and, honestly, neither did we. Chris Solly lashed a shot high and wide early into the second-period and Ben Alnwick made another decent save but the longer the match went on the more both sides seem comfortable with the point. Church was sacrificed for Evina with ten to go as Chris Powell sought to secure the point and Dervite came on for Stewart in the 90th minute just to be sure.

The Addick contingent dispersed in all directions at the final whistle as our Northern Division made their way home to their bigger houses and friendlier neighbours. Mick behind us was off to Preston (the result of a northern Stag Do ten years ago) and on the train back to Bolton station the Bury contingent and others were changing trains. As we walked back to the station we asked a "local" for directions and in broad Ecky Thump he informed us and said he was headed that way. As we walked up we asked him if he thought they deserved anymore, "thought the draw were fair" he said. So we asked who they had next and he replied "Brighton at home." "No, I mean who do you have on Boxing Day" I helpfully asked. At that point he unzipped his jacket to reveal a glistening red football shirt. As we chuckled, he explained that he was a Preston local born and bred and only ever watched us in the north when travel was affordable. I asked the inevitable question and he said "isn't it always the Father's fault." Victor from Preston, I salute you!

A fallen tree delayed the return journey in Staffordshire for an hour but that didn't remove the glow from a better than anticipated Charlton performance. Four points from the next two homes please Chris and maybe we can breathe easier in January.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 0 v Derby County 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Harris pulls out over the price

Worrying news this evening that the sale of the club to US billionaire, Joshua Harris, has fallen through. The South London Press, who have been fed the story so far, are confirming the deal is off - http://www.southlondonpress.co.uk/Sport.cfm?id=42216&headline=Sports%20mogul%20Harris%20pulls%20out%20of%20Charlton%20takeover%20talks

If it is simply a case of being unable to agree a price, you have to wonder why and how due diligence has been completed, unless the current owners have been playing brag with a nine-high and had their bluff called. Let's face it, they have form for driving a hard bargain and failing to sell (Dale Stephens). Perhaps they have another party to turn to but if you can't do a deal with an American billionaire, I struggle to see how you are going to get better from someone else.

Hardly a morale booster for the side ahead of Saturday and we risk missing the opportunity to strengthen in the January window. At least Mr Slater can claim the high ground and say he was right when he said there was no takeover under way when he spoke at a supporter's get together last week. Not sure he can claim the same legitimacy about "the five year plan." A relegation fight in year three and a return to Year One certainly wasn't part of the plan.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Slow week

It's only Tuesday but it feels like Thursday - slow week. 

No news on the saviour front as we recover from dropping two points on Saturday down in Somerset and brace ourselves for the arrival of the Championship's in-form side in Derby County. I'm a bit disillusioned with the Addicks at the moment and suspect it will be a case of a Huge High or Massive Low during the course of the next month or so when it should become clear if we are to get new owners who increase our prospects or do not and get further embroiled in a deadly relegation battle.

I am trying to be positive because of the undoubted interest of third parties and  the fact that we remain a relative catch. However, if it doesn't happen in time to take advantage of the January window, you have to assume any prospective buyers will bide their time and without urgent investment we will run relegation close. A return to League One would likely see us lose our best out-of-contract players and that could, literally, rip the spine out of the side. I also think we would start next season with a new manager in League One and risk the pain again of another managerial merry-go-round. Administration would also rear it's head again without new money and the prospect of starting next season with a points deduction.

As if to top the mood off, we have been drawn at home in the F A Cup to League Two, Oxford United. I don't suppose their fans are exactly shouting from the rooftops either but if they do a bit of research, they should see they have won a golden giant killing ticket in the raffle. By rights they should start favourites in a game that will probably feel nothing like an F A Cup tie. I am guessing it will be the lowest home F A Cup gate for decades and our club can have few complaints having firmly established a "League-First" approach to cup football in recent years. It could be the first F A Cup home match I don't bother with since I started going to homes matches regularly 40 years ago. Bah Humbug!

On a more positive front, I am completely hooked on crystal meth Breaking Bad. I took advantage of Netflix's free-for-a-month offer and have managed 20-odd hours in the last fortnight and will finish all 61 episodes before month-end at this rate. It really is compulsive viewing. The storyline is brilliantly conceived, the acting top notch and the filming superbly done. I just hope the Addicks manage a recovery before I've finished the series to lift the mood!

Sunday 8 December 2013

Yeovil Town 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

I did a treble of home wins yesterday before heading off to see Frozen in 3D with the kids (it is Christmas). I was home, however, in time to follow events at Huish Park as well as my two other homes, Ipswich and Leeds.

My bet was based on Leeds and Ipswich showing form and us not showing any. I have no compunction betting against us and use the old win-win scenario in terms of my bet or Charlton picking something up. At half-time I would have torn my ticket up but it was upstairs with my wallet. Watford and Charlton were two-up and Huddersfield were one-up at Ipswich. My bet was, in effect 5-0 down. 

During the course of the second-half, Leeds and Ipswich both rallied to recover the lead and we let Yeovil get back to 2-2. An unsatisfactory afternoon then, but at least Watford had the decency to level again with Leeds at the end so it wasn't just a poor draw for us which let my coupon down. 

From Charlton Life, 5-Live and Sky's Soccer Saturday, I managed to glean that we took the lead against the run of play and that Cameron Stewart enjoyed something of a field-day on his return to Yeovil where he was on loan last season. He scored the first and laid on the ball for Jackson's free far post header minutes later which gave us control of the match.

After the break Yeovil continued to come at us and two equally quick goals mid-way through the half saw the Glovers level. A deflected own-goal and a penalty make it look even more disappointing but they all count. Johnnie Jackson also managed a red card for a violent tackle and we had to hang on with ten men for ten minutes.

It's high-flying Derby up next at the Valley and it's obvious we are scrapping for points in a relegation dogfight. I have said it many times before but we have to be bolder and be prepared to gamble for three points. Keeping things very tight is much more likely to get us a point but that's not good enough at home and what sends sides down.

All quiet on the takeover front which has many suggesting any deal is once again off. Slater has also said there's nothing going on but I'm not buying that. I suspect he's trying to play things down after someone let the cat out of the bag deliberately which may have back-fired as a negotiating ploy. You have to think things will become clearer before New Year because any prospective new buyer would want to strengthen their sides chances in the transfer window, especially with us looking like flirting with relegation. If it doesn't get done by then they may decide that they can afford to wait another few months to ensure they are not buying a League One outfit.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Reading 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

A thoroughly predictable result away from home again. "Charlton 0" being the given and the score against being positive but by how many? One-nil tells you that we ran our socks off and made Reading work for 90 minutes. 

I didn't fancy this for obvious reasons and Rubbish Player couldn't tempt me to even try when the Palace v West Ham game was live on BT Sport. I managed to depress myself watching the Nigels win their third match of the season, again by a 1-0 margin. I had Sky on in the background so was taken to Reading periodically by a bored-stiff looking commentator who couldn't muster much enthusiasm for the game he was watching. We were shown the Simon Church no-penalty incident and I have to say my initial reaction was "no penalty." He was heading away from goal and the challenge looked honest to me, although I may need another viewing given the conviction of fellow Charlton Lifers. We appeared to have a better second half but by then we were chasing the game and Simon Church was unable to beat the keeper with his best chance having been played in one-on-one by Yann Kermorgant. 

Elsewhere it was Nightus Horriblus as those below us picked up points and the gap was narrowed. Yeovil's home win will have them fired-up for a repeat on Saturday which would see them clamber over us and leave us in relegation mire. One-nil to the Yeovil anyone?