Saturday 27 October 2018

Welling United 3 v Gloucester City 1

Welling United moved to the top of the Vanarama National League South this afternoon following a solid home win over a battling Gloucester City side. It was no more than the Wings have deserved so far this season with some impressive football and some fine goals. The three today were all quality goals which delighted the 600 there to see them.

On a dry, if chilly afternoon, Welling took an early lead after some fine wing play by man-of-the-match Nassim L'Ghoul. Fittingly for Halloween, L'Ghoul was at his best and his quick interchange on the half-way line with Coombes set him free to tear down the left wing and skipped past two covering Gloucester defenders before teeing up Coombes to deliver a cross which strike partner Matt Patterson pulled down at the back of the six yard area and knocked on for the swivelling Brendan Kiernan who volleyed home from close range. 

Coombes was unfortunate not to double the Wings lead after he made a lung-busting run to meet L'Ghouls' driven ball into the box after another careering run down the left. Coombe's touch was perfect and he fired the ball goanward from close range but the visitors keeper somehow kept the effort out.

Gloucester had their share of possession and Jack Parker on the left flank was particularly swift whenever he got the ball but they couldn't force the equaliser.

After the break and with Welling kicking down the slight slope towards the favoured Park View End, L'Ghoul sealed the result with a superbly taken free-kick from the right-hand edge of the box after Coombes had been felled. With all the big boys jostling for a far post header, L'Ghoul whipped a peach of a curling shot towards the back post but turned perfectly into the top-corner.

Welling weathered ten minutes of Gloucester pressure before another sweeping move which freed the lively Kiernan to steam out and down the left. He had an overlapping Red shirt and was closing on the ideal shooting distance when he looked up for Patterson. I swear I saw him smile as he saw the rangey striker cruising into the box on a diagonal run and he drilled a pass into Patterson's path which he steered first-time low and wide of the keep into the bottom corner. The pair of them were clearly delighted and it looked like a well-rehearsed move that had come off. 

Three-nil and with the clock counting down Welling made a couple of substitutions to rest players ahead of Tuesday's trip to St. Albans. The changes coincided with Parker nicking a consolation goal but Welling weren't to be denied and held on for an excellent result.

There is a good vibe around this side and they have responded well to manager Steve King. Mark Goldberg has supported the manager and is deservedly seeing the fruits. Long may it continue.

Meanwhile, up at Rochdale, the Addicks were spluttering to a dismal defeat following a defensive howler which let Dale in after only a few minutes. The first-half was poor and although things improved after the break, Bowyer was disappointed with the attitude and has questioned the players. Lyle Taylor missed a first-half penalty and the Addicks hit the woodwork twice but didn't deserve anything from an otherwise poor showing. The defeat sees them drop into the second-half of the table (13th) for the first-time this season and they face three more tricky fixtures; Doncaster at home next Saturday before tasting away games at Walsall and table-topping Portsmouth. We will have to hope that we can continue our habit of playing better against better sides, but it's gutting that we appear to marry that with playing poorly against the poorer ones.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

"Holmes had to go" - Karl Robinson

Karl Robinson returned to the scene of his last failed managerial position yesterday and his struggling Oxford United side managed to stick a spoke in the Charlton wheel with a second-half equaliser to deny the Addicks momentum from Saturday's impressive win over high-flying Barnsley.

However, a comment from the verbose Robinson responding to the home fans booing of Ricky Holmes was very telling. Holmes was sold nearly a year ago to Sheffield United for a purported million pounds at a time when he was our top scorer and was largely responsible for point-winning displays of the early part of last season which meant we avoided a relegation struggle at the finish. When Holmes left, he naturally embraced his new club, and that angered some Charlton fans on social media. At the time Holmes remained fairly tight-lipped but there was a comment from him at the time along the lines of "the truth will out."

What Robinson made clear last night was that Holmes was sold from under him by Roland Duchatelet and that Holmes himself had little say in the matter which qualifies Holmes' comment at the time. It was fairly apparent that selling Holmes was a book-balancing exercise in the same vein as Gomez, Lookman, Cousins, Gudmundsson, Pope and Konsa but it's still gratifying to have that confirmed and in those tones. 

It remains patently clear to me that, not only has Duchatelet left us deliberately short of a squad to challenge once again (Bauer's injury coincided with one point from nine after a promising run), but that he is very likely to be keeping an eye on who he can sell this January and an ear out for prospective buyers (of players). So the merry-go-round will begin once again.

Any smarter clubs should see us for the lame duck we are and know that there are bargains to be had given the owners lack of interest in the footballing side of things and his determination to cut his ongoing losses. 

Saturday 13 October 2018

Welling United 2 v Slough Town 1

Welling are up to second in the table, two points behind leaders Billericay courtesy of a hard-fought win over Slough Town. The sun was out and so were the shorts again today as the mercury touched an unbelievable 75F in mid-October. A decent 'non-league day' gate of 953 boosted by a credible 100 or so from Slough.

Spurred by the return of hit-man Adam Coombes, Welling took the lead after only two minutes as Coombes arrived to plant a firm Jack Jebb free-kick beyond Jack Turner in the visitors goal. For the next twenty minutes we waited for the second and had visions of a rout. A Jebb-inspired midfield had Slough working overtime. Nassim L'Ghoul was getting past his man and crossing at will and Slough were struggling to deal with it. It looked a matter of time but then Jebb went down after a nasty looking collision and he didn't get up again. As he was stretchered off, Slough broke with great pace and swift passing movement that was unfortunate not to see them back on level terms. 

Jebb's replacement, David Ijaha usually sits in front of the back four where he relies upon his size to provide cover and initiate some attacks. He is no midfield General by any stretch of the imagination and Welling were notably mooted from there on. They should still have gone in two-up at the break after chances from Kiernan and L'Ghoul were missed. 

After the break Slough were level within a minute with a well worked header and from there it was nip and tuck with the visitors having more possession and they could have been in front by the time Jordan Gibbons was brought down for the Wings after a marauding run into the box. Adam Coombes wasted no time spotting the ball and he had beaten Turner with his eyes before he prodded the ball low to the keeper's right. Welling had left it late so there wasn't really time for a Slough fightback. 

Let's hope Jebb's injury is not as serious as it looked. He is needed to lead the promotion push.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Quarterly report

With 12 games gone I am relieved to see the Addicks up in 9th position. My pre-season nerves were jangling at the prospect of Duchatelet not giving Bowyer the job on a permanent basis (if only nine months) and being told he could look for yet another manager.

Thankfully Duchatelet saw sense over that, although it probably was the least cost, easiest way forward. In terms of our prospects for the season, that only left concerns about the relative thinness of the squad and the lack of quality outside our first eleven. Inspired by goals from Lyle Taylor (7) and Karlan Grant (5), Bowyer's charges have made a fist of it so far winning five, drawing three and losing four. 

Our last three results have seen us grab a last gasp point at Luton and then fall to a heavy defat at Scunthorpe and an unfortunate reversal at the Valley against Coventry. The loss of 8 points from the last 9 has also seen us slide six places down the table and we will lose further ground this weekend when those around us are in action and we sit it out due to players on international duty. The plus side of that is that it will give us an extra week to improve injuries - the sword of Damocles that hangs over thin squads. 

Patrick Bauer's absence has coincided with the recent loss of defensive sure-footedness and Lewis Page's latest injury has seen Bowyer forced to play players out-of-position and wrong-footed. Bowyer will fight on and make the most of whatever hand he is dealt but the run-in to Christmas looks challenging, especially away from home where we face high-flying Portsmouth, Walsall and Barnsley in addition to easier looking games at Rochdale, Burton and-erm Coventry. We also have Barnsley to come at the Valley next and Doncaster two down the line but should expect to get points from Oxford United (Karl Robinson ha-ha-ha), Bristol Rovers and then Wimbledon and Gillingham, although the latter two have a habit of getting results against us the form-book suggests otherwise.

Injuries will continue to be key but I think we will do well to arrive at the January window better than 9th. That would probably be the signal for Duchatelet to feel confident enough to look to cash in on any players attracting the eye and offering a profit to help him offset the ongoing losses. If Bowyer is allowed any backfill, history tells us it will be a body-shopping exercise to help him continue to put a side out and that will not address the quality gap left by the departing player(s). God, it's so depressing supporting Charlton under Duchatelet.

Meanwhile, over Shooters Hill, Welling United are beginning to excel in National Vanarama South. After two early season defeats, the new-look Wings side has found some form and now gone nine unbeaten, including their latest F A Cup win away at Hereford United on Saturday. Inspired by Thierry Audel at the back and Dan Wilks in goal, the Wings have stopped shipping goals. Their midfield, lead by ex-Arsenal youngster Jack Jebb and the talented Brendan Kiernan are continuing to take games to the opposition and the goals are coming. The return of talisman Adam Coombes is a big boost and, despite a tough 4th qualifying round draw away at Woking, I fancy the Wings to make the First Round proper.

Whatever happens, it's been a bright start and it promises to be an exciting and rewarding league season for a change. Mark Goldberg deserves credit for the work he has continued to do in developing the club and particularly the bold decisions he has made over management and playing personnel. There has been a lot of change over the last two seasons but it bodes well. Welling are playing some excellent football and look a cut above most sides in their division.