Charlton 1 (Adjarevic 90) Barnsley 2 (M’Voto 32, Kennedy 63).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
This result, sickening though it was for Charlton, settles nothing. Its immediate effect can’t be accurately gauged until they square off with Bolton on Friday. It makes the unseemly scramble at the bottom of the Championship table even more messy but when the music stops on May 3rd, it still remains to be seen whether the Addicks are one of the three miserable victims left groping for a chair. As the plot unfolds, they must hold their nerve.
Grappling with the conumdrum of picking the right team for the right occasion, manager Jose Riga continues to shuffle his pack from game to game as the punishing schedule bites into his squad. On Tuesday, he paired Marvin Sordell and Jonathan Obika up front, rather more mysteriously named Callum Harriott as a right winger, then trusted to luck. But his luck was stone out.
Neither of them blessed with an adhesive touch, Sordell and Obika were handed a masterclass in centre forward play by streetwise Chris O’Grady. Asked to occupy Charlton’s defence on his own, the combative striker used all the nous accumulated during a peripatetic career. Expertly shielding the ball, intelligently bringing teammates into play and, most importantly, fighting tenaciously for his rights, O’Grady stood up to the usual borderline buffeting while giving as good as he got. Without mustering a single effort on target, he did his bit and then some. And, with 12 goals this season ( a total which matches Charlton’s entire strike force), he has already made a significant contribution in the scoring column. In this game, his unselfish work won’t have gone unnoticed by his grateful manager Danny Wilson.
Showing little mutual understanding, meanwhile, neither Sordell nor Obika made much impression. Not for the want of trying, it needs to be said, because they beavered away fruitlessly, as did every member of a team which hasn’t given up but suffers from a glaring lack of inspiration.
Trying as hard as any of them was Harriott, who endured a personal Gethsemane. Everything went wrong for the poor kid; passes were almost wilfully misplaced, possession was regularly conceded, decisions were invariably misjudged. Just shy of the half hour mark and shortly before Barnsley scored their first goal, Charlton’s best chance was put on the proverbial plate for him by Sordell’s delicately flighted cross from the left. Unmarked at the far post, Harriott sent his header not just wide but horribly, inexplicably wide.
What remained of his confidence promptly disappeared but his torture wasn’t over. With no reason to humiliate him, Riga was unquestionably right in resisting insensitive calls to replace Harriott before the interval but just as wrong, it seemed, in unnecessarily exposing him to ten more minutes of agony after the break. At which point, by the way, the long suffering home crowd distinguished itself by sending him on his way with admirable restraint rather than the dog’s abuse he would have faced at certain venues. Fair play to them.
Before Harriott’s miss, Charlton had looked more likely to score. In the early going, Jordan Cousins, again an example of heart and energy, shot narrowly wide before Johnnie Jackson’s expertly curled effort brought the crowd temporarily to its feet. Then the wind was taken out of The Valley’s sails by Barnsley’s shock opener against the run of play.
The Tykes’ first corner, forced by Tomasz Cwyka off Chris Solly, was swung in from the left by Dale Jennings and emphatically buried into the roof of the net by Jean-Yves M’Voto’s powerful header. It was a body blow from which the Addicks never fully recovered.
There was still hope, of course, and Diego Poyet opened the second period by shooting inches wide. Gifted a chance by Jack Hunt’s errant pass, Sordell chipped tamely off target but exactly as they had done in the first half, the visitors turned the tide by scoring again at the right time
Only Tom Kennedy will know whether the ball he drifted in from the left flank was intended as a shot or a cross; the critical certainty was that it beat Ben Hamer in flight on its way into the opposite corner. Charlton’s uphill fight was now a mountain they were unlikely to climb.
Down but not quite out, Riga played his last card ten minutes from the end, with Astrit Adjarevic replacing a weary Poyet. The big midfielder’s influence was immediate, not least because his feather touch gives him time to sort out his options. There’s almost mantra-like acceptance that he isn’t fully fit, which invites obvious questions which are a) why the hell ISN’T he fully fit? and b) how bloody long does it take a professional footballer to GET fully fit? Both queries might be answered in the close season after Ajdarevic has departed and Charlton are in League One. In the shorter and more urgent term, they need sorting out! Especially now that desperately unlucky Rhoys Wiggins is clearly through for the season.
The overdue substitute duly reduced the arrears in added time, too late in this game to make a difference but surely sufficient to secure him a start on Friday at Harriott’s expense. If there’s a plate, Ajdarevic (and, to be fair, one or two others) needs to step up to it and do his share after being reminded that football games last 90 minutes. Delightful little cameos are not enough. This is a relegation dog-fight, not a lunchtime five-a-side kickaround. So get out the way if you can’t lend a hand ‘cos the times they are a’changin And unless everyone gets stuck in, so is Charlton’s future in the Championship.
Charlton: Hamer, Solly (Wilson 71), Dervite, Wood, Wiggins, Harriott (Ghoochannejhad 55), Cousins, Poyet ( Adjarevic 80), Jackson, Sordell, Obika. Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Hughes, Morrison, Fox. Booked: Cousins, Adjarevic.
Barnsley, Steele, Etuhu (Hunt 46, Mellis 63), M’Voto, McLaughlin, Cranie, Jennings, Cwyka, Lawrence, Kennedy, Dawson, O’Grady. Not used: Turner, Hassell, Proschwitz, Woods, McCourt. Booked: Cranie, Dawson.
Referee: Iain Williamson Att: 16,230 (965 visiting).
Brighton 3 (Lingard 11, Ulloa 43, Forster-Caskey 90) Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from the Amex Stadium.
Comfortably beaten at Brighton by the now routine 3-0 margin, Charlton were spared lasting damage to their survival hopes by generally favourable results elsewhere. This fixture had probably inspired hope among the other relegation-haunted wretches that progress could be made at the Addicks’ expense but, by and large, they blew their opportunity. There is a limit, of course, to such co-operation and Charlton must stand on their own feet when fellow sufferers Barnsley visit The Valley on Tuesday evening.
Charlton, as expected, stepped out of their class on the South Coast and it was hard to escape the impression that Jose Riga accepted as much. There was never any prospect of even a point as the visitors went through the motions, with damage limitation their sole motivation. As far as Brighton were concerned, this was a “gimme”; they might even have gone easy on their victims, such was their effortless superiority.
Once slick Albion took an 11th minute lead, any interest in this humdrum game as a serious contest disappeared. The goal itself opened a can of coaching worms.
Sensibly or perhaps otherwise, the new regime has encouraged their defence to pass their way from back to front. Less of the hoofball, more tika-taka is apparently the new mantra. Obedient to the doctrine, Ben Hamer duly played the ball along the ground to Michael Morrison, a reluctant recipient who wasted little time in returning it to him. Undeterred, Hamer next tried Diego Poyet, ominously shadowed by Kazenga Lua Lua in a central position outside the penalty area. Normally tenacious in possession, Poyet was pickpocketed by Lua Lua, stumbled as he sought to recover and was left helpless as Jesse Lingard picked up the pieces before depositing them efficiently inside the right post. A lusty boot upfield at some point might have been a better idea but that could just be the philistine in this correspondent.
Secure in their superiority, the Seagulls showed little desire to crush their victims. Lua Lua broke clear but was smothered by Hamer’s brave save at his feet but, as their early grip relaxed, so the Addicks improved. Three minutes before the break, their solitary moment of menace went unrewarded and was promptly punished.
Overshadowed recently by his Academy honcho Poyet, Jordan Cousins has done more than his bit during the unremitting schedule of relegation battles. At the attractive Amex Stadium, he fought bravely while, it hurts to say, certain teammates bottled tackles, skirted the issue and otherwise dodged the column. It wouldn’t do to mention names but 1,869 witnesses might suggest you look for the offenders up front.
They didn’t include Cousins, needless to say, because what you see is what you get from this kid and you’d have to be blind not to notice his commitment and courage. His brilliantly sinuous solo run left a train of breathless pursuers in its wake before being capped by an accurate short pass to Reza Ghoochannejhad. Potshooting instinctively, the slim Iranian’s effort looped off Bruno Saltor, beat Casper Ankengren in flight but rebounded off the crossbar. It was an unlucky break which brought prompt retribution at the other end.
Leading an immediate riposte, Lua Lua again did the damage, his crisp pass allowing Leonardo Ulloa to turn, in a debatably offside position, then dispatch a rising drive into the top right corner. The flag stayed down, the goal stood, the Football League Show couldn’t comment because its head was deeply buried in sand at the time.
With goal difference still an important priority for the outplayed Londoners, a long second half stretched out before them. Their resistance was boosted by the surprise 65th minute return of talismanic right back Chris Solly in place of the ineffectual Reza.
Solly was his usual immaculate self and surely nailed down a starting place against Barnsley. Tackling, covering, passing with his customary verve, he’s the exception to the rule that match fitness takes an age to acquire. He simply took up where he’d left off on New Years Day, which makes it an unpleasant duty to report that his error contributed to Brighton’s irritating added time goal, which meant nothing to the result but could be important later on. His defensive header was powerful enough but landed at the feet of subsitute Jake Forster-Caskey, whose firm drive deflected off – who else but the snakebit Solly – to leave a wrongfooted Hamer helpless. Error, schmerror, it’s great to have him back. It’s a timely tonic which could have a profound impact on Charlton’s chances. I feel better already!
Brighton: Ankergren, Saltor, Greer, Upson, Ward, Lingard (Rodriguez 90), Andrews, Stephens, March (Calderon 89), Lua Lua (Forster-Caskey 64), Ulloa. Not used: Brezovan, Dunk, Mackail-Smith, Lopez. Booked: Lua Lua, March.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Solly 65), Cousins, Poyet, Ajdarevic (Harriott 46), Jackson (Church 81), Sordell. Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Wood, Pigott, Fox.
Referee: Roger East. Att: 28,770 (1,869 visiting).
Charlton 3 (Ajdarevic 9, Dervite 48, Sordell 51)Yeovil Town 2 (Grant 11, Moore 74).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
This riproaring game, riddled with errors but packed with incident, ended well for Charlton, not so well for Yeovil, whose narrow defeat damaged their chances of Championship survival.
In a reversal of current form, the Addicks clicked up front but, for once, sagged at the back. Scoring more than once for the first time since Boxing Day was hugely encouraging; on the other hand, the concession of two chaotic goals by a normally reliable defence caused palpitations throughout an edgy Valley. The twenty-odd minutes following Town’s second goal were a sadistic form of torture, though the visitors never came close to equalising.
The loss of Lawrie Wilson, victim of a cheekbone fracture on Saturday, provided Jose Riga with a selection dilemma. His use of Michael Morrison as an emergency right back looked fine in theory but sent a ripple of doubt through a revamped back four. Morrison is a redoubtable centre back, a more reluctant right back. Neither he nor Riga will be sorry that Wilson is expected to return at Brighton, sporting one of those Phantom of the Opera masks so very au fait these days.
Reservations about Morrison’s vulnerability were temporarily shelved when Astrit Ajdarevic shot Charlton into an early lead. His first goal for the club was all his own doing as he picked up a loose ball inside the vistors’ half, made space for his favoured left foot with an artfully dropped shoulder, then cracked a low, true drive inside the left post. The big bloke has skill to burn, as demonstrated by an arrogant second half trick on the left touchline, which was indulged by management because Charlton were two up at the time. It wouldn’t have been encouraged a bit later.
Less than two minutes after Adjarevic’s opener, the visitors drew level in scruffy circumstances. They attacked down the left through Liam Davis and as the ball broke luckily to Joel Grant, the wide man beat a wrongfooted Ben Hamer with a wickedly deflected shot. Shortly afterwards, an unmarked James Hayter should have put them ahead but drove lamely at Hamer from 10 yards.
Most of a busy first half belonged to the Glovers but it was Charlton who matched Hayter’s profligacy before the break. A marvellous run and byline cross by Rhoys Wiggins picked out Ajdarevic near the penalty spot. His clever dummy made room for Reza Ghoochannejhad to emulate Hayter by scuffing tamely at Chris Dunn from close range.
The end-to-end exchanges careered along with Hamer saving at full length from Joe Rolls and Tom Lawrence scaping the bar from the resultant corner. Back bounced the Addicks with Diego Poyet’s superb pass sending Marvin Sordell clear to bring Dunn plunging to his left to save. A rock-’n-roll first half ended with Richard Wood heading Johnnie Jackson’s cross off Dunn’s right hand and Shane Duffy completing the clearance from under the bar.
Within six minutes of resumption, Charlton surprised nobody more than themselves by scoring twice to seize the initiative. Ever ready to attack, Wiggins forced a left wing corner off Luke Ayling, Jackson swung the flagkick outwards and Dorian Dervite’s bullet header finished the job. Riding the momentum, the Addicks struck again almost immediately; Poyet’s fine overhead pass freed Reza near the right byline, the Iranian’s low cross was pushed out by Dunn and Sordell couldn’t – and didn’t – miss from the six-yard line.
This kid Poyet. What remains to be said about him? Celebrating his 19th birthday in style, the boy-man was some kind of midfield hybrid, a mixture of snarling mongrel and polished pedigree without an apparent weakness in his repertoire (well, maybe a useful goal from time to time). His influence during this desperate relegation has been profound while, at his elbow, Jordan Cousins has been equally impressive. In the hands of such babes rests Charlton’s Championship future.
Charlton being unreliably Charlton, of course, there was to be no comfortable cruise to the line. With a quarter hour remaining, a Keystone Kops mix-up involving Wood and Hamer left substitute Kieffer Moore the formality of reducing the deficit in front of a gaping net. An incorrectly awarded throw-in had started the move but Riga made no big deal about it.
Nor did affable Town boss Gary Johnson make anything of a storm-in-a-teacup incident involving a hygiene-conscious ball boy (you just can’t help some people) and a steward who “confused” a throw-in with a goalkick but was clearly dedicated to getting it right. Both managers were grilled tenaciously about the “turning point” by a reporter, possibly from the Yeovil Bugle. Blimey, the bloke birddogged it. Mind you, I knew how he felt.
The last word belongs to a third manager who took large liberties last night in the far north. Actually I think I’ll have the last word on his behalf instead Cheers for that, Uwe Rosler. But even more sincere cheers for Arsenal in your semi-final on Saturday. C’mon you Gooners!
Knock ‘em for six!
Charlton: Hamer, Morrison, Dervite, Wood, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Harriott 79), Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Adjarevic (Obika 75), Sordell (Cort 89). Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Hughes, Pigott, Fox.
Yeovil: Dunn, Ayling, McAllister, Edwards, Duffy, Webster, Lawrence, Hayter, Davis, Ralls (Palazuelos 80), Grant (Moore 62). Not used: Stech, Dawson, Hoskins, Lanzoni, Nana Twumasi. Booked: Webster, Ralls, Palazuelos.
Referee: G. Scott. Att: 15,430 (657 visiting).
Charlton 0 Reading 1 (Williams 73).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Goalscoring. Football’s endgame. In Charlton’s case, everyone talks about it, the same way Mark Twain moaned about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. In fact there’s been endless talk about goalscoring at The Valley, none of which ever amounts to anything. What you see is what you get and you don’t get much these days.
In scrupulously distributing a meagre total of 27 goals throughout 38 games, Charlton have, in fairness, been a model of thrift. Their admirable defence has seen to it that each goal has been used to its maximum. Six 1-0 victories have kept the flame alive; this seventh 1-0 reverse reduced it to a mere flicker. But their heads- and the flame – are still above water.
The Addicks were far from outplayed by Reading. During a low-key first half, they actually held a slight edge over the promotion hopefuls, played some neat stuff and reached the interval in reasonable shape. The uncomfortable truth that they hadn’t threatened the visitors was offset by the knowledge that the Royals hadn’t sparkled up front either. A goalless draw- not the most disastrous of results – seemed attainable.
The 21st minute chance created by Lawrie Wilson for Jordan Cousins highlighted Charlton’s chronic weakness near the opposition’s goal. Played into shooting range by Wilson, the long-limbed youngster lacked conviction, his feeble effort hardly troubling Alex McCarthy. Reading’s contributions before the interval included a crisp free kick from setpiece expert Danny Guthrie expertly pouched by Ben Hamer and Chris Gunter’s dangerous waist-high cross, which a full-length Hamer touched away from Adam LeFondre’s head.
As expected of promotion candidates, the Royals stepped it up after the break. Their chances arrived more frequently, the first two of them sliced horribly wide by Danny Williams, a third driven carelessly off target by Le Fondre. Rhoys Wiggins replied for the Addicks with a low drive testing McCarthy’s reactions. On the hour, though, Reading came closest so far to snatching what was clearly to be the game’s only goal.
Among a posse of defenders tracking the menacing run of Royston Drenthe, an excitable Callum Harriott lent his colleagues an unwanted hand by tripping the flying Dutchman from behind. Harriott was booked and setpiece expert Guthrie almost doubled his punishment with a wickedly swerving free kick from 30 yards. Plunging sideways while almost colliding with the woodwork, Hamer bravely manhandled the ball over the bar.
With no threat from Charlton’s marshmallow attack, in which Simon Church fluttered aimlessly, Reading were by now inching on top. The debatable 66th minute replacement of Johnnie Jackson by recent loanee Davide Petrucci cast the fatal die.
With games arriving thick and fast, the sensible deployment of his thinning resources by Jose Riga has been impressive. His introduction of Petrucci, however, was open to considerable question. Exactly what an obviously off-pace newcomer brought with him in relieving a possibly tiring skipper is difficult to identify. But his impact was immediate.
Confronting Guthrie in a 50-50 challenge after turning down an invitation to shoot, tentative Petrucci predictably came out second best to the more truculent Reading midfielder, a lapse he compounded with a languid pursuit of the his departing opponent. Easily shaking off his powderpuff adversary, Guthrie was free to pick the perfect pass to Williams on his right as Le Fondre ran intelligently off the ball to his left. Sidestepping Wiggins, the elaborately-coiffed American drove the matchwinner emphatically into the top left corner.
With nearly twenty minutes left, more of those bloody statistics entered the equation. Since the estimable Jackson’s added time strike earned his side a 1-1 draw at Ipswich on New Years Day, Charlton haven’t managed an equaliser in 14 games. You have to go back six more days to the 3-2 Boxing Day victory over Brighton to find a game in which they’ve scored more than once. Which meant that this result was already done and dusted since it was safe to assume that neither of those depressing statistics was about to be demolished. Don’t talk to me about goalscoring. Try the weather instead.
Anyway, it’s a long way from over. Charlton must regroup and come at Yeovil Town on Tuesday night with renewed hope. Their relegation rivals, including Yeovil, had it their way on a sickening Saturday but that’s how it goes. So Jose, find places for Jonathan Obika and Reza (for Church and Harriott), and, without making him a scapegoat, leave Petrucci on the bench until he begins to appreciate that in a relegation battle, you fight for your rights and dispute every inch, every ounce. Over and out.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Harriott, Cousins (Obika 80), Poyet, Jackson (Petrucci 66), Adjarevic (Ghoochannejhad 58), Church. Not used: Phillips, Sordell, Wood, Fox. Book: Morrison, Wiggins.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McAnuff, Guthrie, Williams, Drenthe (McCleary 64), Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu 76), Pobrebnyak. Not used: Federici, Kelly, Morrison, Bridge, Blackman.
Referee: Andy Madley. Att: 15,800 (1,794 visiting).
Leeds United 0 Charlton 1 (Ghoochannejhad 54).
Kevin Nolan reports from Elland Road.
Charlton really are warming to the 1-0 scoreline. Twelve of their league games this season have been decided by this narrowest of margins. After losing six of the first eight, they have balanced the books by winning their last four. That’s responsible accounting.
As this eventful game moved into the second of five added minutes, their 1-0 prospects seemed doomed to bitter disappointment. Having led the fight to hang on to Reza Ghoochannejhad’s wonderful strike, Diego Poyet had given way to youthful enthusiasm, stuck his foot in where it didn’t belong during a desperate melee and conceded a last gasp penalty by tripping Aidan White. His yellow card was inevitable. So was the spotkick from which Leeds sharpshooter Ross McCormack sought to level the score.
A reasonable candidate for Championship player of the year, McCormack destroyed the Addicks at The Valley last November with all four goals in United’s 4-2 victory, the second of them a penalty tucked confidently past Ben Hamer. Once again the same two protagonists faced each other, with the outcome expected to be identical. Except that Hamer had done his homework. Making himself busy on his line, he feinted to his left, guessed McCormack’s intended target and saved his firmly struck shot down low at his right hand post. The spontaneous celebrations among his teammates suggested they recognised a season-defining moment when they saw one.
Hamer and the estimable McCormack had already confronted each other mano-a-mano early in the second half. A restless bundle of energy, Leeds’ skipper eluded Poyet as the youngster slipped before turning to detonate a fiercely rising drive. Achieving a last inch of extension as he dived, Hamer’s faint touch turned the rocket against the underside of his bar. His luck was in as Lawrie Wilson whacked the rebound off the goalline.
As if encouraged by the close shave, the Addicks wasted little time in exploiting the situation. And it shouldn’t escape notice that two of their controversial loan signings combined to cut the scoring mustard.
Sadly missed during the routine defeat at Derby, Astrit Ajdarevic had recovered from ‘flu to lend a creative spark in midfield. His lancing pass through the inside right channel picked out Reza running intelligently in anticipation of the delivery. Controlling expertly, the slim Iranian cut back inside Jason Pearce on to his favoured left foot and bent a beautifully weighted shot across a startled Jack Butland into the far corner. As has been noted here on more than one occasion, the kid has undoubted ability and a goal in him. This one might open a small floodgate; it was certainly overdue. It might be wise for us to cut him some slack for his dubious commitment to the physical side of things because you don’t score goals of this quality without having something special about you. On you go, Reza. Sorry for beginning to doubt you.
It might appear that this report spotlights deficiencies in Poyet’s performance. No offence intended. The 18-year old prodigy, watched by his no doubt critical father Gus, again contributed mightily to Charlton’s stirring triumph. His tackling and distribution were flawless and once he learns to get stuck in (I’m joking, I’m joking!) he’ll be some player. At his shoulder, fellow Academy hotshot Jordan Cousins was no less effective. Shame he was unable to convert a last minute chance on the breakaway. As already mentioned, Ajdarevic added guile in the centre of midfield while Johnnie Jackson lent his know-how to a still inexperienced midfield. It might be time for his ageist critics to give it a rest.
Charlton’s back four were, as usual, sound as a pound. The two flying Ws, Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins, put the miles in up and down their respective flanks, centre backs Michael Morrison and Dorian Dervite kept McCormack and his towering strike partner Matt Smith relatively quiet. Behind it all, Hamer racked up yet another clean sheet and made nonsense of Yohann Thuram’s reported strop about selection. Which brings us to young Joe Pigott, who toiled manfully up against ruthless centre backs Tom Lees and Pearce, neither of them above the judiciously applied cheapshot in innocuous areas. Joe stuck it out, did his best but was wisely replaced by Jonathan Obika early in the second period. More will be heard from yet another product of Charlton’s excellent academy.
Six points from their latest perambulations through the heartland of England represents a more than healthy return from three tricky games. It was handy that Nottingham Forest and Leed United were encountered while both clubs were busy tearing themselves apart (hope Forest have pulled themselves together by the weekend, by the way) but there you go, you can only beat what’s in front of you. And that’s Reading at The Valley on Saturday. Won’t be easy. They never are at the sharp end of the season. But we mustn’t weaken now. We owe that much to Ben Hamer and his indomitable mates. We’re in this together.
Leeds: Butland, Wootton (Poleon 70), Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Byram, Tonge, Mowatt, White, Smith (Hunt 46), McCormack. Not used: Cairns, Murphy, Pugh, Brown, Stewart. Booked: Pearce, Tonge, Wootton, Mowatt.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Petrucci 84), Adjarevic,Poyet, Cousins, Jackson, Pigott (Obika 53). Booked: Poyet.
Referee: Scott Duncan Att: 17,343 (271 tourists).
Derby County 3 (Russell 18, Bamford 38, Martin 84) Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from the Quid Pro Quo Stadium.
Before this tortuous Championship campaign limps over the line and sorts out the winners from the losers on May 3rd, you can confidently expect the unexpected from time to time. Stand by for the usual coupon-busting results which, on paper at least, belong to fantasy. Charlton’s relegation rivals have already come up with one or two upsets, notable among them Millwall’s victory at this colourfully named venue earlier this month. Fat chance there was of their South London neighbours repeating the dose.
Fresh from their own mildly surprising midweek win at Nottingham Forest, Charlton seemed at pains to dispel any suggestion that Derby were in for another shock. From kick-off, they were nervous, pliant and flat, with a game plan apparently dedicated to the proposition that County should be supplied possession as often as possible without arousing suspicion that the fix was in. Their number of careless turnovers during the opening 10 minutes was staggering, the only surprise being that it took the Rams eighteen one-sided minutes to appreciate their visitors’ co-operation and open the scoring.
It wasn’t as if the Midlanders needed undue encouragement. Though lacking the quality of Leicester and Burnley, also 3-0 conquerors over the Addicks this season (Burnley turning the trick twice), they were far too good for their hopelessly disorganised victims. They could even allow them the game’s first genuine chance, from which Marvin Sordell’s improvised snapshot forced a smart save from Lee Grant, before pulling themselves themselves together to take the lead.
Inevitably a defensive error, in this instance Rhoys Wiggins’ disastrously misdirected header, was Charlton’s undoing. Pouncing on the gift, George Thorne fed Johnny Russell, who turned sharply inside the penalty area to beat Ben Hamer with a firm drive into the bottom left corner. Scorers of no more than one goal in any of eleven games since beating Brighton 3-2 on Boxing Day, Charlton were already heading downhill. A poor record of coming up with equalisers, the last of which salvaged a 1-1 draw at Ipswich on New Years Day, accelerated their slide.
Hamer’s fine save from Thorne stemmed the tide and Grant replied in kind to stop Johnnie Jackson’s crisp reply. But more disastrous defending before the break settled the issue.
Emulating Wiggins’ waywardness, Richard Wood gave the ball away needlessly and in racing back to rescue his colleague, Jackson’s almost involuntary header, probably intended to concede a corner, presented Patrick Bamford with a close range chance he was never likely to miss. Hamer again distinguished himself with a brave one-on-one save at Andre Wisdom’s feet but with Charlton’s defiant keeper a notable exception, the impression that this daunting fixture had been approached as one to simply get out of the way was hard to shake off.
To their credit and encouraging for their survival prospects, the Addicks used half-time to re-organise and consolidate. On came a lively version of the frequently too relaxed Callum Harriott in place of Reza Ghoochannejhad, a bewildered lightweight so obviously over his head in the physicality of English league football. The three-up-front experiment was abandoned, back went Charlton to a more solid 4-4-2 and chances were created. Harriott was on the end of the best of them, his nicely struck volley bringing a full length save from Grant. The irrepressible Jordan Cousins had a shot crucially blocked, substitute Joe Pigott, on for Sordell, took Obika’s lay-off and had Grant plunging down to save again at his left post. It was stirring stuff from a previously outclassed side but County had one more shot in their locker and used it to unsympathetically quash the rally.
The Addicks were showing ominous signs of fatigue by the time substitute Connor Sammon’s left wing cross was cleared at the expense of a corner on the opposite flank. Last week’s local derby hat-trick hero Craig Bryson’s outswinger was forcefully glanced home at the near post by top scorer Chris Martin and Charlton’s latest 3-0 reverse was completed. To their relief, only more top six team (Reading) feature on their ten-game run-in. Ten more nose-to-the-grindstone ordeals
The final word belongs to Derby manager Steve McLaren, for no better reason than the excuse it gives us to marvel at his evolving hairstyle. Note how his plucky little quiff has come adrift from the rest of his thinning hair and now defiantly goes it alone at the front of his head. As an outstanding example of making the best of what you’ve got, there’s no role model like Steve. No comb-over for him. His remaining follicles are out, proud and defiantly rockabilly. All of which tonsorial talk leaves me insufficient room to discuss his final word as promised. Sorry about that. Probably riveting stuff too.
Derby: Grant, Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Bryson, Thorne (Eustace 71), Hendrick, Bamford (Sammon 71), Martin, Russell (Naylor 87). Not used: Legzdins, O’Brien, Whitbread, Bailey.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Wood, Wiggins, Poyet, Ghoochannejhad (Harriott 46), Cousins, Jackson (Petrucci 82), Obika, Sordell (Pigott 58). Not used: Thuram, Hughes, Nego, Lennon.
Referee: Mark Haywood. Att: 24,429.
Early last Sunday morning, in the cold bracing air above the Thames, a team of aerial experts climbed out on the Emirates Air Line cable that spans the river and staged a mock rescue. It’s unlikely they will be called upon to perform this in real life but useful of course to practice for such a possibility – it certainly made for an arresting spectacle.
I first posted that on the Greenwich.co.uk forum – also over there you can find details about of a planning application for a new telephone box and ATM in Greenwich Church Street.
Coming up this week is a meeting of the Greenwich Historical Society (having been rescheduled from last week). Society President, Warwick Leadlay’s Anthony Cross, will be giving an address, entitled A History of Greenwich in half a Dozen Objects. Click here for full details.
This week also sees the new start of a new exhibition at the Paul McPherson Gallery. “The Londoner and The Interview” is a new solo collection by Aleksandar Basic of figurative-abstract works, oils and drawings, inspired with people, modern commuters, who travel to work in and around London.
Another event to mention is a jumble sale at St Alfege Church Hall next Saturday (5th April) in aid of Cancer Research UK.
If you have an event coming up you would like to promote on Greenwich.co.uk, feel free to add it here.
Following the change in the law, the Royal Borough of Greenwich had its first same-sex wedding today. Charlotte Wood and Carol McCarron were married this morning at Woolwich Town Hall and local photographer Chris Mansfield recorded the historic occasion with his camera as the newly-weds emerged out on to Wellington Street.
Congratulations to Carol and Charlotte.
Nottingham Forest 0 Charlton 1 (Cousins 81).
Kevin Nolan reports from the City Ground.
Separating success from failure in football is often a simple matter of timing. When the fixture list throws you together with a club in temporary disorder, it’s possible to slip in there, clobber them while their minds are elsewhere, then make off with three points. Catch them with their tails up, though, and you can also catch a cold, as Charlton did in Sheffield recently.
The hectic schedule brought the Addicks to the banks of the Trent on Tuesday, where trouble has been brewing on both sides of the river. In Nottingham Forest’s case, it boiled over in the wake of a 5-0 weekend drubbing by local rivals Derby County. Chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi had suffered enough and wasted little time in axeing bellicose manager Billy Davies, a choleric Glaswegian rarely more than a heartbeat away from spontaneously combusting.
Davies was chucked out a day before Charlton’s visit, his departure sparking talk of the imminent arrival of Neil Warnock, that bluff, say-what I mean, mean-what-I-say professional Yorkshireman. His long term influence on a club is dubious to say the least but he does bring with him a bit of “new club bounce.” Luckily negotiations stalled and the Addicks dodged that ominous bullet. In caretaker charge of the Trentsiders was Academy manager Gary Brazil, whose name, no disrespect intended, is known to few households, including his own. Charlton had ideally timed this once awkward fixture but only if- and it was an inconveniently big if -they could actually score.
With Scrooge-like parsimony, Charlton have realised a reasonable return on their frugal investment of less than a goal a game. Unlike buses, for them goals arrive singly and never in pairs. But they’ve certainly got the hang of the 1-0 scoreline. Five of their eight victories have been by the only goal (they’ve also lost six by the same slender margin) and if Charlton could manage even one, Forest were clearly there for the taking.
For 81 evenly contested minutes at the City Ground, things progressed routinely but also scorelessly until the excellent Jordan Cousins took care of that vital statistic The Addicks had caught Forest in decline, took full advantage of the situation and legged it without so much as a backward glance of sympathy. Football’s a dog-eat-dog world with little room for sentiment. Just ask Billy Davies. Or, for that matter, Chris Powell.
Charlton’s victory was hard earned but justified. They defended with determination, passed and moved smoothly on a perfect playing surface and stuck earnestly to their task. When possession was turned over, they funnelled back in good order, covering and tackling crisply. Well organised and fully committed, they edged a game of evenly distributed chances.
Hearts were in visiting mouths, admittedly, when Darius Henderson missed the first of those chances on 16 minutes. From twelve yards, the burly striker stabbed Gonzalo Jara’s precise pass a coat of paint’s width wide of an inviting target.
Growing in confidence, meanwhile, the Londoners hit back. Alertly running down Astrit Ajdarevic’s diagonal delivery from right to left, Cousins turned sharply to thread an intuitive pass through to Marvin Sordell beyond the far post. From an acute angle, the luckless striker hit the woodwork with a blistering low drive.
The end-to-end stuff continued as Simon Cox’s dangerously low cross penetrated a crowded six-yard area, with Lawrie Wilson desperately clearing at the far post, before Cox squandered a genuine opportunity a minute before the break. Played past Michael Morrison by Henderson, the midfielder chipped over the advancing Ben Hamer but hit the far post; the rebound was returned by Jamie Mackie, headed firmly by Henderson but brilliantly tipped over the bar by Hamer.
So far so reasonably good for the visitors but the need to score was becoming urgent. Midway through the second period, Cousins gave little hint of his later heroics by making a dreadful hash of Charlton’s best chance. Picked out by Wilson’s perfect cross wide of the far post, his cushioned volley began rising on impact and hasn’t been seen since. A quarter hour later, the kid with the old head on young shoulders, more than made amends.
Favoured by the rebound as Jonathan Obika, running on to Adjarevic’s subtle flick, hit the foot of the left post, Cousins calmly sidefooted the winner into the centre of stranded Karl Darlow’s goal. Jeers from the locals that their erstwhile idols weren’t “fit to wear the shirt” were Forest’s instant reward. Bit harsh that, really. You can’t win ‘em all. Or even draw ‘em.
A solid team performance, all in all, with Cousins shading the gifted Adjarevic as man-of-the-match. Diego Poyet was his usual blend of pugnacity and artistry, a sturdy defence gave little away, while Hamer did his bit in helping them to chalk up another clean sheet. Reza Ghoochannejhad has undoubted skill but needs to adjust quickly to the physical demands made by English football. But there’s no denying that this team is playing for Jose Riga, whose record of eight points from five games bears scrutiny. He’s in charge now, there’s no point in cutting off noses to spite faces and absolutely nothing to be gained from relegation. League One!….spare us that!
So off to Derby on Saturday, travelling with renewed hope, then next Tuesday to Leed United, another club tearing itself apart. Might be something there so let’s hope Brian McDermott survives until then. He’s a good lad, Brian, but they’re in danger of freefall up there. Don’t need ‘em aroused. Blimey, Warnock’s name might be in the frame again.
Forest: Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Mackie, Greening, Jara, Cox (Paterson 52), Abdoun (Darbyshire 87), Henderson (Djebbour 68). Not used: Harding, Evtimov, Majewski, Gomis. Booked: Jara, Djebbour.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite (Wood 46), Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad, Ajdarevic (Fox 90), Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Sordell (Obika 60). Not used: Thuram, Nego, Green, Pigott.
Referee: A. Haines. Att: 17,951 (258 visiting).
Charlton 0 Burnley 3 (Barnes 38, Vokes (pen) 55, Kightly 90.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
A barrage of merciless statistics, frequently derided as lies but in this case damning Charlton with the truth, threaten to drag them down to League One. Stand by for a mini-blizzard of facts and figures, which make for gloomy reading.
Of Charlton’s paltry total of 25 goals from thirty four league games this season, ten have been scored by recognised strikers, half of which were contributed by the recently departed Yann Kermorgant. Since January 1st, they have managed two from open play in eleven tries, adding two more from last gasp setpieces, for which unexpected bounty they may be ultimately grateful.
Leading the all-competitons scoring charts with seven goals is Simon Church, only three of them in the league and the last of which helped the Addicks to a 2-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers on November 26th. Marvin Sordell has chipped in twice and that’s the long and short of a sorry saga of charitably titled strikers.
There is no intent to pillory the wholehearted Church in zeroing in on the Welshman’s 24th minute miss but it does typify the pop guns that the Addicks are bringing to bear against the heavy artillery available to the likes of Burnley. Church hardly bore sole responsibility for this predictable defeat but had he converted his solitary chance then….well, it probably wouldn’t have mattered but we’ll never know.
Wresting possession from a hesitant Michael Duff some 35 yards from Burnley’s goal, Church advanced on his target, elected to shoot from outside the penalty area and powderpuffed a feeble effort at Tom Heaton. That an unmarked Jonathan Obika was a better option for a squared pass to his right is immaterial. The real point is that few, if any, of Charlton’s long suffering fans expected Church to score.
An almost embarrassing total of thirteen goals in seventeen Valley games justified their pessimism. And when, a quarter hour later, the visitors took the lead, there was already a familiar air of inevitability about this result.
In fairness, the Addicks were coping well until Ashley Barnes, a capable deputy for the totemic Danny Ings, made the breakthrough. Moving between his markers Michael Morrison and Dorian Dervite at the near post, he firmly headed Junior Stanislav’s perfect left wing cross, delivered right-footed after the wide man stepped inside Lawrie Wilson, into the top left corner. The grisly figures trotted out above made it highly unlikely that the Addicks would recover, though a superb double save from Ben Hamer at least kept them interested before the interval.
Reacting instinctively to Chris Baird’s powerful angled drive, Hamer parried to apparent safety but seemed helpless on his line when Scott Arfield’s pinpointed centre returned the rebound to the far post, where Barnes stood poised to double his tally from no more than five yards. The ex-Brighton forward’s header was a certainty until Hamer bravely contrived to claw the ball to safety. The keeper’s heroics deserved better than the glum reality that they would prove inconsequential.
As if to ensure that an improbable rally was out of the question, the Clarets removed all doubt ten minutes after the break. Brought down by Dervite just inside the area, Sam Vokes efficiently beat Hamer from the spot, his 20th goal of a prolific campaign placing him just five behind Charlton’s total. We’re tripping over those damn statistics again.
Church’s abortive effort apart, there was little else to concern Heaton, whose only genuine save dealt capably with Astrit Ajdarevic’s dipping free kick at his left post. The resurgent goalkeeper, whose career looks likely to proceed from relegation last term with Bristol City to a Premier League spot with Burnley, was relieved to watch a curling drive from Ajdarevic, a halftime replacement for paperweight Danny Green, skim his crossbar but was otherwise underworked.
On a routine afternoon for the upwardly mobile Clarets, a third goal in added time had significance only for its dubious scorer, Michael Kightly, and for Charlton’s potentially vital goal difference, into which hard-to-shake-off Yeovil Town are making worrying inroads.
Working a short corner on the left, Kightly nutmegged Wilson on the edge of the penalty area before taking a punt on a shot-cum-cross which was probably heading wide before a deflection off Johnnie Jackson’s knee helped it find the opposite corner. Possibly an own goal but Charlton’s redoubtable skipper won’t be claiming it.
Alongside the blameless Hamer, mention must be made of 18 year-old Diego Poyet who, in the midst of this desperate relegation battle, continues to excel. Constantly in the thick of the action, he passed, moved, covered and above all, tackled as if it mattered. He might still be a kid but his fighting spirit should be the touchstone for his struggling colleagues. New boss Jose Riga, meanwhile, is finding out the hard way exactly what meagre resources the poorly backed and treacherously betrayed Chris Powell was asked to juggle in his bid to survive. They can only dream, for instance, of replacements like Barnes and Kightly for strikers who seldom if ever strike.
So the situation grows more serious, mitigated only by the convenient weaknesses of Charlton’s relegation rivals, three of whom might well prove to be even more hapless than themselves. An upcoming fixture list confronting them with three consecutive away games, the first two of them against promotion candidates, offers little immediate comfort. Should they come through that little lot relatively unscathed, they might be a good bet.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Green (Ajdarevic, Poyet (Sordell 76), Cousins, Jackson, Church (Ghoochannejhad 54), Obika. Not used: Thuram, Wood, Nego, Fox.
Burnley: Heaton, Baird, Duff (Long 90), Shackell, Mee, Arfield, Jones, Marney, Stanislas (Kightly 75), Barnes, Vokes. Not used: Cisak, Lafferty, Wallace, Edgar, Treacy.
Att: 16,113 (1,865 visiting. Referee: Oliver Langford.
Charlton 1 (Dervite 90) AFC Bournemouth 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
A useful if deflating 0-0 draw -their third in a row under Jose Riga’s embryonic stewardship – seemed as much as Charlton could expect from this evenly contested duel when the fourth official informed us that four minutes would be added. It wan’t set in stone yet, though, because in Johnnie Jackson’s setpiece skills, the Addicks had one last ace to play.
Coming under mounting pressure, Bournemouth were beginning to unravel, Tommy Elphick’s panicky shove on Jon Obika betraying frayed nerves. The skipper’s unnecessary foul allowed Jackson to try his luck from a promisingly placed free kick, an opportunity the inspirational home captain clearly relished. His curling delivery was on target but Lee Camp got both hands to the ball and shovelled it over the bar. And that was that, or so it seemed.
Except, of course, that momentum was still with the Addicks as Jackson hustled his “old bones” out to take the left wing corner. His perfect outswinger was thundered past Camp by Dorian Dervite’s head and the Cherries had suffered the same desperately late fate as QPR a month ago. The Valley erupted in mindless euphoria again, with Dervite leading an ecstatic procession in the direction of the dug-out, while Jackson, ever the maverick, headed off alone to commune with his North Stand public. There ain’t nuthin’ – not nuthin’ – to beat the last gasp winner!
A winner which admittedly, during Bournemouth’s opening half hour of domination, seemed highly unlikely. Eddie Howe’s well-coached side have made light work of the Championship following promotion from League One last season and they showed a fretting home crowd how they’ve gone about it. Neat and constructive in their approach, they kept the ball, passed and moved cohesively, causing the Addicks problems in staying with them. While leading marksman Lewis Grabban was well shackled by Dervite and Michael Morrison, however, the visitors rarely threatened to break through and Charlton dug in, survived and steadily improved. As Howe conceded later, the Cherries “didn’t look like scoring.” Neither did the Addicks until Dervite’s belated Gallic flourish.
During the South Coasters’ period of ascendancy, there were occasional chances, the first of which midfielder Marc Pugh drove narrowly too high. Steve Cook’s crisp half volley tested Ben Hamer; ex-Addick Harry Arter did likewise from 30 yards; at the other end, Danny Green took Diego Poyet’s pass in stride, cut in from the left and forced Camp into a smart save at his near post. Jackson’s inswinging corner was glanced wide by Dervite, then Green’s intended cross clipped the outside of a post with Camp a startled onlooker. Obika announced his 41st minute arrival in place of an injured Callum Harriott by turning sharply but firing straight at Camp.
The balance shifted after the interval and the consistently outstanding Poyet came close to claiming his first senior goal with a dipping volley which shaved the bar but Bournemouth were still an occasional handful. Pugh was their driving force and his fine right-footed curler beat Hamer but drifted inches wide of the far post.
Alongside fellow teenager Poyet, a reinvigorated Jordan Cousins forms a defensive midfield shield of precocious quality, with Charlton’s record of 41 goals conceded in 33 games bettered by only six Championship rivals. Centre backs Dervite and Morrison continue in sturdy form, and with full backs Lawrie Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins a match for any around, the Addicks are difficult to breach. Three successive clean sheets, meanwhile, establish Hamer’s right to be in goal. Defensively and in midfield, where Jackson makes nonsense of claims he’s over the hill, the Addicks are in sound shape. Up front, with only 25 goals to date, it’s obviously not so healthy but Obika might help as he did last term.
The urgent arrival set up Cousins to slice wildly wide before, on 80 minutes, Charlton’s best chances so far were magnificently foiled by Camp. Slipped through by Cousins, Simon Church’s shot on the run was blocked by the advancing keeper; the rebound cannoned off the referee to Jackson, whose first time effort was also saved by the defiant Camp. The Addicks were building up a head of steam by now and suddenly 976 pilgrims from leafy Hampshire were baying for the final whistle. It arrived eventually…but a heartbeat too late from their point of view. One corner, one header and that was all she wrote.
Burnley up next and further good news via Bournemouth…former Cherry Danny Ings won’t be around to torment us. You take comfort where you find it.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Green (Sordell 65), Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Harriott (Obika 41), Church. Not used: Thuram, Pritchard, Wood, Tudgay, Nego.
Booked: Wiggins, Jackson, Obika.
Bournemouth: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Harte, O’Kane (Kermorgant 59), Pugh, Arter, Fraser (Smith 83), Surman, Grabban (Rantie 70). Not used: Allsop, MacDonald, Coulibaly, Ward. Booked: Elphick.
Referee: J. Linington.
Att: 13,537: a second below-par attendance (12,974 for Huddersfield last week) indicates some fans are “walking with their feet”, as a mate of mine puts it, in protest at the club’s treatment of Chris Powell. They’re certainly voting with them but you just know the noblest Addick of us all would be as chuffed as anyone at this vital victory. We’re on the one road, sharing the one load….
Millwall 0 Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Den.
As this desperate Championship season drags to its conclusion, Charlton are taking pigeon steps to safety. Their second successive 0-0 draw painstakingly hauled them off the foot of the table to the relatively nosebleed-inducing position of third from bottom. Their healthy goal advantage over their rivals, reliant on stubborn defending but feebly supported at the other end, might well prove decisive. What they need now is the giant step which the winning of at least one of their games in hand would give them. There’s no time like the present, with inconveniently on-form Bournemouth visiting The Valley on Tuesday.
Despite hints by Ian Holloway to the contrary, neither side did enough to win this earnest if uninspired derby. Chances were evenly distributed in a game seemingly destined to finish goalless. And there weren’t many of those. The best of Millwall’s fell to lively 17 year-old Fred Onyedinma, who headed Shaun William’s perfect 8th minute cross agonisingly wide.
Holloway was right to big up the kid’s uninhibited full debut and to lament his failure, by mere inches, to crown it with the winning goal. He also sung the praises of several other up-and-coming cubs coming through the Lions’ system.
Managers are, though, notoriously myopic when it comes to the opposition and the home supremo could be forgiven for failing to notice that in 18-year old Diego Poyet the visitors boasted this grimly contested game’s outstanding player One of three recent Sparrows Lane graduates (Callum Harriott and interval substitute Jordan Cousins being the others) on show, Poyet’s special talent, one bound for Premier League glory, stood out.
There’s nothing remotely flashy about the sturdy, two-footed defensive midfielder. He simply gets the ball down, plays it short or long, makes the right choices between both and positively enjoys a tackle. Probably born no farther than a goalkick from a football pitch, he has already made himself the side’s engine room heartbeat while on his precocious shoulders rests much of the responsibility for Charlton’s survival hopes. Then he’ll be on his way to more lucrative employment elsewhere. Bit ironic, really, given the new owner’s enthusiasm for youth development, that the club seems unconcerned about securing the immediate future of Poyet and others. More the fault of the previous regime to be fair, but do whip out the old cheque book, Roland, and at least have a go at keeping hold of him.
On a glorious Spring afternoon, meanwhile, these relegation haunted sides battled through a stalemate, the result of which might be marginally more pleasing to the visitors. Understandably disappointed but anxious to accentuate the positive, Holloway sounded quite convincing in claiming that Millwall’s three-point advantage meant more than Charlton’s four games in hand. It’s a tough call and he may be proved right but the initiative just might have switched from SE 16 to SE 7 following this stand-off. A relieved Jose Riga clearly thought so and hailed Charlton’s resilience. Chris Powell will be sorely missed, of course, but the new gaffer is polite, courteous and deserving of respect. It’s Ch-arlton, not Sh-arlton by the way, Jose, but that’s a mistake any newcomer could make. Nothing personal.
Following young Fred’s close shave, Harriott took up the slack for the Addicks. Unfortunately, his indecisive shot at the end of a three-on-two break was too weak to seriously worry David Forde and did much to explain Charlton’s miserable record of 24 goals in 32 games. A deflected riposte from Simeon Jackson, saved alertly by Ben Hamer, was fiercer but Millwall themselves have scored only 32 times in 36 games and are undermined, in the significant statistical duel, by the 62 they have conceded.
With his usual eye for an opening, Johnnie Jackson found space for a stooping header from Astrit Adjarevic’s outswinging corner but Forde collected capably. At the other end Steve Morison, though less mobile than in his palmy days, during which he scored four times in two games against Charlton, needed supervision close to goal. Chesting down Alan Dunne’s centre in surprising space, he swivelled to scuff wide, then hacked away like a circular saw at a loose ball on the six-yard line, growing ever closer before Dorian Dervite hurriedly cleared. Before the interval Ed Upson’s 30 -yard volley was awkwardly scrambled away from his right post by Hamer.
Shortly after the break, Harriott missed Charlton’s best chance. Meeting Bradley Pritchard’s cleverly curled cross beyond the far post, he got the better of Williams but clumsily bundled the ball wide. Substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad was at least on target but hardly more effective with the weak effort he topped at Forde. But it was 6’8″ beanpole Stefan Maierhofer who squandered the second period’s clearest opportunity with 20 minutes remaining. Picked out by Owen Garvan’s wickedly delivered corner, the goal seemed at his mercy but if it’s possible to snatch at a header, that’s what he did and sent it soaring over the bar.
With the Lions closing more strongly, an untidy free-for-all, triggered by Ryan Fredericks’ up-and-under and featuring the inevitable Morison, was hastily resolved by the ubiquitous Johnnie Jackson In added time, Hamer pawed away Garvan’s free kick leaving honours, if that’s the right word, even. We reconvene on Tuesday for the next chapter in the saga.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne (Fredericks 72), Robinson, Lowry, Williams, Upson (Maierhofer 51), Onyedinma, Woolford, Garvan, Jackson (McDonald 56), Morison. Not used: Bywater, Beavers, Malone, Marquis. Booked: Dunne, Lowry, Williams.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Pritchard (Church 78), Poyet, Jackson, Adjarevic (Cousins 46), Harriott, Sordell (Ghoochannejhad 66). Not used: Thuram, Green, Wood, Nego. Booked: Pritchard, Jackson, Sordell.
Referee: Phil Dowd. Att: 16,102 (2431 visiting).
The King’s Troop can regularly be seen in Charlton Park for exercises and, indeed, around the rest of the borough. I went along to watch them on Thursday and got some photos of them in the lovely spring sunshine and followed them along to Woolwich Common where they fired one of their guns.
I posted some photos on the Greenwich.co.uk forum.
I didn’t get a chance to do a “weekly round up” last week, but if I had I would surely have noted that Greenwich Council’s Planning Board approved Ikea’s outline planning application for a new shop where Sainsbury’s and the old Comet currently are. 853 blog gave its reaction here.
Following the recent AGM of the Friends of East Greenwich Pleasaunce, the Chair Sue Gay has posted an update on their site with details of latest news which includes plans to run a new bark park from Lizzie’s nice cafe along to the gate. Read the post for all the news and also details of next weekend’s Orchard work day.
For Charlton fans, the sacking of Chris Powell and the direction of the club were big talking points this week. Top CAFC match reporter Kevin Nolan offered his thoughts in his latest match report for the site, kindly sponsored by Grant Saw Wealth Management.
Charlton 0 Huddersfield Town 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
So inevitably money didn’t so much talk as swear. And Chris Powell, despite being poised to join Jimmy Seed and Alan Curbishley in Charlton’s “greatest ever manager” musings was its victim. “Out, out brief candle!” A candle contemptuously extinguished.
For three years, beginning and symmetrically ending in Sheffield, the club had their own “special one” in charge, a man with gravitas, dignity and individuality. Not to mention a lifetime’s experience in English football. He helped Charlton’s supporters feel good about themselves. But he didn’t suit an owner destined to be recalled by fans, with no disrespect intended, as “that Belgian bloke” ten minutes after he, himself, finally leaves the building.
Nothing personal, of course, strictly business. Now apparently we must all move on. But perhaps our future is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” We might not like where we’re moving. Say we’re farmed out to Belgium as sub-Standard Liege. You’d hear some sound and fury then.
“Time will tell if it is the right decision”, M. Duchatelet reassured us in a hastily re-written matchday programme. Far from implying he’s an idiot but that’s a statement signifying an alarming lack of conviction. And maybe we don’t need time to tell that his decision is ruinous to Charlton’s reputation as an honourable club swimming against the tide in an ocean of corporate sharks. Our loss will be another fortunate club’s gain.
Some of Chris Powell’s class clearly rubbed off on the fans because, in the third minute of Wednesday’s game, an unrehearsed minute’s applause in honour of the great man began, swelled and spread over three sides of the ground. It wasn’t sanctioned, it wasn’t official but it didn’t need to be to make its point. Even those who had questioned his savvy joined in. They’re a bolshie lot, these Charlton fans, as they demonstrated to devastating effect a quarter century ago and they’re still devilishly hard to control. But there was no malice, no spite, in what was a spontaneous salute to a man these people- or most of them- respect and admire. The Nolan throat doesn’t go in for lumps as a rule but it had a little difficulty in clearing itself for a while.
It was equally obvious that the impromptu tribute was in no way directed in criticism of the new managerial incumbent. The king is dead (or reported dead until one day he returns, as return hopefully he will) and though it tempts fate in the ephemeral world of football management to say it, long live the king. Because, as almost an afterthought, there was an important football match to play and it was now Jose Riga’s red-and-white army until further notice.
Unconcerned by the fuss, Huddersfield Town had stolen into The Valley to make it clear from kick-off that they had scant sympathy for local grief. The Terriers were organised, obdurate, obstinate. They were also bent on frustrating the Addicks in their intention to depart with a point. Familiarity has bred not quite contempt as understandable wariness between the sides following seven clashes within sixteen months. They know each other well and that knowledge dictated mutual caution.
Charlton’s players had convened their own meeting shortly before the game to reaffirm their commitment to their club and their admirable resolve showed. They had the better of things but that chronic deficiency at the business end of the pitch again bedevilled them. In other words, they just cannot score a goal. Or even buy one. Twenty four in thirty one games now… with the ratio deteriorating.
In strict chronological order, most of the first half chances fell to the home side. Astrit Adjarevic’s 30-yarder was smartly saved by Alex Smithies; Johnnie Jackson’s corner cleared Peter Clarke’s head but a surprised Michael Morrison sidefooted wide; Reza Ghoochannejhad volleyed another Jackson corner similarly off target; Adjarevic’s cleverly curled shot was well saved by Smithies; Reza was narrowly beaten to Rhoys Wiggins’ cross by Paul Dixon at the near post; Adjarevic managed a goalbound header from Jackson’s latest corner but Marvin Sordell inadvertently blocked his effort.
It wasn’t quite the relentless bombardment this account suggests and Town had moments of their own as they improved. Ben Hamer was required to save from the elusive Nakhi Wells, then defy good efforts from Jonathan Hogg and Danny Ward before the interval. Charlton’s in-form keeper also had one second half scare when Wells rounded him but was unable to squeeze his shot past Dorian Dervite from a diminishing angle.
A revitalised Sordell began the second period by sending Harriott’s pass wide before missing Charlton’s best chance a quarter hour from the end. Sent clear by the marvellously precocious Diego Poyet’s cunningly chipped pass, he shot on the run but was blocked by the alertly advancing Smithies. This game had “goalless” written all over it.
A rare visit to the post-game press room seemed in order but it was hard to work up enthusiasm for slick analysis or ingratiation. Mr Riga seems a thoroughly decent chap and will, of course, be cut considerable slack. But there was a void where Chris Powell’s comforting presence should have been and the old mind wandered. Where recently it would have been restlessly weighing the pros and cons of a valuable point while worrying about its implications, somehow it didn’t seem to matter as much. Let Bob Dylan, the Bill Shakespeare of our time, bring his usual pith to my dilemma: “I used to care but… things have changed.”
Nah, forget that Bob, they’ve changed alright but I’ll soon care again. We’re at Millwall on Saturday. That’s enough to concentrate anyone’s mind.
Charlton: Hamer: Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Ajdarevic, Poyet, Harriott (Cousins 85) Jackson, Ghoochannejhad (Pritchard 64), Sordell (Church 78). Not used: Thuram, Green, Wood, Nego. Booked: Poyet.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Woods, Clarke, Hogg, Dixon, Scannell (Hamill 75), Clayton, Wallace, Ward, Wells (Paterson 75), Southern. Not used: Bennett, Norwood, Gobern, Stead, Smith. Booked: Dixon.
Referee: K. Hill. Att: 12,974 (440 visiting).
Sheffield United 2 (Flynn 65, Brayford 67) Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from Bramall Lane.
They mischievously called it Black Sabbath to commemorate the marvellous Sunday on which Charlton, turned out as off-duty clerics, hammered Arsenal 4-2 at Highbury on November 4th 2001.
It was a memorable occasion but, in hindsight at least, perhaps a little too much was made of it. After all, we do beat Arsenal from time to time and going on about it rather overlooked that point. We ended up patronising ourselves. Special video. Patting our own back. Ruffling our own hair. Plucky little Charlton. As an established Premiership team at the time, we should have treated it as no big deal – even if it was.
For different reasons, Sunday’s debacle also deserves a name of its own. Bleak Sabbath. That’s my shot. Feel free to make up your own. Because this really was the pits.
We might have known we were in for it when results on Saturday plunged the Addicks to the bottom of the Championship table. All four or our closest rivals won without conceding a goal between them. So we arrived at Bramall Lane, only partly dressed as priests this tiime but cursing our luck like unrepentant sinners. It was hard to tell the giants from the giant killers. But events soon sorted that out.
Honest, committed but hardly inspired, United laboured for a while before dismissing their timid visitors. Snapping into tackles, first to anything loose, unselfish in support of each other, they compensated for obvious shortcomings with sheer willpower. Charlton’s response was flabby, lacklustre, devoid of spark. If they take this form into their remaining league games, we won’t need any elderly, gloomy Scotsman to warn us we’re doomed.
A featureless first half actually offered the “big shots” false hope of a result. In fact, Marcus Tudgay’s faintly deflected snapshot, saved awkwardly at full length by Mark Howard, was the closest either side came to scoring; Simon Church kept the rebound alive but tamely returned it to the struggling keeper. At the other end, Jamie Murphy fired an acceptable chance over the bar, while Ben Hamer’s sharp anticipation helped him reach John Brayford’s outswinging cross before Murphy could pounce. This tepid Cup tie was heading for an unwanted replay until a 63rd minute turning point changed its course.
A spiteful foul, followed by a little “afters” by left back Bob Harris on Jordan Cousins near the halfway line, allowed a typically alert Johnnie Jackson to flight a quick free kick into Tudgay’s run through the inside right channel. His angle narrowed by the advancing Howard, the striker’s improvised lob from the byline over the stranded keeper set up Callum Harriott eight yards from a gaping goal. Unhindered by United’s outwitted defence, who were still bitching about the blindingly obvious free kick, Harriott stretched to meet the chance on the half-volley but, with his body shape all wrong, sent it wide of the right post.
The escape galvanised the Blades. Two minutes later, they were in front with assistance, it should be said, from generous defending by their visitors. There seemed no particular danger threatened by Jose Baxter’s diagonal cross from the left touchline but a distracted Richard Wood allowed it to clear his head on its way towards the far post. Surprised by his colleague’s hesitation, Rhoys Wiggins stood flatfooted as Ryan Flynn stole in behind him to scuff the ball over Hamer into the opposite corner.
Battered old Bramall Lane went understandably berserk and had more to celebrate almost immediately. Harriott’s loss of possession upfield set in motion a sweeping move which ended with John Brayford trying his luck from outside the penalty area. Any doubt that this was United’s day was removed by the unlucky deflection off Wood which helped the coveted right back’s unconvincing shot to beat a hopelessly wrongfooted Hamer.
A disorderly, dispirited rabble somehow limped to the final whistle without further damage as the jubilant Blades strolled into a lucrative semi-final engagement with Hull City at Wembley. From the debris, these disheartened Addicks must now regroup before resuming the bread-and-butter business of staying in the Championship. A goal here and there would be invaluable and in the brief cameo offered by 71st minute substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad, there came a glimpse of a forward capable of scoring one. In added time, Reza reacted sharply as a bounce favoured him, with minimal backlift snapped off a fierce, instinctive drive on the turn and was foiled only by Howard’s magnificent reflex save. It was the response of a natural finisher and reminded travelling fans of his equally resourceful volley which hit the bar at Wigan. He might drift in and out of games but there’s a goal in him and he should be trusted to deliver one before it’s too late. What’s to lose?
Elsewhere there was concern over jaded performances from, among others, young Jordan Cousins and even Wiggins. There’s a tired, weak look to the team and we’ll discover at The Valley against Huddersfield Town on Wednesday whether it’s a terminal condition. And then of course there’s the attractive trip to Millwall on Saturday. On second thoughts, we’ll leave that one on hold for a bit longer. Terriers first, then Lions as we work our way through the animal kingdom…
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson (Ghoochannejhad 71), Morrison, Wood, Wiggins, Cousins, Poyet (Green 71), Jackson, Harriott, Tudgay, Church (Adjarevic 65), Not used: Thuram, Hughes, Dervite, Nego. Booked: Jackson, Harriott.
Sheffield United: Howard, Brayford, Maguire, Collins, Harris, Flynn (McGinn 90), Doyle, Baxter (Davies 81), Scougall (Porter 86), Murphy, Coady. Not used: Hill, Miller, Long, Freeman. Booked: Baxter, Flynn.
Referee: Lee Mason. Att: 30,040 (5,331 visiting).
Leicester City 3 (Vardy 9, Drinkwater 48, Nugent 64) Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from the Kingpower Stadium.
A systematic going-over from the best side in the Championship was hardly recommended but Charlton will be wise to shrug this one off and put it down to bad experience. I’d advise them to “move on” if I fully understood what that fatuous phrase meant. It will console them that they’re finished with Leicester City this season and that they remain one of only five sides to have beaten them in the league. So I guess there’s a little “closure” to be found there. Someone get me help because this drivel seeps into your subconscious while you’re daydreaming.
A repetition of that outstanding result on August 31st was never remotely on the cards at the impressive Kingpower Stadium, where City gained emphatic revenge as well as disproving the theory that Charlton, after three consecutive wins over them, are their bogey team. In each of those victories, Yann Kermorgant had scored against his unlamented former club. On Saturday, he was strutting his stuff on the South Coast, where his hat-trick against Doncaster Rovers did his more genuinely missed ex-teammates a massive favour. The popular Breton is unlikely to be quite so helpful when Bournemouth visit The Valley on March 18th.
In the East Midlands, meanwhile, champions-elect Leicester show no signs of freezing as their return to the Premier League grows nearer. Relaxed and confident, the Foxes eased any potential pressure by scoring as early as the ninth minute before cruising smoothly through the rest of a resoundingly one-sided game. Charlton didn’t get a look-in but were mercifully spared a demoralising drubbing as their tormentors turned in an otherwise pitch-perfect performance. After their battling victories over QPR and Sheffield Wednesday, this was an unpleasant return to reality.
It might be stretching it a bit to compare Nigel Pearson’s well-schooled team with majestic Barcelona but their stall is set out to emulate the masters. Rarely dribbling past opponents, they prefer instead to progress through sharp passing to feet, which invites interceptions as the ball zips from player to player but offers few opportunities to do so. And 62 goals in 33 league games means they take their chances. Even at this modest level, Charlton were hitched to an exhausting carousel which has frustrated so many of Barcelona’s victims.
Not that they needed it, of course, but the Foxes also enjoyed a slice of luck in opening the scoring. As Richard Wood’s crunching challenge dispossessed Anthony Knockaert, David Nugent was allowed to turn unchallenged on a fortuitous ricochet from what looked suspiciously like an offside position. His nicely timed square pass was taken in stride by Jamie Vardy, who cut inside Rhoys Wiggins and finished unconvincingly through the goalline efforts of Lawrie Wilson.
As the Addicks chased ever elusive shadows, the issue was effectively reduced to a duel between City and Ben Hamer. Following on from his nobbins display at Hillsborough, the in-form keeper produced a string of defiant saves which technically, if not realistically, kept the outclassed visitors in with a chance.
Before Vardy scored, Hamer had brilliantly blocked the mobile sharpshooter in a one-on-one clash, before diving full length to pluck Knockaert’s low cross off Ritchie De Laet’s feet at the far post. Confronted again by Vardy, he pounced on the striker’s faulty touch and beat him to the loose ball. In reply, the visitors managed a few scraps, most notable among which was the flighted ball from Michael Morrison which cleared a hesitant Jeffrey Schlupp but was unsuccessfully lobbed at Kaspar Schmeichel by Simon Church. More depressing for the Addicks was the sight of Morrison almost immediately leaving the field in distress. A packed agenda of fixtures would be far harder to negotiate without their key defender.
Three minutes after the break, Hamer was at it again only for his luck to run out this time. Having saved magnificently from Nugent, he was left helpless as Danny Drinkwater ferociously lashed the rebound high into the net.
Collapse was imminent but Hamer, aided by some wayward finishing from City, had other ideas. He reacted superbly to keep out another of Drinkwater’s blockbusters, his defiance inspiring a rare moment of activity at the other end, during which Wood strained to reach Astrit Ajdarevic’s wickedly delivered free kick but nodded it narrowly over the bar at the far post.
Midway through the second period, Nugent finally notched the goal his unremitting efforts deserved. Running directly into the heart of a wilting defence, he picked his spot for a low drive, struck expertly with the outside of his right foot, which beat Hamer on its way into the net off the left post.
Before the end there were more great saves from Hamer, easily the pick of them his stupendous parry of Nugent’s close range ripsnorter after fine work by hardrunning De Laet, possibly the division’s best right back. But the damage was limited to injured egos, bruised pride and boneweary limbs. None of them are beyond repair. And we’re free again to concentrate on the Cup. This train could be bound for glory, this train.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Wasielewski, Schlupp, Mahrez, Drinkwatewr (Hammond 76), James (King 70), Knockaert, Nugent, Vardy (Wood 67). Not used: Moore, Taylor-Fletcher, Logan, Phillips. Booked: Vardy,
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison (Dervite 21), Wood, Wiggins, Cousins (Hughes 60), Poyet, Adjarevic (Tudgay 60), Jackson, Harriott, Church. Not used: Green Ghoochannejhad, Thuram, Fox. Booked: Harriott, Poyet.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson. Att: 24,742 (867 visiting).
IKEA in Greenwich
IKEA’s application to turn the big Sainsbury’s and Comet into a big new branch of the popular furniture shop divided opinion when the plans were revealed. The matter will be decided upon this week when the Planning Board assembles at the Town Hall on Monday evening at 6.30pm. Council officers have recommended that the plans be given the green light.
Just as likely to divide opinion as IKEA is the long-running controversy of the Run To The Beat event. Last year the event moved the start and finish to Greenwich Park and this year the organisers have decided to move it out of Greenwich altogether and it will take place in Wembley. Will you miss it or are you glad it’s going?
Hotel Checks Out
Another application that was causing controversy recently appears to have been quietly dropped for now. Simon has updated this forum thread with the news that Frank Dowling’s application for a large hotel, replacing Trident Hall behind the Trafalgar Tavern, has been withdrawn.
Cabinet member councillor John Fahy conducted a survey through his website to see if people thought the council should once again help fund Blackheath Fireworks and the results were revealed last Monday. It turns out they do, by a massive majority. 91% of the people who took part said the council should help fund the event. Read more on his website.
You can keep up to date with the best of the local blogosphere with the Greenwich blogs page on Greenwich.co.uk.
Another week, another movie being filmed in Greenwich. This time the Old Royal Naval College hosted the cast and crew of Frankenstein, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. There were lots of excited tweets as the news spread that the Harry Potter star was filming at the ORNC, which is of course also home to the University of Greenwich. Thanks very much to Graham Long for sharing this photo from shooting that took place on Wednesday evening.
The ORNC has recently appointed Will Palin as its new Conservation Director and there was a lovely gathering at the wonderful Warwick Leadlay gallery during the week to welcome him to his post. Horatio’s brilliantly funny and mischievous poem was an unforgettable, and unrepeatable, highlight. Best wishes to Will Palin in his new and important role!
And still with the Old Royal Naval College… a new series of concerts have been announced for this summer with names like Goldfrapp, Russell Watson and Jools Holland performing. Get more information here.
Snow’s No Show
It was reported in the week that London and the south east might get hit by snow yesterday (Friday). The white stuff failed to materialise though so it has turned out to be a pretty snowless winter. Looks like we may have to wait until next winter to once again see scenes like this.
Two people, however, did get snow on Friday as I delivered these two large prints to two very nice Greenwich residents. If you’ve seen a photo on the site you would like as a print or have a special request you would like to have photographed, please feel free to send me an email.
As well as the council’s Planning Board on Monday night, it’s also the next of the Greenwich Series events where interesting folk give a short talk to interested listeners above a pub in Greenwich. More info here. Thanks to organiser Matt for adding it to the site and if you have an event coming up you would like to publicise, you can do the same here.
Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Best 57) Charlton 2 (Harriott 22, Church 65).
Kevin Nolan reports from Hillsborough.
Let’s get one thing straight. There is little evidence to suggest that Charlton’s chances of avoiding relegation will be affected by their convoluted Cup run. These bonny battlers show every sign of coping with whatever is thrown at them so bring on the sixth round at Bramall Lane. Winning is contagious. Meanwhile, relax. You’ll need your rest.
This delayed 5th round win, hard on the heels of an epic league victory over QPR, was bitterly earned over a side desperate to secure a titanic, money-spinning clash with their despised local rivals. There were dollar signs clouding Sheffield Wednesday’s eyes but they might have made the mistake of spending the money before the cheque arrived. No Steel City derby for them. Nor Sheffield United. Charlton proved to be what John Lennon called a Spaniard in the Works.
Wednesday were left with regrets but few complaints. They were beaten by visitors with an insatiable hunger for success which carried them through numerous rough spots. Four of Monday night’s heroes were recent Academy graduates, one of them (Morgan Fox) making his senior club debut, as Chris Powell showed yet again that he is prepared to trust youth. Mind you, he placed them under the veteran eye of skipper Johnnie Jackson, whose crowdsurfing weekend celebrations faced a tougher test at Hillsborough, where travelling fans are squirrelled away in a remote top tier behind a goal. A suited-and-booted Powell duly stepped up to the challenge by swinging on the crossbar at the end. Undignified, of course, but the occasion got to him, as it had many of us on Saturday.
In the early going, the Owls hardly managed a touch. Buoyed by the pressure-releasing dismissal of QPR, the confident Londoners got among them, hogged the ball and should have scored before a resurgent Callum Harriott gave them a 22nd minute lead. Set up by Harriott’s darting run, Astrit Ajdarevic fired a shot against Glenn Loovens’ legs, then squirted the rebound off another blue-and-white defender for a fruitless corner. But the Addicks were not kept waiting long for their breakthrough.
A restless blend of skill and strength, 18-year old Diego Poyet is in the first team to stay, or someone else’s first team unless Roland Duchatelet ties him down to a deal. His hustling urgency won him possession to the right of Wednesday’s goal, with his ball in screwed wildly but effectively by Ajdarevic into Harriott’s feet on the edge of the penalty area. Still only a kid but slightly more experienced than his former U-21 mates, the 19-year old left winger did what came naturally in firing an unstoppable drive into the top left corner.
Well on top, the Addicks created a string of chances to make this tie safe before the interval. A senior citizen compared to Poyet, yet another19-year old (sorry about turning this into a litany of ages but this was a bunch of adolescents strutting their stuff) in Jordan Cousins forced Damian Martinez to save awkwardly at his near post with a blistering drive before more industry by Poyet set up Simon Church, whose tame effort hardly troubled Martinez. At the other end, Chris Maguire’s cross swung dangerously but untouched across goal. The Owls were improving but a formidable goalkeeper stood in their way.
Preferred to Yohann Thuram, Ben Hamer was a study in composure, first in dealing with Gary Gardner’s long range rocket, then effortlessly beating down Leon Best’s fierce half-volley after the striker eluded Fox (not 21 until September, by the way).
With a massive prize dangling in front of them, the South Yorkshiremen hauled themseves back ino contention after the interval. A rare slip by Poyet gave Jacques Maghoma enough space to curl a shot narrowly wide and though Jackson sent Ajdarevic’s lay-off skimming past a post in reply, Wednesday’s equaliser was on the cards.
A foul by Richard Wood on Gardner conceded a free kick, bent in by Maguire and touched on by Miguel Llera. In the ensuing chaos, Best hammered a rising drive through the heaving masses and Hillsborough at last erupted. Its relief wasn’t to last.
While Charlton briefly sagged, Fox’s foul on Best caused another hectic scramble from Maguire’s inevitably accurate setpiece but the home side’s equality lasted less than ten minutes before they fell behind again. Llera’s foul on Church was professional enough to earn him a yellow card from referee Mark Clattenburg but oil was poured on his troubled waters as Jackson’s wickedly dipping free kick was bundled past Martinez by a dubious combination of Church’s head/shoulder/arm. Wednesday’s protests were perfunctory and the goal stood.
What remained was an intense siege of Charlton’s goal, during which Hamer distinguished himself. His instinctive reaction in clawing Adthe Nuhui’s resounding header off the goalline after it cleared Harriott’s head and bounced off the inside of the left post was impressive. So was his plunging effort to beat Nuhiu to Maghoma’s whipped-in cross, then steal the loose ball off Best’s toe. But his piece-de-resistance was put aside for added time.
Already airborne in pursuit of Maguire’s vicious 20-yard drive, the keeper’s problems were complicated by a treacherous deflection off Michael Morrison. Finding an extra extension from somewhere, he managed to conjure the ball over the bar. If catches win matches, as ex-England opener and Sheffield Wednesday nut Michael Vaughan would surely confirm, then marvellous saves like this one certainly make sure you don’t lose them. Hamer’s performance surely resolved Charlton’s goalkeeping dilemma in his favour. We’ll find out at Leicester next Saturday as this crowded season gathers added pace. Keep the faith.
Wednesday: Martinez, Palmer, Loovens, Llera, Mattock, Maghoma, Coke (Lavery 58), Gardner (Nuhiu 58), Maguire, Afobe (Helan 74), Best. Not used: Kirkland, Buxton, Onyewu, Hutchinson. Booked: Llera, Mattock
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Wood (Dervite 90), Fox, Wilson, Cousins, Poyet, Ajdarevic (Hughes 90), Jackson, Harriott, Church (Ghoochannejhad 85). Not used: Thuram, Green, Sordell, Nego. Booked: Wood.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg. Att: 24,607.
Charlton 1 (Jackson 90) QPR 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
The arrival of cash-heavy QPR at The Valley pinpointed the lopsided struggle Chris Powell has been waging to keep Charlton in the Championship. And this magnificent, emotion-charged victory over the West London plutocrats neatly highlighted the resourceful fist he’s making of defying overwhelming financial odds.
His opposite number, Harry Redknapp, was able to choose a side from what Powell ruefully called “an embarrassment of riches.” The absence of prolific Charlie Austin was covered by the recent acquisition of Irish international Kevin Doyle, while suspended (I know, I could hardly believe it myself) Joey Barton was replaced by the even more recently acquired Ravel Morrison in a seamless jerk-for-jerk adjustment to R’s midfield. In response, Powell cheerfully admitted that his squad had been “cobbled together” from what was available to him.
After being thoroughly outwitted by his less-trumpeted rival, Redknapp was in typically disingenuous mood. “I thought Ravel was excellent on an impossible pitch. He was head and shoulders above everyone else on the field.”
To what my Mum would have dismissed as “blatherskiting” by an “eejit”, the only polite answer is “Cobblers!” The pitch, though bald and unattractive, was perfectly playable, while Morrison, despite seeing a lot of the ball, did little with it and, if his shooting was any guide, appeared to have his boots on the wrong feet. If he was “head and shoulders” above Charlton’s academy kids, Diego Poyet and Jordan Cousins, then the Pope really is still Polish. Unless, of course, Redknapp meant Michael Morrison, who was superb at the heart of the home defence.
The outstanding contributions of Poyet and Cousins were a reproof to Redknapp’s cheque-book version of management. Developed within the club and both still teenagers, they have stepped up from Sparrows Lane to warm the cockles of Powell’s heart. Mind you, it helps that during their development, they are under the experienced wing of their marvellous captain Johnnie Jackson.
As the Addicks have endured one frustration after another during this awkward season, Jackson has been scapegoated by a school of scholarly tacticians, many of whom don’t even attend games. He’s too slow, they say, his legs have gone, he only plays because he’s Powell’s favourite. To which, again, cobblers, cobblers and not-so-cobblers because the third point is conceded. Of course he’s Powell’s bloody favourite. Why the hell wouldn’t he be!?
Alongside a mixed bag of youngsters and new arrivals, Jackson was immense against Rangers. Tackling, blocking, encouraging, giving every inch and ounce of effort, he was everywhere at once. And, oh yeah, scoring, to which we’ll happily return later.
In reply to Charlton’s snapping, hustling urgency, the elegant West Londoners passed, trotted, passed again, broke occasionally into a gentle canter, then passed yet again. A shot at goal seemed the last thing on their minds. They didn’t actually manage one on target, though Morrison screwed a couple horribly wide and Yohann Thuram had to improvise nobly after presenting Dorian Dervite’s ill-advised backpass to substitute Modibo Maiga. The Addicks were far more purposeful in the shooting department.
Cousins made that point in the early going. Set up by Danny Green’s short lay-off, he drilled a low 25-yard piledriver against the right post; wrongfooted by the rebound, Reza Ghoochannejhad prodded against the opposite post as Robert Green floundered helplessly. Much later, the Addicks’ willingness to have a go paid handsome dividends.
Having replaced the ineffectual Green midway through the second period, Astrit Ajdarevic made an immediate impact with his nimble feet and ability to pick the right pass. He can shoot, too, as he demonstrated with a curling drive which was bound for the top right corner until Green’s full-length intervention at the expense of a right wing corner.
Shaking off his obvious disappointment, Ajdarevic took over corner-taking duties from Jackson in a ploy probably devised in training to free the skipper for other things. His wickedly delivered inswinger was met beyond the far post by Jackson, whose prodigious leap above Aaron Hughes was crowned by a firm downward header which cannoned off a defensive, goalline leg to find the roof of the net.
To state that the last gasp goal caused pandemonium would be to distort reality. The previously fretful Valley erupted in delirium; press box neutrality took an overdue break; Jackson and his overjoyed colleagues joined the Lower North in behaving badly; reason and reserve fled for cover. This was far more than a winning goal, this was a corner hopefully turned, temporary relief at least from all the setbacks steadily inflicted by this arduous campaign. And wouldn’t you know it was Charlton’s intrepid captain who delivered the goods? In added time too, which speaks highly of those supposedly knackered legs. Jackson dropped! Powell out! Only way to go, really.
Charlton: Thuram, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Green (Ajdarevic 64), Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Church (Harriott 89), Ghoochannejhad (Tudgay 64). Not used: Hamer, Sordell, Wood, Fox. Booked: Jackson.
QPR: Green, Hughes, Dunne, Hill, Traore, Hoilett (Keane 54), Carroll (Benayoun 81), Jenas, Morrison, Onuoha, Doyle (Maiga 69). Not used: Murphy, Suk-Young, Henry, O’Neil.
Referee: Carl Ilderton. Att: 17,333 (3,267 visiting).
I spotted a license application in the week for a new Sainbury’s at the Greenwich Square development on the old hospital site. In it, a new road name is revealed and it’s called Fenton Parade. Check out the forum for more information on the 18th century actress that provided the inspiration for the choice.
Peninsula ward councillor Mary Mills has put out a request for suggestions for street names along with instructions on how you can send them to the council.
Spring on its way
This long, wet, miserable weather is starting to draw to a close and this week there were some uplighting reminders that spring will soon be upon us, with blue skies and even daffodils spotted in Greenwich.
Also spotted in Greenwich this week was the arresting sight of Thor’s rather large hammer. The comic book hero from Asgard was in Greenwich last year for the filming of The Dark Work and it appears he was in the area again last week, leaving his hammer in the garden of the hotel, Devonport House.
The hammer, which was attracting lots of attention from passers-by, is in town to coincide with the release of The Dark World on DVD. Worth a look for all the scenes at the Old Royal Naval College. I understand the hammer should remain in Greenwich until February 28th.
Coming up this week
Esteemed local historial Neil Rhind will be giving a talk this week to the Greenwich Historical Society. It’s actually three short talks one, prompting the title “A Mixed Medley”, and takes place on Wednesday at Blackheath High School. More information here.
Also coming up is another free lunchtime recital at St Alfege Church in association with Trinity Laban. Eve Wieltschnig on clarinet and Gennie Joy on bass clarinet will be performing on Thursday, from 1.05pm until 2pm.
You can keep an eye on all upcoming events at St Alfege here.
Customers at Sabo’s newsagent today were also treated to a free lunch time recital with Bob doing a great job on sax.
Don’t forget, recitals, talks and any other interesting local events can be added to the what’s on section here.
I mentioned in last week’s round up that the Royal Artillery Band would be leaving the borough after 250 years and performing a farewell parade. It was a good turnout in General Gordon Square but if you didn’t make it over to Woolwich to see them, here’s a photo I got of them marching out of historic Woolwich Barracks for the final time.
The stretch of river between Charlton and the tip of the Greenwich peninsula is called Bugsby’s Reach but there are moves to change this to Waterman’s Reach. Historian and Peninsula ward councillor Mary Mills has penned this article explaining why she’s against the change.
Just around the bend from Bugsby’s Reach is Blackwall Reach and that’s where there was a fireworks display on Friday night, sending red love hearts in to the sky. You might well have seen the short display, or more likely heard them, but here’s a short video clip from Twitter user @wontbelong
New restaurant planned in Greenwich?
A new restaurant could be coming to Greenwich town centre in the not-too-distant future. Peyton and Byrne have applied for planning permission for signage and alterations that would be required to open up a new restaurant at 20 & 22 Greenwich Church Street. These two properties have recently been rebuilt by landlords Greenwich Hospital.
The List of Adrian Messenger
Many thanks to Monique who got in touch to tell me about The List of Adrian Messenger. It’s a John Huston-directed movie, made in the 60s, with an amazing cast list that includes Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra and many scenes were filmed near Monique’s home in East Greenwich. Check out this great web page to see the stills from the movie and hover your mouse over them to see more recent photos. Thanks again, Monique, for sharing the find.
Met boss in Charlton
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Bernard Hogan-Howe, will be at Charlton House next week to answer questions. It’s an event for people from Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs and takes place on Wednesday 19th Feb, from 6.30pm – 7.30pm.
Still in Charlton, don’t forget you can catch up with all of Kevin Nolan’s CAFC match reports on Greenwich.co.uk, kindly sponsored by Grant Saw Wealth Management, who are based at the Blackheath Standard. And this week’s round up ends with a short message from Grant Saw Wealth Management.
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