Width ? Not today I’m afraid !!

65milesA good point earned today thanks to the left peg of Ademola Lookman, on what could be his last appearance as a Charlton player.

Not the most positive of openings to a post celebrating a second half comeback and a last minute equaliser but the way we’re being run at the moment I won’t be at all surprised if he goes before Wednesday night.

But first, let’s go back in time a week or so and celebrate a fine win at Walsall. Two goals from Nicky Ajose gave us all three points despite, I assume, them being possibly the two worst finishes of his entire career.

The first hit him on the chest, the second he somehow managed to blunder across the line with a combination of both feet and a fairly big slice of luck.

Not that I care a great deal as the most important thing is that we won the game and he got two goals to his name.

A bit of a goof for the Walsall goal courtesy of Declan Rudd who I’m sure would (excuse the pun) hold his hands up to that one, but he redeemed himself with a couple of excellent saves late on to ensure we took all three points.

Being beaten from long range isn’t something we haven’t seen before though – Ben Hamer used to let goals in from that distance all the time !!

The big mid-week news was Tareiq Holmes-Dennis move to Huddersfield Town for an ‘undisclosed’ fee, which we’ve since found out was probably £400,000 plus some kind of sell-on clause.

A lot of general grumpiness ensued on social media with the club once again at fault but by the sounds of it THD wanted out and Slade was happy to let him go.

Slado has previously stated he wanted players at the club who want to stay and fight for it, so no surprise then that THD was allowed to go.

To be honest, we have to trust that Slado knows his stuff and he said in the week that THD wasn’t winning the battle for starting left back spot ahead of Morgan Fox, who, defensively at least has been doing alright, so good luck THD, might see you next year in the Championship (if you get a game ?!)

One last thing …. THD’s greatest (only ?) moment, I give you once again, the Barry Bannon.

bbandthd

 

 

 

And so on to today. A good opening was seeing this season’s first ‘ringer’ – fat Tony Hadley, before a pretty good start I thought, although the heat of the sun bearing down on us might have affected my vision a little bit. (He doesn’t really look that much like Tony Hadley)

A pretty cagey affair got to half time with us probably just shading it, Jason Pearce heading just wide while Chris Solly was required to stretch all of his five foot three to clear off the line.

Disappointing to see Jacko go off after twenty minutes (with a tight hammy apparently) but good to see Patrick Bauer get back on the pitch – despite his desperately poor distribution (we were in red Patrick by the by.)

Half time came and went with brow mopping in the covered end the interval activity of choice and then we got done down the left and Gary Madine was the Bolton jonny-on-the-spot to force it home and put the unbeaten league leaders ahead.

Just one thing before I move on – the half time crossbar challenge is coming – watch this space ?!

What do you mean it’s coming ?  It’s a crossbar challenge, one person, a ball, somewhere near the goal – job done.

Watch this space ? What for exactly ?  Get on with it !

Anyway, a bit disappointing to concede so early as we had had much of the more positive possession in the first period and defended well but second half I didn’t think we had much of a clue going forward, the majority of our attacks being long clipped passes to the head of Josh Magennis.

Despite his best efforts, knockdowns / flick-ons weren’t falling to Ajose, who needs to be getting the ball in the box (chances for a finisher not being created – written that here a few times over the last few seasons) and we were SO narrow, with zero width down either side until Lookman came on.

Well, I say until Lookman came on but he only stayed wide for five minutes before moving further and further inside.

Obviously I can’t complain too much because he did score the goal but with both him and Ricky Holmes looking like they both had been given a ‘free role’, at least one of them had to take the decision to pull wide – but neither did.

Ezri Konsa was very good again at centre half alongside a very sturdy Jason Pearce, and continued to do well when pushed to right back to replace Solly who had moved into midfield, but he was stuffed for an out ball up the line with no-one in the fifty-plus yards ahead of him.

Just my opinion but Holmes was excellent wide(ish) against Shrewsbury and I really think we missed that today.

A few times he really got at the Bolton defence, but going down the middle led him into areas of congestion that he couldn’t extricate himself from, whereas if he’d been wide he would have had more space to work in.

So, a point against the leaders isn’t bad, but back to winning ways is imperative next time out.

Three signings due maybe this week – I shan’t be holding my breath mind !!

One last thing – and just a little bug-bear if that be the phrase, but don’t take a free programme from the CARD distributors – and then chuck it on the floor.

If you don’t want one – don’t take one !!

Not sure about Tuesday night’s game v Southampton but will be up at Colchester United Weston Homes for the proper U23 league match on Monday afternoon.

C’mon you Reds !!

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A win – time for a catch up then !

65milesSo, four games gone, four goals, four points and two defeats.

First up, I don’t really care about the Cheltenham result, although the opportunity for a lot of those players to get another 90 or so minutes in a Charlton shirt was the priority.

I didn’t do either of the away games so took my place in the Covered End (a change in seats and stand for the first time since we went East Stand back when it first opened) at home against Northampton with my good lady wife taking the brother’s seat as he was playing cricket !?

It’s going to take a while to get used to (the change in seat, not sitting next to the wife), although the £300 saving from where I’ve been perched on at a home game since 1993 will definitely be high up in the ‘for’ column.

My wife thought we had quite a good view, but coming across from the middle of the East Stand you do have to come to terms with the constant up and down when we attack the Covered End especially when you take into account the reduced leg room.

The sun coming down over the top of the Jimmy Seed as the year goes on will also be a factor but my Nan has one of those ‘card dealer’ green visors so might give that a whirl, although my brother has called shotgun !

Still, on the plus side we are now out of the ground within a minute of the final whistle and didn’t have the long wait on the East Stand stairs like previous seasons.

So, gripes ?

A couple unfortunately; firstly a distinct lack of programme vendors, although that’s more of a continuation of a gripe from last year as we play hunt the prog seller outside the ground in the hour preceding kick off.

The distinct lack of the use of soap by a young lady sitting near us in our new seats was a bit of an attack on the nostrils but was only really noticeable when the wind blew across the stand or when she moved.  (Quite pleased she wasn’t there for Shrewsbury what with all the first half leaping up and down we were doing !)

Perhaps the club could get her to sign an ‘out in public hygiene agreement’

But onto the football.

Not a bad start by all accounts on Saturday, a poor first half display saw us go in behind but one assumes a few polite words from Slado got us going and we got back in it thanks to a good move with Holmes and Ajose involved and Jacko supplying the finish.

We probably did just enough to nick it but it was not to be and a point apiece left us third from bottom with just that point from our opening two league matches.

An absolutely superb first half last night though set the ground a-rockin’ with some excellent performances; none more so than Ricky Holmes running the show and scoring two excellent goals.

The first a pinger following a great run from halfway and the second, a top corner effort direct from a corner – something Danny Green tried every corner he ever took and possibly more importantly, a corner that actually beat the first man if nothing else.

At the back we looked pretty solid with Declan Rudd pulling off a great save when called upon, but unfortunately for Shrewsbury, their main plan of attack was getting it wide down the left, only to come up against the one man in our side you don’t want to try and get by, Chris Solly.

Josh Magennis had an excellent match as well, a lot better than Saturday and he deserved the applause as he left the pitch relatively late on.

As for the rest of the side, well, it’s time for the first run-through of the season, based of course on both home matches so far.

Declan Rudd – looks confident coming for crosses and stopping shots – pretty important for a goalkeeper I think – quite happy with him in the number one spot.

Chris Solly – you know what you’re going to get with him, just hope he can stay fit and play as many games as possible.

Morgan Fox – still quite a few around us even in our new spot aren’t keen on Foxy but he’s okay in the tackle but lacks confidence when in possession and when there isn’t a pass on he does seem to try the audacious.  The lack of an obvious wide man in front of him doesn’t help and that showed on Saturday, but with Holmes in that spot last night Fox seemed a lot better.  Needs to work on his crossing while on the run though.

Jason Pearce – a bit shorter than I expected but was certainly up for it last night and not afraid to stick his head or foot in where it needs to be – I like him !

Ezri Konsa – a bit surprised he was in last night with Bauer on the bench but was good Saturday (with a couple of dodgy passes thrown in) so probably deserved to start and was very good last night – not taking any shit from any of the big men that Shrewsbury threw at him.  Needs to keep calm and let his football do the talking and work on his distribution a bit – but then Rufus was generally poor with the ball at his feet !

Jacko – will probably score double figures this season just from knowing where to be and when to be there.  So much better in the centre of midfield unlike Saturday where he seemed to be the supposed wide man … and wasn’t.

Andrew Crofts – I like him too.  One of those players who just seems to be there to pick up the loose ball and find another player in the right colour shirt.  Would like him to be a bit more creative but early days.  Made a couple of dodgy decisions but made up for them straight away and pulled off a superb tackle in the second half when ‘bury looked to be away.

Kevin Foley – will be known from this point onwards as Theo.  Not sure about him if I’m honest although it is early days and we don’t have a very big squad to choose from.  Did well sitting in front of Solly and being the wider man of the midfield four did give Jacko the opportunity to play in his more familiar central position.  He did nothing wrong for me but there are more than a few who would leave him out for Ademola Lookman.

Personally I would play him like we did last night and bring on Lookman as the impact player midway through the second half.  I can see the youngster on his way soon so just perhaps Slado is trying to keep him out of the eyes of the scouts until the window closes in a fortnight ?

Ricky Holmes – definitely a bit of a hit and more than an adequate replacement at this level for Gudmundsson (and Harriott).  He will score goals and create them too without seeming to resort to too many tricks, rather just putting the defenders under pressure by driving at them and pushing them back towards their own goal.

Josh Magennis – I wasn’t sure Saturday, especially in the first half as he looked a bit out of it and bullied by Northampton’s two centre halves, but yesterday was so much better, chasing everything down, winning headers and generally putting his big self about.  Unlucky not to grab a goal, denied by a good save from the Shrewsbury keeper but a few more performances like that and we’ll soon forget Big Mak. (Who ? Oh, him !!)

Nicky Ajose – the guy needs a goal !  Unlucky not to get one last night, he certainly seems the man to get a few and was denied by a save and a block, and a rushed effort to put in the rebound after Lookman’s effort was parried.  Very annoyed at the end of the game last night and Slado was quickly over to console and encourage but better a striker who’s pissed off he hasn’t scored than one who doesn’t care (and doesn’t try).

As for the subs well Lookman will be great but needs to pass just a little more often but when you have his ability you can see why sometimes he doesn’t – can we keep him ?  We’ll need to keep winning and show him there’s a reason to stay, and also for Russell to convince her highness that we should grab the first big handful that gets offered her way.

Jordan Botaka hasn’t had much time on the pitch to show what he can do so I am reserving judgement for the moment.  He does need to ensure he doesn’t become another Callum Harriott – too intent on the tricks and less on the actual final product, but we’ll see.

Lee Novak will probably be a little disappointed he’s not got the starting spot ahead of Magennis but will have to show what he can offer when he gets his chance from the bench.  Not bad Saturday or last night but as we looked as though we were pretty much happy with our lot before he came on, there wasn’t the same intensity to get forward.  Will do good for us methinks.

And that’s just about it – away to Walsall Saturday – onwards, and hopefully continuing upwards.

C’mon you Reds !!

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We’ve only gone and signed someone !!

65milesNo, I couldn’t believe it either !!

With just the three days to go until we open our campaign for season 2016/17 we finally manage to complete a signing and bag ourselves a keeper.

Quite what has taken us so long to make any more signings after such a promising start to Slado’s reign I don’t know.  I can only assume that all the players we were interested in either met a certain lady CEO or alternatively have just been awake some time over the last six to eight months and realised we probably aren’t the club you want to sign for.

But, the Ruddler has put pen to paper, albeit only for a loan spell, but, he’s here for the season so just the five or six others the gaffer thinks we need and we’ll be all ready to go on Saturday.

Obviously the trip up to Bury will be interesting, the players handing around images of one another on the coach, playing fun games like hey, can you remember my name ? and it won’t matter, just remember what colour we’re playing in !

I was away last week on my pre-season hols and was getting more than a bit worried that someone at the Valley had forgotten how many players you need for a team (more than we have, by some way).

I was contemplating a preview for the season ahead but others much more capable than I have already done that, and if I’m honest, I’m much more focussed on how we’re going to do.

Badly alas is my current prediction !

So the Ruddler has arrived which is a bloody good job because both our main goalkeepers had gone for the old-faithful undisclosed fee.

While Henderson might get a chance at Forest, I’m more than sure that Nick Pope will be saying all the right things at Burnley but secretly hoping Tom Heaton’s arm shatters the next time he tries to open a carton of long life.

Of course, we had the very important announcements that we have nice new hexagonal goal nets and two new members of the medical team.

With the limited numbers in the first team squad, I can only imagine their main role will be to sooth the growing disillusionment and endeavour to repair the shattered dreams of football stardom of our younger squad members, forced into playing too many games too soon.

Still rumours continue that the players are coming and while comparisons could be (but generally aren’t) made with Chris Powell starting the season with a completely new team, those players were all together at the start of pre-season, not being introduced to one another in the changing room before kick off a la my old Sunday league side.

I suppose at least Slado won’t have to tell everyone to call them by dodgy names because they weren’t all registered!

We did of course sign Andrew Crofts for a year after he impressed on trial – don’t know any more than what’s on the official website – will make my mind up very quickly next week when I see him play !

Rumours continue about Morgan Fox might be on his way to West Ham (not going to happen) and Jorge Teixeira’s agent is trying desperately to get his client a better gig (more likely but getting late in the day now).

Christian Ceballos has gone on loan to Sint Truiden (are these players quite mad ?) with STVV announcing it before we did !?

As I said before I’ve been away on my travels so haven’t had much (anything) to do with the pre-season friendly goings-on but with a less than ready squad it can really only give Slado confirmation of those areas in which he needs to strengthen or at least get one player who has played in that position before!!

In other news, its nice to see the club are continuing to do their bit for the locals by offering four free tickets to anyone with an SE7 postcode, undone only by the fact that the date of the offer doesn’t actually correspond to the match advertised.

Nice try, but as they say, no cigar.

They have back-tracked on the extra £2.50 charge for ‘walk-up’ purchasers – a good thing, but, and I quote from the official web site;

“… we will also install a computer at The Valley’s reception where our ticketing office staff can show those who need support, how to register and purchase online.”

Come on Charlton, that is utter wank !!  Almost feel like we should line up there one at a time for free computer training just to ruin their day !

Elsewhere, I have been in sunny Herefordshire, and whilst wife and daughters spent a happy hour in the shops the other day, dog and I wandered around the outside of Edgar Street, home to Hereford FC.

Thanks to an open gateway, me and the hound were able to take a step or two inside the ground and have a look at the pitch and pre-season preparations.  It was only after coming away that I realised they were Hereford FC and not Hereford Utd FC.

Awfully, I didn’t know that Hereford Utd were in fact no more, wound up and gone due to HM Revenue & Customs – and only thanks to fans efforts that they have been reborn as Hereford FC.

Thanks to those same fans they have kept the ‘United’ involved by incorporating it into the new motto ‘forever united’.

Hereford_FC_Badge

Also great is that they kept hold of the ground and retain the bar, named Addisons after the player / manager of their greatest game (beating Newcastle Utd in the FA Cup on 5th Feb 1972) and their club room called Radfords, of course after the scorer of what many think was the winning goal which we’ve all seen a million times – and it’s still a screamer, but wasn’t, in fact only the equaliser to take the game into extra time for Ricky George to win them the match !

Getting a bit carried away there – but to be honest it’s nice to have something good to right about; you can read the wikipedia entry for the match or alternatively you can watch the highlights courtesy of youtube.

Fair play to you … a great season last year finished in promotion to the Southern League South and West, victory in the Herefordshire County Cup and Midland Football League Cup and losing finalists at Wembley in the FA Vase, going down 1-4 to Morpeth Town at Wembley.

And that owner / CEO and various management lackeys, THAT is the power of fans !!

Good luck for the season ahead Hereford FC, but I think we might just need a bit more of it than you.

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