Sunday, March 20, 2005

Game lost when Curbs handed in teamsheet

It would be easy to blame yesterday's defeat on poor refereeing (he wasn't poor) but the game was lost in my view as soon as Fish was named in the team ahead of Perry. It is not difficult to understand the basis for the decision: WBA play with two big strikers so we should emphasise Fish's physical presence over Perry's awareness and pace. Firstly the plan failed, as can be shown easily by the nature of their first three goals. Second, it was obvious within ten minutes that the defence looked unassured and nervy. Third, why is a team 7th in the league and at home to a struggler, worrying about how they're going to line up? Shouldn't they be worrying about us? And moreover, Chris Perry has played his entire career with a height disadvantage but he's been a consistent performer throughout - if he couldn't handle big strikers, he would not have played so many games at the top level. Fish, perhaps not surprisingly, looked slow and short of match practice. Who knows whether El Karkouri's recklessness was not borne out of frustration that he was denied a partner in defence whom he had built a solid foundation with in recent weeks?

In terms of the sending off, I've only seen it briefly but it was messy and if you unnecessarily give the referee a viable option to give a red card, you can't complain if he takes it. The red card probably ended our hopes of winning the game, but WBA were unfortunate to be drawing at the time and Kiely had been our stand-out player throughout the first half, making from memory at least four excellent saves.

Anyhow, the points are gone and we can only move forward to the Man City game, with Curbs no doubt wishing there was a game sooner to help put this result behind us. We will never know how the result would have gone if Perry had played, but one the case can well be made that 4-1 would not have been on the agenda.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Charlton break midweek Spurs hoodoo

Games against Spurs, as previously indicated in this blog, always have an extra spice for this expatriate Addick given I was brought up firmly in a Tottenham-supporting area. We have played Spurs four times at home in midweek since 1999 and lost four times, hence I didn't tune in to today's game with great expectations. However our overall record against Spurs is actually pretty good, by my reckoning we went in today's game with five League wins, three draws and three defeats.

We couldn't have wished for a better start. I had nearly emailed my Spurs supporting friends to warn them that Jerome Thomas was capable of brilliance but I didn't want to tempt fate. Who knows what impact my restraint had, as he unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner on four minutes? The remainder of the first half reminded me unnervingly of the Liverpool game - us sitting back and inviting pressure, not a good idea given the quality Spurs have up front. However, by luck or judgment we entered the interval 1-o up and Curbs had a chance to restore the shape and rally the troops for a vital 45 minutes.

As it turns out, we sounded pretty comfortable during the second half and whilst we didn't create much ourselves, we always had the pace of Thomas on the break and considerable height to repel any long ball tactics that might be adopted. With a few minutes remaining, the perfect ending was delivered and it was probably the one player every Charlton fan would have wanted to score, thus silencing the arrogant Spurs fans who still to this day can't believe Murphy could possibly have been telling truth when he turned them down for us.

Radio never gives you a great perspective on individual performances, but it seems like Thomas was at his cheeky best, and that Konchesky ran his socks off (a fact confirmed later by my father who was there). Indeed, Konch has quietly gone about his business after the tantrum last season and has proved what a vital player he is, a fact that was never entirely clear to me previously. Rommedahl seemed to disappoint again and one wonders if he may be offloaded at a loss in the summer?

All in all, a near perfect home performance in a vital game. An early goal, then soak up the inevitable pressure before sealing the points late on. Sometimes you have to hand it to Curbs who delivered a big result in a big game. With Liverpool stuttering and WBA at home on Saturday, one wonders whether this might just be the season when our mid-season expectations are finally met.