Monday, April 09, 2007

Reading disability

When Talal el Karkouri thumped a free header against the underside of the bar inside five minutes, one sensed it was perhaps not going to be our day against a determined Reading side who did our relegation rivals proud with their efforts.

Although our only other clear-cut chance fell to Zheng in the final minute, by the midway point of the second half I had resigned myself to the valuable, albeit frustrating point that we never truly deserved to convert into three. Infact Reading arguably looked more likely to find the guile required to break the deadlock, with the effervescent Stephen Hunt heavily involved, and prompted by the impressive former Addicks target Steve Sidwell.

The midfield confrontation between Sidwell and our own Alexandre Song set the tone for the evening, and having shown several promsing signs that he could win his personal battle, Song stupidly got himself booked for a rash kick and was unable to stay as firmly committed thereafter. Indeed Pards had little choice but to withdraw the influential Cameroonian once Graham 'opinion' Poll made it clear his patience was fading along with his own international refereeing career.

Elsewhere for the Addicks, Souleymayne Diawara was calmness personified (whilst Talal El Karkouri did his best impressions of a madman), and further forward Zheng performed enthusiastically despite being pulled from pillar to post by his ever-demanding manager. Scott Carson pulled off a vital first-half save meanwhile, and generally commanded his area with typical authority. Both Jerome Thomas and Darren Bent misfired all evening and as arguably the two players most likely to score, it was perhaps no surprise that we didn't.

It's hard to be overly harsh on a team that has not conceded a goal for 429 minutes, but our lack of creativity is becoming a concern and two points from the Easter period is a disappointment. We seemed to hit all the right attacking notes against West Ham, but hindsight now suggests the thumping scoreline perhaps mainly reflected their own inadequacies. Goalless draws may bring valuable points, but it's not clear yet if, to paraphrase Bruce Forsyth, they'll bring Premiership prizes (especially with harder games yet to come). There is plenty of honest endeavour in the Charlton team, but we seem to lack a player who can slow the tempo down one notch below 'frenetic' and ensure we retain possession in key areas. It's a role that Claus Jensen used to perform admirably for us for example.

Results elsewhere were broadly positive for us though, and it now looks firmly like '2 from 5' at the bottom, as opposed to the '1 from 8' that it resembled just ten days ago; Fulham are now clearly the team moving downwards with alarming speed. We must presumably hope for a draw between Sheff Utd and West Ham, thus keeping us out of the relegation zone, but a win for either side (particularly Sheff Utd) need not be a disaster since their next fixtures are against Man Utd and Chelsea respectively. With West Ham playing at Man Utd on the final day, we must pray that the Premiership is not decided until then (and huge thanks must go to Pompey in that regard).


At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Estu said...

I'm particularly interested in knowing why Pards continues to pick Elk ahead of Bougherra. Perhaps he is constantly carrying a knock, but he was on the bench for the Man City game.

It's not hard, but he is obviously calmer than Elk, and much more effective bringing the ball forward. This is the player you are looking for when you talk about bringing the game under control...His control would allow the midfield to a) get involved, b) relax a bit and c) actually build an attack rather than just pluck away hoping Thomas can put in a decent cross for once.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Nick Hill said...

I think we do have to hope it's all decided before the final day - in our favour of course. West Ham aren't the problem (still think they're going down). Fulham have games they can win, so do Wigan. And Wigan/Sheff Utd on the last day could be a stitch-up. We need to be safe before going to Anfield, which means getting another win from the Everton, Blackburn or Spurs games.


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