Saturday, April 05, 2008

Plymouth Tonic

Coming from a city famous for its gin, it was appropriate that Charlton finally received a much needed tonic. My tipple of choice this evening is no contest.

I had unselfishly foregone Qatar's famous nightlife (surely some mistake - Ed.), to listen to commentary from the Wolves game, and their last minute equaliser felt very much like the final nail in our play-off coffin.

As a result of the Wolves deflation, plus the effect of jet lag from my flight home, I could not even summon up the enthusiasm to write my usual Plymouth match preview. Matters were not helped by the fact that other than its gin, I knew nothing else about the city except that it had delightfully named suburbs called Mutley and Pennycomequick.

It seems I was a little premature in writing this team off, and other results went firmly our way too. However, that Wolves winner could prove extremely costly indeed, because without it we'd now be sitting in a rather undeserved 6th place.

It does seem absurd that a team averaging less than 1.5 points per game, should even be remotely in touch with the play-offs, let alone just one point behind. However, notwithstanding the obvious mediocrity of this division, if we can show some of today's same fighting spirit over the final four games, that we maintain an outside chance.

The remaining fixtures of Charlton, Palace (game in hand), Cardiff (two games in hand) and the two teams immediately above us is as follows:

CHARLTON: Southampton (H), QPR (A), Barnsley (A), Coventry (H) Max: 72
IPSWICH: Cardiff (H), Norwich (H), Wolves (A), Preston (A), Hull (H)
Max: 75
WOLVES: Bristol C (A), WBA (H), Ipswich (H), Cardiff (H), Coventry (A), Plymouth (H)
Max: 79
PALACE: Stoke (A), Scunthorpe (H), Watford (A), Hull (A), Burnley (H)
Max: 74
CARDIFF: Ipswich (A), Blackpool (H), Scunthorpe (A), Wolves (A), Burnley (A), Barnsley (H) Max: 74

Ipswich would appear to be well-placed, given that three of their next four matches are against teams with nothing to play for. However the Tractor Boys aside, we would appear to have the second best run-in, particularly compared to Palace who have three treacherous away games against automatic promotion contenders.

Wolves still have to play Ipswich meanwhile after consecutive fixtures against automatic promotion contenders. Cardiff meanwhile will play a vital role, either directly (they can still reach 74 points) or indirectly through their fixtures against Wolves and Ipswich. What those three intra-rival matches means of course is that every team cannot meet its maximum, but in return between 6 and 9 points are in the bag, to be split amongst that trio.

From our perspective therefore, I would be confident that 72 points will be enough, whilst 69 or 70 points could well be. Before we get too excited that three more wins might do it however, fully our last twelve matches only yielded as much.

Pards opted for a narrower midfield today, something I had been advocating here before. His plans went out the window after just two minutes however, leading to the type of spirited ten-man display which has become the norm, not the exception for us this season. If only the management team could impose the same inspiration on the team, that a red card seems to engender, then we really could be onto something.

Leroy Lita meanwhile made it three goals in 74 minutes for the Addicks, and it's not beyond the realm of fantasy to suggest we have the best striker in the Championship for the run-in. If there's a lesson herein for Pards, it's perhaps to highlight the difference between being a 'proven' Premiership player available on loan, and a wholly 'unproven' one (Halford, Sinclair, Cook etc..). Whilst the former are not on offer very often, the two should not be confused as being one and the same.

On a different topic, if there was one story this week that summed up our season, it was the news that Jerome Thomas would be 'reassessing' his options should we fail to secure promotion. It was the implication that our likelihood of promotion, and Thomas' own form are mutually exclusive, that really rankled. Yet more evidence of the parallel universe that many young (and often English) footballers inhabit, not least given that he has contributed precisely zero goals to our campaign this season. He hasn't created too many either.

Presumably far hungrier to be involved this season (and for many more to come), will be Rob Elliot who has patiently waited for his chance via Notts County and Accrington Stanley. His compatriot Darren Randolph meanwhile will surely be recalled from Bury, and the two will fight it out on Saturday as the only ever-present appearance record for the Addicks comes to an end.


At 8:26 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Excellent post again. It was noticeable that when we went down to ten men away at Southampton we produced one of our best fighting performances of the season and took all three points.

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me we 'clicked' in the 2nd half of the wolves game when SAP swapped Ambrose for ZZ on the right wing.

Instantly you could see a better balance, also with Thomas's improved atitude (to sell himself) with excellent tracking back and tackling we finally looked like a team of 11 players.

On Thomas it's like a work colleague said to me... "what is it about failed english ex-arsenal reserve players?"

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NYA,
with the form book being thrown out the window so frequently whats the chance of one of the better placed teams suddenly losing form?
Have you looked at their run-ins as well?

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bristol face wolves (h), stoke (a) and could lose both of these. If nerves kick in then Sheff Utd (a) may hard, Preston (h) may just see them home with 73 points....or will it?

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally I might be going to a home game this week without Ambrose playing!


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