Friday, November 14, 2008

Birmingham preview

A trip to one of the country's most unpleasantly hostile stadiums awaits the Addicks tomorrow afternoon.

My last trip to St Andrews was on the final day of the 1997/98 season, when Charlton denied the Blues a possible play-off berth with a battling goalless draw.

We had started that afternoon with slight hopes of automatic promotion, but by half-time results elsewhere had ensured the guaranteed play-off place was likely the best we could hope for.

The Birmingham PA announcer and scoreboard operator took considerable delight in informing Charlton's fans and players of the news from elsewhere, presumably in the vain hope that we would cave in to the defeat which might just give their own team a play-off chance.

I recall genuinely fearing that Charlton's fans might not exit the stadium in one piece that afternoon, although we just about managed it.

This was back in the days of course when we had eleven real battlers on the park, and they kept that same work ethic through to Wembley and promotion to the Premiership.

However St Andrews is a stadium where we have an outstanding recent record, and the current team whilst patently lacking that same spirit, is nonetheless in dire need of at least another point to try to build confidence for the hoped-for climb out of relegation trouble.

In our last eight visits dating back to a terrific televised 4-3 win in 1995/96, we have secured three wins, four draws and only one defeat (in 1999/2000). Ironically the only goal that day was scored by Bryan Hughes.

Alan Pardew has made much of the performance at Home Park last Saturday, and whilst one cannot fail to admire his optimism, it seems a little overboard given the lateness of our goals.

At least he finally ended Luke Varney's illogical permanent presence on the pitch this season, by substituting the striker-cum-winger early in the second half.

Having scrambled an injury-time lead meanwhile, it was undeniably sloppy not to have closed out the match. For every step forward this season, we continue to take at least one large one back.

Although Pards began with a 4-5-1 formation at Plymouth, and was presumably happy with the way he claims we controlled the game, it was only after bringing on Todorov as a second striker that we belatedly found the net. However one would imagine he will revert back to a five-man midfield, at least until we concede what now seems to be the inevitable first goal.

Birmingham still lie in 2nd place and have conceded just 11 goals all season, but are on a mini run of poor form, failing to win any of their last three. Both Blackpool and Coventry have sneaked 1-0 wins at St Andrews this season, so there is certainly hope for Charlton if we perform.

There is plenty of attacking strength in the Birmingham side, with the likes of Kevin Philips, James McFadden and Cameron Jerome all capable of scoring regular goals at this level.

They also have Marcus Bent whose engagement to Gemma Atkinson was recently announced. Bent reportedly bought her an £83,000 engagment ring, paid for if you think about it indirectly by Charlton fans. I'm sure you'll join me in sending the happy couple our warmest congratulations.

I expect Pards to line them up as follows: Weaver, Moutaouakil, Youga, Hudson, Primus, Bailey, Holland, Semedo, Bouazza, Sam, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Cranie, Basey, Todorov, McLeod.

NY Addick predicts Birmingham 2 (McFadden, Bent), Charlton 0. Att: 16, 221.


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

In looking over the Birmingham lineup, I recognize 16 names on the roster, which is about a dozen more than with most Championship sides. I fully expect we are going to get a right proper spanking tomorrow. Pards, feel free to dispell my fears.

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Ketts said...

The hope has to be that Birmingham are as ordinary as when they faced Coventry in their last match at St.Andrews.If they are on song & fancy it I fear the worst.

Have you signed up for your 99pence 4 day CATV 'trial' NYA?

At 3:32 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I haven't subscribed to CATV - I have continued to subscribe to another club's site where I have been listening to all the commentaries, albeit from the point of view of the away team.

Had they launched it at the start of the season instead of a third of the way through it, I would have felt differently.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

I remember the 0-0 draw. I joined the coach on the M1, but even so their fans were trying to break down some wire fencing to get at us. I went subsequently with Brian Cole, at least we were team handed then and parked up near the ground with the inevitable request from some urchin to 'look after your car'.


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