Friday, February 20, 2009

Barnsley preview

Saturday's comfortable victory over Plymouth had provided a glimmer of hope to the Addicks, especially given other Championship results.

Unfortunately those same results during midweek saw vital victories for Barnsley, Watford and Derby put further obstacles between Charlton, and an extraordinary survival bid.

Partly as a result of these constant knock backs, it's been hard to find the impetus to write anything fresh or original on this blog, hence the relative scarcity of posts.

Although we are bottom of the Championship firmly on merit, the league table does provide some evidence that the twenty-four teams are more similar in standard than the leading pack may have us believe.

Take QPR for example, the pre-season favourites. They sit in 11th place troubling neither the top nor bottom, yet have lost the same number of matches as leaders Wolves, whilst scoring fewer goals than poor old Charlton. It's a funny old game.

Doncaster's slick passing football meanwhile is finally winning them points as well as plaudits (22 from a possible 24), yet they're yet to score their 10th goal at home this season!

Unfortunately, speculating about the general mediocrity of the division does little to help our own near-term hopes, given that so many of our problems this season are clearly self-inflicted.

Even a rare victory generates as many questions as answers. Why for example was Chris Dickson ignored for so long, yet now his enthusiasm and unpredictability are seemingly touted as much-needed virtues?

What has happened meanwhile to the 4-4-1-1 formation which plunged Jonjo Shelvey into the public spotlight? Ironically it was at Oakwell that he made his debut last season, but he is unlikely to figure this time around.

It gives the sense that Phil Parkinson continues to experiment, hoping to stumble across a winning formula before it's too late.

A confirmed relegation with several games to go might at least therefore give fans the chance to detect what type of 'grand plan' he has for instant promotion, since results at that point will be entirely moot.

And of course whilst the Addicks seek perhaps an unlikely 8 wins from 14 to save themselves, they remain at the mercy of Stoke, Reading, Wolves and Leeds should their own respective relegation and promotion battles, require the services of their own players back.

Rather than dwelling on the short-term optimism that rare victories might engender (and will likely be fleeting anyhow), I'm tempted instead to focus on the longer-term optimism that an interesting core of a successful League One team may be emerging.

Beginning with Greenwich-born keeper Rob Elliot, through to the likes of Matthew Spring, Nicky Bailey, Therry Racon and Chris Dickson, there is a sense that we may finally have a team next season that fans can rally around again.

Throw in the homegrown types of Messrs. Shelvey, Wright, Sam and Basey, and our likely relegation need not spell doom, at least as far as matters on the pitch are concerned.

I witnessed Barnsley destroy Charlton during a crazy first half on the first day of November, needing to do little more than keep their shape and take their chances.

It seems such a basic approach (which we have miserably failed to aspire to), will be enough again to secure Championship survival, even with tiny resources available to bright young boss, Simon Davey.

Add a tiny amount of extra class to the same formula, and teams like Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol City and Burnley find themselves just a few lucky breaks away from a possible dream promotion to the Premiership. At some point in the past two years, Charlton quite simply lost the plot.

Those seeking lucky omens might desperately point to the fact that Charlton's only away win this season occurred 16 miles east of Barnsley, in Doncaster.

However, whilst it's tempting to consider this game a 'six-pointer', from Charlton's perspective it's no longer about beating rivals, but quite simply beating anyone, and perhaps eight times at that.

I think Parky will line up as follows: Elliot, Murty, Youga, Hudson, Ward, Soares, Bailey, Spring, Racon, Kandol, Dickson. Subs: Randolph, Holland, Shelvey, Sam, Burton.

NY Addick predicts: Barnsley 2 (Campbell-Ryce, Mifsud), Charlton 1 (Dickson). Att: 12, 019.


At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Curtis said...

Absolute shocker of a game. Windy conditions but still no excuse.

We were awful and if Charlton had been more clinical in front of goal they could've nicked a win. Think this was one of your better chances for 3 points away from home, given how we played.

Really worried now that we might get sucked into the bottom 3 if we carry on like this.


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