Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Doncaster preview

Addicks fans have had to wait over a year (since a home draw with Watford on 16 Feb 2008), to witness their team putting together a three-game unbeaten run.

With a battling draw at Swansea completing the latest triumvirate, one is not quite sure whether to hail the slow progress being made, or to emphasise (again) just how ridiculous these past thirteen or so months have been.

Tuesday night's fixture with Doncaster represents one of only two remaining chances for Charlton to register a home and away 'double', the other being Reading on 10 March.

Unfortunately for Charlton, they face Donny in an extraordinary vein of form, having looked like near-certainties for relegation approaching Christmas. They were in an even worse state than us.

Now they might represent good value as an outsider for the play-offs, as the teams above them seek new and original ways to lose their momentum.

An impressive 4-2 win at fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day, set in train a fabulous run of 25 points from a possible 30, proving that it is possible to play passing football and succeed in the Championship, despite evidence from the likes of Stoke last season.

A statistics junkie like me cannot fail to notice the amazing lack of goals that their fixtures have generated at their Keepmoat Stadium. Their 17 home games to date have registered the following scorelines: 1-1, 1-0, 0-1, 0-2, 0-2, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 2-1, 1-1, 1-0, 1-0, 2-1.

With just 29 goals to their name all season (six fewer than Charlton, and the lowest in the division), they are clearly advocates of what I might term 'total footballing efficiency' (TFE).

Charlton's relative proficiency in front of goal, is thanks in no small part to the somewhat unheralded goalscoring heroics of midfielder, Nicky Bailey.

His record of 8 goals from 31 starts is an outstanding return in such a poor side, and it is a credit to his obvious gutsy nature that he has seemingly rebounded so well from a decidedly dodgy spell towards the end of Pardew's reign.

Indeed, it makes him the joint 18th highest scorer in the division, level with the likes of Dele Adebola, Clinton Morrison, Jay Bothroyd, Leroy Lita and Tamas Priskin, each of whom has considerably less defensive responsibility. If we are indeed relegated this season, I sense a Valley hero in the making in Division Three.

Although three games unbeaten and eight points from our last six games, is indeed progress, it's still not the automatic promotion-type form that we need to put together in these last dozen games to survive. Two home wins in the next five days will make it fourteen points from eight games, which is not too far away from what's required however.

And whilst this mini run of form of sorts has some fans warming slightly to Phil Parkinson, lest we forget that his 16-game record as boss reads as a sorry P16, W2, D5, L9, Pts 11.

However, one factor in the slight improvement appears to be a more sensible use of the inevitable loan signings (Butterfield is the 12th to take that mantle this season*).

Whilst the medium-term point of it all remains firmly unclear to me, at least we are largely focusing on either the experienced or the hungry, rather than Premiership cast-offs, and only those with a realistic chance of permanently signing (perhaps only Tom Soares excepted).

On this topic, the likely debut of Danny Butterfield on Tuesday will see him become the 37th Charlton player to start a Championship game this season, surely some sort of record (and who knows when it will stop?).

Each squad member has thus generated just 0.73 points each this season. That must please the directors when they dip into their pockets to make another loan to the club.

I think those directors will be watching Parky line them up as follows: Elliot, Butterfield, Youga, Hudson, Ward, Bailey, Soares, Spring, Racon, Kandol, Dickson. Subs: Randolph, Holland, Shelvey, Ambrose, Burton.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 2 (Dickson, Soares), Doncaster 1 (Heffernan). Tickets sold: 18, 891.

(*Bouazza, Burton, Cranie, Gillespie, Kandol, McEveley, Murty, Primus, Soares, Spring, Waghorn, Ward).


At 9:51 AM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

I plan to attend tonight and I already have knots in the gut. God knows what the players go through with this kind of pressure.


Post a Comment

<< Home