Monday, December 28, 2009

Bees Nest

Charlton may have extended their unbeaten run to nine games, but this completed a disappointing holiday period for the Addicks.

With Leeds virtually out of sight, and both Norwich and Colchester just three points behind with a game in hand, it is increasingly clear that a point a game against a trio of average sides is not going to cut it unfortunately.

Phil Parkinson is right to laud our spirit (although surely this should be a given), but to ensure promotion we need intensity with quality, and there was precious little on show today.

Given my penchant for unabashed snobbery, I witnessed today's clash from the director's box courtesy of the home side's largest individual shareholder and present bankroller.

Squeezed into cramped but warm surroundings between the M4 motorway and the river, and currently majority owned by a supporters' trust, it is difficult not to feel a certain empathy with Brentford.

Meat pies were offered in the boardroom at half-time, and the almost entirely male occupants of the director's box were forced to share just a single toilet (not all at the same time I should add).

It may lack glamour, but just like Charlton (and unlike many Premiership clubs these days) this is a 'real' football club at the heart of its community.

However I could have done without seeing the smirking Deon Burton and Sam Sodje dressed in what might best be described as 'streetwear'. Certainly no official club tie in sight, as they made their way to the naughty step.

Not only did their misdemeanors deny us a likely three points on Saturday, one sensed that Burton's guile may have offered us the edge in a tight game today too.

Parkinson opted to return to a classic 4-4-2 by recalling Scott Wagstaff and former Brentford loanee Lloyd Sam, and dropping Jonjo Shelvey back to the bench.

Chris Dickson made his first Charlton start of the season on the ground where he scored twice during the first-half for Bristol Rovers back in September. He should have repeated the feat this afternoon, but his garish football boots clearly weren't his shooting ones.

The first half was a poor one, with chances few and far between aside from the above pair for Dickson. In the opening minutes he was quickest to react to a Sodje flick but couldn't keep his shot down.

And then in stoppage time he was sent clear despite looking suspiciously offside, so perhaps justice was done when his lob spun wide with Brentford keeper Lewis Price stranded.

With Leeds having already won, and with Norwich's game at Walsall postponed, there seemed little to be gained by Parkinson setting up the second half for a point, yet within minutes of the restart the outcome threatened to be even worse.

A mishit shot by Marcus Bean seemed to catch the Charlton defence wrong-footed, and gangly veteran substitute Carl Cort reacted fastest to fire past a helpless Rob Elliot.

Finally this lackadaisical London derby was alive, and Parkinson reacted swiftly by replacing the ineffectual Wagstaff with Shelvey.

It paid dividends within four minutes, when Charlton's busy skipper Nicky Bailey sent Dickson clear and the pacy forward had the presence of mind to knock it past Price, and await the inevitable illegal challenge.

Bailey stepped up to hammer home the penalty, the first goal Brentford had conceded in nearly six hours of League One football.

With more than a half-hour to play one sensed that the visitors might push on to claim a vital victory, but they rarely showed the requisite quality to do so and as above, therein lay the biggest disappointment of the afternoon for me.

This was best exemplified for me by an injury-time free-kick awarded barely 25 yards out.

At that stage of proceedings surely the priority was not necessarily to score directly, but to test the keeper with a fizzing low shot; indeed Parkinson's audible shout of,"Follow it in," suggested he agreed.

Instead Bailey smashed it several feet over, and to think they say footballers aren't intelligent.

The referee blew up moments later, and I made a hasty exit back to my car only to find out I'd been blocked Steve Waggott.

Here are my match ratings:

Elliot 6 - no chance for the goal or the fizzing free-kick that rattled the bar, but kicking was iffy just as it was versus Swindon
Omozusi 7 - gradually evolving into a solid reliable defender; just needs to add some forward thrust
Basey 5 - if Fabio Capello is looking for a full-back to lump a series of long balls up to Peter Crouch, this may be his man; sadly Crouch doesn't play for Charlton
Semedo 7 - a muscular presence; rarely troubled and acts like a leader
Llera 6 - formed a solid partnership with Semedo
Bailey 7 - ensured Brentford couldn't obtain a midfield foothold
Spring 5 - offered occasional glimpses of ability, but a sticky pitch wasn't the stage for his passing game
Wagstaff 3 - largely anonymous and starved of service; once again we are unbalanced by a right-footed left midfielder
Sam 5 - more involved than Wagstaff but couldn't carve out an opening
Dickson 6 - a lively performance but out-and-out strikers need to take their chances
Sodje 4 - snuffed out by Brentford's tight defence
Shelvey 5 - once again appeared to drift out of the game too easily
McKenzie 7 - left-footer offered a different threat; perhaps the long-term answer out wide?


At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NYA,
Couldn't agree more about comments on Brentford fans (be they board members or just standing on the terracing), it was great to be close to the action in the Ealing End. I thought Brentford did a great job and have talent in their team.
re Count Basey- his development as a CAFC footballer has to be that he starts passing the ball to the midfield instead of the long distance punts down the wing. He's never going to be giving anyone trouble with his pace! Steady Eddy yes lets hope he can be encoraged to be more careful about possesion. Maybe the LHS midfield need to make themselves more available.
Also did wonder why we had changed the way we played to suit Dickson? was it an experiment? those balls into the channels is not my favorite brand of football to watch.
The improved passing vs Swindon when we only had 9 men was a step in the right direction. I had thought that with the reintroduction of Shelvey and Brentford recent good home form plus the tough battle at the valley a 4-5-1 formation would have been the way to go- keep the ball and make them sweat.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your mates with Matthew Benham?

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

2/5 (fav): he's a friend of a friend
3/1: he's a business associate
9/2: we were at school together
14/1: bar


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