Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dons Key OT

As the second half of last night's match drifted towards what seemed an inevitable conclusion, I began to plan what I'd hoped would be a witty post-match blog post.

When Paul Benson completes a mortgage application and is asked for his job function, I speculated that he would put 'link-up man' not 'out-and-out goalscorer'.

Unfortunately this is almost certainly what Pawel Abbott would write too, which made me wonder why Parky had chased Benson for weeks, when we had a perfectly good one already at the club.

But then as the game headed towards overtime, he found the key to unlock the Dons and scored a classic poachers goal, utterly ruining my plan (not that I wasn't pleased for him and the team of course).

Until the goal, I had also worked out that I was the last striker to score a goal at the Covered End, thanks to my near-post finish during May's Football Aid match.

And of course, Benson went and ruined that stat too although he did secure another £60 for my chosen charity.

It was the third win of the season making for a tidy return so far on funds invested of 33% in just six weeks. Compare that to your average high street deposit rate, and it's tax free.

I had watched the game from midway down the lower tier, a vantage point which offered a fresh perspective.

It made me realise just how little time players have on the ball which, given the technical deficiencies at this level, probably explains why so many League One matches are such awful spectacles.

The non-League football I've been watching recently is considerably more entertaining because the players are not fit enough to close down space as energetically, thus providing more time.

Admittedly given that Charlton's inspirational game plan under Parky might be summarised neatly as "get the ball forward quickly and try to keep hold of it if at all possible", it didn't help that MK Dons boss Karl Robinson seemed to have attended the same coaching courses.

With a bit of luck (or at least defensive concentration), we could have nicked six points from the past two games, but I can't help thinking that the management team are not 'adding value' right now over and above what might reasonably be expected on a sum-of-the-parts basis.

The team lacks spark and imagination, but thanks to (still) having one of the larger payrolls in the division, there is enough quality available to put is in 7th place after nine games, a satisfactory return but no more. We may have to settle for 'satisfactory'.

Parky handed a first start to Jon Fortune who moved effortlessly into central defence, further evidence perhaps of just how poor the quality is in League One given how little football he has played.

Matt Fry was asked to occupy Johnnie Jackson's left-back berth, and looked every inch a Premiership player in waiting.

It's just a shame that the two of the most determined and classy players on the pitch (Fry and Lee Martin) are precisely the pair that will never be permanent Addick players.

However the flipside of that frustration is the fact that this is certainly not always something you've been able to say about our previous loan players.

Jose Semedo did what he did best in midfield, breaking up play, keeping the ball moving and even popping up in scoring positions on two occasions.

Therry Racon won plaudits for an energetic performance, but where others see a midfield engine, unfortunately I see a headless chicken (or poulet sans tete as they say in France).

Rarely if ever does he pause to reflect and change the pace of play, but again I feel the whole Parkinson project is overwhelmingly based upon energy not contemplation.

The same criticism could be levelled at Martin, particularly in attacking positions.

Both Martin and Racon could learn from the late cameo role executed by Kyel Reid, particularly the way he slows down the play when required to maintain possession and allow others to provide support.

However when the play leading to the goal begged for an early cross, he delivered it in spectacular style.

I was unaware of Reid's minor injury, else it would have been senseless to have left him on the bench in favour of either Wagstaff or Jackson. It would be like dating Gemma Arterton then dumping her for Anne Widdecombe.

Here are my match ratings:

Worner 6 - continues the recent theme of talented goalkeepers who are too small to ever be top class; had little to do

Francis 6 - defensively very solid but embarrassingly poor going forward; however the back four last night comprising four strapping six-footers looked the real deal

Fry 8 - outstanding throughout; everything one could hope for from a loan player

Doherty 7 - always in control; looked more comfortable knowing Fortune's pace could get him out of trouble (not something one can say about Llera)

Fortune 7 - could have smoked a cigar and read a book, and still not have been troubled

Semedo 8 - I was ready to suggest that his position might come under threat, but his value to the team was clear throughout

Racon 6 - unless there is some end product from all the frantic running around, then I don't see what he adds I'm afraid

Wagstaff 4 - he is anonymous far too often; take away his valuable goal contributions and he'd be on the first bus to Gillingham on loan

Jackson 6 - more involved than Wagstaff and typically maintains possession, but a woeful lack of mobility

Benson 7 - you could see what he was trying to do whenever he got the ball, even if he didn't always pull it off; a terrific finish for his goal

Martin 6 - needs to play with his head up more often; rarely linked up with Benson and looks more comfortable out wide


Reid 8 - the best player in the side, period; could we turn down a reasonable January bid? I daren't even think about it

Abbott 6 - too similar to Benson to play alongside him which begs a question


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