Friday, October 15, 2010

Brighton Rock

The biggest game of the season takes place in front of what should be the biggest crowd of the season, despite the silly restrictions on ticket sales imposed by the club.

Seagulls and Addicks are after all kindred spirits, bonded by a shared hatred of Crystal Palace.

I won’t be attending sadly having just been abroad for ten days, and instead will take my 3-year old to an exciting local FA Trophy tie.

It’s a good job I’m not going given that the Blackwall Tunnel is closed southbound, a very thoughtful decision given it’s only one of three crossings east of Tower Bridge.

Brighton were somewhat fancied by the bookies pre-season, but few would have expected them to be leading the way with an average of 2 points per game so far.

The rest of the League is wide open (also known as ‘mediocre’) with 18 teams separated by just six points.

As Chicago Addick pointed out, we are as close to Brighton at the top as we are to the relegation zone, and as ludicrous as it may sound, we must not be entirely complacent about not looking down as well as up.

It is noticeable, that we have played 5 of the bottom 6, and have only managed to beat one of them (Leyton Orient), whilst the bottom club (Brentford) embarrassed us for 45 minutes.

Indeed, when one considers that we have conversely only so far played 2 of the top 6, then one wonders whether our League position far from being a mild frustration (the consensus view), might actually be somewhat flattering given our fixtures so far. A scary thought, but not one I entirely discount.

Three points on Saturday would go a long way towards putting those fears to bed however, although it is worth recalling that other than last season’s runaway champions Norwich, Brighton were the last team to take three points away from The Valley which has become something of a fortress, albeit one defended at times by ill-equipped soldiers.

We will welcome back Radostin Kishishev tomorrow, a player who deserves a warm reception for his unstinting efforts during the Premiership years.

A classic Curbs signing, he was slow to settle in at right-back but was gradually turned in to a capable holding midfielder who understood his limitations and allowed others to play. Ah, I wonder whatever happened to good coaching?

His role was much like Jose Semedo’s in today’s lowly Charlton side, except the Portuguese doesn’t have the likes of Jensen and Parker around him.

Although Christian Dailly may well continue at right-back, before too long Parky will surely have to make a tough decision about which of his experienced trio of centre backs to leave out.

Jon Fortune is by far the most mobile, whilst Doherty is the most commanding in the air. Ultimately it may be a decision to be made depending upon the types of strikers they will face, with Doherty best suited to a physical target man yet both him and Dailly are easily turned by forwards with pace.

I had initially thought that Benson and Abbott were too similar to play well together up front, but Benson’s trio of goals suggests promisingly that he may well be the type of goal poacher we have sought for some considerable time. If so, then Abbott’s robust approach and clever link-up play may well ultimately be the perfect foil, and preferable to Anyinsah’s pace or Sodje’s raw physicality.

I’m surprised that Matt Fry has already returned to the substitute’s bench despite an outstanding performance at home to MK Dons. Not only is he a more than capable left-back (certainly more impressive for me than Jackson), but with Francis (or Dailly) occupying the other flank, we have an extremely tall back four that represents a massive set-piece presence in both boxes, especially when the likes of Semedo, Abbott and Benson are added to the mix.

Regardless of the style of play adopted either by Charlton or the opposition (and we’ve certainly not been mistaken for Brazil 1970), this is never a bad thing to have in League One.

Failure to beat the leaders on Saturday will take our record to just 2 wins from 10 League games, plainly unacceptable although for now we would continue to cling on to a spot just behind the play-offs earning Parky valuable breathing space to still turn things around.

Although my marathon is now mercifully finished, I will continue to make a charity bet, at least until year-end when I will likely draw a line underneath the fundraising which has already surpassed expectations.

I’m going to try something different this time, and risk a maximum of £12 on a spread bet believing this could be an exciting open game.

NY Addick sells time of 3rd match goal at 78 minutes for £1 per minute


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