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  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic (21/04/2014)

    Sheffield Wednesday 2 (Nuhiu 3, Maguire 8) Charlton 3 (Sordell 10, 43, 63). 

    Kevin Nolan reports from Hillsborough.

    It ain’t over yet but a marvellously opportunistic hat-trick from the smoking gun of Marvin Sordell put significant daylight between Charlton and the six poor beggars struggling below them to escape the Championship’s relegation morass.

    Sordell’s scoring burst, which makes him top league marksman with six goals, could hardly have been better timed. It not only made mincemeat of laidback Sheffield Wednesday but put paid to the lurking suspicion that the shot shy Addicks would be hard pressed to score again this season.

    At 3.08 Hillsborough time, the odds against shellshocked Charlton getting anything from this apparently ill-starred game had slipped off the odds chalkboards.  They had sleepwalked to a 2-0 deficit, were being picked apart with contemptuous ease and seemed in danger of complete meltdown. The unthinkable spectre of League One loomed large but, inspired by left winger Callum Harriott’s lively example, the visitors miraculously pulled themselves back from the brink of collapse.

    Busy and committed, Harriott launched the revival by flighting a peach of a pass which neatly bisected ponderous Owls defenders Miguel Llera and Jeremy Helan. Outpacing Llera, then brushing aside Helan, Sordell  broke clear to finish coolly into the bottom left corner. Though Charlton were still staring down the barrel of likely defeat, the immediate crisis had been averted. Atdhe Nuhiu helped their cause by tamely poking wide a clearcut chance to restore Wednesday’s two-goal lead but the early storm had abated without irretrievable damage.

    The defending which helped Wednesday to start strong was lamentable. Let’s deal with it honestly. For the first setback, normally reliable Michael Morrison might have been blinded by a strong South Yorkshire sun in coping with Llera’s hopefully lobbed ball over the top. As the ball cleared the centre back’s straining head, Nuhiu allowed it to bounce before blasting an unstoppable volley across Ben Hamer and in off the far post. Though beaten from a narrow angle, Hamer was given no chance by the sheer velocity and placement of the shot.

    Five minutes later, Wednesday doubled their advantage.  Picking up possession just inside Charlton’s half, Nihiu ran strongly before passing square to Chris Maguire near the penalty spot; though the winger momentarily slipped, he was allowed time to recover his balance, sidestep Chris Solly, then curl a deliberate drive into the same corner favoured by Nihiu.

    As nightmare starts go, this one belonged in a class of its own.

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    Lifted by Sordell’s prompt reply, the Londoners settled down. Nuhiu did his bit by missing another acceptable opportunity when well placed, then substitute Jermaine Johnson’s determined run into the penalty area was halted by Dorian Dervite’s shuddering tackle. It was no longer one-way traffic, though, and Sordell should have made more of the opening he made for himself by allowing a throw-in from Morgan Fox (one of five outstanding ex-Academy starters) to run across him but shot feebly at Chris Kirkland. Charlton’s encouraging rally was beginning to stall when, three minutes from the break, they produced another surprise for the flagging Owls.

    With the bit between his teeth, Harriott again provided the creative spark behind his resurgent side’s equaliser. Intercepting Michail Antonio’s lazy pass, his carefully judged through pass sent Sordell through to beat Kirkland with a carbon-copy of his first goal. Having settled back to enjoy a pressure-free, end-of-season romp, the home fans were speechless. They had no way of knowing they were in for more of the same in the second period, bless ‘em.

    Midway through an understandably quieter half, Nuhiu lost his bearings while facing his own goal and passed vaguely back in the direction of his startled centre backs. Seizing alertly on the gift, in-the-groove Sordell left Llera in his slipstream, made ground and chose his time to slot calmly past the advancing Kirkland. His exemplary  finishing made all the more inexplicable a chronic inability to find the net with any regularity prior to these overdue Easter Monday heroics.

    Sordell’s clinical sniping apart, there were other heroes of Hillsborough. Shaking off his usual diffidence, Harriott made a nervy start but proved to be Wednesday’s nemesis with two fine assists and a performance of verve and imagination. Fox the rookie was cool and resourceful, Dervite an indomitable defensive rock, Jordan Cousins provided his customary energy. But it was the remarkable Diego Poyet who held it all together with yet another of his dynamic midfield contributions. Snapping into tackles, spraying passes short and long, generally calling the tune, his influence throughout the team has become profound. Last into action but far from least in impact, Astrit Ajdarevic arrived ten minutes after the interval to lend style, poise and indispensable quality. No speed merchant but a confident foot-on-the-ball operator, he stamps his class on earnest games like this. And you can’t really legislate for class. More must be demanded of the big, strolling stylist – hopefully in next season’s Championship. ‘Cos it looks as if that’s where Charlton are staying.

    Wednesday: Kirkland, Lee, Llera, Coke, Palmer (Mattock 46), Antonio (Johnson 46), Maguire, Onyewu, Nuhiu, Helan, Best (Lavery 67). Not used: Martinez, Taylor, Corry, Afobe. Booked: Helan, Maguire, Lee.

    Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Morrison, Dervite, Fox, Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Harriott (Wilson 81), Church (Ajdarevic 54), Sordell (Obika 90). Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Ghoochannejhad, Wood, Petrucci. Booked: Morrison.

    Referee: Tony Harrington. Att: 20,557.

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers (18/04/2014) #CAFC #BWFC

    Charlton 0 Bolton Wanderers 0.

    Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.

    Bone weariness is their implacable enemy, injuries have sapped them, but Charlton battle on. Their admirable spirit keeps them in with a good chance of avoiding relegation and this bitterly earned point turned out to be a step in the right direction. Home defeats for nosediving Blackpool and faltering Doncaster boosted them to fifth from bottom in a desperately cut throat melee. That game in hand (at home to Watford) might yet prove to be a handy ace in the hole.

    The usual problems in juggling his resources faced Jose Riga yesterday. With left back Rhoys Wiggins out for the season and right back Chris Solly in need of nursing through his comeback, the full back positions again caused concern. Lawrie Wilson, himself a recent absentee, duly moved back from midfield to cover Solly, with 20 year-old Academy graduate Morgan Fox stepping in for Wiggins to make his full league debut.

    Both deputies distinguished themselves but it was the cool, determined Fox who deserves special mention. Rising to the occasion as one of three youth products (Diego Poyet and Jordan Cousins being the others) facing Bolton, he didn’t put a foot wrong. With Solly expected to resume in Sheffield on Easter Monday, the total of organically grown first-teamers will rise to four. That’s impressive going. And there’s more in the pipeline.

    The down side for Riga and Charlton’s equally exhausted fans is that the Addicks failed to score for the 20th time this season. Their microscopic total of 31 goals should, by any normal standards, have cast them hopelessly adrift on their way to League One but is more than balanced by the surprising statistic that, despite 23 defeats, only 55 goals have been conceded. It’s been far from pretty but stubborn defending can be an art form in itself, something that even the likes of mighty Barcelona are beginning to appreciate.

    On two particularly hair-raising occasions, a 12th clean sheet of this troubled campaign looked unlikely. Just five minutes after the interval, Matthew Mills’ brutal near post header from Neil Dann’s right wing corner had Ben Hamer completely beaten, until Poyet  acrobatically cleared off the line. The wisdom of placing a player on each post to defend corners was, hardly for the first time, vindicated. Seems commonsense to some of us.

    A quarter hour from the end, Danns missed an easy opportunity to pinch the points. Set up by Jermaine Beckford’s marathon solo run, the Leicester City loanee checked inside Dorian Dervite but lifted a tame shot well over the bar.

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    Charlton’s chances were fewer but, in one case at least, more contentious. Mere minutes after Poyet’s heroics, Simon Church hunted down a dawdling Adam Bogdan, nicked the ball off his toe and was caught momentarily by the complacent goalkeeper’s instinctively intrusive foot. Slipping as he sought to exploit his advantage, Church’s plaintive appeals for a penalty fell on referee Malone’s deaf ear. Recipients of only one spotkick this term, Charlton were scarcely surprised to be turned down this time. Bogdan was lucky but far from bang-to-rights anyway.

    Faulty firepower aside, Riga will be pleased with his side’s resilience in standing up to the in-form Trotters. They gave as good as they got in an even first half, occasionally promising to open the scoring. Clever combination between Fox and his inspirational captain Johnnie Jackson helped Cousins set up Astrit Ajdarevic for a delicately curled drive narrowly wide of the right post. Shortly afterwards, Ajdarevic’s superlative delivery sent Reza Ghoochannejhad through the inside right channel but Bogdan alertly left his line to make a key block.

    At the other end, the visitors were mainly under control but briefly dangerous. Danns made space to rifle a 25-yarder over Hamer’s bar, then picked out Lukas Jutkiewicz, who scored the winner for Middlesbrough at The Valley in August, with a soaring free kick to the far post. The big striker headed goalward but dangerously off the outstanding Michael Morrison for a fruitless corner. In the second period, an alarmingly unmarked Jutkiewicz  forced an awkwardly shovelled save from Hamer at his near post.

    A word, in passing, about Cousins by the way; the gangling kid wasn’t quite at his best against Bolton, which by no means implies he was at all poor. Incredibly, given his heartwarming improvement and selfless contribution to Charlton’s survival struggle, there were sporadic (and, to be fair, they WERE only sporadic) catcalls for his withdrawal, all of which were sensibly ignored by Riga. The manager is far too courteous to respond so allow me to do it for him. There must be a Belgian version of “Put a sock in it!”

    So on to Hillsborough on Easter Monday, where Sheffield Wednesday will be re-invigorated by their splendid win at Bournemouth. You’ve noticed, of course, that all of Charlton’s upcoming opponents seem to be in inconveniently good shape. These viciously contested relegation dogfights induce paranoia in the best of us. But that could just be because everyone seems out to get us.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Fox, Ghoochannejhad (Obika 65), Poyet, Cousins, Ajdarevic (Green 74), Jackson, Church (Hughes 84). Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Wood, Petrucci, Nego.

    Bolton: Bogdan, Hutton, Wheater, Mills (Baptiste 65), Ream, Danns, Chung-Yong Lee (Hall 88), Spearing, Trotter, Jutkiewicz, Beckford. Not used: Lonergan, Knight, Robinson, Kellett, Iliev. Booked: Wheater.

    Referee: B. Malone. Att: 15, 773 (924 visiting).

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Charlton v Barnsley (15/04/2014)

    Charlton 1 (Adjarevic 90) Barnsley 2 (M’Voto 32, Kennedy 63).

    Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.

    This result, sickening though it was for Charlton, settles nothing. Its immediate effect can’t be accurately gauged until they square off with Bolton on Friday. It makes the unseemly scramble at the bottom of the Championship table even more messy but when the music stops on May 3rd, it still remains to be seen whether the Addicks are one of the three miserable victims left groping for a chair. As the plot unfolds, they must hold their nerve.

    Grappling with the conumdrum of picking the right team for the right occasion, manager Jose Riga continues to shuffle his pack from game to game as the punishing schedule bites into his squad. On Tuesday, he paired Marvin Sordell and Jonathan Obika up front, rather more mysteriously named Callum Harriott as a right winger, then trusted to luck. But his luck was stone out.

    Neither of them blessed with an adhesive touch, Sordell and Obika were handed a masterclass in centre forward play by streetwise Chris O’Grady. Asked to occupy Charlton’s defence on his own, the combative striker used all the nous accumulated during a peripatetic career. Expertly shielding the ball, intelligently  bringing teammates into play and, most importantly, fighting tenaciously for his rights, O’Grady stood up to the usual borderline buffeting while giving as good as he got. Without mustering a single effort on target, he did his bit and then some. And, with 12 goals this season ( a total which matches Charlton’s entire strike force), he has already made a significant contribution in the scoring column. In this game, his unselfish work won’t have gone unnoticed by his grateful manager Danny Wilson.

    Showing little mutual understanding, meanwhile, neither Sordell nor Obika made much impression. Not for the want of trying, it needs to be said, because they beavered away fruitlessly, as did every member of a team which hasn’t given up but suffers from a glaring lack of inspiration.

    Trying as hard as any of them was Harriott, who endured a personal Gethsemane. Everything went wrong for the poor kid; passes were almost wilfully misplaced, possession was regularly conceded, decisions were invariably misjudged. Just shy of the half hour mark and shortly before Barnsley scored their first goal, Charlton’s best chance was put on the proverbial plate for him by Sordell’s delicately flighted cross from the left. Unmarked at the far post, Harriott sent his header not just wide but horribly, inexplicably wide.

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    What remained of his confidence promptly disappeared but his torture wasn’t over. With no reason to humiliate him, Riga was unquestionably right in resisting insensitive calls to replace Harriott before the interval but just as wrong, it seemed, in unnecessarily exposing him to ten more minutes of agony after the break. At which point, by the way, the long suffering home crowd distinguished itself by sending him on his way with admirable restraint rather than the dog’s abuse he would have faced at certain venues. Fair play to them.
    Before Harriott’s miss, Charlton had looked more likely to score. In the early going, Jordan Cousins, again an example of heart and energy, shot narrowly wide before Johnnie Jackson’s expertly curled effort brought the crowd temporarily to its feet. Then the wind was taken out of The Valley’s sails by Barnsley’s shock opener against the run of play.

    The Tykes’ first corner, forced by Tomasz Cwyka off Chris Solly, was swung in from the left by Dale Jennings and emphatically buried into the roof of the net by Jean-Yves M’Voto’s powerful header. It was a body blow from which the Addicks never fully recovered.

    There was still hope, of course, and Diego Poyet opened the second period by shooting inches wide. Gifted a chance by Jack Hunt’s errant pass, Sordell chipped tamely off target but exactly as they had done in the first half, the visitors turned the tide by scoring again at the right time

    Only Tom Kennedy will know whether the ball he drifted in from the left flank was intended as a shot or a cross; the critical certainty was that it beat Ben Hamer in flight on its way into the opposite corner. Charlton’s uphill fight was now a mountain they were unlikely to climb.

    Down but not quite out, Riga played his last card ten minutes from the end, with Astrit Adjarevic replacing a weary Poyet. The big midfielder’s influence was immediate, not least because his feather touch gives him time to sort out his options. There’s almost mantra-like acceptance that he isn’t fully fit, which invites obvious questions which are a) why the hell ISN’T he fully fit? and b) how bloody long does it take a professional footballer to GET fully fit? Both queries might be answered in the close season after Ajdarevic has departed and Charlton are in League One. In the shorter and more urgent term, they need sorting out! Especially now that desperately unlucky Rhoys Wiggins is clearly through for the season.

    The overdue substitute duly reduced the arrears in added time, too late in this game to make a difference but surely sufficient to secure him a start on Friday at Harriott’s expense. If there’s a plate, Ajdarevic (and, to be fair, one or two others) needs to step up to it and do his share after being reminded that football games last 90 minutes. Delightful little cameos are not enough. This is a relegation dog-fight, not a lunchtime five-a-side kickaround. So get out the way if you can’t lend a hand ‘cos the times they are a’changin And unless everyone gets stuck in, so is Charlton’s future in the Championship.

    Charlton: Hamer, Solly (Wilson 71), Dervite, Wood, Wiggins, Harriott (Ghoochannejhad 55), Cousins, Poyet ( Adjarevic 80), Jackson, Sordell, Obika. Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Hughes, Morrison, Fox. Booked: Cousins, Adjarevic.

    Barnsley, Steele, Etuhu (Hunt 46, Mellis 63), M’Voto, McLaughlin, Cranie, Jennings, Cwyka, Lawrence, Kennedy, Dawson, O’Grady. Not used: Turner, Hassell, Proschwitz, Woods, McCourt. Booked: Cranie, Dawson.

    Referee: Iain Williamson Att: 16,230 (965 visiting).

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Brighton & Hove Albion v Charlton (12/04/2014)

    Brighton 3 (Lingard 11, Ulloa 43, Forster-Caskey 90) Charlton 0.

    Kevin Nolan reports from the Amex Stadium.

    Comfortably beaten at Brighton by the now routine 3-0 margin, Charlton were spared lasting damage to their survival hopes by generally favourable results elsewhere. This fixture had probably inspired hope among the other relegation-haunted wretches that progress could be made at the Addicks’ expense but, by and large, they blew their opportunity. There is a limit, of course, to such co-operation and Charlton must stand on their own feet when fellow sufferers Barnsley visit The Valley on Tuesday evening.

    Charlton, as expected, stepped out of their class on the South Coast and it was hard to escape the impression that Jose Riga accepted as much. There was never any prospect of even a point as the visitors went through the motions, with damage limitation their sole motivation. As far as Brighton were concerned, this was a “gimme”; they might even have gone easy on their victims, such was their effortless superiority.

    Once slick Albion took an 11th minute lead, any interest in this humdrum game as a serious contest disappeared. The goal itself opened a can of coaching worms.

    Sensibly or perhaps otherwise, the new regime has encouraged their defence to pass their way from back to front. Less of the hoofball, more tika-taka is apparently the new mantra. Obedient to the doctrine, Ben Hamer duly played the ball along the ground to Michael Morrison, a reluctant recipient who wasted little time in returning it to him. Undeterred, Hamer next tried Diego Poyet, ominously shadowed by Kazenga Lua Lua in a central position outside the penalty area. Normally tenacious in possession, Poyet was pickpocketed by Lua Lua, stumbled as he sought to recover and was left helpless as Jesse Lingard picked up the pieces before depositing them efficiently inside the right post. A lusty boot upfield at some point might have been a better idea but that could just be the philistine in this correspondent.

    Secure in their superiority, the Seagulls showed little desire to crush their victims. Lua Lua broke clear but was smothered by Hamer’s brave save at his feet but, as their early grip relaxed, so the Addicks improved. Three minutes before the break, their solitary moment of menace went unrewarded and was promptly punished.

    Overshadowed recently by his Academy honcho Poyet, Jordan Cousins has done more than his bit during the unremitting schedule of relegation battles. At the attractive Amex Stadium, he fought bravely while, it hurts to say, certain teammates bottled tackles, skirted the issue and otherwise dodged the column. It wouldn’t do to mention names but 1,869 witnesses might suggest you look for the offenders up front.

    They didn’t include Cousins, needless to say, because what you see is what you get from this kid and you’d have to be blind not to notice his commitment and courage. His brilliantly sinuous solo run left a train of breathless pursuers in its wake before being capped by an accurate short pass to Reza Ghoochannejhad. Potshooting instinctively, the slim Iranian’s effort looped off Bruno Saltor, beat Casper Ankengren in flight but rebounded off the crossbar. It was an unlucky break which brought prompt retribution at the other end.
    Leading an immediate riposte, Lua Lua again did the damage, his crisp pass allowing Leonardo Ulloa to turn, in a debatably offside position, then dispatch a rising drive into the top right corner. The flag stayed down, the goal stood, the Football League Show couldn’t comment because its head was deeply buried in sand at the time.

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    With goal difference still an important priority for the outplayed Londoners, a long second half stretched out before them. Their resistance was boosted by the surprise 65th minute return of talismanic right back Chris Solly in place of the ineffectual Reza.
    Solly was his usual immaculate self and surely nailed down a starting place against Barnsley. Tackling, covering, passing with his customary verve, he’s the exception to the rule that match fitness takes an age to acquire. He simply took up where he’d left off on New Years Day, which makes it an unpleasant duty to report that his error contributed to Brighton’s irritating added time goal, which meant nothing to the result but could be important later on. His defensive header was powerful enough but landed at the feet of subsitute Jake Forster-Caskey, whose firm drive deflected off – who else but the snakebit Solly – to leave a wrongfooted Hamer helpless. Error, schmerror, it’s great to have him back. It’s a timely tonic which could have a profound impact on Charlton’s chances. I feel better already!

    Brighton: Ankergren, Saltor, Greer, Upson, Ward, Lingard (Rodriguez 90), Andrews, Stephens, March (Calderon 89), Lua Lua (Forster-Caskey 64), Ulloa. Not used: Brezovan, Dunk, Mackail-Smith, Lopez. Booked: Lua Lua, March.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Solly 65), Cousins, Poyet, Ajdarevic (Harriott 46), Jackson (Church 81), Sordell. Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Wood, Pigott, Fox.

    Referee: Roger East. Att: 28,770 (1,869 visiting).

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Charlton v Yeovil Town (08/04/2014)

    Charlton 3 (Ajdarevic 9, Dervite 48, Sordell 51)Yeovil Town 2 (Grant 11, Moore 74).

    Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.

    This riproaring game, riddled with errors but packed with incident, ended well for Charlton, not so well for Yeovil, whose narrow defeat damaged their chances of Championship survival.

    In a reversal of current form, the Addicks clicked up front but, for once, sagged at the back. Scoring more than once for the first time since Boxing Day was hugely encouraging; on the other hand, the concession of two chaotic goals by a normally reliable defence caused palpitations throughout an edgy Valley. The twenty-odd minutes following Town’s second goal were a sadistic form of torture, though the visitors never came close to equalising.

    The loss of Lawrie Wilson, victim of a cheekbone fracture on Saturday, provided Jose Riga with a selection dilemma. His use of Michael Morrison as an emergency right back looked fine in theory but sent a ripple of doubt through a revamped back four. Morrison is a redoubtable centre back, a more reluctant right back. Neither he nor Riga will be sorry that Wilson is expected to return at Brighton, sporting one of those Phantom of the Opera masks so very au fait these days.

    Reservations about Morrison’s vulnerability were temporarily shelved when Astrit Ajdarevic shot Charlton into an early lead. His first goal for the club was all his own doing as he picked up a loose ball inside the vistors’ half, made space for his favoured left foot with an artfully dropped shoulder, then cracked a low, true drive inside the left post. The big bloke has skill to burn, as demonstrated by an arrogant second half trick on the left touchline, which was indulged by management because Charlton were two up at the time. It wouldn’t have been encouraged a bit later.

    Less than two minutes after Adjarevic’s opener, the visitors drew level in scruffy circumstances. They attacked down the left through Liam Davis and as the ball broke luckily to Joel Grant, the wide man beat a wrongfooted Ben Hamer with a wickedly deflected shot. Shortly afterwards, an unmarked James Hayter should have put them ahead but drove lamely at Hamer from 10 yards.

    Most of a busy first half belonged to the Glovers but it was Charlton who matched Hayter’s profligacy before the break. A marvellous run and byline cross by Rhoys Wiggins picked out Ajdarevic near the penalty spot. His clever dummy made room for Reza Ghoochannejhad to emulate Hayter by scuffing tamely at Chris Dunn from close range.

    The end-to-end exchanges careered along with Hamer saving at full length from Joe Rolls and Tom Lawrence scaping the bar from the resultant corner. Back bounced the Addicks with Diego Poyet’s superb pass sending Marvin Sordell clear to bring Dunn plunging to his left to save. A rock-’n-roll first half ended with Richard Wood heading Johnnie Jackson’s cross off Dunn’s right hand and Shane Duffy completing the clearance from under the bar.

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    Within six minutes of resumption, Charlton surprised nobody more than themselves by scoring twice to seize the initiative. Ever ready to attack, Wiggins forced a left wing corner off Luke Ayling, Jackson swung the flagkick outwards and Dorian Dervite’s bullet header finished the job. Riding the momentum, the Addicks struck again almost immediately; Poyet’s fine overhead pass freed Reza near the right byline, the Iranian’s low cross was pushed out by Dunn and Sordell couldn’t – and didn’t – miss from the six-yard line.

    This kid Poyet. What remains to be said about him? Celebrating his 19th birthday in style, the boy-man was some kind of midfield hybrid, a mixture of snarling mongrel and polished pedigree without an apparent weakness in his repertoire (well, maybe a useful goal from time to time). His influence during this desperate relegation has been profound while, at his elbow, Jordan Cousins has been equally impressive. In the hands of such babes rests Charlton’s Championship future.

    Charlton being unreliably Charlton, of course, there was to be no comfortable cruise to the line. With a quarter hour remaining, a Keystone Kops mix-up involving Wood and Hamer left substitute Kieffer Moore the formality of reducing the deficit in front of a gaping net. An incorrectly awarded throw-in had started the move but Riga made no big deal about it.

    Nor did affable Town boss Gary Johnson make anything of a storm-in-a-teacup incident involving a hygiene-conscious ball boy (you just can’t help some people) and a steward who “confused” a throw-in with a goalkick but was clearly dedicated to getting it right. Both managers were grilled tenaciously about the “turning point” by a reporter, possibly from the Yeovil Bugle. Blimey, the bloke birddogged it. Mind you, I knew how he felt.

    The last word belongs to a third manager who took large liberties last night in the far north. Actually I think I’ll have the last word on his behalf instead Cheers for that, Uwe Rosler. But even more sincere cheers for Arsenal in your semi-final on Saturday. C’mon you Gooners!
    Knock ‘em for six!

    Charlton: Hamer, Morrison, Dervite, Wood, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Harriott 79),  Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Adjarevic (Obika 75), Sordell (Cort 89). Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Hughes, Pigott, Fox.

    Yeovil: Dunn, Ayling, McAllister, Edwards, Duffy, Webster, Lawrence, Hayter, Davis, Ralls (Palazuelos 80), Grant (Moore 62). Not used: Stech, Dawson, Hoskins, Lanzoni, Nana Twumasi. Booked: Webster, Ralls, Palazuelos.

    Referee: G. Scott. Att: 15,430 (657 visiting). 
     

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Charlton v Reading (5/04/2014)

    Charlton 0 Reading 1 (Williams 73).

    Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.

    Goalscoring. Football’s endgame. In Charlton’s case, everyone talks about it, the same way Mark Twain moaned about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. In fact there’s been endless talk about goalscoring at The Valley, none of which ever amounts to anything. What you see is what you get and you don’t get much these days.

    In scrupulously distributing a meagre total of 27 goals throughout 38 games, Charlton have, in fairness, been a model of thrift. Their admirable defence has seen to it that each goal has been used to its maximum. Six 1-0 victories have kept the flame alive; this seventh 1-0 reverse reduced it to a mere flicker. But their heads- and the flame – are still above water.

    The Addicks were far from outplayed by Reading. During a low-key first half, they actually held a slight edge over the promotion hopefuls, played some neat stuff and reached the interval in reasonable shape. The uncomfortable truth that they hadn’t threatened the visitors was offset by the knowledge that the Royals hadn’t sparkled up front either. A goalless draw- not the most disastrous of results – seemed attainable.

    The 21st minute chance created by Lawrie Wilson for Jordan Cousins highlighted Charlton’s chronic weakness near the opposition’s goal. Played into shooting range by Wilson, the long-limbed youngster lacked conviction, his feeble effort hardly troubling Alex McCarthy. Reading’s contributions before the interval included a crisp free kick from setpiece expert Danny Guthrie expertly pouched by Ben Hamer and Chris Gunter’s dangerous waist-high cross, which a full-length Hamer touched away from Adam LeFondre’s head.

    As expected of promotion candidates, the Royals stepped it up after the break. Their chances arrived more frequently, the first two of them sliced horribly wide by Danny Williams, a third driven carelessly off target by Le Fondre. Rhoys Wiggins replied for the Addicks with a low drive testing McCarthy’s reactions. On the hour, though, Reading came closest so far to snatching what was clearly to be the game’s only goal.

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    Among a posse of defenders tracking the menacing run of Royston Drenthe, an excitable Callum Harriott lent his colleagues an unwanted hand by tripping the flying Dutchman from behind. Harriott was booked and setpiece expert Guthrie almost doubled his punishment with a wickedly swerving free kick from 30 yards. Plunging sideways while almost colliding with the woodwork, Hamer bravely manhandled the ball over the bar.

    With no threat from Charlton’s marshmallow attack, in which Simon Church fluttered aimlessly, Reading were by now inching on top. The debatable 66th minute replacement of Johnnie Jackson by recent loanee Davide Petrucci cast the fatal die.

    With games arriving thick and fast, the sensible deployment of his thinning resources by Jose Riga has been impressive. His introduction of Petrucci, however, was open to considerable question. Exactly what an obviously off-pace newcomer brought with him in relieving a possibly tiring skipper is difficult to identify. But his impact was immediate.

    Confronting Guthrie in a 50-50 challenge after turning down an invitation to shoot, tentative Petrucci predictably came out second best to the more truculent Reading midfielder, a lapse he compounded with a languid pursuit of the his departing opponent. Easily shaking off his powderpuff adversary, Guthrie was free to pick the perfect pass to Williams on his right as Le Fondre ran intelligently off the ball to his left. Sidestepping Wiggins, the elaborately-coiffed American drove the matchwinner emphatically into the top left corner.

    With nearly twenty minutes left, more of those bloody statistics entered the equation. Since the estimable Jackson’s added time strike earned his side a 1-1 draw at Ipswich on New Years Day, Charlton haven’t managed an equaliser in 14 games. You have to go back six more days to the 3-2 Boxing Day victory over Brighton to find a game in which they’ve scored more than once. Which meant that this result was already done and dusted since it was safe to assume that neither of those depressing statistics was about to be demolished. Don’t talk to me about goalscoring. Try the weather instead.

    Anyway, it’s a long way from over. Charlton must regroup and come at Yeovil Town on Tuesday night with renewed hope. Their relegation rivals, including Yeovil, had it their way on a sickening Saturday but that’s how it goes. So Jose, find places for Jonathan Obika and Reza (for Church and Harriott), and, without making him a scapegoat, leave Petrucci on the bench until he begins to appreciate that in a relegation battle, you fight for your rights and dispute every inch, every ounce. Over and out.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Harriott, Cousins (Obika 80), Poyet, Jackson (Petrucci 66), Adjarevic (Ghoochannejhad 58), Church. Not used: Phillips, Sordell, Wood, Fox. Book: Morrison, Wiggins.

    Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McAnuff, Guthrie, Williams, Drenthe (McCleary 64), Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu 76), Pobrebnyak. Not used: Federici, Kelly, Morrison, Bridge, Blackman.

    Referee: Andy Madley. Att: 15,800 (1,794 visiting).

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Leeds United v Charlton (01/04/2014) #CAFC #LUFC

    Leeds United 0 Charlton 1 (Ghoochannejhad 54).

    Kevin Nolan reports from Elland Road.

    Charlton really are warming to the 1-0 scoreline. Twelve of their league games this season have been decided by this narrowest of margins. After losing six of the first eight, they have balanced the books by winning their last four. That’s responsible accounting.

    As this eventful game moved into the second of five added minutes, their 1-0 prospects seemed doomed to bitter disappointment. Having led the fight to hang on to Reza Ghoochannejhad’s wonderful strike, Diego Poyet had given way to youthful enthusiasm, stuck his foot in where it didn’t belong during a desperate melee and conceded a last gasp penalty by tripping Aidan White. His yellow card was inevitable. So was the spotkick from which Leeds sharpshooter Ross McCormack sought to level the score.

    A reasonable candidate for Championship player of the year, McCormack destroyed the Addicks at The Valley last November with all four goals in United’s 4-2 victory, the second of them a penalty tucked confidently past Ben Hamer. Once again the same two protagonists faced each other, with the outcome expected to be identical. Except that Hamer had done his homework. Making himself busy on his line, he feinted to his left, guessed McCormack’s intended target and saved his firmly struck shot down low at his right hand post. The spontaneous celebrations among his teammates suggested they recognised a season-defining moment when they saw one.

    Hamer and the estimable McCormack had already confronted each other mano-a-mano early in the second half. A restless bundle of energy, Leeds’ skipper eluded Poyet as the youngster slipped before turning to detonate a fiercely rising drive. Achieving a last inch of extension as he dived, Hamer’s faint touch turned the rocket against the underside of his bar. His luck was in as Lawrie Wilson whacked the rebound off the goalline.

    As if encouraged by the close shave, the Addicks wasted little time in exploiting the situation. And it shouldn’t escape notice that two of their controversial loan signings combined to cut the scoring mustard.

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    Sadly missed during the routine defeat at Derby, Astrit Ajdarevic had recovered from ‘flu to lend a creative spark in midfield. His lancing pass through the inside right channel picked out Reza running intelligently in anticipation of the delivery. Controlling expertly, the slim Iranian cut back inside  Jason Pearce on to his favoured left foot and bent a beautifully weighted shot across a startled Jack Butland into the far corner. As has been noted here on more than one occasion, the kid has undoubted ability and a goal in him. This one might open a small floodgate; it was certainly overdue. It might be wise for us to cut him some slack for his dubious commitment to the physical side of things because you don’t score goals of this quality without having something special about you. On you go, Reza. Sorry for beginning to doubt you.

    It might appear that this report spotlights deficiencies in Poyet’s performance. No offence intended. The 18-year old prodigy, watched by his no doubt critical father Gus, again contributed mightily to Charlton’s stirring triumph. His tackling and distribution were flawless and once he learns to get stuck in (I’m joking, I’m joking!) he’ll be some player. At his shoulder, fellow Academy hotshot Jordan Cousins was no less effective. Shame he was unable to convert a last minute chance on the breakaway. As already mentioned, Ajdarevic added guile in the centre of midfield while Johnnie Jackson lent his know-how to a still inexperienced midfield. It might be time for his ageist critics to give it a rest.

    Charlton’s back four were, as usual, sound as a pound. The two flying Ws, Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins, put the miles in up and down their respective flanks, centre backs Michael Morrison and Dorian Dervite kept McCormack and his towering strike partner Matt Smith relatively quiet. Behind it all, Hamer racked up yet another clean sheet and made nonsense of Yohann Thuram’s reported strop about selection. Which brings us to young Joe Pigott, who toiled manfully up against ruthless centre backs Tom Lees and Pearce, neither of them above the judiciously applied cheapshot in innocuous areas. Joe stuck it out, did his best but was wisely replaced by Jonathan Obika early in the second period. More will be heard from yet another product of Charlton’s excellent academy.

    Six points from their latest perambulations through the heartland of England represents a more than healthy return from three tricky games. It was handy that Nottingham Forest and Leed United were encountered while both clubs were busy tearing themselves apart (hope Forest have pulled themselves together by the weekend, by the way) but there you go, you can only beat what’s in front of you. And that’s Reading at The Valley on Saturday. Won’t be easy. They never are at the sharp end of the season. But we mustn’t weaken now. We owe that much to Ben Hamer and his indomitable mates. We’re in this together.

    Leeds: Butland, Wootton (Poleon 70), Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Byram, Tonge, Mowatt, White, Smith (Hunt 46), McCormack. Not used: Cairns, Murphy, Pugh, Brown, Stewart. Booked: Pearce, Tonge, Wootton, Mowatt.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad (Petrucci 84), Adjarevic,Poyet, Cousins, Jackson, Pigott (Obika 53). Booked: Poyet.

    Referee: Scott Duncan Att: 17,343 (271 tourists).

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Derby County v Charlton (29/03/2014)

    Derby County 3 (Russell 18, Bamford 38, Martin 84) Charlton 0.

    Kevin Nolan reports from the Quid Pro Quo Stadium.

    Before this tortuous Championship campaign limps over the line and sorts out the winners from the losers on May 3rd, you can confidently expect the unexpected from time to time. Stand by for the usual coupon-busting results which, on paper at least, belong to fantasy. Charlton’s relegation rivals have already come up with one or two upsets, notable among them Millwall’s victory at this colourfully named venue earlier this month. Fat chance there was of their South London neighbours repeating the dose.

    Fresh from their own mildly surprising midweek win at Nottingham Forest, Charlton seemed at pains to dispel any suggestion that Derby were in for another shock. From kick-off, they were nervous, pliant and flat, with a game plan apparently dedicated to the proposition that County should be supplied possession as often as possible without arousing suspicion that the fix was in. Their number of careless turnovers during the opening 10 minutes was staggering, the only surprise being that it took the Rams eighteen one-sided minutes to appreciate their visitors’ co-operation and open the scoring.

    It wasn’t as if the Midlanders needed undue encouragement. Though lacking the quality of Leicester and Burnley, also 3-0 conquerors over the Addicks this season (Burnley turning the trick twice), they were far too good for their hopelessly disorganised victims. They could even allow them the game’s first genuine chance, from which Marvin Sordell’s improvised snapshot forced a smart save from Lee Grant, before pulling themselves themselves together to take the lead.

    Inevitably a defensive error, in this instance Rhoys Wiggins’ disastrously misdirected header, was Charlton’s undoing. Pouncing on the gift, George Thorne fed Johnny Russell, who turned sharply inside the penalty area to beat Ben Hamer with a firm drive into the bottom left corner. Scorers of no more than one goal in any of eleven games since beating Brighton 3-2 on Boxing Day, Charlton were already heading downhill. A poor record of coming up with equalisers, the last of which salvaged a 1-1 draw at Ipswich on New Years Day, accelerated their slide.

    Hamer’s fine save from Thorne stemmed the tide and Grant replied in kind to stop Johnnie Jackson’s crisp reply. But more disastrous defending before the break settled the issue.

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    Emulating Wiggins’ waywardness, Richard Wood gave the ball away needlessly and in racing back to rescue his colleague, Jackson’s almost involuntary header, probably intended to concede a corner, presented Patrick Bamford with a close range chance he was never likely to miss. Hamer again distinguished himself with a brave one-on-one save at Andre Wisdom’s feet but with Charlton’s defiant keeper a notable exception, the impression that this daunting fixture had been approached as one to simply get out of the way was hard to shake off.

    To their credit and encouraging for their survival prospects, the Addicks used half-time to re-organise and consolidate. On came a lively version of the frequently too relaxed Callum Harriott in place of Reza Ghoochannejhad, a bewildered lightweight so obviously over his head in the physicality of English league football. The three-up-front experiment was abandoned, back went Charlton to a more solid 4-4-2 and chances were created. Harriott was on the end of the best of them, his nicely struck volley bringing a full length save from Grant. The irrepressible Jordan Cousins had a shot crucially blocked, substitute Joe Pigott, on for Sordell, took Obika’s lay-off and had Grant plunging down to save again at his left post. It was stirring stuff from a previously outclassed side but County had one more shot in their locker and used it to unsympathetically quash the rally.

    The Addicks were showing ominous signs of fatigue by the time substitute Connor Sammon’s left wing cross was cleared at the expense of a corner on the opposite flank. Last week’s local derby hat-trick hero Craig Bryson’s outswinger was forcefully glanced home at the near post by top scorer Chris Martin and Charlton’s latest 3-0 reverse was completed. To their relief, only more top six team (Reading) feature on their ten-game run-in. Ten more nose-to-the-grindstone ordeals

    The final word belongs to Derby manager Steve McLaren, for no better reason than the excuse it gives us to marvel at his evolving hairstyle. Note how his plucky little quiff has come adrift from the rest of his thinning hair and now defiantly goes it alone at the front of his head. As an outstanding example of making the best of what you’ve got, there’s no role model like Steve. No comb-over for him. His remaining follicles are out, proud and defiantly rockabilly. All of which tonsorial talk leaves me insufficient room to discuss his final word as promised. Sorry about that. Probably riveting stuff too.

    Derby: Grant, Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Bryson, Thorne (Eustace 71), Hendrick, Bamford (Sammon 71), Martin, Russell (Naylor 87). Not used: Legzdins, O’Brien, Whitbread, Bailey.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Wood, Wiggins, Poyet, Ghoochannejhad (Harriott 46), Cousins, Jackson (Petrucci 82), Obika, Sordell (Pigott 58). Not used: Thuram, Hughes, Nego, Lennon.

    Referee: Mark Haywood. Att: 24,429.

  • Greenwich: Greenwich.co.uk weekly round up – 29 March 2014

    Early last Sunday morning, in the cold bracing air above the Thames, a team of aerial experts climbed out on the Emirates Air Line cable that spans the river and staged a mock rescue. It’s unlikely they will be called upon to perform this in real life but useful of course to practice for such a possibility – it certainly made for an arresting spectacle.

    Cable Car Practice Rescue

    I first posted that on the Greenwich.co.uk forum – also over there you can find details about of a planning application for a new telephone box and ATM in Greenwich Church Street.

    Coming up this week is a meeting of the Greenwich Historical Society (having been rescheduled from last week). Society President, Warwick Leadlay’s Anthony Cross, will be giving an address, entitled A History of Greenwich in half a Dozen Objects. Click here for full details.

    This week also sees the new start of a new exhibition at the Paul McPherson Gallery. “The Londoner and The Interview” is a new solo collection by Aleksandar Basic of figurative-abstract works, oils and drawings, inspired with people, modern commuters, who travel to work in and around London.

    Another event to mention is a jumble sale at St Alfege Church Hall next Saturday (5th April) in aid of Cancer Research UK.

    If you have an event coming up you would like to promote on Greenwich.co.uk, feel free to add it here.

    Following the change in the law, the Royal Borough of Greenwich had its first same-sex wedding today. Charlotte Wood and Carol McCarron were married this morning at Woolwich Town Hall and local photographer Chris Mansfield recorded the historic occasion with his camera as the newly-weds emerged out on to Wellington Street.

    1st same sex wedding in RBG

    Congratulations to Carol and Charlotte.

  • Greenwich: Kevin Nolan’s Match Report: Nottingham Forest v Charlton (25/03/14) #CAFC #NFFC

    Nottingham Forest 0 Charlton 1 (Cousins 81).

    Kevin Nolan reports from the City Ground.

    Separating success from failure in football is often a simple matter of timing. When the fixture list throws you together with a club in temporary disorder, it’s possible to slip in there, clobber them while their minds are elsewhere, then make off with three points. Catch them with their tails up, though, and you can also catch a cold, as Charlton did in Sheffield recently.

    The hectic schedule brought the Addicks to the banks of the Trent on Tuesday, where trouble has been brewing on both sides of the river. In Nottingham Forest’s case, it boiled over in the wake of a 5-0 weekend drubbing by local rivals Derby County. Chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi had suffered enough and wasted little time in axeing bellicose manager Billy Davies, a choleric Glaswegian rarely more than a heartbeat away from spontaneously combusting.

    Davies was chucked out a day before Charlton’s visit, his departure sparking talk of the imminent arrival of Neil Warnock, that bluff, say-what I mean, mean-what-I-say professional Yorkshireman. His long term influence on a club is dubious to say the least but he does bring with him a bit of “new club bounce.” Luckily negotiations stalled and the Addicks dodged that ominous bullet. In caretaker charge of the Trentsiders was Academy manager Gary Brazil, whose name, no disrespect intended, is known to few households, including his own. Charlton had ideally timed this once awkward fixture but only if- and it was an inconveniently big if -they could actually score.

    With Scrooge-like parsimony, Charlton have realised a reasonable return on their frugal investment of less than a goal a game. Unlike buses, for them goals arrive singly and never in pairs. But they’ve certainly got the hang of the 1-0 scoreline. Five of their eight victories have been by the only goal (they’ve also lost six by the same slender margin) and if Charlton could manage even one, Forest were clearly there for the taking.

    For 81 evenly contested minutes at the City Ground, things progressed routinely but also scorelessly until the excellent Jordan Cousins took care of that vital statistic The Addicks had caught Forest in decline, took full advantage of the situation and legged it without so much as a backward glance of sympathy. Football’s a dog-eat-dog world with little room for sentiment. Just ask Billy Davies. Or, for that matter, Chris Powell.

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    Charlton’s victory was hard earned but justified. They defended with determination, passed and moved smoothly on a perfect playing surface and stuck earnestly to their task. When possession was turned over, they funnelled back in good order, covering and tackling crisply. Well organised and fully committed, they edged a game of evenly distributed chances.

    Hearts were in visiting mouths, admittedly, when Darius Henderson missed the first of those chances on 16 minutes. From twelve yards, the burly striker stabbed Gonzalo Jara’s precise pass a coat of paint’s width wide of an inviting target.

    Growing in confidence, meanwhile, the Londoners hit back. Alertly running down Astrit Ajdarevic’s diagonal delivery from right to left, Cousins turned sharply to thread an intuitive pass through to Marvin Sordell beyond the far post. From an acute angle, the luckless striker hit the woodwork with a blistering low drive.

    The end-to-end stuff continued as Simon Cox’s dangerously low cross penetrated a crowded six-yard area, with Lawrie Wilson desperately clearing at the far post, before Cox squandered a genuine opportunity a minute before the break. Played past Michael Morrison by Henderson, the midfielder chipped over the advancing Ben Hamer but hit the far post; the rebound was returned by Jamie Mackie, headed firmly by Henderson but brilliantly tipped over the bar by Hamer.

    So far so reasonably good for the visitors but the need to score was becoming urgent. Midway through the second period, Cousins gave little hint of his later heroics by making a dreadful hash of Charlton’s best chance. Picked out by Wilson’s perfect cross wide of the far post, his cushioned volley began rising on impact and hasn’t been seen since. A quarter hour later, the kid with the old head on young shoulders, more than made amends.

    Favoured by the rebound as Jonathan Obika, running on to Adjarevic’s subtle flick, hit the foot of the left post, Cousins calmly sidefooted the winner into the centre of stranded Karl Darlow’s goal. Jeers from the locals that their erstwhile idols weren’t “fit to wear the shirt” were Forest’s instant reward. Bit harsh that, really. You can’t win ‘em all. Or even draw ‘em.

    A solid team performance, all in all, with Cousins shading the gifted Adjarevic as man-of-the-match. Diego Poyet was his usual blend of pugnacity and artistry, a sturdy defence gave little away, while Hamer did his bit in helping them to chalk up another clean sheet. Reza Ghoochannejhad has undoubted skill but needs to adjust quickly to the physical demands made by English football. But there’s no denying that this team is playing for Jose Riga, whose record of eight points from five games bears scrutiny. He’s in charge now, there’s no point in cutting off noses to spite faces and absolutely nothing to be gained from relegation. League One!….spare us that!

    So off to Derby on Saturday, travelling with renewed hope, then next Tuesday to Leed United, another club tearing itself apart. Might be something there so let’s hope Brian McDermott survives until then. He’s a good lad, Brian, but they’re in danger of freefall up there. Don’t need ‘em aroused. Blimey, Warnock’s name might be in the frame again.

    Forest: Darlow, Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Mackie, Greening, Jara, Cox (Paterson 52), Abdoun (Darbyshire 87), Henderson (Djebbour 68). Not used: Harding, Evtimov, Majewski, Gomis. Booked: Jara, Djebbour.

    Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite (Wood 46), Wiggins, Ghoochannejhad, Ajdarevic (Fox 90), Cousins, Poyet, Jackson, Sordell (Obika 60). Not used: Thuram, Nego, Green, Pigott.

    Referee: A. Haines. Att: 17,951 (258 visiting).