Saturday, 10 March 2012


Most objective CAFC fans accept that our form has been poor of late (i.e. the last 2-3 months).
We would all liked to have seen the side demonstrate the quality and style that a top of the table team normally does but while the points have kept comin' in we have been happy to take them and laud the side.
However, during this lean patch of form it's been obvious that we have been skating on thin ice. Indeed, some opposition sides have termed us a lucky side which has been fortunate to amass the points we have so far. Certainly the ice has cracked in the last two home games and should have done at Bournemouth.
There is also truth in the old saying that a team that keeps playing badly yet still wins has the hallmark of a champion side.
Well, I don't go along with either view.
Yes, we have done well to collect the points we have when we have been playing so poorly and inconsistently over the last few months. The side has shown true grit in coming away from games, e.g. Bournemouth, Sheffield United and MK DONs away, when we have been outplayed for large chunks of the game. 
However, there has some luck in quite a few games where we have come away with the points.Even wins against lowly sides, have rarely exuded any real style and panache and there has been a reliance on set piece goals too often.
The cracks on the ice have slowly been coming over the last couple of months. The midfield has been hard working, personified by Hollands, yet has shown little creativeness and, other than Hollands, little enthusiasm to go in for crunching 50/50 tackles, all to obvious at Bournemouth.
Green was left out this week; I have no idea whether he was injured but he deserved to be dropped if only to give Haynes a decent chance. Yet, when Haynes gets his chance we lose him in the first 10 minutes when he has hardly, if at all, kicked the ball.
Our only other option was Wagstaffe and I'm afraid his performance today showed why CP has been overlooking him. Stephens has promised so much, as commented upon in the last post, but like Green is failing to deliver. Whether both are just going through a bad patch or just do not have what It takes I am not sure.
Apart from his hat trick up at Chesterfield, BWP continues to be off colour and, as I have said before, if he is not scoring goals he, like a Green also in bad form, almost become passengers we can ill afford to carry. God knows what the problem is with Haynes; let's hope it is short term. I would have been tempted to play him in the middle instead of BWP as he looks more dangerous there than on the wing.
I am not jumping on the bandwagon to call for Hamer's head. Maybe he could have got nearer the shot to his right hand corner and I am not sure whether he should have got out to cut out the cross for their headed goal. However, the other two were poor defencive errors and Taylor must bare some blame.
As for Taylor coming up for corners, he has yet to win a ball decisively in the air and I wish he would stay back in defence and let our forwards and Morrison fight for the ball.
Morrison has been magnificent and is surely a future skipper, if we can hold onto him.
That leaves us with a tricky game at Scunthorpe ( we need a point at least) and a must win home game against Yeovil.
If we fail to get points out of this game confidence will ebb further and we could be on the beginning of a bad run which could threaten all that has gone before.
I suspect that CP may field the same side next week but if no points are forthcoming he should then seriously consider some changes. Perhaps Haynes will be fit again, so could be given another chance. Maybe Pritchard might add some sparkle to midfield which is so badly needed.
What we must do is stop this skating on thin ice and put together a side that has confidence, style and the ability to impose itself convincingly over other sides, especially those near the bottom.
The next 2 fixtures fit into that category so I hope we can pull it off.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tarnished by Freak Goal and Predictable Error

This was a better performance than at Bournemouth game when we came away with 3 largely undeserved points.
The writing was on the wall within the first 7 minutes when a cracking long range shot was fired in by Colchester. The power of the shot and the movement on the ball were freakish to an extent and although it was reported as "giving Hamer no chance" you still felt he might have got a bit nearer it.
A fair number of chance were made which were not taken, BWP again pushed 3 half chances wide and Jackson finished off the best move of the game with a powerful shot that was rising all the way just over the bar. 
Maybe I am old fashioned but since FIFA landed the game with a ball that more resembles a beach ball than a football in order to "make the game more exciting" we have been 'treated' to excessive bending of shots and balls blasting wide and over the bar that previously would have gone straight into the net. The supposed skills of the modern player to bend shots and free kicks are certainly present but bare no comparison to the likes of Puskas and the Brazilian stars of the past.
The game was killed off when Hamer unnecessarily hesitated clearing the ball, trying to do too much on the ball; and it rebounded off an attackedr into the goal. 
It would be too generous to say that this was a once-off as it nearly happened earler on and I can recall at least 3 other occasions earlier in the season when he cut it far too fine in similar circumstances. One can only hope he learns from this debacle and/or a real drubbiing from the coaching staff. 
Back to the game: even though the performance was an improvement on B'mouth, there are still chinks in the armoury that need to be addressed. 
BWP is still off colour and in shoulder shrugging mood; if he is not scoring, his overall contribution is questionable: he is still not getting as close to Kormorant as he needs  to.
Green is still turning in a string of mediocre performances and is in a rut. A few good crosses and the odd spectacular effort is not good enough alone to justify his place. Giving Haynes the odd ten minutes does little for him or the side: he deserves to be given a better chance to see what he can do. 
Wagstaff could also challenge especially as he provides better support from Solly; if he could cross the ball regularly than  he would really be challenging.
However, we are still lacking creativity in midfield. Hollands does a great job but that is not his primary role. Stephens is no doubt a talented player but cannot tackle, gets caught with the ball far too often and goes sideways rather then forward with the least provocation, though sometimes due to lack of running off the ball by the strikers.
It was sad to watch a small group of young fans chanting the usual rubbish after the game on the way up Floyd Road and adding "Charlton's support is a load of s**t" to their impressive repertoire. We can do without their "support".