Saturday 25 October 2008

Charlton 1-1 Burnley

A point won or two lost? On reflection, a draw was probably a fair result but I'm pretty sure Luke Varney won't have been sleeping too easily since Saturday. It was the typical game of two halves: in the first half we didn't look like we knew what we were doing, second half we actually resembled a football team.

Pardew's choice of starting XI was radical, baffling and unsuccessful. Andy Gray wasn't even a substitue and neither were Kelly Youga or Jose Semedo, with Izale McLeod, Josh Wright and Grant Basey along with the returning Mark Hudson making the starting line up. Holland and Bouazza had to make do with a place on the bench. The most worrying aspect of the line up was seeing Martin Cranie start at left back. It seems Pardew will fit him into the team wherever a space becomes available so don't be surprised to see him start up front against Ipswich on Tuesday.

Anyway, whatever Alan had in mind with his new look team didn't work . We looked completely disjointed and I don't recall us having a shot on goal in the first half. It could have been worse as well had it not been for the referee ruling out Martin Paterson's strike which he initially appeared to have let stand. As it was, we fell behind shortly afterwards when Steven Thompson lashed home what looked to be a fairly avoidable goal. Not much else noteworthy happened in a first half which I imagine the players and crowd will want to forget.

Nothing was happening for us. Josh Wright looked out of his depth, Nicky Bailey was having a poor game, Cranie looked out of place at left back, Ambrose was having his usual frustrating game, and please do not get me started on Izale McLeod. I have no idea why he was started ahead of Chris Dickson (who did not even get a place on the bench and must be wondering what he has done wrong), and it's fair to say he hardly cemented his place in the side. He contributed absolutely nothing and it was to everybody's relief that he was withdrawn at half time.

Pardew threw on Lloyd Sam and Svetoslav Todorov at the interval and we started to look like we kind of knew what we were doing. Josh Wright looked more assured, Sam added a bit more thrust and Todorov showed how a striker should position himself and he was on hand to nod in Grant Basey's free kick with 15 minutes remaining. It looked so easy but we've made heavy weather of easy chances all season, a point rammed home when Luke Varney somehow managed to miss having rounded the Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal. To be fair, he had been forced wide but this is a striker we paid two million quid for so you do expect better. When the full time whistle went, the team were actually applauded off the field by a crowd who I thought were excellent throughout.

Pardew's starting XI was worryingly bad and really did strike me as a panic selection. If the first half performance had carried over to the second then I honestly think he would no longer be the manager of Charlton Athletic. To give him his dues though, he recognised that he had made a mistake and the substitutions he made at half time paid off. What will be interesting is to see whether he's actually learnt from this and makes a decent team selection at Ipswich tomorrow evening. Barnsley at home next Saturday is probably the more important game, but if we can get something from the trip to Portman Road then so much the better. If we play like we did in the second half, there is a chance that we might.

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