Skip to content

Valley of Death

And the relegation dogfight continues…

Before I start – sorry if you saw any weird formatting when I published. WordPress has “upgraded” and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Just as I’m not sure what to make of Back to the Valley 3 Back to Plough Lane 2, to be honest.

Part of me thinks that it’s yet another example of our defensive feebleness that has returned.

Another part of me believes that these games won’t be the ones that will ultimately decide which division we’re in next season.

I’m also of the opinion that the most important result yesterday was Notlob’s late, late equaliser at Morecambe.

All of these are probably accurate, but the main thought today remains the same one I had leaving the ground.

We’re missing something.

I don’t quite know what this “something” is, to be honest. Maybe it really is Woodyard, who was reportedly in our end yesterday.

Two weeks before his return, the rumour mill is churning out.

Perhaps the (over) emphasis on yoof is finally biting us in the arse? If you’re struggling, you do need experience and character.

Not only are we asking lads to do a job of senior pros anyway, but we’re also expecting them to work it out without much (Nathan) elder guidance.

True, Lee Brown and (when he returns) Woodyard will help on that score.

And yes, we’re trying hard and nobody can fault our current effort. But will that be enough this season?

As for the game, we had a bright start and we even took the lead. Their goalie held onto it as well as some of our past shotstoppers.

Sadly, any team who has done their homework on us knows all you have to do is put it in the middle and we panic.

Charlton have worked this out, just as they’ve worked out our set-piece defending is equally as dire.

I thought we had a set-piece coach? Or is that turning out to be yet another gimmick, only here for when we need a self-promoting OS piece?

Whatever, it’s clear Charlton have done more work on our set pieces than we have, as they equalised pretty easily.

You can always tell when something is fundamentally wrong, when you look at our crowd reaction after the opposition score.

This was greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders. We know.

Just as we rolled our eyes en masse when they took the lead. Another through ball down the middle, another “oh look, the ball has gone past us” moment, another goal conceded.

To our credit, we pulled it back to 2-2, with a decent diving header by Heneghan. And to be fair, it was a great game for the neutral.

I, along with 99% reading this, am an AFCW fan though. The neutrals can fuck off.

As can our defending for their third, which to be blunt was coming. Granted, we pushed forward and tried hard (that phrase again), but I think the game was over when we fell behind again.

And you’re now just left wondering what happens next.

Well, we’ve got Rotherham then Sunderland, although neither of them are unbeatable.

The Mackems lost to Doncaster, and apparently Rotherham were awful against t’Stanley.

We did see the debut of Cosgrove, though because of his lack of gametime he had to come off.

I don’t know whether he’ll be a long-term solution, but I do think he’ll offer something different before the end of the season.

I can’t help think he was a little bit of a panic buy, just as I think OP going was a panic sell. If we hadn’t had the transfer deadline, would we have replaced him…?

To be honest, I don’t know what division we’ll be in next season. We’ve got enough games to survive, and comfortably so if we take full advantage.

If we go down, so be it. It will hurt, but it would be a painful lesson some in the club need to learn.

As for the rest of it…

Plus points: We scored twice. Can’t fault our effort.

Minus points: We lost. Defence awful. Lack of quality showing.

The referee’s a…: Did he do too much wrong yesterday? Apart from letting them timewaste a bit.

Them: Your editor sometimes covers Charlton for PA, and they’ve definitely improved under Johnnie Jackson.

Had more senior players than us, who knew how to manage the game, and so it proved to our cost.

Like so many teams in League One though, they’re vulnerable themselves, and if we had a little bit more about us – it could have been a draw.

Charlton are one of those clubs who perhaps shouldn’t be in the third tier, but are because of poor boardroom decisions.

There were 22486 at the Valley yesterday (including about 1200 of us), which wouldn’t look out of place in the top flight too.

Their new owner is a bit of a metalhead, which is always a good thing. Playing Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” may be a bit cliche, but it’s better than the usual shite at games.

They also played a song that has the lyrics “We hear the battlecry, tonight it’s do or die” by somebody. Anyone know who did it and what it’s called…?

Point to ponder: Should MR be under more pressure than he actually is?

I’ve deliberately not mentioned that we’ve won three (3) times in twenty-two (22) matches, and the last of that was t’Stanley in December.

That is sackable form, and similar did for Wally Downes and Glyn Hodges.

True, Robbo has earned more draws than those two, which is why we’re currently not in the drop zone.

And he’s clearly a better man-manager** than either of them.

** – comment about Hodges from before the game – “He was even worse than Wally for that”. Interesting…

So I don’t expect him to be sacked, if only because a lot of the club’s issues aren’t down to him.

But right now, one is left with the impression that the club doesn’t seem bothered about results or relegation.

MR himself seems to know he’ll be in charge next season regardless, but I wouldn’t accuse him of not caring.

I fully accept that the club needs to properly build an academy-to-first-team conveyor belt, and MR is best placed to do that right now.

But us going down isn’t going to help us as much as some think it will.

We’ll lose out on much more money than the £300k we got for OP. And I would expect the likes of Assal and Rudoni to be gone, probably for relative peanuts too.

If you think that it’s boys doing a mans’ job in L1, wait until the cloggers of L2 get hold of our remaining youngsters.

Which considering that’s what MR builds his entire ethos on doesn’t give me much hope in 22/23.

Robbo himself may well be the right guy in charge at the moment. He might be completely out of place as a L2 manager, and we’d have to act if so.

Which would mean any attempt to long term build will be thrown in the bin.

He can help himself even now by just getting somebody with a bit more experience of senior football as a coach, or even an advisor.

Even just changing the tactics a bit so we’re doing things like, well, playing two up front or tightening up the defence.

Our current position is salvageable, even though it’s going to be another rough ride until the end of the season.

But the first real doubts about MR’s reign are starting to creep in. And he’s only been in the job a year…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) “Is this a concert?” – us when Charlton fans did some mobile phone light thing. The Who in 1974 this wasn’t. 2) I don’t think the away stand is any different to when they left for Selhurst in 1985. 3) £26 to get in, pay on the day. £2.50 for a cup of tea. No, it wasn’t worth it.

Anything else? AFCW made a “club statement” about some, ahem, extra-curricular activity at London Bridge station last night, before it was yanked before 2am.

OK, you’d prefer this sort of thing wouldn’t happen to begin with, and nawtyness is wrong.

Though it seems to range from Charlton fans doing Franchise chants towards us and our lot responding, to about 3-6 CAFC lot being attacked by “40 Wimbledon”.

I haven’t seen any video of it, by the way, but I fully expect it’s more mundane than what is claimed. As is usual with these sort of incidents.

Whatever, since we returned home, we’ve definitely picked up a larger element who would need to be careful of 6am knocks on their door.

We always had a couple, even back in the CCL days, before anyone tries to rewrite history.

But I definitely noticed more groups of lads about yesterday who do fit the description, probably more than I can recall at any point in the AFCW era.

And it’s something that no amount of pearl clutching is going to change.

Since we returned home, it’s easier for a lot more people to get tickets, and groups to form. And yes, some of those will not be tambourine bashers.

But then, there’s a definite change in the demographics following us since we returned.

There’s an uptick in groups of youngsters following us full stop, not just the ones who might upset the Maude Flanders tendency.

It’s certainly more notable at home games, but it’s also becoming more obvious at away trips too.

Your editor has been to league games at Charlton, Oxford, t’Stanley, Cambridge,and Rotherham this season.

And I’ve definitely noticed some new(er) faces about at all of those games, with perhaps the exception of the Millers.

Which is inevitable – as the older ones stop going, the youngsters will take their place.

Most of them will not get involved in anything, but we have to accept there will be more who might from now on.

Whether that will mean we hear about more alleged incidents like at London Bridge yesterday remains to be seen.

Chances are, we probably will. We had similar at Ipswich this season too.

But we might be about to learn another harsh lesson – you can’t always get the people who watch you to behave like you want…

So, was it worth it? No.

In a nutshell: Still seventeen games left to learn how to defend.

Published inUncategorised