Tuesday, 19 February 2008

High Fives For The Kids

If proof were needed that the youth team’s 6-0 demolition of Sheff Utd in the previous round was no flash in the pan we just had it. Swindon, conquerors of Middlesbrough last time out, were brushed aside within half an hour. The final score of 5-1 to the Addicks didn’t flatter them at all. The foot came off the gas after they went 4-0 up inside 30 minutes and, while Swindon stuck to their task, it had become a stroll in the park – if that doesn’t create the wrong image on a bloody cold February night. (The photo by the way is a scenic rendition entitled Moon Over The Valley In A Floodlit Game In February.)

The Charlton line-up for the game was the same as against Sheffield. And it was soon clear that the passing game and the pace and movement of the team collectively going forward would be too much for Swindon to handle – as long as superiority could be translated into goals. Didn’t take long for that question to be answered either. On seven minutes a break down the right by Danny Uchechi – who was my man of the match as Swindon just couldn’t contain him – saw his shot parried and fall to the onrushing Jonjo Shelvey who made no mistake.

Every time Charlton worked the ball through midfield or down the flanks they looked threatening and nobody was surprised when on 18 minutes a cross from the right saw a defender slide in Shittu-style to slice the ball goalwards. This time it came back off the bar – to the onrushing Shelvey who made no mistake. The third duly followed on 24 minutes, with Scott Wagstaff running on to a through ball and chipping over the keeper. And on 26 minutes it was four as Ben Godfrey followed up a shot from Selvey palmed out by the keeper.

That was effectively game over and not surprisingly the tempo dropped. And while not exactly rocked back on their heels Charlton did give Swindon a goal back with a moment that centre-back Yado Mambo and goalkeeper Joe Wooley will not care to remember. A cross from the left was deflected high in the air and confusion saw Mambo and Wooley in a muddle, the ball breaking to the Swindon forward to hit into an empty net.

The second half saw Charlton intent on not letting Swindon back into the game and any doubts about the outcome were dispelled on 56 minutes as Uchechi squared the ball to Wagstaff, who cut inside before coolly slotting the ball home from the edge of the area. The remainder of the match was played out in a relaxed fashion, with Mikkeo Rygaard-Jensen coming on for Uchechi, Callum O’Shea for Alexander Stavrinou (who had another quietly effective game in front of the back four), and Jack Clark for Sam Long. The only disappointment was that the lack of tension and the freezing cold worked against the crowd giving the team the rousing support that they deserved.

I don’t see enough of our youth team to suggest how far they can go – in this competition as a team and individually as players. The two matches I have watched have both been over well before half-time as Charlton simply overwhelmed the opposition with their passing and movement. I have yet to see them having to chase a game or even in a tight contest. Maybe that will come with Sunderland in the quarter-finals. But there really is a lot to like about the way they are playing. They create chances, the finishing is usually at least efficient, and they are able to switch positions with ease. The two full-backs, Long and Chris Solly, get forward quickly and are tenacious tacklers. Rhys Coleman looks unflustered while Mambo has the physical presence to overshadow most opponents. The defence did have some iffy moments tonight, but nothing to detract from the overall performance.

The heartbeat of the team comes from Wagstaff, Uchechi, Rashid Yussuff and Shelvey, while Godfrey fits in well with them as the more traditional forward. Tonight Uchechi was a constant tormentor of Swindon - as well as being involved in goals he had an overhead kick crash back off the bar and other shots - and as their midfield lacked the pace and ability to contain us they had to defend deeper, allowing us to pressure their defence. What do you say about a 5-1 win following a 6-0 triumph other than well done and look forward to watching them again in about a week’s time.


Anonymous said...

Great reading BA. Vicar here. Would love to go to one of these matches but I am always engaged in God's work in the evening!

It sounds from your reports that the future of our team may well be in great hands. It is good to hear! Keep it up BA

Anonymous said...

Good report BA.... A bit of sunshine.

Cut yourself some slack vicar, take a night off, your friend he's in to forgiveness and it is Charlton...

Anonymous said...

I am too busy praying for a new renaldo to turn up in the parish!