Fan’s View 2020/21 – No.11 – Charlton away

Article by Paul Beasley Tuesday, October 27th, 2020  

SEASON 2020/21 – FAN’S VIEW No.11 – CHARLTON AWAY (& not SWINDON AT HOME)

Swindon and Covid

Immediately after the MK Dons game I got twitchy because I had not received my iFollow code for the Swindon game. Turns out I needn’t have worried but I did manage to locate it in my spam folder. None of the others had found a home there so presumably the software deciding on the filtering process had been programmed to bin a certain town from Wiltshire. Going forward though no code will be needed so season ticket holders just need to log into iFollow a few minutes before Minchery Farm kick-offs and away we go.

What could go wrong? Lots, probably. Having located the code and stupidly thinking we wouldn’t be involved in another no show problem number two arose. This was complete loss of internet connection in the local area. Virgin informed us that the problem was complex but engineers were on the case and hoped to have it fixed by 13:10 on Saturday. That’s quite precise but cutting it a bit fine. A contingency plan was needed, so I rang my brother and said he might be catering for three more, but by Friday afternoon there were reports that the game was already off or going to be called off depending on which website was being viewed at the time. Other sites that you’d expect to be in the know were indicating nothing other than all systems go.

As we now know the game was officially postponed later on that evening. And for the record our internet connectivity returned before the night was out. If social media is to be believed vandalism was to blame for the outage. Bastards.

Just like with Crewe (x2) the time line of decision making and lack thereof, communication between the various parties and lack of clear guidance on what should occur in these circumstances left us again scratching our heads and thinking what the **** is going on?

The EFL are to investigate. Great. I’ve read it was three coaching staff and one player that tested positive. Now given that testing is not mandatory in the EFL are we to assume that these weren’t the only ones tested? All the rest and none of them positive? Okay there is a small percentage of false positives and false negatives but we have to go with the results surely. One player missing because of a positive test isn’t any different to being out injured or in the case of some unluckily losing an international who is called up by his country. Us with Joel Cooper being an example. Other clubs have played with a man missing due to positive Covid testing. And where is the proof that these tests actually took place? Is that evidence provided to the EFL? Conspiracy theories can easily abound and it just happens to be Swindon this time. It was Crewe before. Who next? Don’t fancy it. We’re off form. Star man is out injured. I know we’ll get it called off.

I don’t want in any way to sound flippant about this and in many circumstances the risk will be much too great to warrant a mere football match going ahead such is the foothold this nasty virus has whatever the deniers and anti-maskers may insist. The EFL has to man up and make the rules clear and what evidence and proof is necessary too. I’ve got my ideas but I’ll keep them to myself.

One final thought: Notts County withdrew from the FA Cup. They’d had four squad members test positive in the period leading up to their scheduled game against Kings Lynn, then a further two after consultation with FA and National League’s medical officers so they made the decision not to travel to Norfolk. What if Oxford v Swindon last Saturday had not been a league fixture but an FA Cup game? Do you think they would have not turned up then and handed us the game? In the cup that’s it, no second chances.

Right, the FA Cup. I normally just accept the draw for what it is and can’t be doing with all this “what a crap draw” stuff that people come out with. We’ve just got to get on with it and do our very best to move on to the next round. But seriously, “what a crap draw”. A team from L1. That’s a bore. We’ve already played them this season and we got them in the EFL Cup last year. Too much. Give us something different. And, this is a pisser, they’re a good side. Chances of us getting through are probably less than Banbury United doing so, or Brackley Town and even maybe Oxford City. But that’s cup football. A lottery.

Charlton Athletic 2 Oxford United 0

I don’t normally drink during the week, that pleasure is saved for weekends but immediately after the final whistle I’m sat in front of my computer screen accompanied by a whisky. A very much needed whisky.

For the first half hour there were positives to be had but even then scratch beneath the surface and it wasn’t that great. Football matches are however three times that length and when any meaningful analysis is made every single one of those minutes has to be taken into consideration. The final conclusion can’t be much more than a despairing “we were shit”. I could just leave it at that but that’s just lazy talk I know and it’s only fair to explain why that’s my conclusion.

Up until they scored their first on 32 minutes we were keeping the ball well and had the majority of the possession, we were winning it at the back in the air and looked to have a much better defensive shape. Also we were winning the battles and coming away with the ball after the 50:50s. But – and with almost anything we do now that gives a glimmer of hope there’s always a but – for all this we still created nothing really of note and didn’t work Ben Amos in the Charlton goal.

Also there was individual stupidity on display which cannot be disguised. Alex Gorrin’s battling is something we really need, particularly when our game is as stuttering as it is at present and that was evident in our period of dominating possession. However such is the nature of his game that a booking is never far away and sure enough referee Craig Hicks obliged. It was pretty senseless to carry on doing exactly the same thing thus inviting a second. Hicks left Gorrin on but eventually Karl Robinson thought better of it and swapped him for Liam Kelly on 63 minutes. By then any Oxford player who had looked half decent had reverted to the form seen in most games this season, i.e. ineffectual. In fact that was pretty much how it went after we let that first goal in.

Opponents don’t have to be much to beat the late 2020 version of Oxford United. We’re 100% good to let goals in. Yes, goals in the plural. Each and every bloody game. There were another two here to keep the shameful average consistently rolling along. Give Charlton credit they’re way better than that, they’ve now kept five clean sheets in a row. That wins games and propels a team up the league. What we’re doing loses games and gets teams relegated.

We have trouble breaking down any team that is set up reasonably well at the back. There’s a lack of pace and ability to get past men. Did we ever get anyone to the by-line and cut the ball back? Of course we didn’t. I didn’t see enough in Olamide Shodipo to think he’d be the answer. Answers, chance would be a fine thing. What we got was more questions, like why are we so weak? Why do we seem to have so many players who look sub-standard for League One?

There’s nothing inspirational out there. I feel the need to say it again – the players that really excited last season are gone. Add to that the fact that those we have previously relied very heavily on to provide the solid base of the team are not performing as they can, with some being way off their peak and we’re really in trouble.  Then there’s the injuries too – a long list. A lot of that is down to luck but we brought in Sam Winnall and he’s clearly not oven ready.

For all we’d done in that opening third of the game our defence did what it so often does and failed to exist. I muttered a few curses under my breath but didn’t get as animated as I have done because it is almost guaranteed. That’s what we do. One long ball and that was it. I’ve not watched a replay but clearly there was a lack of marking, a switching off and players out of position. All I can remember is Sean Clare being where a centre-half should be and not where a right back should be. No-one in a yellow shirt was there.

In added time before the break Simon Eastwood failed to save a free-kick that was hit hard but had nothing special about it that screamed a goal. It clearly should have been saved. That’s all we need on top of all the other crap but when you get into a downward spiral it’s hard to come out the other side. Instead of inspiring one another poor play becomes infectious.

We even had a quarter of the game with a man advantage after Ryan Inniss got his marching orders after Hicks deemed him to be worthy of yellow card number two. True to form that made little difference although we did have a chance or two after that but other than a terrible miss from James Henry, it was nothing clear cut.

We got what we deserved. If we had played the whole game as we did the first 30 minutes and still lost I might have come away with a bit of hope but we couldn’t even manage that.

It might only cost £10 to watch an away game but other than Accrington that’s money spaffed up the wall given what we’ve produced. I’m not looking forward to Fleetwood this coming Saturday and if I didn’t have yellow and blue blood flowing through my veins wouldn’t bother. But I have and so I will. Maybe by then I’ll have thought my way to seeing a possible/probable/definite Oxford victory.

This whole iFollow experience is thoroughly depressing on such evenings. It’s not only the football but the coverage. At times the commentary team sounded as if they were talking through a comb covered with paper. And the camera work missed important bits of the action. Was Mark Sykes offside? If he wasn’t we could have gone one up and then it would have been a different game.  I’d go for 4-0 to Oxford. There was another incident in the first half where we ended up with a corner but a Charlton player on the floor appealing for a free-kick appeared to pick the ball up whilst it was still in play. I would have liked to have seen a re-run of that.

What I don’t want to see re-runs of are performances like this, thank you very much.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 at 11:02 pm and appears under News Items. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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