Wednesday 28 February 2024

THE66POW: ON TOUR 2023-24

All of the travel plans listed below are subject to change, due to: industrial action, strikes and other inevitable cancellations and delays on the increasingly worsening railway network, amended fixtures, late postponements, inclement weather, sub-zero temperatures, international call-ups, the onset of Armageddon, bone-idleness and a complete lack of inclination on my part... and so on and so forth. etc. etc. 
Wed Feb 28  - Nottingham Forest v Manchester United - FA Cup R5 - 7.45pm
Fri Mar 1 - FC St. Helens v Daisy Hill -NWCL Div 1 N - 7.45pm
Sat Mar 2 - Longridge Town v Padiham -  NWCL Prem - 11am
Garstang v Ashton Town - NWCL Div 1 N - 2pm
Squires Gate v Ramsbottom United - NWCL Prem - 5pm
 AFC Blackpool v Runcorn Town - NWCL Div 1 N - 7.30
Sun Mar 3 - Euxton Villa v Darwen 11.45am - NWCL Div 1 N
Charnock Richard v Skelmersdale United -  NWCL Prem - 2.30pm
Mon Mar 4 - Sheffield United v Arsenal - Premier League - 8pm
Tue Mar 5 - Hull City v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 7.45pm
More dates TBC

Monday 19 June 2023

THE66POW 2022-23 Fin

1) Sat 2 Jul - Kirton Brickworks 4 v Teversal Res. XI 1 - PSF
2) Sat 9 Jul - Retford United 0 v Mansfield Town 6 - PSF
3) Tue 12 Jul - Gainsborough Trinity 2 v Boston United 3 - PSF
4) Sat 16 Jul - Burton Albion 1 v Birmingham City 2 - Bass Charity Vase
5) Sat 23 Jul - Charlton Athletic 1 v Swansea City 2 - PSF
6) Tue 26 Jul - Notts County 2 v Nottingham Forest 2 - PSF
7) Sat 30 Jul - Arsenal 6 v Sevilla 0 - Emirates Cup
8) Fri 5 Aug - Birmingham City 2 v Huddersfield Town 1 - EFL Championship
9) Sat 6 Aug - Charlton Athletic 1 v Derby County 0 - EFL League 1
10) Tue 9 Aug - Mansfield Town 1 v Derby County 2 - EFL Cup R1
11) Sat 13 Aug - Sheffield Wednesday 1 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL League 1
12) Tue 16 Aug - Birmingham City 1 v Watford 1 - EFL Championship
13) Sat 20 Aug - Birmingham City 1 v Wigan Athletic 0 - EFL Championship
14) Sat 27 Aug - Rotherham United 2 v Birmingham City 0 - EFL Championship
15) Tue 30 Aug - Birmingham City 1 v Norwich City 2- EFL Championship
16) Sat 3 Sep - Doncaster Rovers 1 v Mansfield Town 3 - EFL League 2
17) Sat 17 Sep - Dulwich Hamlet 2 v Margate 1 - FA Cup 2QR
18) Sat 24 Sep - Barnsley 3 v Charlton Athletic 1 - EFL League 1
19) Tue 27 Sep - England 3 v Germany 1 - U21 International (at Bramall Lane)
20) Fri Sep 30 - Mansfield Town 2 v Hartlepool United 2 - EFL League 2
21) Sat Oct 1 - Sheffield United 1 v Birmingham City 1 - EFL Championship
22) Wed Oct 5 - Middlesbrough 1 v Birmingham City 0 - EFL Championship
23) Sat Oct 8 - Lincoln City 0 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL League 1
24) Tue 11 Oct - Charlton Athletic 4 v Exeter City 2 - EFL League 1
25) Sat 15 Oct - Notts County 2 v Coalville Town 3 - FA Cup 4QR
26) Sun Oct 16 - Hull City 0 v Birmingham City 2 - EFL Championship
27) Mon Oct 17 - Charlton Athletic 3 v Portsmouth 0 - EFL League 1
28) Wed Oct 19 - Birmingham City 1 v Burnley 1 - EFL Championship
29) Fri 28 Oct - Birmingham City 2 v Queens Park Rangers 0 - EFL Championship
30) Sat 29 Oct - Charlton Athletic 4 v Ipswich Town 4 - EFL League 1
31) Wed 2 Nov - Birmingham City 0 v Millwall 0 - EFL Championship
32) Sat 5 Nov - Stoke City 1 v Birmingham City 2 - EFL Championship
33) Tue 8 Nov - Stevenage 1 v Charlton Athletic 1 (Charlton won 4-5 on pens) - EFL Cup R3
34) Fri 11 Nov - Birmingham City 1 v Sunderland 2 - EFL Championship
35) Sat 12 Nov - Burton Albion 3 v Charlton Athletic 3 - EFL League 1
36) Sat 19 Nov - Notts County 0 v Yeovil Town 0 - National League
37) Sat 26 Nov - Sheffield Wednesday 2 v Mansfield Town 1 - FA Cup R2
38) Fri 2 Dec - Charlton Athletic 0 v Cheltenham Town 1 - EFL League 1
39) Sat 3 Dec - Scunthorpe United 1 v Notts County 4 - National League
40) Sat 3 Dec - Goole AFC 1 v Winterton Rangers 2 - NCEL Prem
41) Wed 7 Dec - Stockport County 3 v Charlton Athletic 1 - FA Cup R2 Replay
42) Sat 10 Dec - Blackpool 0 v Birmingham City 0 - EFL Championship
43) Tue 13 Dec - Notts County 2 v Gateshead 0 - National League
44) Fri 16 Dec - Birmingham City 3 v Reading 2 - EFL Championship
45) Sat 17 Dec - Basford United 1 v Grantham Town 0 - Friendly
46) Sat 17 Dec - Worksop Town 1 v Stockton Town 0 - Northern Premier League (East)
47) Tue 20 Dec - Chesterfield 1 v Coalville Town 3 - FA Trophy R3
48) Wed 21 Dec - Charlton Athletic 0 v Brighton & Hove Albion 0 (Charlton won 4-3 on pens) - EFL Cup R4
49) Mon 26 Dec - Notts County 4 v Oldham Athletic 1 - National League
50) Tue 27 Dec - Hallam 2 v Handsworth 0 - NCEL Prem
51) Tue 27 Dec - Burnley 3 v Birmingham City 0 - EFL Championship
52) Fri 30 Dec - Birmingham City 0 v Hull City 1 - EFL Championship
53) Sun 1 Jan - Doncaster Rovers 2 v Carlisle United 1 - EFL League 2
54) Tues 3 Jan - Arsenal 0 v Newcastle United 0 - Premier League
55) Fri 6 Jan - Barnsley 1 v Birmingham City 2 - U21 PDL
56) Sat 7 Jan - Charlton Athletic 2 v Lincoln City 1 - EFL League 1
57) Tue 10 Jan - Manchester United 3 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL Cup QF
58) Sat 14 Jan - Charlton Athletic 2 v Barnsley 0 - EFL League 1
59) Sun 15 Jan - Notts County 2 v Maidstone United 2 (Maidstone won 5-6 on pens) - FA Trophy R4
60) Tue 24 Jan - Shirebrook Town 0 v Albion Sports 2 - NCEL LC R3
61) Wed 25 Jan - Nottingham Forest 0 v Manchester United 3 - EFL LC SF
62) Sat 28 Jan - Charlton Athletic 1 v Bolton Wanderers 2 - EFL League 1
63) Tue 31 Jan - Birmingham City 0 v Blackburn Rovers 1 AET - FA Cup R4 Replay
64) Fri 3 Feb - Scunthorpe United 3 v Barnet 1 - National League
65) Sat 4 Feb - Retford United 5 v Collingham 1 - Notts Senior Trophy QF
66) Tue 7 Feb - Retford 3 v Dronfield Town 2 - NCEL Div 1
67) Wed 8 Feb - Horbury Town 2 v Rossington Main 4 - NCEL Div 1
68) Thu 9 Feb  - Swallownest 4 v Worksop Town 1 - NMU21L South
69) Fri 10 Feb - Birmingham City 2 v West Bromwich Albion 0 - EFL Championship
70) Sat 11 Feb - Mansfield Town 2 v Gillingham 0 - EFL League 2
71) Sun 12 Feb - Sheffield United 1 v Charlton Athletic 0 - Women's Championship
72) Mon 13 Feb - Newark & Sherwood United 2 v Nottingham Forest U21 0 - Notts Senior Cup SF
73) Tue 14 Feb - Notts County 4 v Barnet 1 - National League
74) Sat 18 Feb - Derby County 2 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL League 1
75) Mon 20 Feb - Sheffield United U21 1 v Sheffield Wednesday U21 0 - U23PDL2
76) Tue 21 Feb - Notts County 4 v Southend United 0 - National League
77) Wed 22 Feb - Retford United 1 v Kiveton Miners Welfare 3 - CMFL North
78) Sat 25 Feb - Charlton Athletic 0 v Sheffield Wednesday 1 - EFL League 1
79) Tue 28 Feb - Peterborough United 0 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL League 1
80) Sat 4 Mar - AFC Wimbledon 1 v Mansfield Town 3 - EFL League 2
81) Tue 7 Mar - Doncaster Rovers 0 v Harrogate Town 2 - EFL League 2
82) Sat 11 Mar - Birmingham City 2 v Rotherham United 0 - EFL Championship
83) Tue 14 Mar - Notts County 3 v Eastleigh 1 - National League
84) Sat 18 Mar - Cambridge United 1 v Charlton Athletic 2 - EFL League 1
85) Wed 22 Mar - Mansfield Town 0 v Grimsby Town 0 - EFL League 2
86) Sat 25 Mar - Notts County 4 v Scunthorpe United 0 - National League
87) Sun 26 Mar - England 2 v Ukraine 0 - Euro Qualifier (Group C)
88) Sat 1 Apr - Birmingham City 1 v Blackburn Rovers 0 - EFL Championship
89) Fri 7 Apr - Notts County 3 v Wealdstone 0 - National League
90) Sat 8 Apr - Dorchester Sports 5 v Merley Cobham 2 - Dorset Premier League
91) Mon 10 Apr - Dorchester Town 1 v Poole Town 6 - Southern League Prem South
92) Sat 22 Apr - Birmingham City 0 v Blackpool 1 - EFL Championship
93) Tue 25 Apr - Mansfield Town 1 v Leyton Orient 2 - EFL League 2
94) Sat 29 Apr - Charlton Athletic 3 v Port Vale 2 - EFL League 1
95) Sun 7 May - Notts County 3 v Boreham Wood 2 - AET - National League Play Off SF
96) Mon 8 May - Birmingham City 1 v Sheffield United 2 - EFL Championship
97) Sat 13 May - Chesterfield 2 v Notts County 2 - AET - County won on pens - National League Play Off Final (Wembley Stadium)
98) Sat 20 May - Barnsley 2 v Charlton Athletic 2 - AET - Barnsley won on pens - PDL2 U18 Play Off Final
99) Sun 28 May - Arsenal 5 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - Premier League
100) Mon 29 May - Barnsley 0 v Sheffield Wednesday 1 - AET - EFL League 1 Play Off Final (Wembley Stadium)
101) Mon 19 June - England 7 v North Macedonia 0 - Euro 2024 Qualifier (Old Trafford)

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Burton Albion 3 v. Charlton Athletic 3 - EFL League 1

Saturday 12th November 2022
EFL League 1
Burton Albion (2) 3
Deji Oshilaja 38, Ben Hamer 45, Victor Adeboyejo 58
Charlton Athletic (2) 3
Charlie Kirk 26, 36, Jes Rak-Sakyi 76
Attendance: 3,084
Burton Albion: 
Sinisalo, Borthwick-Jackson, Oshilaja (C), Hughes, Powell, Smith (Carayol 90+1), Onyango, Adeboyejo (Dodoo 68), Taylor, Gilligan (Winnall 81)
Unused subs -  Garratt, Mancienne, Keillor-Dunn, Kamwa
Charlton Athletic
MacGillivray, Chin Lavelle, Inniss, Sessegnon; Rak-Sakyi, Dobson (Forster-Caskey 75), Fraser (Morgan 89), Campbell (Blackett-Taylor 63); Kirk (Payne 75), Stockley (C) (Aneke 63)
Unused sub - Elerewe
Craig MacGillivray was a late addition to Addicks starting line-up, after Charlton's Ghanaian international: Joe Wollacott, injured a finger during the pre-match warm-up, just eight days before the start of the World Cup in the Middle East. 
Ghana's chief coach will be hoping that Monday's scan results confirm that Wollacott's damage isn't too serious, because his other goalkeeper: Richard Ofori (of Orlando Pirates) is currently injured too.
MacGillivray definitely won't be going to the World Cup, because he's Scottish.
But joking aside: a friend suggested that this humble scribe has been conspicuously absent from contributing any personal views pertaining to the forthcoming overseas international football event. 
While stating the bleedin' obvious, inasmuch as: I'm not going to Qatar and this is fundamentally a blog about my football travels, I actually feel compelled to add: 
1) A World Cup in November. Completely ridiculous.
2) In Qatar. Even more ridiculous. Never mind gesture politics and associations paying lip service to just and honourable causes, football is morally bankrupt and the moment the first ball is kicked to commence proceedings, those involved (i.e. all of them) will be taking a massively regressive step and dealing a hefty blow, to the many people who suffer because of tyranny, intolerance and (frankly disgusting) archaic prejudices, that have no place in a civilised society. Let alone a tournament that is meant to bring a cosmopolitan mix of all peoples of the world together, regardless of their lifestyle choices. 
Money talks... but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk.
"We will remember them"
Let the train take the strain they said... sixty-four minutes late arriving into Burton upon Trent the chuffing thing was, which is almost as long as it takes to submit the online 'delay repay' application form. 
Should you ever find yourself in such a predicament, don't be deterred by the amount of times you'll get bounced out of the system and taken back to the very beginning of the whole process. I'm certain that it's a built in part of the integral design of the template to put any potential user off from seeking the compensation they are rightly entitled to. 
Persevere with it until the bitter end you goodly people, because you'll get there, eventually.
For the record there was no rail strike or industrial action causing any hold-ups today, just an antiquated and badly run rail network providing what has become the unacceptable norm for a weekend service.
The first half saw Burton dominate the early stages but Charlton took the lead with their first meaningful attack in the 26th minute.
MacGillivray had to be on his toes on 21 minutes for the first real chance of the game when Hamer's cross found the head of Sam Hughes at the back post and his header was superbly tipped over.
Ryan Inniss advanced from the back and found Kirk who picked out the bottom corner for his first goal since August.
MacGillivray required attention when he bravey intercepted Powell's cross that was inches from the boot of Adeboyejo looking to pounce on the edge of the six-yard box.
The former Crewe man added a second 10 minutes later with an audacious lob from the edge of the area direct from goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray's clearance.
The two goal lead last barely two minutes as Albion provided an immediate response. Hamer was felled on the edge of the box and Taylor's free-kick picked out the head of OSHILAJA who showed great strength to hold off his man and thump a header into the net.
And Albion were level before half time when some lovely football on the edge of the box allowed Onyango to cross for Adeboyejo to chest the ball down for HAMER to lash home.
Albion were level by the break. Former Addicks defender Oshilaja powerfully headed home a Terry Taylor free-kick before Hamer lashed home an equaliser after good work from Tyler Onyango and Adeboyejo.
It was end to end stuff as the second half got under way, Charlton looking to re-establish their lead early on before Albion got back onto the front foot and began to threaten at the other end, Powell seeing a shot through a ruck of bodies end straight into the arms of MacGillivray.
Adeboyejo lit up the second half with a thunderous effort to put Burton in front after 58 minutes to notch his 10th goal of the season.
But the visitors responded with 14 minutes remaining when the livewire Crystal Palace loanee Rak-Sakyi lobbed the ball over the advancing Viljami Sinisalo to rescue a point.
Hughes then planted a header wide of the post from Taylor's corner although there were strong shouts that it hit a Charlton hand and at this stage it was all Albion, Jonny Smith forcing a superb save from MacGillivray on 64 minutes before Oshilaja rose to head the resulting corner wide of the goal.
Adeboyejo left the field to a rapturous ovation from the home fans when he went off on 68 minutes to be replaced by new boy Dodoo.
Charlton made a double change with a quarter of an hour to go and within seconds were level. Chuks Aneke battled hard near the touchline and threaded a hopeful pass forwards when RAK-SAKYI got to the ball a split second before the advancing Sinisalo and lobbed the ball into the net.
Sam Winnall replaced the tiring Gilligan and he forced MacGillivray into an acrobatic save before Smith did the same from the left wing as Albion went it search of a fourth goal.
Dodoo forced a good save from MacGillivray after being released through on goal by Winnall as neither side opted to settle for a point.
The Addicks created a couple of late chances which were blocked effectively by the Brewers defence,  but ultimately neither side could provide a final clinical touch to provide a winning at the end of a what had been a pulsating encounter. A draw was a fair result all told.
FT: Burton Albion 3 v Charlton Athletic 3

Friday 11 November 2022

Birmingham City 1 v Sunderland 2 - EFL Championship

Friday 11th November 2022
EFL Championship
Birmingham City (0) 1
Lukas Jutkiewicz 78
Sunderland  (1) 2
Ellis Simms 25, Amad Diallo 49
Attendance: 18,702.
Birmingham City
John Ruddy, Maxime Colin (Lukas Jutkiewicz 59), Dion Sanderson, Auston Trusty, Juninho Bacuna, Krystian Bielik, Hannibal (Tahith Chong 59), Jobe Bellingham (George Hall 59), Emmanuel Longelo, Scott Hogan, Troy Deeney (Captain).
Unused subs - Neil Etheridge, George Friend, Jordan Graham.
Anthony Patterson, Trai Hume, Bailey Wright, Danny Batth, Niall Huggins, Corry Evans (captain), Dan Neil, Amad Diallo (Patrick Roberts 65), Alex Pritchard (Jay Matete 85), Jack Clarke, Ellis Simms (Elliott Embleton 85).
Unused subs - Alex Bass, Abdoullah Ba, Jewison Bennette, Zak Johnson.
With the fixtures racking up thick and fast, it proved to be a game too far for Blues, who could have moved up into the top six of the Championship tonight, if they had beaten Tony Mowbray's Sunderland side.
But the clues that this wasn't going to be Birmingham's night were first spotted, when Troy Deeney's header left Anthony Patterson grasping at fresh air, but cannoned back off of the crossbar.
Subsequently Amad Diallo recovered possession, after it looked as if he'd had been blocked just outside Blues penalty area, twisted and turned himself out of a tight spot and rolled the ball to his right where Ellis Simms had blindsided the hosts flat-footed defence and he had the time to pick his spot, drilling his shot across the face of John Ruddy's goal just inside the far post.
Just before half-time Sunderland were let off of the hook again, when Deeney threaded an exquisite pass into the path of the prolific Republic of Ireland strike Scott Hogan, but Patterson advanced quickly from his line and managed to thwart the opportunity for Blues to draw level.
Diallo, the architect of the visitors first goal, claimed one for himself four minutes after the restart, when once again he seemed to have been halted in his tracks, but deceptively found another gear and cut inside from  right side of the Blues area and let fly with a peach of a left-footed shot that curled into the far side of the goal, turning the steep hill that John Eustace's side already had to climb into something that now resembled the north face of the Eiger.
But Birmingham City circa 2022-23 have a far more resilient look about them this term and they manfully set about the task of grafting their way back into the game, I'd swear blind that I even saw Patterson turn the kitchen sink around an upright as Blues threw everything they had at the Black Cats.
Arsenal loanee, defender Auston Trusty has weighed in with a number of goals of late and he almost halved the deficit as he broke free, but he planted his shot just over the bar.
In a bid to reorganise, Eustace made a triple substitution, which paid off when one of the trio of players he introduced: Lukas Jutkiewicz swept an Emmanuel Longelo cross into the right hand corner of the Black Cats net.
Trai Hume got a foot in to clear Dion Sanderson's shot off the line and Patterson recovered to claim the ball from the rebound. Blues continued to huff and puff but the visitors house just couldn't be blown down no matter how hard they tried, while Sunderland defended stoutly to see the game out, as Tony Mowbray ranted and raved about the referee adding stoppage time. Ugly scenes ensued, but hey! He's never exactly been a looker. However, that sort of thing won't trouble any of tonight's 2,600 vociferous travelling Sunderland fans, who saw their side hang on to win the game and move into the top-half of the table, just a point behind this season's surprise package in the Championship: Birmingham City.
FT: Birmingham City 1 v Sunderland 2

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Birmingham City 0 v Millwall 0 - EFL Championship

Wednesday 2nd November 2022
EFL Championship
Birmingham City (0) 0
Millwall (0) 0
Attendance: 15,030 (inc. 543 away fans)
Birmingham City
John Rudy, Dion Sanderson, Harlee Dean, Auston Trusty, Maxime Colin, Hannibal (George Hall 78), Krystian Bielik, Tahith Chong (Juninho Bacuna 56), Emmanuel Longelo, Troy Deeney (C) (Lukas Jutkiewicz 78), Scott Hogan.
Unused subs: Neil Etheridge, Jordan Graham, Jordan James, Jobe Bellingham.
George Long, Danny McNamara, Charlie Cresswell, Jake Cooper (C), Murray Wallace, George Saville, Billy Mitchell, George Honeyman (Callum Styles 85), Zian Flemming, Mason Bennett (Tyler Burey 68), Andreas Vogslammer (Tom Bradshaw 85).
Unused subs: Bartosz Bialkowski, George Evans, Scott Malone, Jamie Shackleton.
'Twas a rough old night for watching football... in a torrential deluge that made even paddling up the Coventry Road towards the ground, from the roundabout, a test of physical endurance. 
It must have been a frustrating experience for both teams, endeavouring to play the game, with a ball that had taken on the guise of a beachball on a (very) gusty day at the beach, as strong winds whipped incessantly across the sodden St. Andrew's turf.
Alas, the inclement conditions dictated the sometimes frantic and rushed pace of the game, which didn't suit the home side at all as they tried to slow things down and control the game, against a rugged a battling Millwall side, who if anything adapted to the conditions better, 
But as a cohesive and solid defensive unit, Blues have addressed the frailties in their own half of the pitch, that have been their undoing in recent campaigns and fought gamely to keep a clean sheet and take a point, against their former manager Gary Rowett, who's recent track record when coming up against Birmingham, since he took charge at the South Bermondsey side, stands up to scrutiny. This was the Lions fourth drawn game in a row at St. Andrew's.
John Eustace's Blues have only conceded fifteen goals in eighteen games, which is a vast improvement on previous campaign's and one of the areas that the former QPR assistant manager had targeted to remedy on his arrival at the club in July of this year, on a three year deal. 
Chances were at a premium for both sides, as they slugged it out to the bitter end. In fact it was stoppage time before Blues had even managed a single effort on target, when George Long held on to Lukas Jutkiewicz's header.
The visitors had come closest to  breaking the deadlock, when Tyler Burey broke away from a heavily congested midfield and advanced towards Blues goal, but a composed and commanding John Ruddy, stood his ground and pounced at the optimum moment to smother the ball. 
What an astute signing the experienced Ruddy has proved to be in the much needed rebuilding of Birmingham City. His input to the overall improvement and upswing in results this season can't be under-estimated.
FT: Birmingham City 0 v Millwall 0
Which was perhaps the most predictable outcome of the season so far, right from the outset of tonight's slog of a game.
For the record. thirty-six year old: John Ruddy has actually played for England, when he came on for the second-half in a friendly international against Italy, played in Bern, Switzerland, on August 10th 2012. Roy Hodgson's side won the game 2-1. And Ruddy kept a clean sheet
Italy's goal was scored in the first-half, against Jack Butland, who began his career at Birmingham City. So now you know. You wait until that one comes up on a Question of Sport, you'll be glad that you bothered to read this: long winded, self indulgent, bullshit blog with added football content then.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Notts County 2 v Coalville Town 3 - FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round

Saturday October 15th 2022
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Notts County (1) 2
Sam Austin 9, 66
Coalville Town (2) 3
Tom McGlinchy 3
Ash Chambers 23
Lee Shaw 86
Attendance: 5,060 (1,397)
Notts County:
Young, Mahovo (Palmer 53), Rawlinson, Brindley; Taylor, Adebayo-Rowling; Francis, Bajrami, Austin, Castro (Rodrigues 53), Mitchell (Langstaff 66)
Unused subs - Slocombe, Chicksen, Nemane, Scott
Coalville Town:
White, Robertson, Dean, Eggleton (Smith 85), Putman, Thanoj, Wilson, Shaw, McGlinchey, Chambers (Kee 80), Berridge (Chitiza 75)
Unused subs - Doyle-Charles, Laban, Taylor
A few feathers were ruffled (possibly even plucked) at Meadow Lane this afternoon, where the Magpies hosted the Ravens, in a tussle for a place in the First Round of the FA Cup.
Much to the obvious delight of the 1.397 travelling fans who's made their way across from Leicestershire; the underdogs: Sothern League Premier Division (Central) side: Coalville Town, produced an upset, by knocking out the National League leaders: Notts County, at the Fourth Qualifying Round stage.
The Ravens only previous First Round game, throughout their ninety-six year history, was back in November of the 2004-05 season, when they lost 1-0 at Adams Park against Wycombe Wanderers.
County's manager Luke Williams rang the changes for this cup-tie, but as the game went on, with Coalville proving to be very formidable opponents, regular starters: Matt Palmer, Ruben Rodrigues and the prolific frontman: Macauley Langstaff, were all introduced from the bench during the second-half, to beef up the Pies artillery. 
But ultimately, although the hosts retained the ball well, almost playing it to death at times, the Ravens defended bravely, keeping their hosts at bay, while making the most of their forays into the home sides half of the pitch. 
The game was only three minutes old when Adam Stevens' side took the lead, after Tim Berridge threaded a slide-rule pass in behind the Notts defence to Tom McGlinchey, who stroked the ball past Brad Young.
A Pies fan, who was still taking his seat nearby, rather condescendingly declared: "Ooh! The magic of the FA Cup! Well that'll soon do a disappearing trick, when we win four or five-one".
"You see! Abracadabra! I told you! Who do we want in the next round?", he added, rather complacently just seven minutes later, when Sam Austin took the ball down from a Tobi Adebayo-Rowling delivery and beat Paul White to level things up.
"I don't like him!", hissed my usually polite, reserved and quietly spoken better half, in loud enough tones that the target of her disdain could hear her quite clearly. 
He glowered, but didn't say very much for the remainder of the afternoon, so well done mi' duck, fait accompli me thinks. 
Though by the time that the scheduled ninety minutes had elapsed (plus six extra nail-biting ones, for the visiting fans to endure) it wasn't only the blonde Beelzebub that had silenced him.
Because, all told, he didn't have a great deal to get excited about this afternoon... and fairly soon, the visitors were in front again, when Alex Dean broke forward for Coalville and played the ball down the right, to where Berridge carried it forward, before crossing to Ash Chambers who turned the ball into the Pies net from inside the six-yard box.
Cue Mrs W piping up: "Ooh! Look a big rainbow... and the magic of the FA Cup is back!?"
"Shall we watch Coalville in the next round as well!?", asked my increasingly, jubilant and noisy better half. Seriously! I reckon Tom Baker's scarf had less colours than hers, when he was playing Doctor Who. 
Bloody hell woman! How many teams bandwagons is it even legal for you to hitch a ride on!?
In the event, I suspect that there are more train strikes that day, so I doubt we will be going very far anyway... and besides, it might be a good idea to leave you know who at home in future, if she is of the inclination to wind people up and then hide behind me.
Coalville defended their two goal cushion up until the sixty-sixth minute, when their keeper misjudged the flight of Joel Taylor’s long knock into the area and let the ball sail over his head, to where Austin gratefully accepted the unexpected gift of a chance and nodded it into an open net.
To compound the visitors worries, County then introduced the National League's current top scorer: Macaulay Langstaff from the bench in a bid to stamp their authority on proceedings. 
Notts paid an undisclosed fee to Gateshead in the summer, for last season's National League North top scorer Langstaff, who netted thirty-two goals and provided fourteen assists as he helped to steer Gateshead towards their title win last season.
But the Ravens were undaunted by reputations and dug in deep to repel the Pies increased attacking firepower. 
And as they continued to thwart the hosts, a draw looked to be on the cards, with a subsequent replay at the Owen Street Sports Ground, or the Mander Cruickshank Solicitors Stadium as it is known for sponsorship services.
Seemingly, it was just a question of whether the 'plucky underdogs' could hold out until the final whistle. but as regular watches of the beautiful game will all know, only too well, it is seldom scripted. And one should: i) never leave early, and ii) always expect the unexpected.
In the eighty-seventh minute, Notts won a corner, but Coalville cleared their lines and quickly launched a late counter-attack. Tendai Chitiza knocked a lengthy pass into the County half towards George Wilson,  who picked up possession and ran into the Pies area before knocking the ball across the face of Young's goal. Connell Rawlinson attempted to make a last ditch clearance, but could only turn the ball into the path of  McGlinchey, whose first time shot ended up in the back of the net, as it cannoned in off of the Ravens number seven: Luke Shaw.
FT: Notts County 2 v Coalville Town 3
Football... you have to treat it with respect my friends. Because, just below the surface it's hiding and biding it's time, waiting to sink it's teeth right into your fleshy bottom.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Charlton Athletic 4 v Exeter City 2 - EFL League 1

Tuesday 11th October 2022
EFL League 1
At the Valley, Floyd Road, Charlton
Charlton Athletic (2) 4
Miles Leaburn 20, 
Jayden Stockley or Alex Hartridge OG 25, 
Chuks Aneke 84, 
Jack Payne 90+1
Exeter City (1) 2
Jay Stansfield 37, 
Sam Nombe 90+4
Attendance:  11,411 (inc. 833 away fans)
Charlton Athletic
Wollacott, Egbo, Inniss, O’Connell, Sessegnon (Clare 66); Rak-Sakyi (Payne 76), Dobson, Fraser, Kirk (Blackett-Taylor 76); Stockley (C) (Aneke 82), Leaburn (Morgan 66)
Unused subs - MacGillivray, McGrandles
Exeter City: 
Blackman, Caprice, Sparkes (Chauke 89), Hartridge, Harper (Kite 60), Collins, Stansfield, Nombe, Key, Brown (Cox 90+2), Sweeney (C)
Unused subs -  Brown, Smith, King, James
Exeter City won promotion to League One at the end of last season, when they finished as runners-up in League 2 (on goal-difference) to Forest Green Rovers, who themselves drew 1-1 at the Valley three days after this re-arranged fixture was originally going to be played (Saturday September 10th). But in the event it was cancelled, along with all other football, as a part of a nationwide mark of respect, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd passed away. 
Had tonight's game have gone ahead as scheduled, then Matt Taylor would still have been managing the Grecians. But during the interim he's left Exeter to take over at Rotherham United from where Paul Warne had resigned to fill the vacant hot seat at Derby County, who currently play a division below the Millers. Some might ask why an ambitious manager would drop down a rung in the Football League as a career path choice. I suspect that they should field that line of enquiry towards the money, because that is where the answer lies... and it talks the loudest too.
Subsequently today's visitors installed their Under 18 manager Kevin Nicholson and first team coach John Hill in charge, in an interim caretaker capacity, in time for their away game at Barnsley on Saturday, where they came away with a 0-2 win courtesy of a brace of goals from Jay (son of Adam) Stansfield.
On the same afternoon Ben Garner's Addicks were playing out a goalless draw at Sincil Bank.
I'm happy to report that this evening's lively encounter was the complete antithesis of Saturday's dirge of a game at Lincoln; after which I had arrived home almost traumatised by the days events and steadfastly announced that: "If that crap I've just witnessed today, is what is passing itself off as football these days, I'm going to have to find something else to do on Saturday afternoons in future, instead". 
To which Mrs W wearily replied: "Oh right, so it's Chapter ten-thousand and seventy seven of that never ending story now is it!?"
Oh shurrup you!
Football addicts all know (don't we), that just because we've sampled some ropey gear, the next fix will be a whole lot better, or the one after that, or... well, eventually something good will come of it. Won't it? Thankfully tonight was the proof of that, hook me up for another shot of the good stuff. 
My faith in football is restored, for now leastways.
Charlton's owner has Thomas Sandgaard recently (as in over the last few days) had to make a U-turn of Liz Truss proportions, by slashing the price of match tickets at the Valley, after they had risen to what was a particularly high-level for third-tier football, this season. 
That said, Addicks season-tickets are an absolute bargain and are set at more realistic levels that most definitely represent excellent value for money. 
Maybe the hike in the cost of individual tickets on a game by game basis, was an experiment, or ploy if you prefer, to see if more people would be tempted and willing to pay for the whole campaign up front, in a lump sum.
But if that was ever the case, it appears to have backfired. 
Times are hard and football supporters, just like everybody else, are having to spread costs of their leisure pursuits and lifestyle choices, while budgeting accordingly. 
I am quite sure that there are many more people who would like to be season-ticket holders at any number of clubs, but who simply can't afford the outlay all in one go, as priorities take precedence.. 
And these are the same fans who will be put off by the increased costs of watching football, on an match by match basis, as and when they're able to go... assuming they haven't already been priced out.
Clubs putting up prices for those that buy tickets on the actual day of any given game, is a practice that is understandably resented as well. Although Charlton aren't alone in practising this specific brand of extortion, in fact they are one of three clubs that sidestepped already this season, as a veto against these pay on the day surcharges which are becoming more and more commonplace.
I don't know about you, but I'm definitely of the mindset that says: why the effing hell would I pay £26 on the day of a match, when the same ticket was £3 cheaper yesterday? 
It's the same seat, the same view and the same bloody game when all is said and done... and if (as happens on occasions) I've  had to wait until the morning of a match to find out if I could definitely attend or not, why on earth would I have bought a ticket in advance, just on the off-chance that I might be able to use it?
Mr Sandgaard, who in August of 2020 said that he expected it to take "a couple of years" to gain the trust of the Addicks' fanbase, now appears to be more concerned with 'breaking even' financially at the club, than making regular announcements about his grandiose ambitions, such as the target of a second placed finish League 1 this season and returning to the Premier League in the next five years.
30th Anniversary in December 
Not that good housekeeping and sensible planning moneywise isn't a wise and prudent course to take. Caution prevents abortion, as the saying goes, But a bit of consultation and goodwill goes a long way. Addicks fans know these things, more than most, given their recent history. 
And on that very subject, if you weren't already aware of the timescale involved, in December it will be exactly thirty years since Charlton Athletic returned to the Valley, following their 'hiatus' at Selhurst Park and more latterly Upton Park. 
But, getting back on topic; increasingly delicate matters have not been helped by club officials, employed by Sandgaard, hitting out at the fans on social media for not turning up at games in sufficient numbers to financially prop up the club owner. 
I hear that the Supporters Trust at the Valley are seeking a face to face meeting with the club owner, to discuss all the the above, plus a number of other issues that have arisen of late. 
It's best practice to defuse ticking time-bombs, I would have thought. So hopefully some helpful dialogue will see a few wrinkles that are beginning to develop ironed out, so that people can start to focus on the football again, which'd make a nice change.
Ah yes, football, that was why I was in south London tonight, so moving swiftly on: the Addicks impressed me no end against their visitors from Devon, as they slammed the door firmly shut on an eight-game winless run in League One, with a performance that all of those present enthusiastically warmed to.
The game was twenty minutes old when Charlton capitalised on their lively start and took the lead (it had been coming), when George Dobson played a defence flummoxing pass forward from a central position to pick out the run of Miles Leaburn, who swapped the ball between his feet, before unleashing a right-footed shot past Jamal Blackman, as he advanced into the area.
And inside five minutes, the home side doubled their lead, when Scott Fraser crossed to Jayden Stockley, who's shot across the face of the visitors goal hit Alex Hartridge and changed direction, taking it away from Blackman and into the back of the net.
Feel free to argue amongst yourselves, as to whether it was Stockley's goal to claim or Hartridge's own goal, I'm sure that both players would give you the same answer if you asked them... either way it was 2-0.
In the thirty-seventh minute, Jay Stansfield, a former Exeter City youth team player, who is back at the club on loan from Premier League side Fulham, finished well from twenty yards out, to half the deficit
The game ebbed and flowed nicely well into the second-half and Exeter almost drew level in the seventy-fourth minute, when Jack Sparkes' strike crashed against Joe (or is it Jo Jo) Wollacott's crossbar.
With eight minutes remaining Chuks Aneke was introduced from the Addicks bench with immediate effect, scoring with his first touch just moments later, when he latch on to the ball in the visitors goalmouth after Dobson's shot had been blocked.
Aneke was also involved in Charlton's fourth goal, when fed the ball out wide to Corey Blackett-Taylor on the left flank, who crossed for Jack Payne to head home as the game went into stoppage time.
Five minutes into added time, Aneke inadvertently contributed to another goal, when he conceded a penalty, (allegedly) toppling Sam Nombe inside the Charlton area... and the same Grecians player got up to score from the resulting penalty.
But it was too late for the visitors to mount a comeback and Charlton's fans went home happy with the impressive style shown during tonight's win, the high tempo level of the performance displayed by their favourite team and the full-time score.
FT: Charlton Athletic 4 v Exeter City 2
On the subject of Charlton striving to get more bums on seats at the Valley... I reckon that a few more easy on the eye recitals of the beautiful game, in all of it's splendorous glory, coupled with an upturn in results, would soon have those turnstiles clicking more steadily again. 
Or is it too much to hope that tonight's thoroughly entertaining fare wasn't just a one off? 
Only time will tell... watch this space!
Exeter entertain Oxford United on Saturday, while the Addicks will be back at the Valley on Monday night, when Portsmouth are the visitors. And I have it on very good authority that I will be here again then too.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Lincoln City 0 v Charlton Athletic 0 - EFL League 1

Saturday 8th October 2022
EFL League 1
At Sincil Bank/The LNER Stadium
Lincoln City (0) 0
Charlton Athletic (0) 0
Attendance: 8,160 (inc. 658 away fans)
Lincoln City: 
Rushworth, Poole (C), Jackson, Sanders (Oakley-Boothe 79), O’Connor, House, Mandroiu (Garrick 63), Eyoma, Roughan (Robson 69), Virtue, Diamond
Unused subs - Wright, Vernam, Sorensen
Charlton Athletic
Wollacott, Egbo, Inniss, O’Connell, Sessegnon (Clare 76); Rak-Sakyi (Payne 90+4), Dobson (McGrandles 88), Fraser, Kirk (Blackett-Taylor 76), Stockley (C), Leaburn
Unused subs - MacGillivray, Thomas, Morgan
Two below par, lower-table third-tier sides, plodded listlessly through this unspectacular, no frills, no thrills and mind-numbingly dull approximation of a game of football at Sincil Bank this afternoon.
It wouldn't have surprised anybody who was present to witness this grim encounter, that it eventually ended in a goalless stalemate... because if truth be told, it probably already had, long before the final-whistle finally sounded to put a crowd of 8,160 out of their misery. 
If the Imps and the Addicks had carried on playing until midnight (possibly tomorrow), it's conceivable that neither team would have broken the deadlock.
Between them two out of sorts teams only managed to muster a single shot on target apiece in the first half and none at all after the break.
Charlton had the first chance thirty-five minutes in, when Miles Leaburn broke forward with intent into the Imps penalty area, but he didn't strike the ball particularly well and directed his shot straight at the Lincoln keeper Carl Rushworth, who spilled it, but recovered and clawed the ball back on the line. 
But, had it already crossed the line though?
The celebrating Addicks players certainly thought so. The assistant referee couldn't confirm matters because he was several yards behind the run of play. There is no goal-line technology or VAR in League One... and bizarrely, the referee Robert Lewis, was otherwise occupied when the incident occurred, because at the precise moment that Leaburn was poised to shoot, the official pulled up injured and went to ground approximately thirty yards away from the action and would subsequently take no further part in the game.
The fourth official Abbas Khan took over the officiating duties, with what turned out to be hilarious consequences. Well, they did if you happen to have a particularly sick, twisted and warped sense of humour. 
Khan made some unfathomable decisions (that frustrated and bafflee both sets of fans equally) and possibly had put a tenner riding on a goalless draw at Ladbrokes, when he ignored a brace of Charlton penalty appeals involving both Leaburn and Jayden Stockley.
Lincoln would have gone in a goal to the good at half-time had it not been for the agility of Jojo Wollacott, who did well to save Daniel Mandroiu's stoppage time volley.
Granted, despite their limitations in the attacking third of the pitch, where there was a woeful paucity of meaningful application, both sides looked more than capable of defending solidly enough, and guarded their respective goals well. 
But goals win games. That said, a clean sheet and a point apiece, possibly wasn't the worse outcome for two lacklustre sides who're currently wobbling haphazardly just above the wrong end of the table, as Lincoln finished the day three points above the bottom four and Charlton two.
"Oi! Steward. Sit down!"
Throughout the game, the ball was moved about briskly and plentifully, either side of the halfway line. But though there is obviously a time and a place for playing widthways across midfield and back (and back again); to actually win a game of football it is preferable to play towards the opposition goal occasionally too, while endeavouring to pass the ball to somebody wearing the same colour shirt as the one that you've got on yourself.
In conclusion, two teams had an off day and it was bloody horrible to watch, with only moments of comedic refereeing alleviate the boredom.
FT: Lincoln City 0 v Charlton Athletic 0