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Wednesday, 22nd January 2003

Charlton Athletic 4
West Ham United 2

by Gordon Thrower

Absolutely nothing about tonight was right. Apart from the usual pre-match drinks with good company that is.

The usual suspects met up with Sam (who had made an ill-fated trip down from Norwich on New Years Day) in the Horse and Groom pub and Sauna. A quick drink followed by a trek over to the ground where we were informed that the match would not kick off until 8, giving me enough time to trip up half a dozen people with my strategically placed briefcase. Cheat Pires please note. Despite making solid contact with my case not one person went to ground. Team news was mixed. Although Ferdinand was able to debut up front, Cole was missing, apparently having picked up a knock. Strangely, Roeder felt that our best available back four combination did not include Pearce who was apparently fit only for the bench. And I'm rather beginning to suspect we may have seen the last of Schemmel

The early exchanges were noteworthy only for the home side's shameful attempts to wind Bowyer up, two footed tackles from behind being the norm. Bowyer found himself on the end of a yellow card when reacting to one such challenge, despite being pushed in the face by the niggly trainee Robbie Savage, Scott Parker.

Up front debutant Les Ferdinand was making a nuisance of himself but found himself getting no change out of the weak and inconsistent refereeing of Mr Wolstenhome. One particular sequence stood out. A long ball was played towards Ferdinand. Rufus first pulled his shirt then simply hauled Ferdinand over. Having got away with it once the same defender then proceeded to repeat the foul two seconds later. Maybe if we'd had Cheat Pires up front we'd have got the penalty but, the way things are going with these jokers I doubt it.

We took the lead on 20 minutes with a goal for which the move was a thing of beauty - in fact it was probably the only bit of football played by either side throughout the match. The move involved Bowyer, Ferdinand, Carrick and finally Cisse. Later reports suggested Rufus may have got the last touch as the ball looped over Kiely and into the net. So 1-0 up and coasting. Frankly Charlton were going to need a helping hand from somewhere as they never really looked like scoring. So of course a helping hand was what they got.

Now the 42nd minute challenge by Dailly on Bartlett might have been a foul. However, since the referee had not seen fit to give a free kick for any of half a dozen worse challenges on Defoe and Ferdinand it was an act of sheer and wilful perverseness for Mr Wolstenhome to award one on this occasion. Jensen dispatched the free-kick into the top right hand corner. And that was all it took for the wheels to fall off. Whatever form of Alzheimer's that the ref had he managed to pass it on to the team. From being 1-0 up & coasting we suddenly were 2-1 down. Poor covering in midfield left Parker unmarked to volley home from12 yards. There was just about time for Wolstenhome to ignore two further incidents. A nasty late two footed tackle on Lomas which left Shaggy writhing in agony warranted a straight red but failed to produce even a free kick. This was followed by a two-handed push on Defoe which, had Pires been the victim, would have seen the Cheat demanding emergency surgery. As it was the ref saw fit to simply ignore it - again.

We started the second half as poorly as we had finished the first. Minto was particularly awful - I failed to recall one single pass going in the right direction. We went further behind 7 minutes into the second half. Another harsh free kick was awarded by the ref. The back 4 failed to deal with the cross and the ball fell out to Parker who drove through a crowd of players for his second. The chant of "we need a new back 4" rang around the ground, intermingled with chants of "Roeder Out"

Roeder, who seems to have no intention of getting out, waited a further 10 minutes before making a change. Cisse, who had probably been the least worst of our sorry bunch (although that wasn't saying much), was replaced by Glen Johnson. Lomas, who had been playing on the right, moved to the centre to allow Johnson to play at right back.

Shortly after the substitution, miracle upon miracle, we scored. Ferdinand held the ball up well and laid the ball off for Carrick whose shot took a deflection either off Sinclair or Fish (it was a long way away) to make it 3-2 and give us a bit of hope.

For the remainder of the match we had the lion's share of the ball, despite Minto's propensity for giving it away at every possible opportunity. Despite this we never looked like breaking down what is, in all truth, a very average Charlton side. Minto was finally put out of his misery on 72 minutes when he was replaced, to universal applause from the travelling fans, by Winterburn. The only bright spot over the final 18 minutes was the form of Johnson. This was my first look at the youngster other than live on telly during Under 19 internationals and I have to say that I was quietly impressed. He seemed to be useful in the tackle and, for the most part, distributed the ball well. However, even he fell victim to the curse of Wolstenhome. One fine tackle ended up with him clearly playing the ball off Bartlett for a goal kick. The ref, of course, added to his ever expanding catalogue of errors by awarding a corner.

Charlton finally put the game beyond doubt on 90 minutes. A Charlton move was broken up by Winterburn who fed Bowyer. Bowyer, despite having time to clear dribbled into trouble leaving the defence short at the back. A shot from the Charlton right was saved by James only to fall to the player with the unpronounceable name that I can't be bothered to look up. Whatsisname was presented with an open goal from 2 yards out which he found himself unable to miss. This finally woke up the home crowd who had hitherto been fairly comatose, presumably realising that they didn't have to be any good to win this one - which was just as well for them as they weren't.

I was then faced with a crappy journey home - the queue to get on a train was fairly lengthy and somehow I didn't feel like a drink. A quick phonecall to the others confirmed that they felt the same way so I started to walk in the general direction of Greenwich. I then had my first bit of luck for the evening. A cab with it's light on came out of a side turning. The Archway-based Scotsman at the wheel turned out to be a fellow sufferer in Claret and Blue so we were able to moan about the shambles that we had just witnessed all the way back to Hither Green. If you get to read this mate if you ever fancy a pint in the Wakefield pre-match you'd be more than welcome to join us.

So to summarise, one poor side beat another poor side, that was poorly managed (what has Pearce done to upset Roeder?) in a poor match that was poorly refereed. We need to sort out the back four now and, having got Camera off the wage bill a defender must be a priority. Preferably NOT one of whom Roeder can say "...when I coached him for England in 1998"

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting.

Player ratings

David James (6) Not really at fault for any of the goals and not otherwise really tested. Kicked the ball towards Defoe rather than Ferdinand a bit too often.

Steve Lomas (6) Lomas has been getting a lot of stick of late - not all of it (in my opinion) fully deserved. Having said that, hard as he tries he's not a right back.

Scott Minto (2) Apart from one tackle in the second half, he had a complete 'mare. His substitution was the football equivalent of euthanasia.

Gary Breen (4) Poor. He made the Charlton front two look, well not good but a lot better than they actually are,

Christian Dailly (5) Poor. Slightly better than Breen. But not much.

Lee Bowyer (5) The honeymoon period seems to be over. He has started to react to some of the inevitable targeting from niggly opposition & messed-up big time for their 4th.

Michael Carrick (5) Lost the ball too much tonight for my liking.

Trevor Sinclair (5) A lot of running but seems to have lost the ability or will to take players on and beat them. Which is a shame as he won't come up against many sides as average as Charlton.

Edouard Cisse (6) I thought that this was one of the Frenchman's better games until he went off. In all honesty he probably wasn't that good but, in comparison to the others he was average rather than awful.

Jermain Defoe (5) Full of running but could have done with some service. Any service.

Les Ferdinand (6) Caused problems up front which were mostly dealt with by illegal means. Harshly booked when, following a blatant piece of manhandling by a defender, he reacted to the referee's decision to give Charlton a throw in.

Substitutes

Glen Johnson (6) I liked the look of this lad. May be due a starting position sooner rather than later on this evidence. There again what do I know - I thought Pearce should have been in defence.

Nigel Winterburn (6) I realise that Nige probably can't two matches a week but, despite his age, he is soooooo much better than Minto.

KUMB Man Of The Match: I honestly don't feel anyone was worthy of the title.

Referee

Eddie Wolstenholme (2) Simply appalling. Charlton recently demanded a replay on the grounds that the regulations state matches should be played on grass. I reckon that we have a case to get a replay on the grounds that the FA have to provide a ref of a certain standard. I'd start the campaign myself if it weren't for the sneaking feeling that, if we were ever to be awarded a penalty we'd probably miss it anyway.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Lomas, Breen, Dailly, Minto (Winterburn 73), Bowyer, Cisse (Johnson 63), Carrick, Sinclair, Defoe, L.Ferdinand.

Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Hutchison, Pearce.

Charlton Athletic: Kiely, Rufus, Fish, Fortune, Kishishev, Euell, Jensen (Svensson 88), Parker, Powell, Lisbie (Konchesky 72), Bartlett (Johansson 85).

Subs not used: Rachubka, Bart-Williams.

Booked: Bowyer, L.Ferdinand, Parker

Goals: Cisse (19), Jensen (42), Parker (45, 52), Sinclair (62), Kishishev (90).

Attendance: 26,340

Referee: Eddie Wolstenholme

KUMB Man of the Match: n/a

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