Monday, April 10, 2006

Boro Preview

So here we go then, the biggest game of the season so far, and a game which could effectively end the season if we were to lose it...

Before the home game with Boro I remember predicting that we would draw with them on the night, be paired with West Ham in the Semi, and then beat Boro at The Riverside in the replay, but now that the game is so close I'm starting to feel more than a little nervous.

It's so important that we don't concede a stupid early goal up there. Both fans and players have been talking about little else for over a fortnight now, and with all of the preparation that has gone into this match, I wonder how the players would react to going 1 down in the 5th minute.

I went to both Wigan and Blackburn away this season, we conceded early goals in each of those games and subsequently went to pieces, conceding 4 to Blackburn and 3 to Wigan. If things go wrong for us on such a big occasion would we be able to pick ourselves up and get back into the game? Well, It's the job of the 5,250 Charlton fans to ensure that if an early setback occurs, we don't get frustrated, we don't get disheartened, and we don't get on the backs of the players. Just keep singing the songs and have faith in our ability to turn it around. Boro are a Jekyll and Hyde team at the Riverside, and I'm entirely confident that if both fans and players go up there with the right attitude, eventually we will prevail.

As far as team news goes, Darren Bent will obviously slot back in up front presumably in place of his cup-tied namesake, and it remains to be seen whether Curbishley will stick Bothroyd up front alongside him, or whether he will leave Darren plowing a lone furrow up front, and pack the midfield with 5 instead. Powell will probably return at left back, meaning that Hermann will drop back into the centre with Chris Perry, while Spector will continue to deputise for the injured Luke Young.

Key areas are going to be the flanks, and how well we deal with the robust threat of Hasselbaink/Viduka/Yakubu. I am confident in our ability to win the central midfield battle, and I also believe that either Thomas or Rommedahl (maybe even both) will be able to make things happen on the wings for us, but the height and physical precense that Boro have up top means that it is imperative that Spector sticks close to Downing and stops him providing crosses.

I haven't been able to find out how many tickets have been sold in the home areas for this one, but I assume that the match will not sell out. They had a local derby with rival Newcastle at the weekend, and there were over 4,000 empty seats there, plus their continued involvement in the UEFA Cup should also mean that a few of the working class smog-monsters will save their pennies for an away trip to Bucharest rather than spend it on a Quarter Final Replay. Most of their official build up is only available for fans who have paid to join Boro World on their website, but from what I can gather, certain sections of their support feel that they have already done most of the hard work by getting a draw at The Valley. Perhaps that attitude will also work in our favour.

These are the sort of games that every club wants to be involved in, and the sort of game where every fan wants the right to say “I was there when…” in the event that a glorious victory is earned. If we do manage to pull it off, it’s going to be one hell of a party on the train back to London.

Come on you Addicks, we’ve done all we can to give you the advantage, now go out there and make us proud.

Cynic Athletic's Prediction 2-1 Win (Bent, Rommedahl - Yakubu)


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