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29-Jan 05:09, by Ketts

There is nothing more frustrating than a match being called off at short notice.

There is nothing more frustrating for footballers or fans than having a game called off at short notice, particularly when there is a lengthy journey involved.

The players‎ will have been working all week on a game plan, only for the game to be scrapped. Karl Robinson would have been desperate to see his team continue with their recent winning momentum.

There were concerns about the game as early as Thursday. Blackpool's pitch is not in good condition, and heavy rain was forecast for Saturday morning.

When Carll Boyeson arrived at the ground shortly after midday, he highlighted the problem areas and called a pitch inspection for 1.30pm.‎

The rain had stopped by 12.30pm, and the forecast was for a dry afternoon. There was a ‎stiff breeze, so there was reason for optimism.

Blackpool really wanted to get the game on as pre-match tributes to Jimmy Armfield were planned.

Boyeson was still not happy with the state of the pitch after his inspection, but gave the ground staff another 30 minutes to remedy the problem. 

‎The Charlton team coach had arrived by this time. Michal Zyro was set for his Addicks debut, but Sullay Kaikai was ineligible.

Robinson had said one of his players would miss the match for personal reasons, this turned out to be Mark Marshall. Also missing was Ben Reeves who had picked up an injury.

Charlton fan, Jim Davidson, was in attendance, as was Nicky Ajose.

Robinson's 18 man squad would have been: 

Amos, Solly, Konsa, Bauer, Dasilva, Kashi, Aribo, Fosu, Mavididi, Ahearne-Grant, Magennis, Phillips, Lennon, Dijksteel, Jackson, Forster-Caskey, Zyro and Hackett-Fairchild. ‎

Travelling fans would have been equally frustrated. Whatever method of transport they were using would have involved an early start.‎

For train travellers, the trip to Blackpool was awkward. Improvement works on the line, has meant a bus‎ replacement service has been in operation between Preston and the coastal town recently.‎

Journey times have doubled, and there is only one bus an hour to Blackpool South, the nearest station to Bloomfield Road.

Fans have the option of going to Blackpool North - which is further from the stadium - but is served by eight buses an hour. Four of those buses are direct, which cuts the journey time down to 50 minutes.  

Against this backdrop, having the game called off an hour before kick-off was hugely frustrating. Coach travellers would more-or-less have turned straight round.

The fans - many of whom stayed for the Jimmy Armfield tribute - were astonished to learn that North West Counties League side, AFC Blackpool, were able to stage their game against Carlisle City on a near perfect pitch. AFC's ground is less than three miles from Bloomfield Road.

Older fans will remember a similarly late call off just after Christmas in 2005, when safety concerns about the streets around St James' Park, caused the postponement of the game against Newcastle.

The Valley has not been without its problems either. Various games have been late victims of the weather, including fixtures with West Ham and Southampton.‎

More recently, the game with Doncater in August 2013 had to be abandoned with Rovers leading 3-1 due to torrential rain waterlogging the pitch. 

As so often happens on these occasions, when the game was restaged later in the season, the Addicks turned things around and won.‎

These situations are fortunately few and far between, but when they do happen, fate decrees they will be one of the long distance games.‎

‎Results elsewhere largely went in favour of Charlton, so it was not a totally negative afternoon for the Addicks. ‎

‎One question that will be the subject of conjecture, is was the postponement beneficial. to Karl Robinson's team?

The manager would have fancied his chances against out of form opponents. But that pudding of a pitch would have negated some of the pace in the team, and would not have suited their neat passing style. 

Players are more prone to injury on a heavy pitch, but the postponement has added another game to the already busy schedule.‎

So the decision can be viewed from more than one angle. But one thing is certain; players, coaching staff and fans alike, will be desperate for Saturday's game against Oxford to go ahead as scheduled.


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