"Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs"
The early season fireworks which saw us rocket into the play-off zone with a bang seem to have given way to the damp squibs found at the bottom of the box as we find ourselves in 10th place, with the only negative goal difference in the top half of the table. This match against “The Addicks” represents our game in hand from the international weekend last month, and a win would at least restore our place among the play-off challengers while at the same time leapfrogging over our opponents. Bearing in mind the history between the two clubs (I won’t drag out the sordid details of the 1961/62 final game of the season fiasco) any fixture which puts us above them is always welcome!
As things stand, Charlton’s League One performance is identical to ours in terms of results, but naturally their goal difference of +4 is significantly better than our -3. Their form has been very much up and down - after all, how do you analyse the performance of a team that won 2-0 against Barnsley, yet shipped 5 goals in losing 5-3 at Scunthorpe? There is one ex-Saddler to be seen in the Addicks’ ranks, but only on a theoretical basis - Krystian Bielik has recovered from whatever malady beset him whilst supposedly on loan to us from Arsenal, and he is now in the same position with Charlton, and started in their most recent game. Current form:-
Oct 2 Scunthorpe United (A) Lost 5-3
Oct 6 Coventry City (H) Lost 1-2
Oct 20 Barnsley (H) Won 2-0
Oct 23 Oxford United (H) Drew 1-1
Oct 27 Rochdale (A) Lost 1-0
Nov 3 Doncaster Rovers (H) Won 2-0
Dean Keates has the problem of deciding which tactical system will (a) suit the players selected, and (b) won’t have already been sussed out by opposition scouts. Our signing of Martin as a defender/player-coach has seen us concede 10 goals in our most recent 4 games, which wouldn’t be that much of a problem if we were scoring at the other end, but the painful fact is that we’re not. There are 6 teams in the bottom half of the League One table who have scored more goals than ourselves …
Prediction? Unlikely as it seems, a 0-0 result would be something of an achievement based on our current form, but the necessary optimism in a Saddlers’ supporter leads me to go for a 1-0 home win, with Andy Cook maintaining his recent habit of finding the net … as long as he gets the appropriate service!!