Rotherham United arrive at The Valley on Saturday buoyed by their emphatic and unexpected 4-2 win over Bolton on Tuesday evening. Most importantly, the result put The Millers five points clear of Millwall in 22nd place, but the four goals scored also meant that Charlton are now the second lowest goal scorers in The Championship (and can we really count Blackpool ?). Rotherham have only scored nine goals away from home so far but their record of two wins, six draws and five defeats on the road is very similar to Charlton's.
The Bolton result will have done wonders for confidence after a run of three defeats and a home draw with Blackpool and, with forthcoming games against Ipswich, Blackburn and Derby, Rotherham will be very keen to exploit the recent poor form and low morale of their hosts on Saturday. If they win the game they will go above Charlton in the table.
They are a team of few stars. Their leading goal scorer (with three) is Jordan Bowery, but he was on the bench on Tuesday. Better known was the scorer of their second goal on Tuesday - Connor Sammon - who is on loan from Derby and who combined very well all evening with Matt Derbyshire who rifled home the fourth. Also in the ranks is Frazer Richardson who enjoyed a good season with The Addicks in 2009/10 but who is now appearing for his home town club
Most of the publicity is attracted by their delightful manager Steve Evans who is, to say the least, a combative character. His playing career was almost entirely in Scotland but his managerial career includes a number of impressive promotions with Boston United, Crawley Town and, latterly, a double promotion with Rotherham. However, his record also includes countless touchline and stadium bans for abusing officials plus pleading guilty to conspiracy to evade tax while manager of Boston. Despite his conviction in 2006 (1 year suspended sentence and £1000 fine) he remained in charge of the club - a decision which outraged the Boston United Supporters Trust.
Evans's success at smaller clubs suggests that his strength lies in his ability to motivate average players to perform to the height of their abilities. There will thus be an interesting comparison to make with new Charlton head coach Guy Luzon. Charlton players' body language and performance at Watford exhibited painfully low morale but there was some evidence in the draw with Wolves last week that some belief and team spirit had returned. Because of the delay in the granting of his work permit it is hard to assess how much of this improvement can be attributed to Luzon but, having had a full week with the players this week, there can be no excuses if morale and organisation are not up to scratch as they will need to be. It also remains to be seen whether new signing Christophe Lepoint is ready to start and what effect his arrival has on the squad.
Many Charlton supporters will be hoping that our own combative Scot - Tony Watt - is given a place in the starting eleven. Amid the gloom and confusion of the last few weeks his short cameo against Brighton was one of the few bright moments. He showed an edge and a sharpness that has been sorely missed in the team for months. There was a time when every successful team had a Scot in the ranks. Can you name a winning team of the 70s and 80s without one ? Now, however, it is hard to find a Scot in any of the top teams. And, although Charlton have a fine tradition - Alan Campbell, Charlie Wright, Mark Reid, Colin Walsh, Stuart Balmer - it is now (disregarding Michael Stewart's few games) five years since Christian Dailly and seven since Chris Iwelumo. If Tony Watt can be the new Jim Melrose, then maybe we can muster enough points to keep ahead of Millwall, Wigan and Blackpool after all.
It wasn't very long ago that Charlton fans were complaining about the number of drawn games. Avoiding defeat on Saturday is essential and many would be grumpily relieved at a 1-1 outcome.