The Magic of the Cup

Charlton's third round FA Cup tie with Colchester on Saturday could be seen as a welcome distraction from the sorry events of the last few months. Third round day is usually approached by football supporters in a spirit of optimism. The chance of a cup run coinciding with the start of a new year tends to raise hopes and aspirations, even if only for a day.

And this really is an ideal draw for Charlton. Firstly, it is an away game. If you imagine it being played at a depressed and angry quarter-full Valley it becomes more difficult to see its attraction. But a short away trip with 1500 fellow supporters is a different matter.

Secondly, we are playing one of the very few teams in the country whose recent form has actually been worse than ours.  Colchester equalised in the 81st minute at Oldham on Saturday to gain a 1-1 draw and thus to avoid a run of ten consecutive defeats in the League.  During that run they scored 8 and conceded 26. They have far and away the worst defensive record in the country with a total of 59 goals conceded so far.  Their poor form led to parting company with manager Tony Humes and his replacement by ex-West Ham player Kevin Keen who seems to have tightened things up a little with only 4 goals being let in in the last three games.

Any success Colchester have had this season (they did win four on the trot in September) seems to have largely been driven by Callum Harriot during his successful loan stay, but he won't be appearing on Saturday as he is cup-tied, having played in The U's second round 3-2 win over Altrincham. Given Ademola Lookman's current injury it does raise the question as to why Charlton permitted this.

Darren Anderson may make an appearance for the hosts and it is a sad fact that we are likely to see Marvin Sordell as well - just three years since he played for Great Britain at The Olympic Games and four years since his £3m move from Watford to Premier League Bolton. In an insightful interview with BBC Sport he recently said:

"For me as I've been growing up, I've never been the most confident anyway. So to go from playing, getting a move and then straight away not playing makes me think 'what have I done?' or 'am I not good enough?' I start to question myself."

It might be worth bearing this in mind before we vent too much frustration on our own young players coming through.

Although this should be an ideal tie for Charlton to bed in new players and gain some confidence, it is also true that failing to win would be unthinkable.  In any normally run club the manager/head coach would be unlikely to survive defeat (or even a draw). But at Charlton, who knows ?