Harriott hat-trick awaited

Charlton duly returned from Griffin Park on Saturday evening with the three points exclusively guaranteed in your CAS Trust match preview. Surely, this means that a further three points must be on the cards at home to MKD on Tuesday evening.

Well, maybe not. The thing about Brentford was that they were on a run of form almost as bad as Charlton's and they had already been beaten nine times at home this season. MKD, however, are far more difficult to predict. And don't forget that we've been here before - going up to Rotherham for a 4-1 victory only to lose to Bristol City at home in the next game.

The win at Brentford actually left Charlton in a worse position as they made up no ground on Rotherham and MKD and now have one less game in which to do so. But it was a spirited performance which gave some grounds for encouragement - in particular the performance of Callum Harriott. When Callum ballooned a last minute opportunity at Fulham over the bar from five yards it seemed to exemplify his career. Plenty of pace and no shortage of skill but an awful lack of composure at the crucial moments. His two goals at Brentford were however taken with admirable calmness. An assured side foot for the eighteenth second opener and a couple of neat touches to create space for the winner. His brace means that seven of his eleven career goals for Charlton have come under the management of Jose Riga, despite Riga managing him in fewer than one third of his appearances. And the last time he scored two he went on to score three in the next game...

MKD's win over QPR on Saturday was their second win in their last seven games and they have been picking up points impressively. Despite losing 2-3 at Blackburn and 0-2 at home to Bristol City they won 1-0 at Derby a few weeks ago and held Boro to a 1-1 at home. They also forced a 0-0 at Cardiff last month.

Charlton are hopeful that Stephen Henderson will be fit to return for this game. Nick Pope made some good saves at Brentford but he didn't inspire confidence on crosses and maybe should have cut out the corner from which The Bees equalised. Alou Diarra limped off and will not be fit. This will give Diego Poyet the chance to show MKD and Charlton fans that he can still produce performances like those of two years ago. So far he has been disappointingly anonymous since his return to SE7.

Even if Charlton beat MKD they will still be four points behind them with a vastly inferior goal difference. They will need to win this game and beat Middlesbrough to really put themselves in contention for a great escape. Rotherham host Boro on Tuesday and Derby on Saturday. MKD will go to Hull on Saturday if Arsenal win the cup replay. It might all look a little more possible by the time we kick off on Sunday.