Northampton – the pressure is all on Charlton

All the pressure is on Charlton when they entertain Northampton Town at The Valley on Saturday.

The Cobblers arrive in SE7 unbeaten in 26 consecutive league games. Yes, twenty six. They were last beaten in a League game on 19th December 2015 when Portsmouth triumphed 2-1 at Sixfields Stadium. After that Northampton went on a remarkable 25 game run which saw them annihilate the opposition in League 2 and become champions by a margin of 13 points. They began this season with a 1-1 home draw with Fleetwood to extend the run and on Tuesday evening they went up to last year's League One play-off winners Barnsley and beat them 2-1 in the EFL Cup.

Since gaining promotion they have lost their manager Chris Wilder who, having flown to Belgium to meet Roland Duchatelet, decided not to accept the Charlton job but to take over at Sheffield United instead. He has been replaced by Rob Page, previously manager of Port Vale. They have also lost Ricky Holmes - one of their stars of last season with 11 goals.  They still, however, have Marc Richards who scored 18 goals last term despite missing two months with an Achilles injury and John-Joe O'Toole who scored 12. They have also made some notable additions - Matt Taylor from Burnley; Lewin Nyatanga on loan from Barnsley and Alex Revell from MK Dons.  Paddy Kenny has joined as player/goalkeeping coach but is unlikely to be in the squad.

Another notable acquisition has been Harry Beautyman who made his name at Welling United where he scored 14 goals in 49 appearances between 2013-15. This was enough to gain him a transfer to Peterborough from where he joined Northampton for £275k this summer. He began his career at Leyton Orient where he was a regular for the youth team and the reserves but never made a first team appearance. He joined Sutton United in May 2011 after he was deemed surplus to requirements by the then Orient manager, Russell Slade. After Harry Pell's winner for Cheltenham we fear the worst.

Charlton's performances at Bury and Cheltenham were uninspiring to say the least.  They have scored just one goal in four games since returning from the pre season tour of Austria. They have scored just two in six if you include the games played out there. They have looked flat-footed and lacking in pace and have too often reverted to long balls to a diminutive striker. They have a lot to prove on Saturday and confidence will not be high.  There are already signs of strain. Roger Johnson's abusive comments to fans at Gigg Lane and Slade's post-match tetchiness at Cheltenham suggest that pressure is already building. We can only hope that Lee Novak can be more effective as a foil for Ajose and that Holmes and Lookman can provide a telling final ball.  There may be an opportunity for new signings Josh Magennis and Jordan Botaka to play a part. We need more inventiveness in midfield but Slade does not seem convinced by El Hadji Ba. (He is of course not alone in this view).

A clean sheet would be welcome.