Phil Parkinson's Bolton Wanderers arrive at The Valley this Saturday having made their best start in the league for eighty-two years.
They have won their first four games. They beat Sheffield United 1-0 at home on the opening day. They followed this with their first away win for 495 days 2-1 at Wimbledon. Having proved they could do it they did it again 2-1 at Bristol Rovers and they came from behind to see off Fleetwood last week 2-1 at home. It looks quite impressive, but is it really? They have beaten two of last year's promoted teams. They have just overcome this year's big underachievers Sheffield United. And they've scrambled a late winner at home to the mighty Fleetwood. Away to Charlton will be their first real test.
Their team will include a number of old favourites. Trotter and Beevers of New Den fame. Gary Madine, who never quite made it at Championship level (5 goals in 50 for Sheff Wed; 5 in 24 for Bolton) brings his impressive criminal record to SE7. Jay Spearing, who didn't quite make it at Liverpool but who should be a class act at this level. David Wheater (still only 29) who was released by Bolton at the end of last season but who subsequently resigned on "substantially reduced wages".
There is some optimism among Charlton supporters after wins in the last two games but we shouldn't get carried away. At this point last season we had 8 points from 4 games and this year we have one fewer. We should also be concerned about the fitness of Ricky Holmes whose performances have been crucial to the upturn in our fortunes. Take away his contributions and we don't look quite so clever. Nevertheless, the strength of Josh Magennis, the composure of Ezri Konsa and the brilliance of Declan Rudd (despite his Walsall error) do provide grounds for reasonable aspirations. If we avoid defeat on Saturday we will have put together our best run since the beginning of last season.
The CAS Trust stall will be open behind the North Stand from 2pm - 2.45pm for members to renew or for new members to join.