There will be few people still alive who have seen a Northampton Town win at The Valley.
We played them regularly in the Third Division (South) in the 1920s but they have only made fifteen visits to SE7 in total and have only managed to win on one occasion. The victory came on 30th March 1935 courtesy of an 88th minute goal which their winger Bell slipped past Sam Bartram in front of a 14,926 crowd. It was a shock result as the 1934/35 season was the one in which Charlton under Jimmy Seed ran away with the Division Three (South) title by eight points, losing only two games at home. It was the season when Ralph Allen scored his record 32 league goals. It was the start of our meteoric rise to the position of runners-up in the First Division. Two years later on 29th March 1937 we were beating Chelsea at The Valley in front of 45,860.
A win for Northampton this Saturday wouldn't be quite such a shock but it would be disastrous for Charlton morale and would severely puncture Karl Robinson's credibility. After we beat Ipswich, Bristol Rovers and Exeter there was a growing optimism and some comparisons were made with Chris Powell's rebuilt side which stormed League One in 2011/12. However, the 2-0 defeat at Plymouth last Saturday brought everyone back to earth and we were reminded that Powell's team went thirteen games before their first defeat. Robinson's current squad is nowhere near that standard.
Last season newly promoted Northampton arrived at The Valley in August having lost their manager (Chris Wilder) and their best player (Ricky Holmes) but nevertheless departed with a point. The return game at Sixfields in March was a depressing 1-2 defeat and a culmination of a run of eight games in which a demoralised Charlton picked up 3 points out of 24. By this time, Northampton had replaced manager Rob Page with Justin Edinburgh and it is he who brings The Cobblers to town on Saturday.
They have had a dispiriting start to the season and have failed to score in 270 minutes of football. They were beaten 0-1 by Fleetwood and Shrewsbury in the league and by QPR in the Carabao Cup. Edinburgh was quoted this week: "The only way we can turn it around is continue to stick together, believe in what we're trying to achieve. I have no doubt that the results will come along with that."
Their team might include well known faces Dean Bowditch and Alex Revell but the danger man is likely to be Chris Long who has joined them on loan from Burnley. They also strengthened their midfield in the summer with the signing of Matt Crooks who failed to make an impact at Glasgow Rangers, having joined them from Accrington last year.
With a tough away game at Rotherham coming up next this is a game Charlton desperately need to win. Despite Tony Watt's departure Robinson is sounding pessimistic about securing a replacement striker. We can only hope that Josh Magennis will be firing on all cylinders and that the composure the team showed in front of goal against Ipswich can be repeated. With Northampton likely to set up to be hard to break down 1-0 is the likely outcome.