Having seen off Fleetwood at the third attempt a few weeks ago Charlton now take on the only remaining EFL team that they have played against but never beaten.
In both previous encounters with supporter-owned AFC Wimbledon Charlton have taken an early lead but then succumbed to late goals. At The Valley in September 2016 it was the failure to capitalise on Ademola Lookman's eighth minute strike that led to the hosts being overpowered and overhauled in the last twelve minutes by goals from Poleon and Barnett. The return fixture in February saw Ricky Holmes give the visitors the lead in the eighth minute only for Tom Elliott to cancel this out in the ninetieth.
The good news is that Poleon, Bartlett and Elliott have now left Wimbledon and the club are finding goals hard to come by. They arrive at The Valley in twentieth place with a record of four wins and eight defeats in fifteen games and having scored only nine goals. Their defensive record (sixteen conceded) is one of the best in the division but nine scored puts them on a par with Gillingham. Leading goalscorer is Lyle Taylor with three, all of which he notched in AFCW's 3-1 win over Rotherham two weeks ago. We don't expect them to play expansively.
Manager Neil Ardley has just celebrated five years in post which makes him the fifth longest-serving manager in the country and he has built on the remarkable success achieved by his predecessors in bringing the club up from the ninth tier since its foundation fifteen years ago. However, it is beginning to look as if they might have now reached their zenith, at least until their new stadium in Plough Lane is completed and gate receipts can be maximised. They have won twice on the road this season (at Blackburn and Northampton) but the 0-1 home defeat by Plymouth last weekend emphasised the uphill task they face. Not many sides lose to Plymouth.
Former Charlton reserve team captain Barry Fuller should be in action at full back for Wimbledon. He has made a good career for himself in the lower divisions with over 400 appearances for Stevenage, Gillingham and AFCW. Other notable names are Jimmy Abdou (a season long loan from Millwall) and another Den favourite - Liam Trotter - who signed from Bolton this summer. Former Gillingham striker Cody McDonald will be trying to increase the visitors' goal tally.
Last season's match at The Cherry Red Records Fans Stadium was marred by abuse of Charlton manager Karl Robinson after the final whistle by an AFCW volunteer. The incident forced Chief Executive Erik Samuelson to issue this somewhat back handed condemnation:
"Unfortunately, as he was leaving the pitch at the end of the game it appears that he was abused by one of our volunteers. Fortunately the steward was still present and, aided by Neal Ardley and assistant manager Neil Cox, he was able to restrain Mr Robinson from striking anyone."
There will no doubt be plenty more abuse coming Robinson's way from The Jimmy Seed stand on Saturday but it will be countered by strong support from elsewhere. We suspect that the home team will have to work hard to break AFCW down. Naby Sarr will no doubt be selected to counter an aerial threat and, even though he failed to match Andy Hunt's six consecutive goals last week, the mercurial Tariqe Fosu will retain his place despite Mark Marshall's availability. Another eighth minute goal would be welcome but please can we add to it before the last ten minutes this time?