Charlton head 238 miles north this weekend for a visit to the Highbury Stadium, to take on Fleetwood Town. This will be our second away game in a row, following last Saturday’s goalless draw at Peterborough. A drawn game where we would have nabbed another critical three points, but for a late penalty miss by a certain Karlan Grant – “who he?” I hear you say.
Since then, of course, Grant has left the banks of the Thames for the chilly pastures of West Yorkshire, and an opportunity of Premier League action, although most will agree it won’t be lasting more than four months, at least for the time being. In the meantime though, he may well be making his debut at Chelsea…
But back to matters in hand, Karlan’s departure leaves a massive selection headache facing Lee Bowyer. Who to play upfront? The productive partnership of Taylor and Grant is no more, and with Taylor still side-lined, it will be a new pairing at Highbury. Reeco Hackett-Fairchild’s notable substitution appearance at the Posh may earn him his chance to start, and the recently out of favour Tarique Fosu will most likely be his partner. The late signing of Josh Parker from Gillingham could also give Bowyer another option. One other possibility could be the mercurial Igor Vetokele, fit once again, having featured in the U23s drubbing of Palace earlier in the week. Maybe his legacy is to be a hatful of late season goals to carry Charlton to an automatic spot.
Fleetwood have a reputation as a friendly community based club, however they have not shied away from controversy, employing bad-boy turned football intellectual, Joey Barton, as manager last close season; and taking advantage of the proven goal-scoring of another controversial figure, Ched Evans. Evans 11 goals so far, whilst on loan from Sheffield United, a vital contribution to their season.
Our host’s impressive rise through the pyramid – it was only back in 1985 they lost in the FA Vase Final to Halesowen Town – means through most of our existences we’ve never crossed swords. Already in our brief recent flirtation, a pattern is nonetheless forming. Of 5 previous meetings, 4 have ended all-square, the most recent being the 0-0 at the Valley last August. Bowyer will definitely be looking to break the mould this time. Fleetwood lie 10th, only 6 places below The Addicks, although we do hold a 15 point advantage. In fact, the Cod Army maybe should be glancing a little more nervously over their shoulder, as they are only 8 points off the relegation zone.
Their current form is mediocre, only 1 win in their last 6, and last Saturday the Cod Army lost 0-1 at home to the in-form Scunthorpe, despite reportedly a host of missed chances. In his post match summary, Joey Barton bemoaned his side’s poor execution and highlighted the importance of consistency in putting together a concerted promotion challenge.
Well Joey, Charlton fans will be delighted to see some consistency from Fleetwood this Saturday … another 0-1 home defeat will do just fine.