Saturday's encounter with Bristol Rovers will be the sixth between the two clubs since Charlton's relegation in 2016. Of the previous five we have won four and drawn one with a goal difference of 14-4. In November 2016 only a last minute goal prevented a 5-0 whitewash at The Memorial Stadium and this was to be followed up two months later with a convincing 4-1 win at The Valley. August 2017 saw us beat them playing with ten men for over eighty minutes and this season they are one of the few clubs we have beaten by more than one goal (3-1 in November) - with that memorable Jamie Ward goal setting the ball rolling.
So it looks like we just need to turn up and collect the three points.
Except that Rovers have just begun to run into some impressive form. When they lost at home to Wycombe in mid January they were languishing in 22nd place - three points away from safety. However, in their subsequent eight games they have only lost one (at home to Sunderland 0-2) and they have won their last three - beating Blackpool 4-0 and gaining 1-0 wins at Scunthorpe and Gillingham. They now sit in 14th place and three points above the relegation places.
This upturn in fortunes has coincided with the arrival on transfer deadline day of striker Jonson Clark-Harris who has scored seven in six games, including a hat trick against Blackpool. The twenty four year old became Coventry City's youngest ever player when he made his debut aged sixteen years and twenty days in 2010 but his career has never really taken off since then. Spells with Peterborough, Oldham and Rotherham were followed by a return to Coventry at the start of this season, but only five goals in twenty seven outings resulted in him being deemed surplus to requirements.
Charlton's performance against Burton on Tuesday was poor but just about good enough on a windy night. Krystian Bielik and Jonny Williams were missed and an unwell Joe Aribo failed to make much of an impact. Josh Cullen drove the team forward and Lyle Taylor provided the necessary spark up front. There is a chance that Bielik will be available for Saturday but Charlton will again be deprived of Williams's running with the ball. The gap to seventh place (Peterborough) is now eleven points and, although nothing can be taken for granted, a draw on Saturday would not be a bad outcome.