Gillingham – the end of the forty year wait?

It was a forty fourth minute Derek Hales goal in December 1980 which gave Charlton their last win at Priestfield.

Yes, we've only played there four times since but they have all been pretty dismal displays and we have got what we deserved.

The most embarrassing was the FA Cup third round tie in January 2004 when, despite being gifted a first minute own goal, Premier League Charlton were dumped out of the cup 3-2 by Third Division Gillingham. And there was no question of a weakened team being fielded - Hreidarsson, Kishishev, Holland, Jensen, Stuart and Johannsen were in the starting line up with Di Canio and Euell coming on as second half substitutes.

Five years later in October 2009 the teams met at League One level when a bizarre John Nutter own goal gave the Addicks (under Phil Parkinson) a 1-1 draw. The home team that day included Charlton old boys Simon Royce, Matt Fry and Barry Fuller who were joined in the second half by substitute Toks Yussuff. Six months later The Gills were relegated back to League Two while Nicky Bailey's penalty in the play off semi against Swindon meant that Charlton would wait another two years before returning to The Championship.

Russell Slade was manager when we were next at Priestfield in October 2016. It was another poor performance although a 1-1 draw was achieved through a 90th minute Nicky Ajose penalty. This time the familiar faces were Paul Konchevsky, Frank Nouble and Bradley Dack.

Last year it was worse - an early season 1-0 defeat under Karl Robinson. Scott Wagstaff was in the line-up for the hosts until he was replaced by substitute Josh Parker. To rub salt into the wound, Gillingham came to The Valley on New Years Day to complete the double with a 2-1 win.

This year the visitors will be welcomed by Regan Charles-Cook, Brandon Hanlon and, amazingly, Barry Fuller yet again. The 34 year old returned to the club last summer and has  just signed another one year extension. However, Ricky Holmes will not be there. He joined on loan in January but has now returned to Sheffield United without making an appearance for Gillingham due to a back injury.

The hosts sit in thirteenth place and are safe from relegation. Their recent form has been remarkably inconsistent. They are the only side to beat Oxford since mid February and they gained a 2-2 draw at Luton in March. However, they have also lost at home to Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury in recent weeks.

It looks very much as if fifth place is the best that Charlton will be able to achieve, although they will be striving to reach fourth and to thereby book a home tie in the Play Off semi final, second leg. Portsmouth are the current form team at the top and, if they win at Sunderland on Saturday while we are collecting three points at Gillingham, we would go above Sunderland. Both Portsmouth (at home v Peterborough) and Sunderland (away v Fleetwood) play their games in hand next Tuesday.

The good news is that Lee Bowyer has a 100% record against The Gills, having overseen our 2-0 win back in December.