Boro – Arrive early and in full voice

Over the next two weeks Charlton take on the teams with the worst current form in The Championship. Middlesbrough and Hull both recorded victories on January 1st but neither have won since. Hull have taken only two points from ten games but more about that next week.

Boro came within five minutes of a second win of 2020 on Monday night but a Lewis Grabban goal meant that they had to be satisfied with a point from a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest. This meant that, instead of leapfrogging Charlton, they will arrive at The Valley one point and two places behind their hosts and back in the relegation places.

It did appear in December that Jonathan Woodgate had found his feet as a manager and got his team performing to their potential. They began the month by beating a poor Charlton 1-0 and followed up by seeing off Stoke, Huddersfield and West Brom (away). When they beat Preston 2-0 at Deepdale on January 1st they had climbed to the relative safety of sixteenth place - ten points clear of the bottom three.

However, the next ten games have yielded only five points - from draws with Derby, Wigan, Blackburn, Wigan and Forest. They have been beaten by Fulham, Brentford, Luton, Barnsley and Leeds, albeit only by one goal in each game.

Goal scoring has been Boro's problem this season with just 36 goals from 36 games (compare Charlton 43). This appears surprising given their expensive strike force of Britt Assombalonga (£15m from Forest), Rudy Gestede (£6m from Villa) and Ashley Fletcher (£6.5m from West Ham). To be fair, Assombalonga and Gestede have made only 26 appearances between them (7 goals) due to injury and the burden has fallen on Fletcher who has led the line 34 times and scored 8. Gestede played ninety minutes against Forest on Monday and Assombalonga has come off the bench a few times recently.

Fans who travelled to Huddersfield last week witnessed Charlton's first capitulation of the season and it wasn't a pretty sight. Apart from a twenty minute period in the second half the team were never really in contention. Lee Bowyer has since commented that "If we're not completely at it then we get found out". He has revised his original estimate of 47 points being needed for safety in the light of the upturn in performance at Barnsley and Luton and now reckons that 50 points might be required. "The most important thing is that we all stick together," he added, "We have to fight. This is it now, we have to fight and get back on track".

The home team will again be without Tom Lockyer (second suspension of two) and it seems unlikely that Naby Sarr will be fit. However, there are more hopeful noises about Darren Pratley and Johnny Williams is surely likely to start.

Before their last visit to SE7 in March 2016 Boro had an excellent recent record against us with no defeats in twelve games and three wins out of five at The Valley. On that day four years ago goals from Teixeira and Harriott gave Charlton a 2-0 win but the day is better remembered for the coffin carried down Floyd Road before the game and the beach balls which somehow ended up on the pitch. Many have argued that the enthusiasm of the crowd for these protests lifted the players and we hope that a similarly vibrant atmosphere will be in evidence on Saturday to make the difference between two evenly matched teams.

Make sure you leave home early. It is Kids for a Quid and there are no trains to Charlton station. There will be queues at the turnstiles and the team will need you behind them from the very start.