It might be worth spending a few moments considering where we were as a club when the team last travelled down to Swindon - for an EFL cup first round tie on September 7th. In the previous week we had experienced the high of Lauren Kreamer's High Court injunction victory and the low of the granting the following day of the seven day injunction to allow an appeal. Despite the exuberant optimism of Thomas Sandgaard there is little doubt that for most Charlton fans the fate of the club was still very much up in the air. That was only three and a half months ago, but the momentum of the Sandgaard era is now well underway, even if the bookmakers remain unaware (see below).
Goals from Macauley Bonne, Charlie Barker and Chuks Aneke saw our team comfortably through to the next round and both clubs began to concentrate on the League One season. Swindon made the better start by winning two of their first three games while Charlton stumbled at home to Doncaster and away to Lincoln. However, October brought Swindon down to earth as they lost four in a row before surprisingly beating Hull 2-1. November saw wins against Bristol Rovers (1-0) at home and at Oxford (1-2) but they have lost all four games this month and now find themselves in 22nd place with the most defeats (12 from 18) and the worst defensive record (35 conceded) in League One.
Our last league match at The County Ground in November 2016 was one of the more depressing of the Duchatelet era as a Charlton side weakened by International call-ups lost a televised game 0-3. Russell Slade was never popular as Charlton manager but his sacking two days later (five months into a three year contract) was sadly typical of the haphazard management of the club at the time. A happier memory comes from April 1998 when an eightieth minute Steve Jones goal saw us start on that nine game run without a goal conceded which would take us to Wembley and The Premier League. It was particularly enjoyable for the travelling fans on the uncovered terrace who had endured a sharp hailstorm just before kick off and were only just starting to dry out.
Swindon remains in Tier 2 so we will be playing in front of spectators for the fourth consecutive game. The second half of the Wimbledon match seemed to offer evidence that the team have got over their inhibitions about this and we are hopeful that, with Marcus Maddison beginning to demonstrate why Lee Bowyer was keen to sign him, we should be coming home with three points. The Addicks boss has explained he will still be without the injured Andrew Shinnie and that Albie Morgan is set to return to training on Monday after a period of self-isolation. Alfie Doughty, Ryan Inniss and Akin Famewo remain long-term absentees, so he will have the same squad available that he had for Saturday’s win.
With both Hull and Lincoln losing their last two games the top of League One is starting to bunch up and there is no team currently showing any consistency. The longest unbeaten run is a mere four games (Blackpool) and Charlton in seventh place are just four points behind leaders Hull with a game in hand. It is surprising, therefore, that the bookies are still predicting The Addicks missing out on the play-offs with Bet365 offering 11/10 behind Hull, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster. They are clearly immune to the Sandgaard optimism....
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