There is likely to be a lot less drama this Saturday than when Charlton last met Plymouth Argyle on Boxing Day.
It was exactly sixty years ago when a surprisingly modest Valley crowd of 11,196 saw Plymouth take an early lead and then come from behind to equalise three times before finally succumbing 4-6 to goals from Edwards (2), Summers (2), Leary and Townsend. As was the tradition in those days the teams played the reverse fixture the following day. A crowd of over 23,000 turned up at Home Park to see Plymouth exact (pun intended) their revenge by this time winning 6-4. Twenty goals in two games may seem quite a Christmas bonus but there were to be another twenty four in the next four games as we lost 2-3 to Sheffield United and 3-5 at Stoke before beating Swansea 6-2 and Lincoln 3-0. That season also saw the 6-6 draw with Middlesbrough and the 7-4 defeat of Portsmouth. In all we scored 60 goals in 21 home games which was the most in the division and five more than champions Ipswich. Unfortunately we also conceded 42 which was more than any other team apart from bottom club Lincoln.
Goals tend to be a bit more infrequent these days although, before their 1-0 win over Milton Keynes last week, Plymouth had shipped seventeen in a run of six consecutive league defeats which had seen them drop to nineteenth - only two points above the relegation places. It started with a 1-5 thrashing at Fleetwood and a narrow 0-1 defeat at Peterborough but they then lost 0-4 and 1-2 at home to Rochdale and Ipswich and 0-3 and 1-2 at Bristol Rovers and Crewe - none of which are teams in prime form.
Their only other victories have come in the FA Cup. It was no great surprise when they won at The Valley in November even though Charlton fielded a stronger cup team than usual with Williams, Aneke, Maddison, Innis and Forster-Caskey all starting. They then earned the doubtful privilege of an away third round tie at Huddersfield by beating Hull 2-0. Their first goal was scored by the dependable Luke Jephcott (who also scored at The Valley and has ten already this season). The second was a sumptuous volley from none other than Ben Reeves who joined them in the summer having been released by Milton Keynes. He is unlikely to be in the starting line-up on Saturday but may make an appearance from the bench.
This is a game which Charlton really have to win if they are to retain credibility with their supporters as realistic promotion challengers. Although the January window will allow some modest strengthening it is likely that our rivals will do the same. so the most important improvement would seem to be finding the ability to retain a narrow lead when necessary. One way of doing this is not to have a narrow lead in the first place and we hope that the predicted arrival of Ronnie Schwartz will mean more chances are turned into goals and that we will thus have a few two-goal cushions going into the last few minutes in the second half of the season.
To watch the game and witness some other unworthy person win the Range Rover at half time: