Tuesday's defeat at Peterborough was disappointing, particularly as we were in control of the game for so long, but we need to keep things in perspective. It was not a discouraging performance like the one up at Hull. It was a narrow defeat away from home to an in-form promotion rival on an appalling pitch and there were enough signs that the squad still has what is needed to maintain a promotion challenge. Failure to beat Swindon on Saturday, however, would be a different story.
Swindon arrive at The Valley in 23rd place having lost six of their last eight games. They have been beaten at Doncaster (1-2), Gillingham (0-2) and Crewe (2-4) and at home by Fleetwood (0-1), Milton Keynes (1-4) and Doncaster (1-2). Their only points (4) since November have come from a surprise 3-2 win at Ipswich two weeks ago and the one they secured with that last minute Pitman header against us before Christmas.
However they do have a record of springing disappointment on Charlton fans at The Valley. In the 1999/2000 season we were promoted as champions and they were relegated by ten points. When they arrived in SE7 in March 2000 they were facing a Charlton side on the best winning run (12 games) in the club's history but they nevertheless ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a disastrous Dean Kiley own goal. Many of us can still recall Swindon fan Willie Carson thanking us for the much needed points.
They served up even greater disappointment in the League One play off semi-final in May 2010. We were in pole position for a trip to Wembley when leading 3-2 on aggregate against ten men but they scored an equaliser and no-one needs reminding of the penalty shoot-out, least of all Nicky Bailey. They were back again eight months later to inflict a humiliating 2-4 defeat on a Charlton side in the top six, but flattering to deceive. It was a game memorable only for a late Pawel Abbott volley which didn't save any blushes.
It is essential for morale and momentum that we stay in touch with the play-off places over the next two months while the squad returns to full strength. While we have won only one of our last five games the teams above us are starting to get into top gear. Portsmouth and Doncaster have won four and Peterborough and Lincoln three. When we look down we see that our sixth place position is precarious. Ipswich and Crewe are one point behind and the Tractor Boys have three games in hand. We are only three ahead of Accrington who have four games in hand. The form teams in League One are Oxford and Shrewsbury and Plymouth look to be on the up.
It was April 2017 when already relegated Swindon's made their last visit to The Valley and were comfortably despatched 3-0 by goals from Magennis, Forster-Caskey and Holmes. Despite winning four of their last five games that season Charlton finished in a very disappointing thirteenth place. There is still half the season to go and anything could happen but failure to win on Saturday would suggest that mid table is more likely than top six.
However, we are confident that a team including Aneke, Schwartz, Forster-Caskey, Shinnie and Millar should be good enough to take all three points. And the welcome addition of Jaydon Stockley on loan from Preston (presumably on the bench) should make this all the more probable.
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