Charlton travel up to Hull on Saturday for a game which pairs two teams struggling for form and confidence. Of course, we can point to a run of four games without defeat but the overall impression from those last four games is one of disjointed effort and missed opportunities. Four points have been thrown away by conceding late goals and, apart from a glorious second half against Wimbledon, there are concerns that Lee Bowyer is largely failing to get the best from the players at his disposal.
Hull have hit an unexpected slump, although nothing to compare with their spectacular implosion of last season when, having sold their best two players on deadline day, they completed the season with one win, three draws and thirteen defeats. This meant that they collapsed from a comfortable mid table position in January to twenty fourth place and relegation in July. One of those defeats was the infamous 0-8 thrashing at Wigan - a game in which they trailed 0-7 at half time.
Manager Grant McCann kept his job and also - apart from Bowen and Grosicki - managed to retain most of his Championship squad - including Maginnes, Eaves, Wilkes, Honeyman, Lewis-Potter and de Wijs. (One player who didn't stick around was Marcus Maddison who had joined them on a six month contract in January but made little impact). They won six of their first seven League One games this season and, after seeing off Doncaster 2-1 at the end of November, were top of the league by four points. It all went wrong in December however. A 1-1 draw at Oxford was followed by home defeats to Shrewsbury (0-1) and Portsmouth (0-2) and a last minute 2-3 loss at Blackpool. Their next two games - Sunderland (a) and Lincoln (h) were postponed due to Covid and they have now dropped to third place.
They seem to have plenty of goal threat. Mallik Wilkes leads the way with 9 in all competitions, followed by Magennis (7), Lewis-Potter (5) and Eaves (4). Many Charlton fans will be hoping to see specialist centre backs Pearce and Oshilaja selected for the game to counter this threat, rather than the makeshift alternatives we have seen recently. At the other end the absence of Chuks Aneke through suspension is a disappointment for Charlton although the availability of Paul Smyth could at least insert some pace to our attack. We must also hope that Maddison feels he has a point to prove and is given the opportunity to make it.
Our last visit to The KC Stadium was the first game after lockdown in June when a Jason Pearce goal secured a 1-0 win. It is now almost five years since the previous visit on 16th January 2016 - the notorious 0-6 defeat to round off that disastrous week under Karel Fraeye. Whatever the outcome on Saturday we can at least be relieved that the nonsense of those days is truly behind us.
Hull have drawn only one of their eighteen League games this season. Does that mean that, if we are one goal up going into added time, we might be able to hold on this time? It would be a great outcome if we could.
You can access the Valley Pass stream of the game here: