Yes, it was a poor performance and a late, sickening blow. Amazingly, however, our fate is still in our own hands as it now appears to be a three-way race between us, Oxford and Portsmouth for one play-off place. We need, at the very least, to match their results on Saturday. Sunderland, despite their recent poor form, surely have enough points in the bank.
While we travel to Accrington on Saturday Oxford go to Shrewsbury and Portsmouth go to AFC Wimbledon. Next Tuesday we play our game in hand against Lincoln who, by that time, may have given up on automatic promotion. It could therefore all go to the last day (Sunday 9th) when we host Hull, Oxford entertain Burton and Portsmouth are at home to Accrington. Remember that nine months ago we didn't know whether we would still have a team to support and two months ago it seemed that we could be dropping into mid table.
The only thing predictable about Accrington Stanley is that they are unpredictable. When they left The Valley in January after beating us 2-0 they were in fifth place and they were to stay in the play-off spots until the end of February. By the time they were beaten 1-4 at Bristol Rovers on 9th March they had dropped to tenth and it looked as if the wheels had finally come off. In recent weeks they have been thrashed 7-0 at Peterborough, hammered 1-5 at home by Wimbledon and lost 1-3 at lowly Rochdale. But they have also won 2-1 at Oxford, drawn 0-0 at Blackpool and beaten Doncaster 2-1 at home as well as drawing their last two games 3-3 against Sunderland (a) and Portsmouth (h).
They made few friends on the pitch during their first visit to The Valley in January 2019 but their owner Andy Holt (pictured) is one of the most popular in the EFL among supporters as a result of his his regular tirades about greed and hypocrisy in football and his commitment to clubs being integral to their communities. His achievement, alongside manager John Coleman, in overseeing the club's rise to League One is mightily impressive given the constraints they are working within - perhaps best epitomised by the club's leading goal scorers this season. Dion Charles (19 in 38) was plucked from the National League North two years ago where he had represented Fylde, Halifax and Southport. Colby Bishop (who scored both goals at The Valley and has eleven so far this season) was previously at Worcester City, Boston and Leamington.
There was evidence of weariness in the Charlton side that succumbed in the final seconds on Tuesday and Nigel Adkins may look to freshen things up a bit this weekend. It would certainly be good to see Washington and Aneke having a bit longer on the pitch and maybe it is time to team up Innis and Famewo at the back again.
It is the last away game of the season unless we make the play-offs and our away record should give us all plenty of optimism. Twelve wins, six draws and only four defeats with a goal difference of +15. If the league was decided on away results we would be poised for automatic promotion. Keep the faith.
Adkins is under no illusions about how tough this game will be:
“They get the ball forward more than anybody else in the league, they get more shots at goal than anybody else in the league so let’s not be under any illusions. This is going to be a tough, tough game but one we should be embracing and really looking forward to. We’ve got to go and win it. We’ve got to win the next three games to put ourselves in the play-off position and that’s when it all matters. We’ve got to go there with a positive mindset to keep improving on what we’re doing.”
If you are a CAST member and you have any questions to put to Nigel you can register for our Q&A with him next Wednesday May 5th here:
You can get your live stream of the game here: