Oxford: Fans on the road again
The last time Charlton fans were able to travel to watch their team play away from home was seventeen months ago, yet it seems like a lifetime. Those of us who made the trip up to Huddersfield at the end of March 2020 witnessed a spineless performance as the team crashed 0-4 to a team below us in the table. It was a thoroughly miserable afternoon summed up be Lee Bowyer - "I'd like to think (this defeat) gives (my players) a kick up the backside. It should do, if they've got any pride that will hurt. And I'm sure it does because it hurts me."
We travel to Oxford tomorrow full of new hope. We have a new owner, new manager and new team. It is likely that Adam Matthews will be the only player starting at The Kassam Stadium who played at Huddersfield. And does anyone remember Tomer Hemed coming on as a substitute? See what I mean about a lifetime ?
And we have a new player. The signing on Thursday of Charlie Kirk on a four year contract from Crewe has given everyone a lift and will be a relief for those who were beginning to think that we were going to rely on under 23 players this season. Much as we love to see youngsters coming through there was little evidence on Tuesday against Wimbledon that they are anywhere near ready, even though Deji Elerewe does show outstanding promise. Kirk has been at Crewe since he joined as a boy and has made 203 appearances scoring 32 goals since his debut as a nineteen year old in 2016. His experience has been predominantly in League 2 but he played forty games in Crewe's League One campaign last season scoring six and making 8 assists. Nigel Adkins was very pleased to see him arrive: "It is a long term thing as well, we’re trying to build something at the football club and we’ve got a very talented young man who wants to improve and wants to get better and we’re delighted he’s come to join us.”
Our team do not have a good record at The Kassam. We won there 3-0 in a FA Cup replay in January 2014 but have yet to register a League win. There were 1-1 draws in 2016 and 2017 and our 1-2 defeat in April 2019 was the only slip-up in that fantastic run which took us to Wembley. Last season of course saw the last minute Ronnie Schwartz penalty miss that denied us a play-off spot. Oxford didn't make the most of the opportunity we gifted them. They lost 0-3 at home to Blackpool in the first leg and bowed out 3-6 on aggregate.
Karl Robinson has refreshed his squad by welcoming back on loan Northern Ireland striker Gavin Whyte from Cardiff and midfielder Nathan Holland from West Ham. Billy Bodin has joined having left Preston and left back Steve Seddon has been signed from Birmingham. His team haven't made a blistering start although they have at least scored two goals. They drew 1-1 at Cambridge last weekend and saw off Burton on penalties after a 1-1 draw at home in midweek.
Another 0-0 draw would not be a surprise but maybe Charlie Kirk's arrival will make the crucial difference. It's a marathon not a sprint and we look forward to further additions in the next couple of weeks. Quality not quantity as they say in Ipswich......