After last week's performance at Sunderland there will be plenty of Charlton supporters returning this Saturday with a spring in their step to applaud Johnnie Jackson on to the pitch. And, with kids under eleven getting in for a quid, you can expect longer than usual queues at the turnstiles.
The attendance won't of course compare with that extraordinary night in May 2019 when 25,428 were present for the dramatic play-off semi final win against Doncaster. It was a game of fine margins which could have gone either way. We know what happened to us. What happened to Donny ?
Manager Grant McCann left and was replaced by former WBA chief Darren Moore for the new season. While we were struggling to avoid relegation from The Championship Donny were always in or around the play-offs in League One but, when the season was stopped because of Covid, they were placed ninth on points per game.
Last season they were one of our rivals for a play-off spot until the end of March when their form collapsed. Moore left for Sheffield Wednesday and was replaced by Andy Butler but they lost eight of their final eleven games and dropped to 14th. Butler was sacked and Richie Wellens took over. Forty year old Donny legend James Coppinger finally retired after seventeen seasons and 614 games for the club.
This season began disastrously for them with only one point and one goal from the first five games. September started with a win against Morecombe but ended with a 0-6 thrashing at Ipswich. This month they have managed to beat Milton Keynes and Cheltenham but still find themselves in 23rd place with nine defeats out of fourteen. They have lost all seven of their away games with a goal difference of 2-16.
They have scored just ten goals in those fourteen games and Tommy Rowe is top scorer with three of them. Doncaster fans fondly remember his superb strike to level the scores at The Valley in May 2019 but Charlton fans might prefer to recall his penalty miss which ended the game and sent us to Wembley. One of the ten goals this term has been notched by Joseph Dodoo who signed in September but Omar Bogle is out in the cold. He was told that he was not in Wellens' plans for the season but he has apparently refused moves to Bradford City and Grimsby and is now training on his own.
Expectation will be high among home fans who will be daring to hope again after the fatalism of recent months. Despite the fact that we are only one point and one place better off than Doncaster the thought of anything but a home win is unbearable. Johnnie Jackson is determined to build on last week:
“It can’t be a one-off,” he said. “That will be my focus. We need more of the same. They’ve set a standard there with that performance and that commitment that needs to be there every week. If you do that, the Valley faithful will get behind you, that’s without question. We need to give them something to support and they’ll be right behind us."
He clearly has faith in the squad of players available to him:
"I’ve never doubted the quality, but I think we just needed a bit of clarity with some of the messages.”
The least he deserves is a large and vociferous Valley crowd getting behind the team from the word go. Make sure you are there to be seen and heard (and not stuck in the turnstile queue behind loads of chattering kids).
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