Supporters of both Portsmouth and Charlton will feel that their clubs have underachieved this season although Pompey fans are no doubt still harbouring slim hopes of making the play-offs. Their team sit eight points behind sixth place Oxford with a game in hand but there has been little evidence in recent weeks to suggest that a promotion push is realistic.
A run of four wins in November (including 1-0 at Wycombe) seemed to suggest they could be in contention but December and January have provided just one win (2-0 v Morecambe), three 0-0 draws and defeats at home (1-2) to Milton Keynes and at Sunderland (0-1). That is a total of six goals in six games so there is no reason to anticipate a goal feast on Monday.
Pompey's defensive record (25 conceded in 26 games) is second only to Rotherham's but their goal scoring (29) belongs in the relegation zone with Doncaster, Crewe and Gillingham. It is therefore a bit surprising that they have let John Marquis depart for Lincoln, although he has been replaced by Tyler ("son of Des") Walker on loan from Coventry. There is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Marcus Harness to continue his goal scoring form (10 so far) with back up from Reeco Hackett- Fairchild who has made 25 appearances with 4 goals.
Our recent record at Fratton Park is phenomenal with five wins in the last five visits and nine in the last ten but Johnny Jackson and the travelling Charlton fans were very disappointed with the team's performance at Hartlepool on Tuesday evening. Even though we can probably assume that Ryan Innis, George Dobson, Sean Clare and Chuks Aneke will be in the starting eleven on Monday it is hard to feel particularly optimistic that we will maintain our fine record down there.
However, with Charlie Kirk departing on loan to Blackpool, Jackson has been able to refresh the squad by bringing in Juan Castillo and Nile John on loan from Chelsea and Tottenham respectively. Castillo should provide a more attacking option on the left and John is apparently a creative midfielder who arrives with a recommendation from Chris Powell.
Of course, we could be dragged into a relegation struggle but the greater likelihood is that the team will remain in or around lower mid table. In that case, attendances at The Valley will decline while fans turn their attention to next season. For that reason the FA Youth Cup takes on even more significance and a good turn out on February 9th can be expected when our free-scoring under 18s take on Brighton in an attempt to reach the quarter finals. We will run a full feature on the game next week but, in the meantime, here are the details for your diary: