We know who they are by now

If you're of a certain age, you will certainly remember The Milk Marketing Board's advert from the late 1980s. That advert featured the popular slogan "Accrington Stanley, who are they?" - based around the idea that if you don't drink your milk you'll not grow up to be a top level footballer.

Recently though, Charlton don't need to ask such a question. We have now faced Accrington Stanley six times in the past four seasons and will face them again as our season's opener this Saturday. Added to that, we had the club's owner Andy Holt as a special guest at a CAST question and answer session in The White Swan back in January 2019. At that time, we were deep in ownership difficulties with no idea where the year would lead us.

In the end 2019 was quite a good year for us. Right now, many of us would take a similar ending to the forthcoming season. But if we're to achieve that, one thing's for sure, we need to make a better start than last time around. A year ago, too much of our transfer business took place at the last minute. This time around, we've a new manager at the helm and have made five signings, at the time of writing, with a couple more expected in coming weeks. Also there's been a fairly robust calendar of pre-season games culminating in last weekend's 2-1 defeat by higher division Swansea.

It would be ideal to start the season with three points from Saturday's trip to Lancashire but Accrington will have ambitions of their own. Last season they did the double over us with a Harry Pell double condemning us to a 3-2 home defeat in October and then we suffered a 2-1 loss up north a few months later when Johnnie Jackson had taken over the helm from Nigel Adkins. At least from those defeats we learned one thing, Jayden Stockley must have drank his milk as a kid because he likes to score against the famous Stanley, scoring one goal in each of last season's two games.

We could be relying on JS to do a lot of our scoring this season too. But who are the players on the Accrington side that we should watch out for at the weekend. Well, as always, an ex-Charlton man in their ranks is likely to surface again. Harry Pell who scored that double last October spent more than a decade of his youth career at Charlton Athletic. Tommy Leigh is another midfielder who has troubled us in the past, having risen up through the lower leagues to grasp his chance at Stanley. That's very much a feature of who and what they are, a club that has few household names and has made very few major signings this summer. But despite that, as the past few years have shown, Stanley are likely to be a thorn in the side of many grander clubs throughout the season.

This past four years they have proven that they're not just there to make up the numbers and significantly they did finish one place and two points above us last season. One thing of note though is that they had a vastly inferior goal difference, conceding 80 goals over the course of the season. Hopefully if our strikers have filled up on milk, they'll take advantage of that leaky defence on Saturday and whet our appetites for the season ahead with an opening-day win.

Lastly to all the travelling fans have a great day. It's no easy journey to Accrington and your dedication deserves a mention in a season where we've quite a few long away trips and no London derbies. But – next up after Accrington are Derby County back at The Valley.