Dean Holden's team will face Peterborough for the second time in a month when the reverse of the Boxing Day fixture takes place on Saturday. However, the face in the opposition dugout will be different, although also strangely familiar.
Grant McCann's sacking after The Posh were beaten 0-3 at home by Wycombe on January 1st opened the door for Darren Ferguson to take over the reins at London Road for the fourth time. It is only eleven months ago that he resigned as Peterborough manager after a run of nine Championship games without a win but his return (until the end of the season) is what the club felt they needed to get their promotion challenge back on track.
When they beat Cambridge 1-0 at the end of October The Posh were in fourth place - seven points clear of Derby in seventh. However, the following seven games under McCann saw five defeats, one draw (at The Valley) and one win (2-0 against Milton Keynes). After the Wycombe defeat they had dropped to eighth place - three points off the play-offs.
Ferguson's record at Peterborough is impressive. In three separate spells between 2007 and 2022 he oversaw 518 fixtures and won 230 of them (a 44% win percentage) and he has guided them to promotion on four occasions - three times into The Championship. Commenting on his eleven months out of work since February he said he was "recharged and refreshed" and that he had had "some time chilling out and now I'm back at it." It certainly looked that way when his team went up to Port Vale on Monday for his first game in charge and won 2-0 with goals from Ephron Mason-Clarke (not to be confused with Jonson Clark-Harris). Afterwards Ferguson confirmed his confidence in the squad saying that he thought they could gain promotion without too many additions.
Despite the fact that this game is probably Dean Holden's hardest challenge so far there is no reason why Charlton fans shouldn't feel equally confident. Sean Clare and Jes Rak-Sakyi would no doubt confirm that we really should have won that Boxing Day game. This time Holden will be able this field a stronger team with Lavelle and Kanu replaced by O'Connell and Bonne. More importantly, the belief that he has instilled into the players and the togetherness he has built with the fans suggest a much stronger resolve than a month ago.
There have been some memorable encounters at London Road over the years. That 5-1 win in 2010 with a brace apiece from Johnnie Jackson and Lee Martin. The 4-1 League Cup game in 2015 which included Ahmed Kashi's forty yarder.
However, our last four visits have garnered just one point so the time is right for a change of outcome. After all, Dean Holden's 60% win percentage suggests that we can approach the game with some optimism.