Staying on the rails in Shrewsbury

With the Addicks season back on track after a deserved win over Wycombe, we have to hope we stay on the same track away at Shrewsbury on the last Saturday of September in a season where we've been stationed below our capabilities so far.

That Saturday in Shrewsbury in late September sounds like the start of a story or the start of a summary of how it came to define our season. Let's hope it turns out to be more of a starting point than a stopping point and we've every reason to be optimistic after last weekend's showing. Just as at Stevenage the week before, we found our mojo when it mattered. But this time round, we got the proverbial bounce of the ball and the goals that flowed as a result of that.

Corey Blackett-Taylor can sometimes be criticised for stop-start performances but in the last game and a half he has been going at full steam. We've owed a big percentage of the last four points to his performances. Miles Leaburn was fantastic on Saturday too. The partnership with Alfie May has given him so much more freedom to roam, knowing there's someone up top to reap the rewards of his ground work.

We'd confidently say that he showed Premier League quality but for the sake of not promoting our wares elsewhere maybe we should speak of him in Morse Code or something similar. Never runs = covered every blade of grass on the pitch and Lucky break = a goal of pure Premiership quality. So if there are any fans of Premier League clubs reading this or any Michael Fagan types (Palace infiltrators, Buckingham not Crystal), last Saturday Miles Leaburn never ran and got a lucky break ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

And so on to Shrewsbury, one of the country's best rail destinations as seen in one of the best episodes in Michael Portillo's Great British Rail Journeys. There just might be a few more beers consumed on a football away day though! Anybody going that far deserves a few and after last week's performance a few more fans might be going than thought about it before.

Shrewsbury though won't be sitting back to get railroaded by our promotion drive. It's said that the league table doesn't lie and they're just one point below us, sitting seventeenth in League One. Again, from our perspective, that's a false position for us to be in and if we keep playing like we did against Wycombe last week that's going to ring true. But as we've talked about before the Stevenage game, there are no points added to the board because of a prestigious history.

After all in recent years, both clubs have been on a par, sometimes mid-table, sometimes pushing for promotion. Now just like us they're under new management with ex-Burnley defender Matt Taylor in charge (but not the one who played for us in the Chrissie Powell promotion season). So they've obviously got ambitions too, seeing themselves as capable of more than a mid-table slog through the season.

Time enough for us all going into Adrian Mole mode then, deliberating about how big we are, when we start shooting up the table, which hopefully we are now doing. Last Saturday showed that we do have a promotion challenging squad in place if they stay fit. And, Number 22, that line goes out to you as a special request from the entire Charlton faithful. When Chuks comes onto that pitch we're a different proposition because he hassles, he harries, he hurries and he harasses the opposition into mistakes.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, his consultancy role as an impact sub in a period of goal scoring-striker-poverty seemed a weakness. Now with the dream team of Alfie May and Miles Leaburn to start together, we can comfortably use Chuks as our fresh legs to batter the doors of the opposition goalmouth late in the game. So if this weekend he does that again, we stand a very good chance of coming away with the points because Shrewsbury are one of League One's lowest scorers. If we score a couple, we should be in prime position to pick up the points. They won't bag too many goals at the opposite end if their early season form continues and our defence holds firm as in the past fortnight.

A team that's got four goals in eight games should ease the jitters of defenders getting to know one another and last weekend's performance suggested a timely tightening up of things at the back.  It was much needed and the addition of Louie Watson has definitely helped. We couldn't keep conceding the way we had been at times. Even Shrewsbury have been less generous than us at the back so far; their problem has been in scoring, not defending. So hopefully with our strengthened defence and on-song strikers, when we remember the last Saturday of September in the story of this season, it's going to be a tale of how we stayed on track in our recent recovery. Full steam ahead, Addicks!


Michael Appleton offered his thoughts on Shrewsbury and future games to Richard Cawley (London News on line) this week: