This weekend began a five-week period of Saturday / Tuesday fixtures, which means a total of eleven games in thirty-five days! A challenge in itself for Robinson to ensure he can keep his squad fully fit for an exhaustive schedule.
Charlton showed another weak mental performance on Saturday against AFC Wimbledon, which ultimately led to the Addicks dropping another two points in the closing stages of their London derby fixture. Another kick in the teeth which emulated similarities to what was felt the Saturday before when Charlton welcomed Fleetwood Town to the Valley who did the same.
Mathematically, Charlton is not out of the promotion push as of yet as the majority of the results in League One benefitted them other than the fixture they featured in themselves. This means the gap between 13th and 6th is still only six points and Charlton maintains the advantage of having at least one game in hand against their rivals also chasing the playoffs. However, it is impossible for the Southeast London club to even contemplate a promotion push if they continue to show a mental lapse in the closing stages of their games and only rely on a one goal cushion which has punished the Red Army on more than several occasions this season.
Charlton was ultimately lucky for the gap not to increase after their weak mental fortitude meant more points being dropped on the weekend. They have a third chance against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday to ensure they go on a winning run rather than collecting single points which are useless at this stage of the season.
Charlton welcomed the Latics to the Valley on the 27th September and the Valley faithful witnessed a lackluster game, a fixture which once again showed the punishment you receive when you do not score more than one goal to secure a game and cannot uphold the mental strength to grind a result out. Once the final whistle blew the game ended at 1-1, with boos ringing around the Southeast London stadium to make clear to Russell Slade that things had to change.
The first game of the season between these two sides saw the goal tally open with a blasting shot by Josh Maggenis after Ricky Holmes powered into the penalty box and laid the ball off to the Northern Irish international, the Oldham keeper Connor Ripley had no chance of making the save. It was an impressive display by the men in red as the goal came about thanks to a string of 21 passes. However, in the final 10 minutes of the game, Oldham Athletic nailed one back thanks to Clarke heading home past Declan Rudd from a resulting free kick taken by Paul Green.
Oldham Athletic have struggled this season and could be set to drop from League One after spending almost twenty years in the third tier of English football. However, since the return of John Sheridan, the Latics have been able to secure points and win some important fixtures. Their recent form has seen them win four and lose three. They secured an important 3-2 victory against Coventry City on Saturday which was arguably a six-pointer in their relegation fight.
Despite the fact that the Latics are 20th, sitting near the bottom of the league table, there is somewhat of a revival taking place at Boundary Park, and the statistic below does not make for great reading when we head there on Tuesday.
Oldham have one possible injury when Karl Robinson and his side travel up to Manchester. The Latic’s forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway could still be missing due to a knee injury, but other than the possibility of Amadi-Holloway’s absence, Sheridan should be able to field a fully fit squad.
Charlton Athletic should see Jake Forster-Caskey return to the starting lineup as he recovers from an ankle injury he picked up. Jason Pearce and Ahmed Kashi will continue to be unavailable due to their respective injuries. Both Lewis Page and Nathan Byrne will be unavailable as they serve their last suspension after both receiving red cards. Page received a three-match ban at the Macron, and Byrne received a two-match ban after his forceful challenge against Fleetwood last weekend at the Valley. Josh Magennis may be fit enough to be part of the starting XI on Tuesday and replace Lee Novak who had a rather dire game at the Kingsmeadow.
We currently sit 13th, top of the bottom half of the league, six points from Millwall with one game in hand against the Lions.
On Valentine’s day, the Addicks must reinvigorate and show their ultimate desire for a final playoff push into the top six, let’s hope that the boys in red can finally grind out a win in an important set of fixtures to come. Karl Robinson must drill into them the need for a strong mental attitude throughout the entire game and not just in the official 90 minutes. If we continue to drop any more points, then the remaining games of the season could simply become “pre-season” preparation for the 2017/2018 season.
Prediction: Oldham Athletic 0 – 2 Charlton Athletic