One weekend may have passed where a long standing hoodoo survived Charlton’s attempts to rid it, but another arrives with the Addicks given the chance to get over two more curses.
The first is obvious. They say TV adds three pounds to the figure, but being live on Sky rarely adds three points to Charlton’s total. October’s 3-0 defeat to Fulham makes it 12 defeats in the previous 20 TV games.
For whatever reason, the presence of cameras cause the Addicks to choke, and the chance of Charlton finally putting in a respectable TV performance seems even more unlikely given their recent record against Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy.
It might well be questionable to call it a hoodoo, but the Yorkshire-cum-Irishman certainly knows how to get a result at The Valley. Although he has to live with the embarrassment of being the last Millwall manager to suffer defeat in SE7, he’s led his side to victory in his last four visits to Charlton, grabbing two wins apiece with Wolves and Ipswich, and is also unbeaten in his last seven against the Addicks both home and away.
The defeats to Ipswich in the past two season have been particularly frustrating, with McCarthy’s side racing into a lead before sitting deep and putting in an incredible defensive effort. In other words, the 55-year-old can get his well-organised, if not spectacular, group of players to deliver the perfect away performance.
Throw into this rather imposing picture the fact that Ipswich are five games unbeaten and the amount of injuries at Charlton is boarding on crisis and there’s a genuine concern that his could be the first time Bob Peeters suffers defeat at The Valley.
But, of course, those sorts of records are there to be ended, while Charlton have on more than one occasion this season triumphed when the pre-game signs have suggested they would not. They will, at the very least, make life extremely difficult for McCarthy’s men.
LAST MEETING – IPSWICH TOWN 1-1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
As far as indicators for an enjoyable afternoon go, getting hugged by a man dressed as robin while Johnnie Jackson knee slides below you is probably a fairly good one.
The skipper’s stoppage-time volley earned the Reds a share of the spoils that they had worked tirelessly for, having fought for an equaliser from the moment Richard Wood comically turned the ball into his own net.
But, despite controlling much of the New Year’s Day game thereafter, the Addicks looked to have had their defeat confirmed when Jordan Cousins handed the Tractor Boys a soft penalty. David McGoldrick stepped up, but Ben Alnwick saved well to keep Charlton in the game.
And that save gave Jackson the chance to reaffirm his hero status in SE7. Church’s lay-off was volleyed into the ground by the skipper, and beyond the reach of Dean Gerken. Scenes.
Before each Championship season, Ipswich are tipped as outsiders for promotion. They may often fall just before the final hurdle, with their squad often smaller and less talented than other promotion contenders, but they regularly cause problems for those at the top of the division.
However, McCarthy’s side, although again arguably possessing a squad without the quality of many others, look in fantastic shape to finish in the top six come May, and currently occupy fourth in the Championship table.
Their current unbeaten run includes wins over Wolves and Watford, while digging deep to steal a point from the Goldsands is also commendable.
The lowest number of defeats but the most draws. Hard to beat but often lacking the cutting edge in the final third to turn one point into three. Charlton’s start to the season has, in truth, been excellent, but it might well have been better.
In fact, had George Tucudean not fluffed his lines in the goalless draw with Millwall, the Addicks would be outside the play-offs on just goal-difference.
Nonetheless, there has been plenty of positives to take from the previous four results. With draws against Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds hard earned, while the win over Reading a fantastic display of determination and resilience.
And last weekend’s performance was right on the borderline of being a very good one. Largely, Charlton were in control, but just couldn’t quite find a way through Millwall’s back four.
As frustrating as it is recording a relative lack of wins in recent weeks, the side continues to threaten to click fully into gear.
Ipswich will be able to call upon new signings Sean St Ledger and Noel Hunt at The Valley.
St Ledger, previously a free agent, and Hunt, signed on loan from Leeds and joining brother Stephen at the club, are unlikely to start, but look set to be involved with the squad that travels to SE7.
McCarthy, however, will be without the suspended Christophe Berra, who picked up his fifth booking of the season in last weekend’s draw with Bournemouth, while midfielder Kevin Bru has been ruled out with an ankle problem.
There is also some doubt over full-back Tyrone Mings, who hasn’t trained all week, but McCarthy is hopeful the youngster will be fit to play.
Charlton’s rather small squad will be extremely light of numbers on Saturday, with several players absent.
The latest addition to the Sparrows Lane treatment room is Yoni Buyens, who picked up a hamstring injury in Saturday’s draw with Millwall.
Callum Harriott, Lawrie Wilson and Frederic Bulot will be looking to start in place of the Standard Liege loanee, with Jordan Cousins likely to occupy a central role.
Also missing for the Addicks will be former Ipswich goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, meaning Nick Pope will start between the posts, while Morgan Fox will continue to deputise for the injured Rhoys Wiggins.
To make matters worse, Simon Church and Franck Moussa remain out, while Francis Coquelin will play the final game of his loan spell unless an extension can be agreed with Arsenal.
It might well be worth bringing my boots on Saturday. Just in case.
KEY BATTLE: THE QUICKEST STARTER
McCarthy’s Ipswich have previously been allowed to execute their game plan to perfection in SE7. An early goal or two, followed by a solid defensive display, has given Charlton absolutely no chance.
And during this campaign, the Tractor Boys have claimed a number of their wins in similar fashion. In fact, they are yet to win a game in which they have at one point trailed.
It’s therefore of paramount importance that the Addicks take the lead on Saturday, and do so early on.
Although McCarthy is more than a one-trick pony, it would certainly disrupt his game plan and give Peeters’ side the chance to grind out a result of their own; something they’re very capable of doing.
Regardless of the records, hoodoos and injuries stacking up against the Addicks, there were enough positive signs in the draw with Millwall, especially with Coquelin in midfield, to suggest that they’ll be able to grab a result against the Tractor Boys.
It is, however, unlikely to be pretty. A war of attrition between two well organised sides. Charlton Athletic 1-1 Ipswich Town