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Preview: Charlton Athletic Vs Fulham

With both sides riddled by the scars of humiliating derby defeats, Charlton and Fulham could respond in one of two ways.

The first is the one demanded as a minimum from both sets of supporters. It would not heal the wounds inflicted by the capitulations against Millwall and Brentford, but a full-blooded performance would at least prevent fans from dwelling in misery.

In the case of Fulham, with the 4-1 defeat to their West London neighbours not only hurting pride but harming their chances of Championship survival, that sort of response is especially needed. While the gap between themselves at the bottom three is still a relatively large seven points, they’re seemingly in freefall.

So with Charlton, still sat comfortably in eleventh place, not having the same fears as their opponents, there is a danger their response from the late defeat to the Lions will be the other possibility. With their season over, motivation to bounce back from such a defeat may be low.

Nonetheless, the Addicks have been able to bounce back from defeats in recent weeks, while the Cottagers have been poisoned by a run of form that has seen them sucked close to the bottom three. A flat response from Kit Symons’ side just as likely as one from Guy Luzon’s men.

Either way, utilising derby disappointment, and not allowing it to cause a hangover, is key.

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LAST MEETING – FULHAM 3-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC

A capitulation more suited to The Den than Craven Cottage saw Charlton concede defeat with just 12 minutes played in October.

Abysmal defending allowed Scott Parker and Hugo Rodallega to put Fulham two goals ahead early on, and the evening was a coast for the Cottagers from that point forward.

Charlton attempted to come back into the game in the second half, but while they improved defensively and had more of the ball, their attacking efforts lacked spark and threat.

And with Fulham continuing to look dangerous on the break, it was they who scored the game’s third. Rodallega lashing home late on to compound a miserable night for Bob Peeters’ side.

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FORM

Fulham: LWLDLL

After their 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest at the end of January, Symons had lifted a previously struggling side to 14th and moved them eleven points clear of the drop.

In fact, the Cottagers were closer to the play-offs, and there was even some rather ambitious talk of the ten point gap between them and sixth place being made up.

But just two wins and two draws in the 13 games since then have left Fulham looking over their shoulders once again, and increased doubts over whether Symons is the right man to take the club forward.

You would think that one win would be enough to secure their Championship status from their final six games, but the run of form, and the season overall, will remain a disappointment for a club who were in the Premier League this time last year.

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Charlton: LWWLWW

Given that the Addicks were in the middle of their most impressive run of form for at least two years, the latest failure to beat Millwall is particularly disappointing.

In fact, it’s probably gone someway to sucking the energy out of supporters that previous results and performances have created. The season now over, and the depression of bottling yet another opportunity to win at The Den is likely to linger.

However, Guy Luzon’s side have not suddenly become a shambles on the basis of one afternoon in Bermondsey. The likes of Tony Watt, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jordan Cousins will be keen to replicate their displays from games prior to the Millwall defeat.

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THE OPPOSITION

Skipper Parker is a doubt for the cottagers, with the former Charlton midfielder struggling to recover from the illness that kept him out of his side’s loss to Brentford.

The Charlton academy graduate stands to be major loss for Fulham, whose leadership, and ability to continuously score against the club he left acrimoniously in 2004, will be missed should he be absent.

Fulham are also likely to be without the injured Lasse Vigen Christensen, but defender Shaun Hutchinson returns from suspension and Brentford loanee Richard Lee could make his first appearance for Symons’ side after being ineligible on Good Friday.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton will be without the suspended Chris Solly after the full-back was sent off during Friday’s defeat to Millwall.

With Joe Gomez the only other first team player capable of playing at right-back, it’s likely he’ll fill the hole left by Solly, while Andre Bikey will come in at centre-back.

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Also suspended is Yoni Buyens, who sits out the second game of his two match ban of collecting ten yellow cards, while Tal Ben Haim is a doubt after missing the trip to The Den with an injury picked up while on international duty.

But Rhoys Wiggins, who was on the bench against the Lions, Callum Harriott and, most crucially, skipper Johnnie Jackson are nearing returns to being in contention for a starting place.

KEY BATTLE – FINDING SOME DEFENSIVE RESOLVE  

Aside from both sides needing to find some motivation to respond from their derby defeats, it’s also crucial that their defences show some resilience in the face of two testing attacking forces.

For the Addicks, it appeared as if their defensive woes had become a thing of the past after the signing of Roger Johnson, but the centre-back has been at the heart of a number of softly conceded goals in the last three weeks.

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And with Solly absent on Tuesday night, Charlton’s back four will have a makeshift look about it. Perfect for regular Charlton tormentor Ross McCormack to take advantage of.

Meanwhile, the Cottagers have conceded 14 goals since the start of the March, and it would have been at least two more if Huddersfield Town’s Nahki Wells was capable of taking a penalty.

With the likes of Michael Turner, a strong defender but lacking pace and agility, occupying Fulham’s backline, Watt, Igor Vetokele and Gudmundsson should be able to cause havoc in a way they were not able to at The Den.

It means that both sides will need tighten up the back if they are to stop the opposition forwards from running riot.

PREDICTION

Expect to hear the phrase “why didn’t we play like that against Millwall?” at least 302 times while walking up Floyd Road after full-time. It’s always the way. Charlton Athletic 3-1 Fulham

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