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Preview: Bolton Wanderers Vs Charlton Athletic

Three years to the day that Charlton travelled north and returned with promotion, the Addicks will make another crusade up the country.

But this trip to Bolton has considerably less relevance than the one made to Carlisle in 2012. That full of excitement and expectation; this feeling like something of a chore.

For Guy Luzon’s side, without the motivation of a potential promotion push, have seemingly taken their foot off the pedal. Saturday’s draw with Sheffield Wednesday, not necessarily a poor performance but definitely a below par one, reaffirming that.

So with prior excitement lacking, it is up to those wearing red to provide it over the course of 90 minutes.

With Bolton also having nothing to play for, this game might well be a dead rubber, but reward for one more arduous trip to the deep north this season would be greatly appreciated.

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LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2-1 BOLTON WANDERERS

A late Bolton rally meant the Addicks were forced to work hard for their victory against the Trotters in October.

It appeared as if Charlton’s night was going to be relatively stress free when Johnnie Jackson doubled their lead just after half-time, adding to George Tucudean’s superbly taken goal midway through the first half.

But Bolton hit back just three minutes later, with Dean Moxey striking into the net through a sea of bodies to give his side hope.

It set up a tense finish to the game, with Neil Lennon’s side peppering Charlton’s back line with long balls and crosses, going close on a number of occasions.

The Addicks, however, ultimately dealt with the threat of their opponents well, and stood firm record a victory that moved into seventh place.

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FORM

Bolton: LWDDLW

Hampered by injuries, Dougie Freedman, and injuries, Bolton supporters will undoubtedly be delighted that this season is coming to an end.

Having taken over with the club in serious threat of relegation, Neil Lennon has certainly helped to steady the ship.

But the absence of key men and overall inconsistency has meant Lennon hasn’t been able to get the Trotters as high up the table as he probably would have liked. Results needed to be ground out in order avoid entering a relegation scrap towards the end of the campaign.

And their recent form reflects just that. A very good 3-0 win at Cardiff preceded by disappointing draws against Blackpool and Wigan, before a late defeat to Norwich on Saturday.

Sitting comfortable in 17th is obviously a lot better than hovering around the bottom three, but supporters will be expecting more next season.

Charlton: DDLWWL

By going on a run of seven wins from nine, including a number of sensational attacking displays, the Addicks have unintentionally created a bit of a problem for themselves.

For it is now the case that every below par performance, of result that isn’t a victory, is looked at with a feeling that more could have been shown and achieved.

That was the case with Saturday’s draw at Hillsborough. Arguably a decent result, especially given the fact Wednesday should have won it late on, but you left the ground feeling a little underwhelmed.

While nothing will be taken away from that run of victories that has given the Addicks a decent mid-table finish, continuing to stutter over the finish line will prove an annoyance.

17

THE OPPOSITION

An injury crisis at the Macron Stadium means Bolton will be without a host of first team players for the visit of Charlton.

Craig Davies became the latest man to be ruled out, missing Saturday’s defeat to Norwich with a hamstring injury that should also keep him out of Tuesday’s clash, with Max Clayton, Darren Pratley and Zach Clough among those who are also in the treatment room.

But influential midfielder Mark Davies is close to a full return, having been on the bench at the weekend, and could make his first appearance since November against the Addicks.

THE ADDICKS

Tony Watt could return to the starting XI after the striker was rested for Saturday’s draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

The Scot is likely to replace Simon Church, who did himself no favours by storing down the tunnel after being substituted at Hillsborough.

Church’s petulance may mean that Karlan Ahearne-Grant is given an opportunity to impress, at least from the bench. The 17-year-old shown flashes of excellence earlier on in the campaign and, with nothing left to play for, it seems a good opportunity to give a few more minutes to the academy graduate.

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Elsewhere, time is running out for Johnnie Jackson to make a return before the end of the season, while another questionable performance from Roger Johnson at the weekend could mean he sits this one out.

KEY BATTLE – TAKING THE GAME TO THE OPPOSITION   

There have been many disappointing elements to Charlton’s last three games, and they can be found all over the pitch.

Johnson has been error-prone, gifting opportunities to the opposition. Jordan Cousins somewhat below par, not helped by Yoni Buyens’ efforts at Hillsborough. Igor Vetokele looking tired and out of form once again.

But arguably the biggest factor is that Watt has been subdued. That isn’t to say he’s been poor, not at all, but his direct runs have been stopped, forcing him to occupy wide positions where his threat decreases.

Millwall’s back four dealt with him very well, Fulham kept him under control but for a couple of splendid turns, while he didn’t have enough time to make an impact against Wednesday.

So against a somewhat fragile backline, that has conceded late goals in recent weeks, Watt has the chance to be a game-changer once again.

Instead of being cautious and timid, something that is likely to be punished by forwards Adam Le Fondre, Eidur Gudjohnsen and even Emile Heskey, lead through Watt and take the game to Bolton.

6

PREDICTION

It’s another game that Charlton would win comfortably if they were still in their impressive winning run, and another back line Watt would have terrorised during that time. But it’s hard to ignore the flat nature of recent performances. Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Charlton Athletic

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