If you’re a supporter of Charlton Athletic, you can be forgiven for being uninspired by a League Cup tie.
For while the Addicks have stepped over potential first round banana skins with relative ease in recent seasons, blasting four past Oxford United and beating Colchester United by three, their stay in the competition has remained temporary. The reward for both of those victories has been second round defeats to Championship opposition.
In fact, not since Charlton’s final two seasons in the Premier League has the League Cup provided any sort of genuine excitement. Ending Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home record with a penalty shoot-out victory in 2005/06, and a run to the quarter-finals in the following season that ended in tame fashion with a gutless defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
It is therefore up to this season’s Addicks to provide something a bit more substantial in the undervalued competition.
While some might suggest that progress is not important, arguably heightened by the fact the nature of Saturday’s victory over QPR indicates their attentions should be firmly on being a force in the Championship, the vast majority will desperately want to see their side enjoy some relative success in the League Cup.
At the very least, avoiding complacency against Dagenham & Redbridge, who have inflicted embarrassment upon Charlton in the past, is a must for Guy Luzon’s side.
LAST MEETING – DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 2-1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The lowest moment in Charlton’s recent past? Questionable, but the pathetic defeat at Victoria Road in March 2011 is certainly one of them.
The Daggers, having snatched a point from The Valley in a 2-2 draw earlier on in the season, dominated the game against an inept group of Addicks. Jon Nurse drilling the hosts into an early lead, before future Charlton player Danny Green rounded off an excellent attacking move to double his side’s lead.
Franck Nouble’s late consolation strike, tapping in from close range, provided little solace for the disgruntled Addicks in the away end. Chris Powell’s side sliding to 13th in the third tier, and requiring his summer makeover to move the club out of a desperate slump.
Dagenham & Redbridge: L
It is somewhat cruel that the Daggers were handed a trip to League Two favourites Portsmouth on the opening day of the season.
For while there is no good time to play a Pompey side who seem to finally be in a position from which to move forward, playing them at a time when your side is not yet fully cohesive is probably the worst.
As such, despite being outclassed in the second half, some positives can be taken from their first half efforts. Although they caved in after the break, conceding three, they successfully managed to deal with Portsmouth’s’ threat before the interval.
The defensive resolve and organisation shown in the opening 45 something to take forward into future games, and something that will be needed at The Valley on Tuesday.
Saturday’s season opener against QPR might have been approached with trepidation by supporters, but it certainly wasn’t by those representing the Addicks.
Although they started slowly, and required some good fortune while they attempted to deal with an early onslaught from the R’s, their performance in the second half was both brave and brilliant.
Inspired by the half-time introduction of Tony Watt, Charlton constantly drove at QPR’s increasingly fragile defence, and pressed with intensity to prevent them counter attacking. Watt’s opener an individual piece of brilliance to round off a flowing move, and Fox’s second a stunning finish after he was given the space to shoot from distance.
A performance that did not belong to a side in its infancy, and one that has seen confidence spread throughout SE7.
Nicholas Hamalainen and Kane Ferdinand could make their first starts for Dagenham & Redbridge after joining the club last week.
Hamalaninen, a Finish midfielder who has signed on loan from QPR, was an unused substitute in Saturday’s defeat to Portsmouth, while Ferdinand, a former Peterborough midfielder who enjoyed a successful trial period with the Daggers, played the entire second half at Fratton Park.
Elsewhere, winger Zavon Hines and midfielder Frankie Raymond have an outside chance of being available for selection for Wayne Burnett’s men after missing the season opener through injury.
Luzon is expected to rest a number of his key players, and hand opportunities to impress to those on the fringes of his starting XI.
Given his injury history and the lack of options in reserve who can play right-back, it’s hard to see Chris Solly being risked. His absence could see 18-year-old Regan Charles-Cook make his professional debut, with the winger able to play at full-back.
There could also be starts handed to the new additions who did not feature from the off against QPR on Saturday. Zakaraya Bergdich versatility down the left gives him a decent chance of starting, Naby Sarr will surely have a chance to prove himself at centre-back, and Cristian Ceballos coming in would protect Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Elsewhere, club captain Johnnie Jackson looks likely to make his first appearance of the season as he moves towards full fitness following injury, while the need to keep Tony Watt and Simon Makienok fresh might well result in Reza Ghoochannejhad making his first Charlton appearance since April 2014.
KEY BATTLE – NOT ALLOWING THE DAGGERS TO SETTLE
Without wishing to disrespect Dagenham & Redbridge, a club who I admire for their consistent overachievement, and be guilty of complacency myself, Charlton shouldn’t suffer defeat on Tuesday.
Even if the Addicks field a rotated side, they should still have too much for them. The gulf in class too much.
But the Daggers will not be lacking in motivation. They’ll collectively be desperate to cause a memorable upset, and individually want clubs in higher divisions to take notice of them.
As such, Charlton’s task on Tuesday will be to quickly burst that bubble. To score early, prevent the visitors gaining in confidence and themselves from getting a little nervous.
For the longer Burnett’s side go toe-to-toe with their opposition, the more they will begin to believe that they can leave the Addicks embarrassed.
With many of those set to play in red on Tuesday, whether a new signing, a previous outcast or a youngster, wanting to impress, such a situation should be avoided. Energy and effort in place of complacency.
But effort alone, if Charlton are unable to breakdown Dagenham’s gritty resolve, may not be enough. A moment or two of class before half-time which sets the job up to be done with minimal fuss, please.
I’m already buzzing for Burnley (a) in the second round. Charlton Athletic 3-0 Dagenham & Redbridge.