As joyous a moment it may have been, the scent of hope did not grow stronger around The Valley as Jorge Teixeira headed in the dramatic stoppage-time winner against Birmingham City on Saturday. It merely prevented it from growing weaker.
For results elsewhere means the gap between Charlton and safety remains the same – effectively seven points – with one less game to work with. The task no less challenging, and the punishment for Roland Duchatelet’s sensationally poor running of this football club still set to be sever.
But if the Portuguese defender had not snatched that late victory, and a victory that Charlton’s second half performance warranted, it would have almost certainly been game over. No obvious boost in confidence, the mental impact of Rotherham and Fulham picking up victories while the Addicks dropped points hard to ignore, and effectively an emphatic nine point margin to make up.
Instead, there is now an opportunity from which an opportunity can gained. A win a Portman Road on Tuesday night against Ipswich Town, and those around Charlton finally dropping some points, and maybe it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to start believing that the Addicks have half a chance. A shift in momentum and confidence developing.
The issue is, it’s hard to feel too confident when similar situations have been thrown away on so many occasions this season. Back-to-back wins achieved only once this season, the victory over Brentford followed up with a disappointing draw against MK Dons, and the excellent win over Middlesbrough followed by a capitulation at Hillsborough.
Nerves only grow when you consider Ipswich’s desperate need for points to keep their play-off hopes alive, Charlton’s relatively poor record against the Tractor Boys since their return to the Championship, and the incredible record of Mick McCarthy’s side at Portman Road on Tuesday nights – 16 consecutive wins before a defeat to Hull in February.
Getting this opportunity won’t be easy, let alone avoiding relegation. A failure to win in Suffolk, particularly with other results going against us, and it probably is game over.
All or nothing. Well, something or nothing.
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-3 IPSWICH TOWN
Charlton followed up an impressive victory over Birmingham by capitulating against Ipswich at The Valley in November. A truly horrendous performance receiving the three goal defeat it deserved.
The game was lost the moment Daryl Murphy, heading in from close range after Tommy Smith was allowed to nod across the face of goal, gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half. Any doubt about the result put to bed with Freddie Sears converting from Luke Chambers’ through ball on the stroke of half-time.
And am unmarked Murphy was able to inflict further suffering upon the home fans, drilling clinically beyond Stephen Henderson to round off a neat Ipswich move that exploited Charlton’s static defence.
In fact, the only pride Addicks could take from the game was the success of their 2% protest, making it clear to Katrien Meire her belief that such a small percentage of supporters are unhappy with the state of the club is very wrong.
Though it is impossible to say that Ipswich are underachieving, given their relatively limited financial resources in comparison to other Championship sides, their supporters are justifiably frustrated with the manner in which McCarthy’s side are slipping away from the top six.
A run of indifferent results, including a draw with Bolton, defeat to seventh place Cardiff City and a loss against Rotherham, has seen Ipswich drop to five points from the play-offs, with an in-form Sheffield Wednesday to catch. The often avoidable nature of their dropped points making their position particularly frustrating.
But with a run in that includes Wednesday, Fulham and MK Dons, the Tractor Boys certainly haven’t given up on their chances of finishing in the top six once again.
As skipper Smith said following Saturday’s goalless draw with Wolves, however, there’s no more room for error if they are to sneak into the play-offs.
Prior to win over Brentford at the start of March, Charlton had won one game in 18. Since then, Charlton have won three games out of five. An impressive and unexpected upturn in form, completely dismissing the myth that protesting against the regime is to blame for any poor result.
And yet, still the Addicks sit a mammoth six, effectively seven, points from safety. A sign of the form other sides in and around the bottom three are in, but more so a sign of how desperate and unforgivably shambolic Charlton were prior to this mini improvement.
Frustrating, too, that in between those victories have been horrendous performances and equally unideal results. The strategy against MK Dons completely wrong, and the effort and fight at Hillsborough non-existence.
More still needed, but it’s not quite over just yet.
David McGoldrick is pushing for a start after making his return from injury off the bench in the goalless draw with Wolves on Saturday.
The forward has been out since December, and his return could be crucial if goal-shy Ipswich are to make a late charge for the play-offs, particularly with Murphy recovering from an injury sustained while on international duty with Ireland.
Teddy Bishop could also be involved for the Tractor Boys for the first time this season having missed the entire campaign through injury. The 19-year-old travelled with the squad on Saturday, but didn’t make the 18.
Charlton will have Yaya Sanogo available after the Arsenal loanee completed the three-match ban given to him following his dismissal for violent conduct during the goalless draw with MK Dons.
But the striker may struggle to win his place back in Charlton’s starting XI straight away given the performances of those in forward positions on Saturday. Unless Igor Vetokele can’t handle two games in quick succession, Sanogo will be in reserve.
Ademola Lookman, however, hopefully won’t be restricted to an appearance off the bench. The youngster impressive once again against Birmingham following his introduction at half-time, and could start in place of Yun Suk-Young.
Chris Solly and Stephen Henderson, having returned to the squad on Saturday, could also come into the side at Portman Road.
KEY BATTLE – NOT ALLOWING CAUTION TO OVERRIDE ATTACKING INTENT
Of the many reasons that Riga’s side deserved praise for their efforts on Saturday, a show of courageous attacking intent should be right at the top of the list.
It would have been easy to show pragmatism in the game’s final 20 minutes or so, particularly against a decent Birmingham side that were threatening just as much in an open game. Tighten the game up a little, and prevent a confidence destroying defeat.
Instead, the Addicks maintained the attacking desire and intent they had shown throughout the half, and showed great spirit and confidence in doing so. Even throwing Simon Makienok on purely for the corner that produced the winning moment a sign of intent.
And with draws, particularly with those around Charlton in the Championship table in excellent form, effectively useless, it’s of vital importance that that intent and bravery is taken to Portman Road, regardless of the challenge Riga’s side face.
That doesn’t mean be brainless and allow yourselves to be exploited by the Tractor Boys, but attempt to get on the front foot. A desperate need to start Lookman.
Tough game against a team who are hard to beat, but Charlton have some confidence. Even then, I’m not convinced it will be enough. Ipswich Town 1-1 Charlton Athletic