Friday, December 07, 2007

Ipswich preview

Saturday's tussle with our feeder club is our most important game of the season so far.

It is important because of our relative closeness in the Championship table, but also a (small) degree of local rivalry, as well as the importance that we begin to build on our fabulous away form by winning some games at home.

Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of our return to The Valley. It was a useful reminder of how far we have come, and arguably the fabulous play-off win over Ipswich in May 1998 was a real sign that we were building something meaningful again.

Few of us sat in the West Stand that night will forget it either given the 'al fresco' nature of the roofless structure. Danny Mills meanwhile will be assured a warm welcome by the travelling fans thanks to his Norwich roots and sending-off in that fiery first leg.

It wasn't the first time we had beaten Ipswich in a vital play-off of course; we had to beat them over two legs in 1987 in order to set up the famous three-way battle with Leeds. We had been coasting at Selhurst Park thanks to a 2-0 lead (both on the day and on aggregate), but a Steve McCall goal towards the end led to one of the most nervy finales I can ever recall as a Charlton fan. Who knows what the future would have brought for Charlton if they'd nicked a late away-goals win?

For some of the above reasons, as well as our recent tendency to rummage through their squad like a crazed shopper in the Boxing Day sales, there's a reasonable case for building the type of rivalry which somehow feels false to me when targeted towards Palace or Millwall.

It was inevitable that their completely lopsided form this season would begin to hurt them, and so it has proved, slipping to 9th place as their failure to win an away game finally catches up with them. Our own poor home form is frustrating, but 6 wins from 10 away games tells us there is little fundamentally wrong with Charlton right now, at least nothing that a dose of extra work on the training ground can't sort out.

After a comfortable win on Tuesday, it would be tempting to keep an unchanged side but it is not yet clear that the 4-5-1 formation suits us at home. Alternatively, as I argued on Tuesday night, it's possible that former Tractor Boy Darren Ambrose may be the joker in our pack, perhaps starting as the left-sided midfielder in an unchanged 4-5-1 but maintaining the flexibility to move upfront to make up a 4-4-2 (with Reidy moved outside).

Having consistently predicted home wins for Charlton this season (and without much success), I will be forecasting a comfortable Ipswich win, with the hope that my soothsaying remains blighted.

NY Addick predicts Charlton 1 (Ambrose), Ipswich 6 (Lee 3, Walters 3). Attn: 23, 281.


Post a Comment

<< Home