Matt Riggs looks ahead to Saturday’s SkyBet Championship clash between Reading and the Addicks at the Madejski Stadium…
There’s no good time to have an international break.
“We want to get back out there ASAP” – it’s an easy one-liner for any player or manager in a post-match interview.
Win a match, and you want to keep the momentum going – the next game can’t come around quick enough.
Lose, and the first thing on the agenda is putting the result behind you and getting on the pitch to correct yourself.
So, when Johnnie Jackson declared the international break had come at the wrong time after he led the late fightback against Fulham, it wasn’t exactly ground-breaking news.
We could have done without the interruption, but dealing with it and putting in a performance against Reading is the most important thing.
Not that I’m trying to put down Jacko in any way – he’s still the greatest person to have ever walked the earth – but, pretty obviously, these breaks are a nuisance for everyone.
Reading will certainly feel that themselves – what a run they’re on, and Saturday’s going to be tricky.
Valley View: A Look at the Addicks
Against Fulham, for all the drama and excitement of the last 10 minutes, the Addicks gave a good account of themselves in the first half.
Conor McAleny should have scored in the first minute and Karlan Ahearne-Grant wasn’t too far away from Tony Watt’s cross from the left-hand-side.
We controlled parts of the period, and deserved more than to go in behind at the break.
Nick Pope had one to forget – though most fans won’t have forgotten – and that will have hurt his confidence (again) massively. As much as I’ve been a defender of Pope through his mistakes and brilliant saves, if you can’t do the basics, you shouldn’t be there.
The latest mistake was one too many – I can’t wait for Stephen Henderson’s return.
The injury crisis continues at the Madjeski this weekend too, and it will be Tony Watt and Karlan Ahearne-Grant up-front – or one of the two, alone, deserted, without help…(can you tell I’m a fan of 4-4-2?).
It’s not looking particularly positive, and we haven’t even got onto Reading’s form yet.
The Opposition: Reading
Steve Clarke’s men have been in great form, winning five of their last six Championship matches.
Nick Blackman already has nine for the season, and the side don’t ship many goals – they have the joint-best defensive record in the league.
The Royals are clear favourites and Charlton won’t be on many accumulators this weekend. In the Championship, though, sometimes I wonder – does it really matter? The old cliché – anything can happen.
We’ve met before: Previous Encounters
The Addicks did the double over Reading last season – yes, really – but the away tie, back in November of last year is remembered for different reasons, despite the victory.
The final whistle marked the start of a 13-match winless streak for Charlton, so looking back, Igor Vetokele’s winner gets overshadowed somewhat.
The visit to the Valley was a cheery afternoon, though, as Yoni Buyens scored twice – once from open play (!) after a delightful Joe Gomez cross – to put the Addicks 2-1 up before Simon Church scored against his former club.
A late Pogrebnyak goal set up a nervy finish, but the Addicks held on.
My only previous visit to the Madjeski was one to forget – 2-0, Les Reed…yep, you know the one.
I’m not naturally the optimist, but…no, I can’t.
Reading look too strong. Charlton look weak with so many injury problems.
Would you believe that I’ve bought a ticket?!
The Addicks’ best chances will come the longer they stay in this game. 0-0 at half time, and we can dare to dream but if the first goes to the hosts early, it’s curtains. Prove me wrong – come on you reds!
Follow Matt on Twitter: @riggsy24