Charlton Athletic will welcome Walsall to The Valley on Saturday afternoon. The Addicks will be looking to build upon their first win in eight which they picked up against Scunthorpe midweek. However, Walsall who beat Chesterfield 1-0 midweek will be looking to take all three points as they attempt a last minute push into the playoffs.
Karl Robinson was able to tally his fourth win of his residency as manager at The Valley midweek. Before Tuesday evening, the Addicks were winless in eight. In fact, some Charlton fans were beginning to think that the trigger-happy owner, Roland Duchatelet, was ready to fire his eighth manager of his regime, but the win against 3rd place Scunthorpe will have definitely eased managerial and relegation pressures for the Addicks. As a result of the win, Charlton Athletic now sit in 14th and nine points above the drop zone.
Walsall had an uneasy start to the season, evidence of a playoff failure in their last campaign and a new squad clearly taking a toll on the points they were accumulating in the early stages. However, in their second half of the season, the Saddlers have been able to grind out points and earn some vital wins which have revived their hopes for a possible playoff push this campaign. The Saddlers currently sit in 8th, six points below the playoff spots. The win on Tuesday evening for the Saddlers has increased their total tally of points to 52.
These two sides last faced each other on the 20th August 2016. On this Saturday afternoon, Nicky Ajose opened his goalscoring account at Charlton, netting a brace which ultimately ensured Charlton took all three points back to Southeast London. Once the final whistle blew, the final result was a 2-1 away win for the Addicks. This game was Charlton’s second win of the season, building on their win against Shrewsbury in the midweek.
In the 42nd minute, Ricky Holmes sent a cross into the penalty area, Josh Magennis was able to nod down his inviting cross, allowing Nicky Ajose to knock the ball into the back of the net from a close range.
In the 72nd minute, Kieron Morris was able to fire home for the Saddlers from 20 yards as Declan Rudd mistakingly underestimated the strike, as it found the bottom corner.
However, Walsall were only able to hold onto their lead for 120 seconds before Nicky Ajose put the Addicks ahead once again. Magennis raced past James O’Connor and flashed a low cross towards Ajose who was able to poke it home from a close range.
Simeon Jackson came close in the closing stages of the game with a thundering strike, but Declan Rudd pulled off a spectacular save to tip Jackson’s volley onto the crossbar, to ensure Charlton held on to their win.
Walsall will be unable to field midfielder Florent Cuvelier who is currently suffering from a hamstring injury. Also, Jon Whitney will be unable to include midfielder Reece Flanagan in his side on Saturday afternoon, as he is currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Charlton’s Josh Magennis will be a doubt, as he was forced off the field of play on Tuesday evening against Scunthorpe, due to a hamstring injury. Centre-back Patrick Bauer, who was suffering from an illness midweek should feature in the matchday squad. However, Jordan Botaka’s injury will make the Leeds loanee a major doubt for the weekend. In Karl Robinson’s pre-match press conference, the manager confirmed that right-back Chris Solly will continue to be unavailable due to a calf issue, and Jake Forster-Caskey will also be left out as he also recovers from a calf problem. Finally, Jason Pearce will not play on Saturday afternoon but has started light training which could see him return from a long-term injury in the next couple of weeks.
Expected Starting XIs:
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Rudd – Chicksen, Konsa, Teixeira, Byrne – Holmes, Crofts, Ulvestad, Aribo – Watt, Novak
Walsall (3-5-2): Etheridge – O’Connell, Laird, O’Connor – Edwards, Osbourne, Morris, Chambers, McCarthy – Jackson, Oztumer
On Tuesday evening Charlton Athletic showed a spirit and fight which has long been missed by The Valley faithful. However, there have been several times this season where Charlton have failed to build on a positive result and struggle to build on a win.
Walsall are close to the playoffs but need to bring their home form to the grounds they are visiting. It is inevitable that if the Saddlers do not improve upon their away form they have no chance of a last minute playoff push. However, the Addicks must not underestimate the confidence and strength the Saddlers will have going into the game on Saturday afternoon.
If both teams show up at 3.00pm on Saturday with the commitment and evident performance to take all three points, then the most likely result will be a draw at 1-1.