'They've improved' - Boss of in-form Addicks on Town
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town host Charlton this afternoon at Portman Road (12.30pm) in their final game of the season. Mark Heath profiles the Addicks...
Story of the season
Much like Town, Charlton's season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.
Having finished just outside of the play-off spots last season, they stumbled out of the starting blocks in 2021/22, not claiming their first league win until their fifth game, a 2-0 triumph over now-relegated Crewe.
And those struggles continued until late October when, with Charlton in the relegation zone having won just two of their 13 League One games, boss Nigel Adkins - a man with three promotions from the third tier on his CV - was sacked.
Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
Club favourite and former captain Johnnie Jackson took over as caretaker and, in the very next game, the Addicks beat Sunderland away.
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That sparked a good run which moved Charlton up the table, including a 2-0 win over an ailing Town at The Valley in December. More on that in a minute.
But then injuries to the likes of strikers Jayden Stockley and Conor Washington saw another downturn in form, with Charlton losing five games in a row in February.
Jackson, now installed as full-time boss, has turned things around again though, with Charlton arriving at Portman Road in really good form - they've won six of their last nine games, including a 1-0 win at second-placed Rotherham earlier this month.
All that leaves them in 12th spot, and that's as high as thy can go - but they'll fancy finishing the season by making it a double over Town.
Town's lowest ebb
When these two sides last met, back on Tuesday, December 7, Town were in disarray.
Paul Cook had just been sacked after that 0-0 FA Cup draw with lowly Barrow at Portman Road, and Town were dreadful in a 2-0 defeat at The Valley.
Ugly scenes at the end of the game saw Toto Nsiala confront Town supporters who were making their feelings known, while one 'fan' totally crossed the line and ran onto the pitch to push keeper Christian Walton.
Interim boss John McGreal said 'emotions were high' after the game, and worse was to come just over a week later as Town were knocked out of the FA Cup, live on TV, at League Two strugglers Barrow.
Those were dark days for the Blues - and a win over Charlton today would at least serve as some salve to that wound.
Charlton's boss fully intends to send Town fans home unhappy again today - although he is expecting a very different game to that dark December night.
He said: "We want to continue a decent run of form.
“We have had a strong finish winning six out of nine, we’ll be hoping to make that seven out of ten.
"It’s a tricky game, they haven’t been on a brilliant run but they have improved since Kieran (McKenna) has gone in there.
“They are a completely different outfit as far as style of play and the formation they have used to what they were before.
"It will be a different game compared to what it was at The Valley, different personnel.
“It will be a good game, a big club at this level, there will be a big crowd, I know we are also taking a big crowd, they have got nothing to lose as far as placing goes, should have the makings of a good game.”
Midfield misfit Scott Fraser was the second of Paul Cook's 19 summer signings - and the first permanent capture - to depart the club when he signed for Charlton in January.
While clearly a talented player, Fraser struggled to find a position to call his own in his very brief spell in Suffolk, and Charlton appeared set to try and build a team around him at The Valley.
But it's not really worked out that way. After playing 20 games and scoring once for Town, Fraser's only played nine times for his new club since signing, with six of those being starts.
A knee injury has kept him out of the side since the start of April, with Jackson saying he is 'likely to miss out' again today.
Ones to watch
While Charlton haven't had a good season, big striker Stockley has still been banging the goals in. He's netted 20 in 37 games in all competitions, including six in his last ten matches.
Town fans will remember he scored at The Valley back in December, and the 6ft 3ins hitman will surely fancy making it a season double today.
Meanwhile his strike partner Washington has bagged 13 strikes in 43 games.
The little and large duo will need keeping quiet today.