As games of football go, tomorrow night at the Valley will be as important as any cup final. Fellow relegation threatened Barnsley are the visitors in what will be a very tense and nervy affair. The stakes could barely be higher; a win for Charlton and safety is in sight, whilst a defeat could spell the end for Barnsley. A reverse of those results could seal another nail in our coffin. I'm so pleased this game is on a Tuesday night when, under the Valley floodlights, Charlton traditionally have a much better history of rising to these high-pressure occasions.
I'm trying very hard to focus on work and other things until I make my way to the Valley tomorrow evening, but it's not easy with this twisted feeling inside my belly constantly reminding me of my darkest fears...
Significantly, by the time Millwall play next, Charlton will have completed two fixtures (Bolton at home on Good Friday the other) and, God willing, could potentially be 7 points clear of trouble with just 4 games left. Of course, as an Addick I'm a little more realistic, especially as we've not managed to put back-to-back league wins together all season. I'd be over the moon with 4 points.
I guess one of the major factors that cannot be underestimated since Riga replaced Powell is the tough schedule Charlton have faced in that time. With the relentless Saturday / Tuesday fixtures there can be very little time for Riga to get much done on the training ground, especially taking into account the all-important rest the players would need. It is little wonder that finding consistent form is not easy. Thankfully Charlton's fate remains in our own hands.
I was down in Brighton with the family visiting friends over the weekend so I took the opportunity to visit the AMEX community stadium for the first time. Charlton's display was nothing short of woeful, whilst Brighton's new stadium could not have been more impressive. The home fans don't seem like the most vocal bunch (until the occasional seagull decides to swoop down into the stadium, only to be reminded of exactly what it is) but the acoustics inside the ground must be unbelievable on those big nights.
Less said about the game the better, then, but what did annoy me was a comment made by Riga post-match, in which he suggested he was 'less disappointed knowing his players are capable of more'. Hmmm, does that mean if we do go down he won't be as disappointed as he knows we were actually good enough to stay up? Perhaps I'm being picky. Maybe it was lost in translation, but some things don't need saying at all, especially when they are absolutely no consolation in defeat.
Thankfully, not for the first time this season, the disappointment of losing never spoilt a few good beers before and after the game. The Cow, near Brighton Station, is well worth a visit for food, well selected ales and bottled craft beers.
The end of this truly awful season is in sight. The fine lines between success and failure ensure a very nervy few weeks ahead. I can only hope my next blog post is euphoric! Come on you Addicks!