Monday, 5 August 2013

PREVIEW: Charlton Away, League Cup (06/08/13)

The season is barely a few days old but already the games are coming thick and fast. We've had just three days to bask in the glory of Saturday's impressive opening win, before kicking off our League Cup campaign away to Charlton.

Supporters are understandably in buoyant mood going into the match, but it goes without saying that an away trip to a Championship side will be no walk in the park. And whereas in previous years we've treated cup competition as of equal importance to the league, Chris Wilder's statement after the match on Saturday that he was looking to make some changes for this match perhaps suggests that the league campaign is our sole focus this term.

But with the development squad playing in a friendly at Didcot on Wednesday, changes are unlikely to be wholesale. Senior players who started on the bench on Saturday and possibly a couple of the younger players who are closest to the first team could feature in the starting XI at the Valley. Expect the likes of James Constable, Michael Raynes and Asa Hall to play some part.

Charlton will also be making several changes to the side which suffered opening day disappointment at the hands of Bournemouth on Saturday, with an eye on keeping key players fit for the visit of Middlesbrough next weekend. Former Dagenham midfielder Danny Green and 23-year-old Dale Stephens are likely to feature, while Amersham-born Simon Church could make his debut after joining Charlton from Reading in the summer.

The Addicks may well look at the cup as a good chance to recover from Saturday's disappointment, but their form against lower league sides in recent years has left many of their fans fearing an upset. Recent seasons have seen Charlton crash out of the League Cup at the hands of Wycombe, Luton, Yeovil, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Preston and Leyton Orient - an esteemed list indeed. Further hope can be taken from the fact that the Valley has hardly been a fortress of late, with Charlton winning just eight times at home in the league last season (with six draws and nine defeats) and their only home pre-season friendly yielding a defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

The Valley will be a familiar hunting ground for Chris Wilder, who spent three games on loan at Charlton from Sheffield United in 1990 and 1991. Other than that, it's a step into the unknown for both clubs, with the last meeting between Oxford and Charlton coming in a 2002 League Cup fixture. On that occasion a drab 0-0 draw (a staple of the Ian Atkins era) was brought to life by a dramatic penalty shootout which ended with Jefferson Louis blasting Oxford into a third-round tie against Aston Villa. That victory was all the sweeter for being our first against Charlton since 1987 – 13 matches had passed in that time and we had lost the last seven of them consecutively. In fact, that win was our first ever at the Valley after 16 previous attempts.

From the Vaults

Charlton Athletic v Oxford United, 16th August 1997

The yellows had made a good start to the 1997/98 season with 2-0 wins over Huddersfield and Plymouth in league and cup. But we soon came unstuck against Charlton, finding ourselves 2-0 down and effectively out of the match early in the second half. That sparked a horrible run of five defeats from six league games...let's hope history doesn't repeat itself!

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in our NEW & IMPROVED VIDEO VAULT!

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