For the second game in a row, Bristol Rovers entertain a team with a caretaker Manager.
Kevin Nugent is keeping the seat warm at Charlton Athletic after Russell Slade’s unexpected departure. The Addicks are regarded as something of a basket-case by their own fans who are disgruntled, to say the least, at their owner’s stewardship of the club.
Since taking over ownership of the club in January 2014, Belgian businessman Roland Duchâtelet has had an adversarial relationship with his club’s supporters. The various different protests staged by the South London team’s fans are legendry. They have included; a large billboard near to The Valley, a free alternative to the club's programme, a boycott of club catering and merchandise, a funeral march mourning the loss of the club's heart and soul, the forming of a band, and the picketing of a sponsors' event. Additionally a number of matches have been disrupted by the throwing of; beach balls, stress balls, balloons, plastic pigs and flares onto the pitch.
On Saturday the Managerless team secured a 2-0 victory over Port Vale. The opening was something of a midfield battle as the teams fought for dominance of the game. It was just before the half-hour mark that the scoring was opened when Morgan Fox's cross found Josh Magennis, whose looping header evading Jak Alnwick in the Vale goal.
Vale could have equalised a minute later, Declan Rudd diving to keep out a shot by Alex Jones. The home team made it 2-0 just before the break. A well-timed through ball from Fox found the run of Nicky Ajose, who kept his cool to finish past Alnwick.
After the game Nugent gave credit to the players for staying focussed, “It has been a very difficult week but footballers are resilient characters and the boys have been very professional all the way through it. Obviously today’s result showed that.”
“The lads put in a massive shift and it was a very, very good win. We started a little bit nervously and then we grew into the first half and created some good chances. We scored two very good goals and then in the second half we got camped in a little bit, but we defended well and I’m really pleased with the win.”
Going on to reflect on the third home ‘clean-sheet’ in a row Nugent said, “Wins are based on being solid at the back. It is something that we have worked on, having that solid foundation, since the summer. If you aren’t solid at the back then you aren’t going to win games.”
Looking back at games between Rovers and Charlton the record is very even and dates right back to Rovers' first season in Division 3 (South). In those seasons the games were played on opposite week-ends, so Rovers won the first ever game at Eastville 4-2 on 10 September 1921 and the Addicks won the London game 2-0 one week later.
Perhaps the most memorable game of all between the clubs occurred on 18 November 1978 when the two undefeated teams clashed at Eastville. Charlton took the lead, then Rovers scored twice to go in front. The Addicks scored twice to take a 4-2 lead, Rovers pulled a goal back for 4-3. The Londoners once again restored their two gaol lead before a Rovers double tied the game at 5-5! Following the game Bobby Gould commented that Father Christmas had arrived early, there were that many gifts around. Everyone in attendance knew what he meant as some if the goals were gifts. What was even more remarkable was that there were no goals in the last 20 minutes.
To date Rovers have won, 22 games, 17 draws and Charlton 19 victories.
The Addicks head to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night and Nugent says that he expects to be in charge for the match.
He said: “I’m taking it game by game but I think that I may be charge for the Bristol Rovers game on Tuesday. I don’t know about the Sheffield United game yet.”
On the injury front defender Chris Solly, who missed the Port Vale game with a knee problem remains doubtful. Winger Ricky Holmes misses out again with the foot injury he suffered against Scunthorpe set to keep him out for a couple of months.
Midfielder Ahmed Kashi remains a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury.
Ex-Charlton player Lee Bowyer has expressed his interest in the Managerial vacancy, "I would like to get back into the game. I have had three, four years out. Now I have done my badges," said Bowyer.
"I would like to go there. It is a lovely club. I would like to be a manager. I have been very fortunate to have played under some top managers and with a lot of top players so I think I have a lot of knowledge to offer."