Charlton v Bury: Shakers to do the double?

Jason Pearce’s injury hasn’t helped Charlton –

This current disunity at Charlton Athletic is best evidenced by their performance at Bury on the opening day. A dour performance was compounded by Roger Johnson’s post-match confrontation with supporters. That was a defeat Charlton have never quite recovered from, having been stuck in midtable ever since.

Bury have had a more topsy-turvy campaign. They climbed to second in a September of maximum points, only to take just two points the next 16 games and sink into the relegation zone. Predictably, the following match saw them thrash Peterborough 5-1, starting a run of just one defeat in seven. The form of teams such as Shrewsbury, the one side they lost to in that sequence, means despite improvement, the Shakers are now in roughly the same position as before the Posh game.

In this mad season, Lee Clark becomes the club’s third manager and has had a good start thanks to a late comeback at Chesterfield last week. They lacked pace with veteran Ryan Lowe and target man Tom Pope up top in the first half, but looked livelier when playmaker Callum Styles and speedy forward George Miller came off the bench. Helped by their opponents sending off, they grabbed control and despite seeing a penalty saved, Andrew Tutte scored an excellent leveller before Miller’s late winner.

Clark is far from a perfect manager, but he does have a certain drive about him and, bar his doomed spell at Blackpool, he gets teams fighting. It would be hard to say that about Charlton Athletic. They are unbeaten against the top six this year – albeit with only one victory – which suggests that they have the potential to compete with those sides. The celebrations that followed their last-minute equalizer against Bolton in August, and then there come from behind victory against them last month – with 10 men – suggested they could put a run together. In both cases, any notion of forward momentum was then gazumped by a subsequent winless run of at least five games.

The latest in that sequence came in Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Oxford, in front of a seemingly apathetic Valley. Injuries to key centre-back Ezri Konsa and Jason Pearce haven’t helped but the players available should be performing better. A lack of motivation and desire has been a problem – one fears for Charlton more against a scrapping Bury side than against League One’s elite.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2
Betting tip: Bury or draw 10/11