Colchester United travel to Charlton tonight with a chance to take more points from fellow top-six challengers – and possibly at the prospect of depriving the club`s still somewhat revered boss, Phil Parkinson, now managing the opposition of three points against his one-time team.
With both sides currently enjoying far-from convincing form – albeit that the U`s go into the tie fresh from a first victory in nine games after a fine display of finishing against Swindon – it is an encounter which probably takes on a season-defining dimension for both teams during what is commonly called the season`s business-end.
With three points from a possible fifteen ahead of the game, both Charlton and their visitors will be aware of the significance that victory would bring.
For Colchester, three points would put them one win behind their hosts while the latter still have to face Norwich and Leeds before the campaign`s climax. Compare that with United`s fixture against close-by Huddersfield and at least on paper the Essex side have it slightly easier with four games to go at the close of play tonight.
After the win against Swindon, Aidy Boothroyd told the BBC: “It will only be a defining moment if we can build on it at Charlton on Tuesday night and then Hartlepool. It was a hard-fought win and a deserved win. We`ll take whatever we can get, after what we`ve had.”
Phil Parkinson told the BBC after the narrow loss last weekend against Southampton: “We go again on Tuesday against Colchester. We go into two big home games now, Colchester and Norwich and we`re relishing the challenge.” He added: “Colchester will play the same way they`ve done all season they won`t change. Long throws, deep free-kicks -a basic type of team, but effective. We went there earlier in the season and got beaten but we`ve got to deal with their type of game first and foremost, then get the ball down and play.”
Charlton Athletic Team News:
Charlton`s headline worry is striker Dion Burton, after the 13-goal man missed out last time around. Rob Elliot (groin), Grant Basey (ankle), Kelly Youga (knee) and Leon McKenzie (thigh) are all also out of selection running.
Player to watch: Nicky Bailey
The former Southend box-to-box boy has hit double figures for Charlton this season and should have scored twice against Southampton, according to his manager.
A star asset in the side, he may well be set for pastures should promotion straight back to the Championship prove beyond his side this term.
Colchester United Team News:
The visiting side`s greatest loss will be the weekend`s salvo-scorer, midfielder Anthony Wordsworth, who is suspended after picking up another caution and therefore the requisite number of bookings. Ian Henderson or John-Joe O`Toole -both unused sub in the previous game – look likeliest to deputise, depending on how much re-shuffling Boothroyd decides to do.
Injured Kayode Odejayi is also again expected to miss out and so will be unable to threaten Charlton in the same way he did earlier this season, scoring twice to inflict their first loss of the campaign. Paul Reid (back) is not fit but Birmingham loanee, Franck Queudrue might get a recall after sitting out Saturday`s game injured.
Player to watch: Kevin Lisbie
The former Charlton striker scored his first goal since January against Millwall recently and has been playing up front lately, having spent much of the season as an auxiliary ring-winger coving for the injured Ashley Vincent.
He enjoyed scoring (thrice) against his ex-side during his first spell as a U`s player in 2007/8 and although he failed to repeat the trick this season, or as an Ipswich player, it would seem foolish to best against the player finding form once again and The Valley, a ground he knows so well.
Match Facts & Stats
Charlton have not beaten Colchester since 1983 – the U`s have won five of the ten meetings between the teams in all.
A tight game, seemingly destined for a draw, when both sides are actually in need of all the points to further their top-six ambitions. Charlton still believe they can catch an automatic promotion spot, according to Phil Parkinson.
Should Colchester score first, Vital says a 3-2 win for an adventurous away side could be on the cards!