James Heneghan's Charlton Athletic v Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Charlton Athletic v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, August 13, 3pm kick-off
Venue: The Valley
Forecast: 20C, sunny
Outs and doubts: Charlton: Patrick Bauer, Alou Diarra, Ahmed Kashi, Ricky Holmes. Cobblers: Raheem Hanley, Jak McCourt
Betting: Charlton 11/10, draw 23/10, Northampton 5/2
Form guide: Addicks LL, Cobblers WD
Possibly line-ups: Charlton (4-4-2): Rudd, Foley, Johnson, Konsa, Fox, Holmes, Crofts, Jackson, Botaka, Ajose, Magennis. Northampton (4-2-3-1): Smith, Phillips, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan, O’Toole, Taylor, D’Ath, Beautyman, Gorre, Richards
Man in the middle: Darren England
Last time out: Cheltenham 1 (Pell) Charlton 0; Barnsley 1 (Scowen) Northampton 2 (Davies OG, O’Toole)
Most recent meeting: Tuesday, October 11, 1988 – Charlton 2 Northampton 1
Record v Charlton: P29 W8 D12 L9
Cobblers connection: Aside from the obvious, there are a few connections between the Addicks and the Cobblers, including a certain Chris Wilder who could well have been in the opposing dugout this weekend had Sheffield United not made an 11th approach for the former Northampton manager. Wilder, a right-back by trade, spent two separate loan spells at The Valley in 1990 and 1991 but only played a grand total of three games during those stints before returning to his parent club, Sheffield United.
James Heneghan’s preview: There are no prizes on offer for guessing who will be the star attraction when the Cobblers take on Charlton this weekend for the first meeting between these two sides in nearly three decades.
After sensationally firing Northampton to the League Two title with a series of match-winning performances throughout the second half of last season, Cobblers fans always feared losing their talisman this summer and those fears were realised when Charlton won the race for his signature in June.
But the transfer wasn’t a particularly smooth one and in some eyes, Holmes’ decision to hand in a transfer request in an attempt to force through the move to London somewhat tainted his Sixfields legacy.
That, though, is a harsh stance to take. Whilst it was naturally disappointing at the time, few could begrudge him a move to a bigger club where he would earn significantly more money and live a lot closer to home.
There is some doubt over whether or not Holmes will actually start against his former club on Saturday after he hobbled off during Charlton’s shock defeat to Cheltenham in the EFL Cup, although Addicks boss Russell Slade believes he should recover in time.
Having been appointed in June, Slade is the latest man tasked with steadying the increasingly unsteady Charlton ship which has entered even choppier waters this week after starting the season with back-to-back defeats.
If Northampton enjoyed a dream season last year, it was something of a nightmare for Charlton fans.
The Addicks were a stable Premier League club not so long ago, finishing seventh in 2004, but have spent the last couple of seasons in disarray under the controversial ownership of Roland Duchâtelet, with their unhappy fans even going as far to stage a funeral procession before one game last season.
After changing managers three times in four months, they eventually and rather inevitably went down with a whimper under Jose Riga, who was swiftly replaced by Slade
Slade, like Rob Page, hasn’t wasted any time in shaking up his squad with a whole host of new signings arriving at The Valley this summer, and their two most recent recruits - striker Josh Magennis from Kilmarnock and winger Jordan Botaka from Leeds - could both debut tomorrow.
For Page, it’s all about harnessing the confidence from Tuesday’s impressive win at Championship side Barnsley and using that as a catalyst for the remainder of the season.
It was a victory and a performance which will do the world of good for players, fans and Page himself because with change comes uncertainty and the sooner they can settle into a rhythm, the better.
A first league win for the Page era remains elusive, but The Valley wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Prediction: Charlton Athletic 1 Northampton Town 1