In fact, its probably not the best time to be playing County because, after 14 defeats in 16 games during the period October to January when relegation looked a certainty, they have had a much better February against MK Dons (h) 1-3, Colchester (h)2-2, Exeter (a)1-0 , Swindon (a)1-4 and Wycombe (h) 4-3 to help themselves to 7 points, only one less than the Addicks during the month, who played a game more. While the team that we struggled to beat last Friday, Southend, had the worst February of anyone with only a single point.
So we're up against a team, bottom of the table since the beginning of December, that are beginning to fight and have now won 2 of their last 5 games.
One reason for the change in mood at the Hatters is the addition of seven new players during the January window with 4 players (Swailes, Partridge, Johnson and Ibehre) joining from MK Dons and three more loanees joining from Colchester (Perkins), Watford (Sadler) and Plymouth (Donnelly). And perhaps not surprisingly, all of them went straight into the first team.
Injury problems have hit them lately though and defenders Mullins and Swailes were both missing from Tuesday's game at Bristol Rovers where they lost 1-0 to a goal gifted by their stand-in left-back Adam Griffin. And more problems hit them during the game with Jemal Johnson limping off with a muscle problem and then David Poole being red-carded which means he'll also be missing on Saturday.
Until January Carl Baker was their only dangerman on 13 goals but he's been snapped up by fizzy big boys Coventry. So there's now a fourway tie for top scorer with Bignall, Donnelly, Johnson and Thompson all on three strikes for the season but both George Donnelly and Jemal Johnson, on loan from Plymouth and MK Dons respectively, have got 2 in the last 4 games.
Whats Their Secret?
After three months without a win, and only one win in each of the months August, September and October the change in mood at Edgeley Park should not be underestimated. Although they conceded 12 goals in February they had their best month of the season with 2 wins and closed the gap to the team above them to 5 points and are now only 9 points from safety.
But, although the spanners, worryingly to most people, are the best team against the top half of the table with 8 wins and only 2 defeats in 15 games (the Addicks are 5th also with 2 defeats but a massive 8 draws), Stockport are rock bottom with not a single win against the top half of the table.
The score in League games before this season was even with Stockport at 2 wins apiece, each of us winning and losing once at home with all four games coming in our promotion seasons 97/98 and 99/2000. They did the double over us in 97/98 and we returned the debt two years later.
So anyone believing in omens will see it as good news that we only play Stockport in our promotion seasons but there's also been two cup games at the Valley with the Addicks winning 3-0 in the FA in 1948 and 4-3 in the League Cup in 2008. So after four games in all at the Valley they can only point to only one good result, that 3-1 win in September 1997.
Cheer Us Up Nels!
OK, while we somehow remain best first half team in Tier Three we have also added a further honour to our stats. In complete contrast to our early season habit of scoring first and as a result of all these recent second-half fight-backs, the Addicks now lead the table on points gained after going behind. Although Huddersfield, Norwich and Walsall enjoy coming from behind more times on 4 wins, our three victories and 8 draws mean we top the table with 17 points earned after giving away stupid goals to start with.
And if everyone is already writing off both away games this month, they should remember that although Huddersfield on March 27th are currently on 1 defeat in the last 15 and are unbeaten at home, 7 teams have drawn there including the likes of Brentford, Stockport, Tranmere and Carlisle. They are also not very good against the top half teams and apart from winning our last two games there we have won 5 of our last 9 games in Huddersfield and lost only twice.
After conceding first yet again but with our 4th 90th minute goal in 5 games coming from Reid last Friday its amazing that the Addicks are still the best League One side over the first 45 minutes with 16 "wins". And although we have only failed to score once in the last 22 games we can point to that Orient game, 8 games ago, as the time when things started to unravel.
And after scoring first 16 times in the first 26 games before facing the Orient and leading 15 times at the break we have now conceded first in 7 of the last 8 and in only one have we been leading at half-time. As for clean sheets we had 8 in the first 20 games but only one in the next 14.
So as Parky seeks to pinpoint the reasons for our Jekyll and Hyde behaviour perhaps we should point out that he only has 12 games left to solve it. Three "easy" home games against Stockport, the Gills and Carlisle (with only 1 League win between them at the Valley) are followed by the more taxing Colchester, Norwich and Leeds while away from home the hard ones come first with the spanners, Huddersfield, MK Dons and Pardew followed by a tailing-off at Exeter (where we have our worst away record of all in Tier 3) and then Oldham on the last day.
We've managed 17 points from our last 12 games so if we continue in our current jerky fashion we'll finish with a neat round 80 points, enough for last seasons 5th place.
Elliot, Richardson, Jackson, Llera, Dailly; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Bailey; Mooney, A Sodje.
But at the other end no team has let in more goals, 16, than Stockport over the last 8 games and with the Addicks only failing to score once in their last 22 a goalless draw looks unlikely.