A dismal 2-2 home draw with Luton, where the desire if not the skill was with the Hatters, at least preserved, and lengthened, our current 9 match unbeaten run and means just 2 defeats (Brentford and Brighton) in the last 18 League and Cup games. But while we can all have good feeling about that, perhaps we should spare a thought for Luton where the number 18 conjures up a quite different feeling, it being the number of years since they were a Tier One club. And perhaps the three thousand Hatters fans had that in mind as they made the short trip to the Valley, perhaps to remind themselves what it was like in the good old days. And, of course, its up to them now to encourage their players to get them a game that'll really put their memories in gear with the prospect of an away game at White Hart Lane beckoning.
Quite what we'll be doing in 15 years time to push back the memories is anyones guess. And whether we'll have a team with enough passion and skill to get a result in the replay, so as to avoid a second sucessive defeat to a non-league team in the FA Cup we won't have long to ponder. But before moving on, can anyone remember how many of todays Tier Three were in the old Division One 18 years ago? Well, there's four, Wednesday, Southampton, Oldham and Notts County.
Meanwhile, League game 19 approaches and there's now just 5 games left to the half-way point. We had 47 points at the cut last year so we'll need to win all 5 to reach last years haul but a less strong second half of the season saw us ending on 84 at seasons end.
It used to be that having to play Barnsley was a step down for the Addicks but now its little old Rochdale that are Saturdays opposition. But while you may not be impressed by the fact that Rochdale play their games at the 90 year old 10,000 capacity Spotland Stadium, its rumoured that the away fans are graced with the newest stand being the Westrose Leisure Stand, in Willbutts Lane, whose facilities are said to be "second to none". Sadly then, we've only played up there 4 times - two cup ties in 1955 (won 3-1) and 1961 (0-1 defeat) and two League games when we were in Division Three in 1972 (2-0 win) and our last visit there, 34 years ago, in 1974 (1-1 draw).
After finishing 3rd in League Two last season, Rochdale managed promotion for the first time in 41 years having spent the last seemingly endless 36 years in Tier Four. And to add to that dismal record they also share with Hartlepool United the dubious distinction of having played the most seasons in the Football League without ever reaching the top two tiers, 82 years.
The man that Rochdale have to thank for that once in a lifetime promotion in manager, the 43 year old, Keith Hill. After a playing career at Blackburn, Plymouth and Rochdale, he took over as caretaker manager of Rochdale in December 2006 after the departure of the previous incumbent. Rochdale were then in 22nd position in Tier 4. He got things working and they finished the season in 8th position. His first full season they got as far as the Playoff final before losing to Stockport and the next year they lost in the Playoff Semis before finally getting automatic promotion last season by finishing 3rd behind Notts County and Bournemouth. So 3 and a half successful seasons for Mr Hill.
Number 8 is the 33 year old Rochdale legend and captain Gary Jones. He's been with the Dale for the last 8 years, plus three years before he played for Barnsley, and holds the record for Dale appearances with 390. He's also the current top goalscorer this season with 10.
Therry can have a few words in French with number 14 Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, thats as long as he gets off the bench. Akpro is an ex of Grimsby, where he was a part of the disappointing 25 game winless run that finished with Grimsby being relegated to the Conference last season.
Rochdale are also the only team in the UK to have two Kennedy's in the team. Left back Tom takes the penalties while number 7 Jason has played in the Prem in 2005 for Middlesborough while 18 years of age. No, not against us.
The Dale made a very good start to their new life in Tier Three with 4 wins and only a single defeat in their first nine games reaching a heady fourth place in the table. But then the oxygen ran out and three consecutive defeats to the three yokels from the West, with only a single goal being scored, against Exeter, Yeovil and Bristol Rovers and they have now only won 1 game in the last 9.
So its been a steady slip down from 4th to the current 15th place and with a home record that is now only 17th best in Tier Three, although they have managed to score three times in three of their last five home games in beating Huddersfield 3-0, the Daggers 3-2 and drawing with Swindon 3-3.
But on overall form there's no-one to beat the Addicks with 17 points from the last 24 while Rochdale are 21st with only 6 points from their last 8 games. And we are the 2nd best away team, after Gus, but with 4 goals more than anyone else with 20 in 9 games.What Are They Saying
Gus Poyet, after being booed off at half-time by the Withdean crowd during their 1-1 draw with non-league FC United, was very upset after the game, "I was very disappointed with the fans and I invite all those who booed us at half-time to stay at home, because I don't want that and I don't accept it. Proper supporters are the ones who support their team during every single minute. And it sounds like he already given up any chance during the replay by saying he'll field a reserve team.
Whats Their Secret
Whereas the Addicks have twice as many score-first games as Rochdale, 12 to 6, the Dale have a much better record of coming from behind. There remain only three teams in the top half of the table that have not yet won after going behind, the Addicks, Carlisle and Exeter whereas Rochdale have clawed back seven points after falling behind.
They are also the 12th highest scorers in Tier Three with only 5 goals less that the Addicks and are the only club in the bottom 13 that have a positive goal difference.
Two home draws after 5 straight wins won't please Parky but after only 9 goals scored in our first 9 home League and cup games we at least have 6 in the last three, even though non-league opposition are included. And its highlighted in our goalscoring charts which nobody could have guessed back in August. Johnnie Jackson, fresh from another appearance in the Football Leagues Team of the Week, leads the list with an impressive 8 - one more than his previous best season with Colchester - while Benson, chasing 22 from 50 games last season, now has 7 but only 2 at home, while Waggy has already gone one better than last seasons efforts and is on 6. Joe Anyinsah, still struggling with his fitness and with only one full 90 minutes to his name (524 minutes in total ) already has 4, while Therry Racon with 4 from his previous 3 seasons and 66 Addicks games has already equalled that in his 20 games this season.
As for the team, Christian Dailly serves his 3rd of 4 matchs out, and with the cup replay counting as his 4th will be back for the game against Walsall. Matt Fry returns after his one match suspension and Doherty should be back after his dead leg suffered against Bristol, while Martin returns after being cup-tied but may be too lightweight for an away game at Rochdale.
The real doubt perhaps rests on Jose Semedo's hamstring "complaint" and whether he has recovered enough to put McCormack back on the bench. Jose, meanwhile, is dying to play remembering that his last, and only, goal for the addicks was a few miles, well 32, away from Spotland at Tranmere in August 2009 and with Therry racking them up he's feeling just a tad jealous.
Elliot; Francis, Doherty, Fortune, Fry; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Anyinsah, Benson.
The Form Book says a clear away win with the teams being 1st against 21st over the last 8 plus the always helpful fact that we haven't lost at Spotland for 49 years. And for the Addicks its vital we make the most of the next two away games at the Dale and Hartlepool, and the Walsall home game between, before a difficult sequence of games begins on December 26th with the arrival of Southampton.
Bearing in mind the weather theres's some doubt that the game will go ahead but if it does, 2-1 to the Addicks.