The Valley is not a Charlton Athletic fortress but it’s on the right track under Nathan Jones

3 min

As the curtain comes down on their home campaign, Charlton Athletic will be hoping to sign off in style after a frustrating season at The Valley.

To say their form in SE7 has been indifferent is an understatement – the Addicks having to wait 102 days for a home victory after Michael Appleton’s side beat a struggling Cheltenham 2-1 in late November.

That 3-2 victory over relegation-bound Carlisle United came under Charlton’s third manager of the season, Nathan Jones, with the poor home form a clear sign of the side’s lack of identity under a variation of different managers.

The opening day win over Leyton Orient signalled the only home win of the short-lived Dean Holden era as Charlton’s propensity to concede soft goals on a regular basis saw the Addicks fall to disappointing defeats to Bristol Rovers (2-1) and Port Vale (3-2).

Holden’s successor Appleton opened his account with much more promise – only losing one of his first seven league games in charge on home soil before failing to win another game during his entire tenure.

The warning signs were apparent though, Appleton’s side continually producing uninspiring performances littered with defensive errors with Charlton’s 1-1 FA Cup home draw with non-league Cray Valley Paper Mills the nadir.

By January the writing was on the wall after a winless run of 12 games in all competitions left the Addicks just four points above the League One drop zone.

Since Jones’ arrival, Charlton have remained unbeaten at The Valley – winning twice and drawing four times (including impressive draws against promotion-chasing Portsmouth, Lincoln and Stevenage).

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Jones’ high-intensity style and aggressive press has brought a newfound positivity to the side which has in turn reinvigorated a fanbase that at times was on the cusp of being comatose under his predecessors. 

There is renewed fight and resilience on show as well, coming from behind to beat Carlisle 3-2 as well as snatching a point against Wigan in a 2-2 draw.

The Valley can still not yet be claimed as a fortress but it’s on the right track – something Jones himself acknowledges.

“It is important and we want to be better,” Jones told London Football Scene following the goalless draw with Stevenage.

“I’m not trying to jump through hoops and saying we were magnificent, but we’ve shown we are difficult to beat. 

“We’ve played teams that have been pushing for the Play-Offs and we haven’t been beaten – I think we are one of the only teams to take anything from Lincoln.

“We’ve shown we are a decent side and it’s really important we build momentum going into next season and set our stall out for the team we want to be.”

The last time there was a genuine fear factor around The Valley was under Lee Bowyer during the 2018/19 campaign – a season where they not only gained promotion to the Championship but were also second in the home form table.

The only team to be better than them? League One title winners Luton Town, managed at the time by none other than Nathan Jones.

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