Some Charlton fans are making a weekend of it in Newcastle to liven up what would otherwise be a rather dull visit to one of the north-east's less exciting destinations. As far as the match is concerned, 'Boro are hoping to bring their slump to an end, while Charlton are hoping to continue the run of results that has seen them top the Championship form table.
One possible attraction at the Riverside is former Addick Nicky Bailey who missed a penalty in the Swindon play off. It was a decisive miss, although then manager Phil Parkinson recalls that Bailey was the one player he was confident about from the penalty spot: Parkinson. In any event, Bailey had to be sold to 'Boro to keep Charlton afloat. It could be Bailey's 100th appearance for 'Boro, but it looks as if he is being 'let go' at the end of the season as the home side try to stem £1m a month losses that have not led to success on the pitch.
Middlesbrough were enjoying happier times when they came from behind to beat Charlton 4-1 in the reverse fixture six months ago. It was the last of a five-match winning run for the Teesside club - their best of the season - and took them to second in the table. It was also Boro's fifth in a row in league and cup matches against the Addicks, and edged them in front in the league head-to-head standings by 35 wins to 34 after 87 meetings over 77 years. For Charlton one of these wins was a 8-1 victory I remember from 1953/4.
Charlton have claimed victory in only one of the last 12 away league games against these north-east opponents; 3-0 in August 2005. Middlesbrough's fall from grace since the turn of the year has been well documented. Three wins and 14 defeats from 19 games has seen Tony Mowbray's men slump right out of contention for promotion from a top two berth.
Odds (Coral) are: (Coral) Middlesbrough 7/5, Draw 12/5, Charlton 9/5. Reflecting the fact that Charton still have a faint chance of reaching the play offs, odds of 80-1 are available on promotion.