As nil-nils go, Tuesday’s stalemate at Peterborough United was quite a fun one. Charlton Athletic were probably the better side, had something about them between both boxes but suffered from the same lack of cutting edge that has seen them now go nearly six hours without scoring a goal.
The red card incident that saw Posh’s Josh Knight dismissed and Jesurun ‘Muhammad Ali’ Rak-Sakyi somehow not red carded gave the game some needle and a bit of an edge.
Charlton pushed for a winner that never came but the contest was in the balance until the very end.
The sad thing is, though, that none of it mattered. Certainly not to the South Londoners – Peterborough still have an outside chance of catching League One’s top six.
But Charlton aren’t going up and remain unlikely to be dragged into any form of relegation dogfight.
It takes a certain level of undying loyalty to schlep about the country when there’s nothing to play for.
Charlton’s season has been over for a long time. It’s the second year in a row when that’s happened as well.
The Addicks were involved in either the shake up for the play-offs or a survival fight in each of the four seasons before last year.
In five of the six that preceded last season’s 13th-placed finish there has been something still up for grabs. Addicks fans have grown accustomed to drama on and off the field but normally they at least coincide with each other.
The drudgery of reading about the off-field gibberish makes those long drives on a Tuesday night feel that little bit longer. When there’s excitement on the field of play to keep you distracted, it can be easy to relegate the background noise to being just that – ambient waffle.
But traipsing up and down the country when results count for very little and there’s nothing suggesting a bright future for the club is a pastime for the most hardcore.
Charlton fans travelled in numbers to London Road – around 1,200 – partly because many already had tickets booked for the previous attempt at getting this game played on a Saturday in January. They were well-voiced and enjoyed what was a decent showing on the whole.
The concern now is how long will supporters keep those levels of dedication up while there is no direction? Away days will always be a great way to bond with mates.
But dwindling season ticket sales at The Valley will be a cause for concern.
They have been trending steadily downwards and there’s not much to get behind at the moment.
Tuesday’s result at Posh meant nothing in the long run. But this footballing purgatory doesn’t stoke the emotions of fans. It’s the second year in a row where at least a third of the games are dead rubbers. The season ticket pitch for next season will be a hard sell so long as the uncertainty continues behind the scenes.
The lack of direction only serves to continue to send the club along the path that will see it naturally downsize. Smaller crowds mean less interest, less interest means even smaller crowds.
Charlton fans will need something to stir encouragement sooner rather than later because this sleeping giant has been in a coma for longer than anyone can remember.
Give the fans something to believe in and they’ve shown they will come along for the ride.
Steven Sessegnon. An attacking full-back that can take players on.
Sessegnon’s drive into the area and pull-back for Jack Payne, only for the forward to skew his shot wide.
PICTURES: KYLE ANDREWS
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