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View From The Town End: Charlton

Reading haven't won back-to-back games in nearly two months and the team standing in the way of them breaking that record is Charlton. Ahead of tomorrow's game we spoke to Charlton blogger Al Gordon from God, Charlton & Punk Rock.

Charlie Crowhurst

How would you sum up the season so far?

We are now well into the season and once again it's proving to be a tight division. We've had some good victories against serious promotion candidates but are still a killer edge away from being one ourselves. It's amazing to think we'd stay unbeaten for so long and still have only lost twice in sixteen outings; just think where we could be if we'd turned some of those nine draws into wins.

It's been around six months since the takeover of the club, what's changed down at the Valley?

Off the pitch the place has been spruced up a bit, a lick of paint here, new seats there, all very impressive. The pitch itself is non recognisable to the one last season. All the undersoil drainage problems have been addressed and we now have a playing surface worthy of the Championship rather than Sunday league.

The Belgian owner is happy to put his hand in his pocket where it matters yet seems to be controlled without overspending. He appointed head coach Bob Peeters who we've really taken to and together they've brought in a mixture of talent both young and experienced (mostly with a Belgian connection somewhere). In a similar way to the early Chris Powell era, this group of players have gelled quickly and we are playing like a team again giving the fans a much needed and long awaited lift.

Speaking to us before the season started you predicted a lower midtable finish, has there been anything this season to make you change that view?

We are far tighter than I expected at the back, Bikey and Ben Haim have been superb and whereas if we had more firepower we could have turned the odd one point into three, without these two at the heart of the defence some of our draws may well have been defeats. There must still be a lean spell to come but I now believe we can maintain a top ten finish.

Any fond memories of games between the sides?

I would have loved to say last season and Simon Church returning to hound you but it wasn't to be. I believe he's been made available for loan if you're interested. If not he may well be shipped off to Belgium.

Any not so fond ones?

You did us both times in the end last season, although neither will probably last long in anyone's memory! Perhaps we're overdue a corker of a match on Saturday.

Who should Reading fans be wary of on Saturday?

André Bikey puts in a man of the match performance week in week out, although we've yet to see any head-butting or stamping from him thus far. I believe he may well have mellowed with age even if he is still capable of the triple somersault goal celebration. Igor Vetokele is our main goal threat, a hungry player that needs to be in the middle of everything, yet it was Icelandic wide man Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson that scored the goals at Elland Road on Tuesday. We've just picked up French under 21 international Francis Coquelin from Arsenal on a month's loan. He came on for the last half hour at Leeds to some rave reviews and may well get his first start against you.

Who are Charlton fans not looking forward to coming up against?

Last time you asked me this I said Royston Drenthe. He never really lived up to expectation for you yet he came back to haunt me last Saturday scoring a great goal at the Valley for Sheffield Wednesday. Simon Cox and Glenn Murray make a great duo up front and after the good win against Rotherham should be high on confidence for Saturday. A player of yours I've always enjoyed is Garath McCleary. After a lengthy spell out injured I'm told he's just about ready to come back although, without wishing to sound rude, I hope that's still a week off yet.

Score prediction?

We've drawn nine out of sixteen, I'm going to play safe and predict number ten. As much as I'd love a thrilling 4-4 that we can all discuss for years to come, the pessimist in me suggests a more likely 1-1 outcome. Cox for you, Vetokele for us.

Thanks again to Al and you can follow him on Twitter @Algordon_cafc