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Thursday, 16 February 2006

2803: Charlton v Brentford – Can Cha

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by : Colin Illingworth

Most sides would be rubbing their hands with glee at drawing a team from League One but not so Charlton Athletic. The Addicks have been dumped out of the FA Cup three times in the last four seasons by lower league sides and there’s a distinct possibility that they could be victims of a cup shock again on Saturday. Martin Allen’s Brentford have already claimed one Premiership scalp in this competition and they would love to add Charlton to that list.

Understandably Paul Nottage, chairman of the Charlton Athletic Supporters Club, viewed the draw with trepidation and hopes that Alan Curbishley can get the squad in the right frame of mind before the big game.

“Charlton need to take this game as seriously as they take any Premiership game. If this is the case then they should win convincingly. However, I’m sure Manchester United fans would have said the same before their games against Burton. This again will be a London derby and Brentford’s second ‘Cup Final’ after their win in the last round against Sunderland so we need to be ready.”

The Bees are buzzing at the moment and have only lost twice in their last 20 games and Emma Parry, chairman of the Brentford Independent Association of Supporters (BIAS), believes they have a great chance of getting a result against Charlton, although she would have preferred a tie at Old Trafford.

”It could have been much worse than a draw against a London Premiership club although many fans were disappointed. Financially we need an away game against Manchester United to help us sort out some of our debts. The Valley also isn't a new ground for most Bees, although it will be for me. Charlton aren't on best form though so we feel that we have at least some chance of a result. There was more upset that the game isn't going to be televised, as the £265,000 windfall would have been handy.”

Charlton and Brentford have met three times in the FA Cup and all three meetings have gone in Charlton’s favour. Their last meeting was in 1996 at The Valley which Charlton won 3-2. Brentford have only beaten The Addicks once at The Valley in their history and that was almost 80 years ago. However, Emma, who was born just around the corner from Griffin Park, is confident that Mad Dog can lead the side to their first sixth round appearance since 1949.

”Under Martin Allen we have consistently torn up the history books and done things we have never done before, or only done fifty-plus years ago. So I don't think we are too concerned about what has happened at the Valley or in the cup before. Charlton scraped past Orient and I think we are a much better team than Orient, plus we have already beaten Premiership opposition in the last round. No one is counting their chickens or saying that it won't be a tough game but at the moment we believe we can beat anyone.”

Martin Allen took over from Wally Downes at Griffin Park in March 2004 with the club staring relegation in the face. However, the former West Ham midfielder galvanised the squad and in an amazing last nine games the Bees won five and lost just once to secure their League One position. They made the play-offs last season and promotion to the Championship is the main objective for the club. However, Emma said she would easily swap the Championship for FA Cup glory.

“I’d swap promotion for actually winning the cup any day. The money from reaching the cup final would also go a long way to sorting out our finances. I’d take guaranteed promotion over a losing final appearance though but we all know that we are going to do the double!”

Charlton were knocked out of the cup at this stage last season at home to Leicester City. The season before that Gillingham dumped them out in the third round and in 2002 it was Walsall who turned them over at The Valley so we can all expect Charlton nerves to be a little jaded.

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