Somehow Charlton won the first two times they met Millwall in league football.
We’ve barely won since. And, like buses, those brief wins normally come in twos for the Addicks.
Currently the fans have been waiting in the rain by the side of the road for over 20 years.
To win this fixture Charlton Athletic need luck, steel and a bit of skill; characteristics this side lack.
There were bright hopes in the first half. Mainly because Millwall, playing at home, started like the side they were – off-form and recovering from two comprehensive defeats. Lee Gregory’s profligacy when two against one, as well as a number of 50/50 balls won by the reds, showed the Lions were there for the taking.
Charlton created little but were confining the hosts to half-chances.
Out of nowhere, two goals in the space of three dreadful minutes cast all that misplaced optimism into oblivion.
Battle-weary, about 10% of away supporters failed to return for the start of the second half.
No-one realistically expected Nicky Ajose to pull a goal back after a superb counter-attacking move just five minutes after the interval.
For a moment, hopes were raised and latecomers were back in position. The pitch had a glow. Charlton were winning headers and tackles. Millwall crosses were falling straight to Dillon Phillips in the Addicks’ goal. Ademola Lookman was even playing the simple pass.
But this isn’t Hollywood. This is The Den on a cold Wednesday night.
On the stroke of the hour, Steve Morison fired in Millwall’s third and his second of the night in a simply worked goal.
A fruitless and depressing half an hour followed to herald a 3-1 loss.
There’s nothing surprising about losing to Millwall. It’s expected. But the chants of “you’re just a s*** Crystal Palace” sting deeply.
This side lack the luck, steel and skill to beat Millwall. But at least they had the backbone to show up and put in a bit of fight.
As for Millwall, well, it was like Christmas. They turned up knowing they would get something but were not sure what.
In the end the Charlton defence was generous in offering gifts, and even presented a complete turkey (of a performance).
Cracker? Definitely not.
A win against Millwall during the probably the club’s darkest ever period wouldn’t have seemed fitting. Bah humbug. Bring on the New Year. Hopefully it will come with a new owner.