The scoreline might as well have been etched on the pre-match team sheet last night.
We’ve seen some odd starting line-ups at The Valley over the years (Phil Chapple up front?) but the selection of out-of-sorts left-back Zakarya Bergditch in right-midfield would have had the most upbeat of Charlton fans in a state of disbelief.
Even having another left-back, debutante Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, at left-midfield seemed feasible such is Charlton’s lack of depth.
It’s an issue the board failed to address in the summer so, when the likes of Johann Gudmundsson are out, the line-up seems drastically disjointed.
Cue two minutes in against relegation candidates Preston and a needless foul conceded by Alou Diarra saw the visitor’s Paul Gallagher put them in front with a 20-yard free-kick.
By the time the same man had doubled the lead nearly 35 minutes later, the Addicks had amassed just one shot on goal.
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It was a rudderless performance that left the players as frustrated as the fans.
Charlton’s side played like schoolboys in a man’s league. Meanwhile wily Preston who were like a vets team, hardly breaking sweat as the ball did all the work for them.
Probably about half an hour too late, Bergdich was replaced and the only surprise was that he was the only substitution at the break.
El Hadji Ba and Karlan Ahearne were then hauled off on the hour and suddenly Charlton had a side resembling the one – fitness levels aside – that should have started.
But the damage was done and within moments Daniel Johnson curled in a third for Preston for a 0-3 final scoreline.
Luzon on the line
If the rumours were right then Guy Luzon was facing his last game at Charlton.
Chief executive Katrien Meire gave the manager a vote of confidence this week. However, Bob Peeters had the same honour days before getting the boot.
Nine days ago at The Valley it took an almighty comeback against Fulham to salvage Charlton a point from 2-0 down But the fight in this side seems to have gone.
With Charlton now well and truly in a relegation battle, they will entertain fellow strugglers Brentford on Saturday.
After this lacklustre display, and on owner Roland Duchatelet’s previous form, what happens in the intervening period could be interesting.