Charlton in the hunt for league grand slam of trophies

Action from Brighton v Charlton Athletic, March 1 2015 (Photo: Geoff Penn/BHA)

Charlton’s first team could still win the Premier League, while their reserves and development sides are in the running for their respective titles (Photo: Geoff Penn/BHAFC)

Charlton Athletic are in the running for an extraordinary haul of trophies, with all three of their sides in with a chance of league titles or promotion – and with the first team still in four cup competitions.

It has the potential to be a season of unprecedented success for the club – all the more notable for the fact that the first team lost their manager, Stuart Weston, in February – but caretaker boss Jeremy Parsons, aided by captain Kim Dixson, has continued his predecessor’s fine work.

With places already booked in the finals of the Capital, Ryman and Premier League Cups, the seniors are not yet out of the hunt for the Premier League crown – although with a backlog of fixtures and a host of cup matches to fit in, it would be remarkable if they were to sustain their form for long enough to overhaul the leading trio.

Charlton’s reserves are red-hot favourites to win the Premier Reserves League. They are sitting pretty, four points clear of second-placed West Ham United, and need just two wins from their final four fixtures to clinch the title.

And even their development side, who looked set for a mid-table finish in Division One East of the South East Counties League, now have a chance of winning that, too, after the two favourites for the title slipped up at the weekend.

And there’s the little matter of an FAW Cup quarter-final against Super League Everton in a couple of weeks.

Two more wins

Charlton celebrated a trio of league victories yesterday to enhance their prospects at all three levels.

The first team, playing their first league fixture for more than three months, won comfortably against a Copsewood side once again depleted by injuries.

Kit Graham, Nikita Whinnett and Gemma Shepherd – with a penalty – each scored in the second half, by which time the Coventry side were down to 10 players through injury.

Jeremy Parsons and Stuart Weston in charge for Charlton Athletic against Gillingham, October 2014

Jeremy Parsons (left) has continued to steer Charlton to success since the departure of Stuart Weston (right) (Photo: Keith Gillard)

The win lifts Charlton into fifth place, and they have games in hand of all four teams above them. But they have nine points to make up on leading pair Cardiff City and Portsmouth.

No such worries for the reserves, whose 6-1 victory over Bedford Reserves propels them to within touching distance of the league title.

In a game dramatically affected by the strong wind, Kylie Manktelow scored a hat-trick and Clare Rogers, Francesca Tye and Alex Baker (penalty) got one each.

Thanks to their goal difference, they could even wrap up the championship next Sunday at Queens Park Rangers if Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur fail to win.

Fixture congestion

Meanwhile, the club’s development side are providing an added bonus to the amazing season. They came back from behind yesterday to beat Castle Colts 2-1, only to discover that leaders Ashford only drew and second-placed Prince of Wales lost, putting Charlton very much in the running for the title.

They could seal the championship if they win their remaining four games, as they currently have a superior goal difference to Prince of Wales – the only team who could match their maximum points total.

But success comes at a price – and Charlton’s first team have an awful lot of fixtures to fit into the last few weeks of the season, with eight games in 35 days.

They host Lewes in the league on Wednesday, then title rivals Portsmouth on Sunday and West Ham just two days later before attention turns to their FA Cup quarter-final at Everton.

The following Thursday they are due to play Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the Ryman Cup. Then it’s back to league action against Plymouth Argyle on the Sunday before they renew acquaintances with Spurs again, three days later, this time in the league.

Their final league fixture is the reverse encounter with Copsewood on April 26 before they play successive cup finals in four days – Sheffield in the League Cup and West Ham in the Capital Cup.

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