Not so much a definitive record but a series of snapshots that ended again in heartache.
For a second consecutive season, Charlton's fate depended, at least partly, on final day results elsewhere in the league. Last year, they were relegated from the Championship when Brentford conceded a last minute goal to Barnsley while they themselves were being hammered 4-0 by divisional title winners Leeds United. Twelve hugely disappointing months later, they gamely beat League One champions Hull City but lost out on the play-offs place to Oxford, 4-0 winners over Jimmy Floyd Hasseltwerp's disgracefully supine Burton Albion. Robinson's side finished on the same points total but with a seven-goal advantage in goal difference.
The margins were fine but Charlton's second failure could again be traced to self-inflicted wounds. Their chronic vulnerability to added time goals was less costly than last term but an inability to convert three vital penalties told an even grimmer story. Every team misses penalties; the thing is to miss them when they have little bearing on the result. Charlton's unreliable markmanship from 12 yards accounted for five lost points.
The efficient 2-0 opening day win at Crewe was an excellent start but was also a false dawn. It gave us a parting reminder of Alfie Doughty's talent and featured George Lapslie's solitary start of the season. A league debut for 17 year-old Charlie Barker was another encouraging milestone but before long all three youngsters had vanished from the scene. Doughty was soon on his way to Stoke, where he headed straight for the infirmary; Lapslie, clearly not fancied by Lee Bowyer, was loaned to, then later allowed to join Mansfield Town, where an outstanding campaign ended with his nomination as the Nottinghamshire club's Player of the Season; Barker made two more league appearances before being discreetly withdrawn to continue his footballing education at a more realistic level.
While departing the various cup competitions with their usual indecent haste, the Addicks were promptly chastened by back-to-back defeats at the hands of Doncaster Rovers and surprise packets Lincoln City before embarking on an eight-game unbeaten streak, which was distinguished by six successive clean sheets. The centre back partnership of Ryan Inniss and Akin Famewo was rock-solid during their impressive climb to 3rd position but injuries to both defensive kingpins undermined momentum. A 3-2 victory over Fleetwood Town at The Valley and a 1-1 draw at Gillingham on November 21st completed the unbeaten string but it was at Priestfield that the first of the missed penalties cost them.
A dour game was scoreless when Conor Washington, who had proved himself reliable from the spot, prepared to take a first half spotkick. His concentration was compromised by an unseemly squabble with Omar Bogle, whose selfish hunger for a goal mattered more than his responsibility to the team. A clearly distracted Washington failed to beat the keeper and his miss was placed into sharp relief when the Gills converted a penalty of their own to lead 1-0. A late equaliser from Chuks Aneke rescued a point where three had been on offer. Three days after the Priestfield fiasco, new depths were plumbed when Burton Albion ruthlessly punished the Addicks' slavish adherence to "playing out from the back" with two early goals on their way to a 4-2 win.
Contrasting results against Ipswich Town (2-0) and MK Dons ( 0-1) introduced the win-lose-draw sequence which characterised the season and kept Charlton from mounting a serious challenge for automatic promotion. The home loss to Dons in December was followed by a 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury which brought Ben Watson his first Charlton goal but also a disastrously conceded last gasp penalty equaliser. The haul of eight points from seven January games and five from six February games was hardly the stuff of promotion seekers. Seven games were lost, the most embarrassing of them being the 2-1 loss to Burton who duly completed a league double over Bowyer's bunglers. The subsequent 3-0 defeat by Blackpool demoted Charlton to 12th position but the rot was stopped at Wigan (1-0), a result which heralded a return to form. The 14 points realised from six unbeaten games in March kept the Addicks in contention but also brought the second of those three squandered penalties during a 0-0 stand-off at Oxford United. A tense encounter was drifting towards a useful draw when Jayden Stockley turned sharply on to Adam Matthews' throw-in and was brought down inside the penalty area. With Washington having already been substituted, Ronnie Schwartz volunteered for spotkick duty but placed his shot too close to the goalkeeper. We had no way of knowing at the time but the final-day fate of both clubs was to come down to Schwartz's missed penalty.
At the end of March, Nigel Adkins replaced Bowyer, by then manager in name only as his clandestine negotiations with Birmingham City became public. Adkins' debut was hardly auspicious as a jaw-dropping misunderstanding involving Famewo and Ben Amos, both stalwart contributors to the promotion bid, gifted Wimbledon a second half equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
Away wins at Doncaster Rovers (1-0) and Sunderland (2-1) more authentically began Adkins' tenure, the victory at the Keepmoat Stadium bringing with it a first club goal for the irrepressible Ian Maatsen. A colourless 0-0 draw at home to Ipswich brought us down to earth but three days later, a club record was equalled as Plymouth Argyle were demolished 6-0 at Home Park. Barnsley had been similarly crushed at Oakwell during Chris Powell's reign, which had stood briefly as the club's record away victory. Charlton's see-saw form was exemplified during the same week by Championship-bound Peterborough United's 1-0 triumph at The Valley, a game which included the third of those fateful missed penalties. Posh were leading through prolific Johnson Clarke-Harris' early opener when Stockley stepped up to the spot after Liam Millar was brought down in the act of shooting. His effort was comfortably saved and Charlton had wasted yet another golden opportunity to claim what was to prove a pivotal point.
Still in with a viable shot at the play-offs, Charlton hosted Crewe Alexandra in a twice-postponed fixture at The Valley on Tuesday April 27th. Having led twice, they were unabashedly hanging on during six added minutes when blind panic set in. To be fair to Inniss, he managed two effective headed clearances before Keystone Kops' defending allowed Owen Dale, scorer of Alex's first goal, to master an awkward bounce and smash home a 97th minute equaliser. Nothing - not even constant repetition - prepares you for the sickening disbelief such a goal inflicts on its victims.
April began with a 1-1 draw at Accrington, where Aneke's 96th minute equaliser stunned Stanley, then continued with home victories over play-offs qualifiers Lincoln City and Grant McCann's relaxed champions Hull City. News of the white flag hoisted by Burton at the Kassam Stadium quickly destroyed Charlton's always tenuous hope of a miraculous reprieve and an atmosphere of resignation ushered in the end of another if-only season for the Addicks. Close again - really close - but again, no cigar.
As Adkins and his staff assess the fall-out, the immediate priority will be to form a squad from the survivors capable of mounting a serious challenge for automatic promotion next season. The usual post-season shakedown will see numerous departures from SE7, some of them, as in Maatsen's case, regrettable. Millar improved game-by-game but has already spoken like he's on the way elsewhere. Stockley joined during the January window, made his debut at MK Dons and went on to score eight goals in twenty starts. This brave, uncomplicated centre forward should be made an offer he can't refuse - as should Aneke, whose 15 league goals in roughly the same number of starts were remarkable. A Stockley-Aneke partnership up front would keep League One defences up at night.
Adkins brought the best out of Alex Gilbey, so pointedly ignored by Bowyer, and it was the rangy midfielder's 85th minute goal against Crewe which seemed to have clinched Charlton's play-offs place. Gilbey's rise mirrored the eclipse of Andrew Shinnie, with the new manager clearly preferring the former. There should be room for both as squad members operating in a midfield dominated by the revitalised Jake Forster-Caskey, deserving recipient of the club's Player of the Year trophy. Shame that midfield won't include Lapslie, another victim of Bowyer's freezing out policy as was Albie Morgan, whose error led to the disastrous added time equaliser at Shrewsbury. Morgan's career is on an upward curve. If he can add the occasional goal, he should be around for a while.
Old sweats Watson and Darren Pratley regularly copped critical flak but proved their worth to Adkins. Another year each seems worthwhile, as long as experience has a part to play even in the modern game. No doubt Famewo will leave but Inniss will stay, which makes the acquisition of a tried-and-trusted centre back something of a priority. Like Watson and Pratley, club captain Jason Pearce has earned a contract extension. Deji Oshilaja fell out of favour with Bowyer following the 3-0 home defeat by Blackpool on February 27th and was never reinstated when Adkins took over a month later. His future must be in doubt. Right back Adam Matthews seems sure to continue with Ben Purrington filling in for the effervescent Maatsen on the opposite side. Another full back looks vital. With Millar expected to re-join his parent club, Liverpool, en route to a loan spell elsewhere, Diallang Jaiyesimi could step up to fill the gap.
And while the comings and goings are resolved, the scouting and recruiting of essential reinforcements begins. Two seasons of heartbreaking failure have been more than enough. The Championship is where Charlton belong. Just get us out of this dreadful division, Nigel. And while you're at it, spare us the play-offs please!