I'm taking a slightly unorthodox to today's match report – I'm currently sitting on a train to Manchester for my mate's 30th birthday and have absolutely no idea what's happening on the pitch against struggling Preston.
So, taking the spirit of all good card games, I'm taking a ballsy approach today – I'm writing this one 'blind'. I'll be at my mate's flat to post this later, and only at that point will I check the score to see how wildly inaccurate or smugly correct I've managed to judge it.
Onto the starting lineup then. Weaver as ever is a shoe-in between the sticks, and Pards will opt for the same back-four of Youga, McCarthy, Sodje and Halford. Its a return to 4-4-2 after Tuesday's draw, with an eye for pace up front.
Holland and Zhi continued their central pairing, with Ambrose and Scot Sinclair on the flanks. The forward threat came from Varney and new loan signing Leroy Lita, who wnet straight into the starting lineup on his Valley debut.
Charlton showed their attacking intent from the off – searching passes from Ambrose and Zhi found the forward pair in good attacking areas, but the lack of killer instinct shown in previous games was apparent as good chances went begging.
Preston played the classic away game, sitting back in their half in the hope of picking up a point. This frustrated the efforts of Charlton for much of the first-half, but things changed in the 35th minute.
A clever pass from Zhi found Sinclair in space on the wing, who needed no encouragement to run at the Preston defence. A burst of pace found the space to put in a curling cross, which was met emphatically by Varney at the far post to hit home for the opener.
The obvious relief for the home fans was blighted by memories of the last few home performances, but Charlton continued to press. The away side showed little in the way of attacking endeavour, but for all the Addicks' dominance, the closest they came to a second was a dipping effort from Ambrose that went just wide.
The second half threatened to go in an all too familiar fashion, as Preston came out looking a different side. The formation stayed the same, but there was more intent to win possession, and the long-balls were making the home defence look decidedly shaky.
One period of sustained pressure presented Preston with 3 corners in succession, forcing one excellent reaction save from Weaver in the resulting scramble.
Defence soon turned into attack, and a long throw from Weaver found Ambrose on the half-way line. A clever turn from the midfielder and a neat pass to Varney found the striker through on goal with only a defender and keeper to beat. Varney's shot was only parried by the keeper, and the ball kindly rolled into the path of Lita who made no mistake in opening his account at The Valley.
This effectively killed off the game, and with less than 25 minutes remaining Pardew reshuffled his pack. Lita came off for Semedo to shore up the midfield, which help stifle the resurgence of the away team. Preston had a good shout for a penalty when the ball appeared to hit Sodje's arm, but no decision was given.
Pardew introduced Thomas for Sinclair who had a reasonable game on his full debut, but was guilty of giving the ball away on occasion.
With the game petering away into a midfield battle, Iwelumo was brought on for Varney to help hold up the game and kill some time. The big striker played an important defensive role in the final minutes, twice heading the ball away from corners as Preston desperately tried to find a late entry back into the match.
The final whistle gave some much needed comfort to the home crowd, and helps to cement the case for a playoff place.
Back to the real world – it's five to four, I've just gone through Wolverhampton, and many of you reading this would have been preparing for the second half at this moment.
If the reality was anything like this report, perhaps I should stay on the trains during Saturday afternoons...
EDIT - Oh dear, not the best of days in the real world was it? 1-2, and we're in trouble...