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Mark relishes South London derby

Manager excited ahead of his first home game in charge

4 April 2022

Mark Bowen is chomping at the bit to get his teeth into his former club Charlton Athletic tomorrow evening – along with reacquainting himself with our spiritual home!

He previously plied his trade for both Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City during his playing career and came up against the Dons on more than one occasion at our old ground just around the corner.

Mark did in fact score on numerous occasions against us, but of course his excitement is far more centred around the chance to lead his current side out in front of a packed and no doubt raucous home crowd tomorrow night. 

“I played at Plough Lane a few times in the past," Mark recalled. "Fans won’t want me to say it, but in one of my last games for Tottenham I scored against Wimbledon there and I think I got one for Norwich there as well.

"But the one thing I do know is that I can’t wait for the atmosphere. So much is said about it by the players and the staff here. We have a young squad that thrives on momentum, so we need to create those periods through not only the way we play, but also with the atmosphere generated by the crowd.”

Of course, the Dons were cruelly beaten on Saturday at the death by Sheffield Wednesday. Our manager was keen to stress that we need to take the positives from the performance, but also learn from what we can improve upon moving into tomorrow’s game with Charlton.

“It’s not just about that (reinforcing the positives)," Mark added. "You also have to remind the players about – and there wasn’t very many – the occasions where they were sloppy and where they could improve. It’s important that we give the players that information in order to make sure that we become more productive moving into the game tomorrow.

“From what I’ve seen, they’ve got the ability and there is good ability within the squad. Yes, we’re giving them direction, but I love to see players doing things off the cuff. I want them to express themselves, that’s the key.”

As for how the team is shaping up, Mark explained that Lee Brown is expected to be the only absentee for this highly anticipated derby game. Whilst he also pointed out that players who weren’t in the starting eleven on Saturday have to be ready to take their chances between now and the end of the campaign.

“We’ve got one issue with Browny, he’s tested positive (for Covid). On top of that we have some lads who maybe weren’t ready (on Saturday) that are now pushing for first team places. They need to make sure that they are prepared both mentally and physically so that if they get a chance, they can show me what they can do.”

As for how the gaffer has found his time at the helm so far, he was quick to express how much he is enjoying the challenge of helping us to maintain our League One status as the focus now switches to a reunion with one of his other former sides on Tuesday evening.

“I’m honestly loving it! It’s a club with a rich history, a fanbase that’s passionate, it’s got good young players and it’s got everyone pulling in the same direction. I have very happy memories (of my time at Charlton). They have a small place in my heart but that will certainly go out the window tomorrow night. We’ll be fully focused on getting three points on the board.”

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