By Tony Leighton
There is no let-up in the pressure on Charlton Athletic as Chris Powell's team look to gain a firm foothold in the npower Championship following promotion last season.
The Addicks are in the midst of a daunting run that has seen their last three away games against teams that are hotly tipped for promotion and their next two outings - both at home - against third in the table Middlesbrough and leaders Cardiff City.
Powell's side, who sit just two places and two points above the relegation zone, have won only one of their last six games - but that victory came at Blackpool and was followed by draws at Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Manager Powell said: "We've done well in recent away games, but when you go to Leeds and get a point that maybe should have been turned into three and then you do exactly the same at Wolves, you kind of think it's going against you a bit.
"We've got to learn quickly in the Championship about being clinical when chances come along. It's all about taking your chances because you don't get many in this division, certainly not as many as we got in League 1.
"But tactically, we've got it right in those recent away games and that sets us up for the two home matches we've got coming up. They'll be tough tests but they all are, and it's about us making sure we do our best to come away with a win."
Charlton have been short on wins so far this season, collecting just three in their 13 games to date. But while Powell admits that his team are yet to truly find their feet in the higher division after romping to the npower League 1 title, he is not dissatisfied.
"It's been an up-and-down start for us," he said, "there's no denying that, and I think that maybe we should have got a few more points on the board. But it is what it is.
"With a quarter of the season gone it's now about taking on board what's happened to us so far, trying to improve on that and making sure that we start getting more points on the board because obviously it can be a long winter.
"It's still very tight in the division, though. I look at the table and think that we're only three or four points from moving up seven or eight places - that's how concertinaed the League is at the moment."
As he looks to guide his team away from the bottom end of the table, Powell's 2012/13 ambition is consolidation in the Championship, not replicating the feats of Norwich City and Southampton in the last two seasons as each club rose from npower League 1 to the Premier League through successive promotions.
"Southampton and Norwich did exceptionally well and fair play to them," said the Addicks boss, "but we can only manage and do what we're good at.
"We want to build slowly. We had three years in League 1 and it was tough for us. We had a sensational season last year, now it's about us trying to move forward as a club and not get carried away with ourselves.
"It's about consolidating, trying to move forward and taking our time, because if you get carried away you can head for a big fall. So it's more about us just trying to move forward and take steps in the right direction."
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