Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers: ‘An early Rovers goal will send shockwaves of nerves through The Valley’ – the opposition view

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer on the sidelines at the Keepmoat
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer on the sidelines at the Keepmoat

One goal may not have changed anything just yet but it could have a huge bearing on the play-off semi-final between Doncaster Rovers and Charlton Athletic.

Matty Blair’s late header reduced the command with which Charlton held the tie and ensured there will be plenty to play for when the two sides lock horns in the second leg on Friday night.

We caught up with Charlton expert Louis Mendez of BBC London and the South London Press to get his thoughts on the first leg and how he sees Friday night’s game shaping up.

Q: What are your thoughts after that first leg?

LM: Charlton were a couple of minutes away from a perfect afternoon until Matty Blair’s late goal.

Rovers came out the traps reasonably well but Charlton were dealing with balls into their area and reducing the hosts mainly to long-range efforts.

Then, as we’ve seen so often this season, the Addicks really turned it on and had a brace of decent openings before that quickfire double from Lyle Taylor and Joe Aribo.

Lee Bowyer’s hand was forced a bit tactically in the second-half as striker Josh Parker suffered from cramp with no able deputy on the bench.

This saw Charlton end up sitting a bit deeper then they may have wanted but they still had a golden chance to kill the game off as Aribo’s cross drifted an inch over Taylor’s head in front of an unguarded net.

Barely a minute later Roves had a bit of fortune with the deflected cross falling to Blair who keeps the tie alive ahead of Friday’s second leg.

Q: How much concern do you think Rovers' late goal has caused?

LM: It certainly makes Friday’s game more interesting but Lee Bowyer didn’t seem too concerned afterwards.

He said he would have been pleased to take a lead of any sort back to The Valley – and that is no surprise when you consider Charlton’s remarkable home form.

It will certainly give Rovers hope though, who know any early goal at The Valley will send a shockwave of nerves pulsing through the home crowd.

The play-offs have always tended to shock and a one-goal deficit is physiologically a much smaller mountain to climb. 

Q: Did you see anything to concern you from Rovers in the first leg?

LM: For large spells I thought the Addicks kept Malik Wilks quiet at the Keepmoat but he did have a couple of moments where he put defenders on the back-foot.

Grant McCann will hope he is more involved in the second-leg as he certainly has the quality to cause problems

We’ve also seen in both games in Yorkshire this year that once Rovers have their tails up then they can have rampant spells – both after their equaliser in the league game and Blair’s goal on Sunday we saw Donny swarming forward for another goal and forcing Charlton onto the backfoot.

Q: Has there been any early team news from Charlton?

LM: Nothing major has come out of Sunday’s game. Parker came off with cramp but he will be fine.

Igor Vetokele missed out completely on the weekend and it seems likely he won’t be involved but other than Charlton are operating with a fully-fit squad.

Jonny Williams had returned from injury to take a place on the bench at the Keepmoat so he may be pushing for a start, in which case Lee Bowyer will have a decision to make as I felt youngster Albie Morgan was very impressive in the opening hour on Sunday.

Q: How confident are you that Charlton will progress?

LM: Charlton will certainly still be the favourites.

They’re unbeaten at The Valley in the league since October, losing just twice there in the regular league season.

Blair’s goal on Sunday was the first they had conceded in just over seven hours of football and they’ve been scoring for fun recently.

But as I said earlier – this is the play-offs.  An early goal for Doncaster rips the tie wide open.

It should be a classic.