Doncaster Rovers v Charlton Athletic: ‘Life without Karlan Grant has been a struggle’ – The opposition view
The big games keep coming for Doncaster Rovers with promotion rivals Charlton Athletic arriving at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The Addicks are within reach of Rovers in the battle for a top six finish but have been a strong outfit all season so what are the prospects for success for the hosts at the Keepmoat this weekend?
We spoke to Charlton journalist Louis Mendez to get the lowdown on Lee Bowyer’s side.
Q: Charlton look to be in a strong position heading into the last stretch of games? How do you assess where they are currently and it automatic promotion still a possibility?
LM: I think automatic promotion is out of the question now but they will feel confident of finishing in the play-off places for the second successive year. A seven-point cushion above seventh-placed Peterborough gives the Addicks the breathing space they need.
Saturday’s late win at rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon was a first in five outings and settled a few nerves after Lee Bowyer’s side as they have struggled to adjust to life without Karlan Grant over the last few weeks.
Q: How has the club coped with the departure of Grant, who seemed to be a big player?
LM: It’s been a difficult transition. Charlton’s main threat this campaign had been Grant’s superb partnership with Lyle Taylor and the former’s move to Huddersfield seemed to have taken the wind out of the Addicks’ sails.
The move coinciding with Taylor serving a three-match ban added insult to injury and goals dried up – just one in four games before Saturday.
Josh Parker joined on a short-term deal from Gillingham as to replenish the forward-line options but has yet to make a major contribution.
Grant’s pace going forward – plus his 14 goals as well - has been sorely missed.
Q: From the outside, it seems as though on-the-pitch matters have provided the main talking points this season as opposed to the usual off-field troubles. Is that the case?
LM: With the team doing well, it’s been easier for fans to concentrate on on-field matters, but under Roland Duchatelet, controversy is never far away.
Supporters were angered by the fact that not a penny of Karlan Grant’s transfer fee was made available for Lee Bowyer to reinvest during the January transfer window. The owner then refused to green light the arrival of free agent Joe Mason after the window – this then caused striker Lyle Taylor to publicly question the owner’s interest in seeing the club promoted at all this season.
And if all that excitement wasn’t enough, Duchatelet appeared on talkSPORT this week after some of his properties in his hometown in Belgium were daubed with Charlton-related graffiti.
The owner admitted it was a mistake to get involved in English football but said that protestors should leave him alone.
Q: What system and style of play does Lee Bowyer favour?
LM: More often than not this season Bowyer has opted for a 4-4-2 diamond formation but he’s been forced to shuffle his pack a fair bit since Grant’s sale as he tries to find a suitable partner for Lyle Taylor.
He’s experimented with a 4-3-2-1 a couple of times in the last few weeks as well with mixed results. Either way, his side always look to control possession and play out from the back
Q: Who are the danger men for Charlton???????????????
LM: Lyle Taylor is still Charlton’s biggest threat. His hold-up play is second-to-none and he plays with a certain aggression that defenses struggle to deal with.
Joe Aribo’s touch and quick footwork in the midfield can help to carve open an opponent.
Special mention as well to Jonny Williams – he glides forward with ease in possession and will prove deadly if he continues to create chances with the frequency he started doing so at Wimbledon last weekend.