Rovers let two goal lead slip in Charlton defeat

Mar 17, 2021 | Match Reports, News

A rollercoaster of a first half saw four goals scored, evenly split between each side with the Gas taking the lead from the spot through Luke Leahy, before Ed Upson extended the lead from range. Charlton retaliated with fervour though, with Andrew Shinnie superbly picking out the far right corner with a strike off his left peg to reduce the deficite. Moments before half-time, Charlton would level things up through Forster-Caskey as he struck a free-kick from 20 yards past the outstretched Joe Day.

Charlton scored the singular goal of the second half, with Connor Washington latching onto a looping ball to stab a shot past the onrushing Joe Day. The strike collided with the post but Washington had followed in well to rifle home the rebound. In added time, Joe Day would then be sent off the field for a challenge as the last man with Aneke beating the Cardiff-loanee to a bouncing ball.

One change from Saturday’s line-up was suspected from Barton’s selection this evening after Alex Rodman came off through injury in the weekend’s 0-0 draw. Indeed he was replaced, with Brandon Hanlan coming in to prompt a change of shape.

Joe Day will be looking to build on his heroics against AFC Wimbledon, with a back four ahead of him consisting of Williams, Baldwin, Kilgour and Leahy. In midfield, McCormick, Upson, Westbrooke and Nicholson were selected with two men tasked with finding the net ahead of them, Hanlan and Ayunga starting from the off.

A stagnant first 10 minutes came for both sides at the Valley with set-pieces the only real highlight of the early stages, a free-kick for Rovers and a corner for Charlton, both cleared well.

Canadian forward Liam Millar burst into the Rovers box on the 15th minute towards the left side, with space on the edge of the box he opted for an extra touch instead of striking. His touch was heavy though, prodding deep towards the byline and Joe Day was more than alert to the danger, rushing down and pushing the ball out for a corner.

Up the other end, Jonah Ayunga continued his promising recent form with a superb contribution, muscling his way between two Charlton men after turning neatly into space. The Charlton pair recovered as Ayunga progressed into the area, but collided with the towering forward from either side, with the ref’ given no choice but to point to the spot. Penalty taker Luke Leahy stepped up to slot home his 7th league goal of the season, rolling into the bottom left corner with his trademark confidence from the spot.

Ayunga would then have an effort of his own after the Gas sprung an incisive counter on their opposition with Westbrooke prodding forward. Ayunga chased it into the angle on the right flank with seemingly no support and nothing on, he opted to lift a strike over the ‘keeper from a sharp angle while under pressure. It beat Ben Amos in the Charlton net but curved wide of the far post with the bench releasing a booming ‘ooooo’ as it passed narrowly wide.

A focal point for everything the Gas were doing, Ayunga would superbly cushion a backheel into the path of Sam Nicholson to set up another chance. The Scotsman pushed the ball between two defenders before unleashing a shot from close range towards the bottom left corner, however, Amos was out to make himself big, extending a leg to his right to shin the ball back out towards his defence.

Once again Ayunga was too much for the Charlton defence, fighting the ball back off the Charlton midfield before laying it centrally to Ed Upson. In acres of space over 25 yards out the playmaker opted to hit it goalwards from range. Possibly blindsided by a defender attempting to block the ball, Ben Amos was flummoxed as it swerved centrally, beaten in the centre of the goal.

Charlton would respond in minutes, with the ball falling to Andrew Shinnie’s left foot on the edge of the box. He fired it back in between a sea of Rovers legs and the outstretched Joe Day, but nothing could be done to divert the strike away from the bottom right. Charlton instantly reducing the deficit.

Charlton were level prior to half-time through Forster-Caskey, a free-kick awarded for a challenge on Stockley gave the Charlton midfielder the chance from the dead ball around 20 yards out. He struck it well, placing it superbly past Day in the right side of the goal, meaning both sides would go in level.

The second half began very much like the first, with the first 10 minutes lacking attacking intent from either side. Charlton would deliver a dangerous corner towards the back stick on the 55th minute, with goalscorer Forster-Caskey diverting down into the ground towards the goal. As Kilgour recovered to hack it clear, the ref’ blew for a free-kick for a pull at the far post on Luke Leahy. An attacking flurry in an opening spell that lacked much of a pattern.

Connor Washington would go close as the game approached the hour mark as a stabbed ball picked him out in between the Rovers right-back and centre-back. He attempted to bend it around Joe Day, but the strike lacked the swerve required, fired straight at Day.

A knock to Sam Nicholson came just after the Charlton chance and after receiving a bit of treatment, Barton opted to make his first swap, bringing Cameron Hargreaves on in place of the Scotsman.

Midfielder Zain Westbrooke released a low snapshot from range soon after the change, taking a knockdown well and firing low towards the bottom left. He dragged the strike slightly, sending it past Amos’ goal.

Day would come and clear a through ball well away from his line on the right side of the box with his clearance falling to Forster-Caskey. As Day scrambled towards his goalmouth, Forster-Caskey bent a strike with his left towards goal. Fortunately for Day, Kilgour had tracked in smartly to clear and save Day’s blushes.

Jaiyesimi would opt for an acrobatic attempt with around 10 minutes to go as a lofted ball from the byline sat up for the substitute to attempt to spectacular. While making solid contact with the ball in his bicycle-kick attempt, he sent his strike clear of the bar.

The chances for Charlton prompted further changes for the Gas as Mark Little and James Daly came on for Hanlan and Westbrooke. 

Moments later, the Gas fell behind. With players adapting to the changes, Washington followed a ball between the lines while Joe Day rushed it down. Washington got there first, prodding with his right foot past the Cardiff loanee. Day looked to be saved as the ball found the post, but it bounced back kindly to Washington who had followed in well. He beat the recovering Jack Baldwin to the ball, prodding home to make it 3-2.

In the dying stages of the game, a looped ball bounced between Chuks Aneke and Joe Day as Rovers pushed men forward to try and find an equaliser. Aneke lept highest, heading the ball over Day with the ‘keeper colliding with the striker and seeing the ref’ raise the red card in his direction as he got to his feet.

Jordi Van Stappershoef replace Ed Upson in stoppage time, with the Gas unable to salvage anything from the game.

Rovers are back on their travels this weekend, heading down to Home Park on Saturday to take on Plymouth Argyle.

Charlton Athletic: Ben Amos, Chris Gunter, Akin Famewo, Jason Pearce ©, Jake Forster-Caskey, Jayden Stockley (Chuks Aneke ’74), Andrew Shinnie, Connor Washington, Albie Morgan, Ian Maatsen, Liam Millar (Diallang Jaiyesimi ’60).

Subs: Andrew Maynard-Brewer, Deji Oshilaja, Diallang Jaiyesimi, Chucks Aneke, Darren Pratley, Ben Watson, Ronnie Schwartz.

Rovers: Joe Day (Jordi Van Stappershoef ’90+2), Luke Leahy ©, Ed Upson, Zain Westbrooke (Mark Little ’82), Brandon Hanlan (James Daly ’82), Sam Nicholson (Cameron Hargreaves ’65), Luke McCormick, Alfie Kilgour, Jonah Ayunga, Jack Baldwin, George Williams.

Subs: Jordi van Stappershoef, Mark Little, Max Ehmer, Pablo Martinez, Cam Hargreaves, James Daly, Zain Walker.