Date published: 07 February 2021
Smith Metals Stand
Rochdale’s dismal home form continued with another defeat as Charlton left the Crown Oil Arena with all three points in a dominant display. Charlton were just too strong for a Dale side buoyed by their win at Bristol last weekend with two goals inside the opening thirty minutes enough to seal the win. Chuks Aneke turned Gabriel Osho inside the box before firing into the bottom left-hand corner of Gavin Bazunu’s goal whilst Deji Oshilaja poked home from close range after a corner wasn’t cleared. The margin could have been much more heading into the break but for some superb goalkeeping from Bazunu and the woodwork keeping the score line down.
Brian Barry-Murphy welcomed captain Eoghan O’Connell back into his starting eleven after the Irishman missed the last six games with a hamstring injury. Ryan McLaughlin also returned after a spell of self-isolation. All three deadline day signings had to make do with a place on the bench as the Dale manager looked to earn a first home win 12 games in all competitions; a run that stretches back to the beginning of October.
Just four weeks ago these two sides played out a thrilling 4-4 draw down at the Valley but there was to be no repeat of that once Lee Bowyer’s play-off chasers edged in front after just seven minutes. The tricky Liam Millar, on loan from Liverpool, worked well down the left before feeding Aneke. The powerful forward, with his back to goal, turned Osho far too easily before picking his spot in the far corner for his 10th of the season.
Charlton looked in the mood and Rochdale didn’t look to have any answers as the visitors went close six minutes later. Millar’s shot from outside the area was deflected onto the crossbar by Rathbone who bravely threw his head at the ball.
Charlton’s second came just short of the half-hour and it was once again from Dale failing to clear a corner. The ball in from the left was headed at goal by Jayden Stockley with Bazunu clawing the ball away but when it fell to Darren Pratley, the former Swansea midfielder clipped the ball into a dangerous area. Jason Pearce acrobatically headed the ball at goal with Oshilaja, almost on the line, turning the ball in despite Dale’s protests for offside; replays showing O’Connell playing the defender onside.
Aneke and Millar were wreaking havoc with the Dale back line with Aneke seeing a shot deflect off the upright.
The home side’s best chance of the half came six minutes before the interval through Kwadwo Baah. The youngster, who scored two stunning goals in that 4-4 draw at the Valley, burst through on the left of the area but he fluffed his lines when it came to shooting: his shot flying high into the empty stand behind.
The last chance of the half fell to Bowyer’s men; on loan Andrew Shinnie being denied by Bazunu who was at full stretch to tip his effort onto the post.
Charlton, with a cushion of a two-goal lead, knew it was up to their hosts to come at them in the second half, but the opening twenty minutes was a non-event.
Aaron Morley almost gave Dale a lifeline when his left-wing corner hit the near post before being scrambled away whilst Stephen Humphrys will feel he should have hit the target when he got some space inside the area; his low shot whistled past the near post.
Aneke flashed a shot across the face of goal in a rare second half attack for the visitors whilst Bazunu came out well to smother a Millar chance but by that point, Charlton had done enough to take the points.
The season will not be defined by a home defeat against a team pushing for the upper echelons of League One but with games coming up against MK Dons (h), AFC Wimbledon (a), Northampton (a) and Burton (h) before the end of the month, this spell could paint a better picture of how the season will pan out.
Rochdale: Bazunu, McLaughlin (Keohane 68), O’Connell ©, Osho (Vale 80), Roberts (Done 60), Dooley (Newby 60), Morley, Rathbone (Grant 68), Baah, Lund, Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) McNulty, Shaughnessy
Charlton: Amos, Gunter (Matthews 78), Oshilaja, Pearce ©, Purrington, Shinnie (Jaiyesimi 78), Pratley, Millar, Forster-Caskey (Morgan 90), Stockley, Aneke (Schwartz 86)
Substitutes: (not used) Maynard-Brewer, Smith, Watson
Referee: Mr T Bramall
Assistants: Mr C Isherwood & Mr O Bickle
Fourth Official: Mr A Backhouse