|Charlton Athletic 4 v 4 Rochdale|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 12th January 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Match Preview: Charlton vs Rochdale
Monday, 11th Jan 2021 18:56 by AtThePeake
Can Dale build on a stunning second half comeback versus Crewe as they head to the capital to take on Charlton on Tuesday night?
Date: Tuesday 12th January 2021
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Having given away the lead sloppily after a lack of concentration in possession, the hosts quickly conceded twice more before the half-time whistle was blown, with some relatively positive attacking play only resulting in two stinging, successful counter-attacks from the Railwaymen.
However, two goals from Matty Lund and one from Aaron Morley or Stephen Humphrys depending on who you listen to (it looked like Morley's goal to me on Saturday), saw Dale come from a seemingly desperate position to take a point on Saturday. So what next for BBM?
Time will tell on that front, but we will at least more than likely see a start for Paul McShane in this game. The full extent of captain Eoghan O'Connell's injury is yet to be known by fans but given that he was withdrawn at 3-0 and his replacement McShane was praised by Stephen Humphrys in his post-match conference, who is to say that O'Connell would start even if he was completely fit in this game?
He almost certainly would, but Dale's record with McShane in the team is much stronger and although his injury record has been pretty dreadful during his time at Spotland, the former Hull City and Sunderland man clearly brings a level of organisation to the back four that is missing in his absence.
Elsewhere, most fans will hope to see Ryan McLaughlin return to the starting XI with Jimmy Keohane switching to the left-back spot ahead of Matt Done. McLaughlin is another who struggles for consistent fitness, but he is the best of our full-backs when available and it seems that Matt Done's struggles to keep up with the current pace at League One are all set to continue.
Gavin Bazunu's return to the starting eleven on Saturday should not be under-estimated either. The Manchester City loanee made at least three excellent saves in the second half to keep the comeback alive - saves that in all honest, few of us would expect Jay Lynch, his understudy, to make.
BBM hinted at his desire for some new faces in his post-match press conference following the draw with Crewe and it's clear where the squad needs work. A tough-tackling defensive midfielder would go a long way to stopping counter-attacks like those that the Railwaymen pulled off, but a left-back is still the main priority following the end of Tolaji Bola's loan from Premier League side Arsenal.
Another noticeable hole in the squad is the lack of options in attack. During the games in which Beesley was missing through the concussion protocols, Dale were almost forced into bringing in Stephen Dooley - we simply don't have another centre-forward option, which seems like poor planning given that when fit, we seem to be playing both of the two we have together at the moment.
Poor planning and poor organisation may just well be the story of the season so far and although nobody expected a play-off tilt, Dale fans will quickly run out of patience if their team can't start to make the alterations necessary to keep their heads above the parapet in League One this term.
For quite some time, Charlton Athletic were an established Premier League club. So much so, that when we were drawn against them in the FA Cup Third Round in 2005, it felt like a genuinely big tie away from home.
Dale went down 4-1 that day, Grant Holt scoring their only goal, but little did they know that down the road, the Addicks would not only become a team they would face more regularly in league football - but one they would also occasionally have the better of.
Indeed, one of the greatest games in the modern history of the club came against Charlton back in 2018, when Joe Thompson's goal secured Dale's League One status at the hands of local rivals Oldham Athletic on the final day of the 2017/2018 campaign.
Relegation from the Championship last season came in difficult circumstances, with star man Lyle Taylor refusing to play in the final games of the season following lockdown having already secured a move away from the Valley and in a way you had to feel for Lee Bowyer having worked so hard to drag his beloved club out of League One.
Now, unsurprisingly, the aim is to get them back to the second tier, even if the heady days of being an established Premier League outfit seem some way in the distance now given the off-field issues that have epitomised the club in recent seasons.
Although overall Bowyer has done a fine job with Charlton Athletic, one has to wonder whether questions need to be asked at this point. A fine start to the season has given way to less impressive form and Charlton come into this match with no wins in their last four games, and just two in their last ten leagues games.
A 2-0 home defeat in front of the television cameras to Accrington Stanley on Friday night leaves Charlton down in 7th place in the table, below Stanley and even out of the play-off spots, meaning a reaction is needed from them here.
In terms of the playing staff, this still looks like a potential Championship squad on paper. There is certainly experience of playing in the second tier, from goalkeeper Ben Amos to full-back Chris Gunter, mercurial midfielder Jonny Williams and 35 year olds Ben Watson and Darren Pratley.
It's fair to say in fact that this is a rather 'experienced' squad for League One level. Even new signing Ronnie Schwartz, from Danish club FC Midtjylland, is the wrong side of 30 - taking the tally of 30+ year old players in Bowyer's squad to seven.
One name that is instantly recognisable among the lower leagues is that of former Peterborough star Marcus Maddison. The Durham-born winger is an injury doubt for this game but has also come in for criticism from Bowyer in the press of late for 'jumping out of tackles'. Dale fans can only hope he isn't at his best should he feature on Tuesday night.
18 Feb 2017 - Rochdale 3-3 Charlton Athletic - League One
Photo: Action Images
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