Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Josh Magennis scored a hat-trick as Charlton came from behind to beat Bristol Rovers 4-1 at The Valley on Monday.
The Addicks made a flying start to 2017, despite falling behind to Jermaine Easter’s goal after 12 minutes.
Joe Aribo impressed once again, claiming a treble of his own in the shape of three assists, first setting up Magennis’ first to equalise before the break, before doing the same early in the second half as the duo combined again to net an almost identical goal.
Jorge Teixeira bagged the third from another Aribo pass, before the man of the hour Magennis completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute.
The big news prior to kick-off was that Chris Solly returned to the starting lineup as Karl Robinson made two changes to his side.
The vice-captain had missed the Addicks’ last nine matches with a knee injury but recovered sufficiently to take his place in the side and the captain’s armband.
He lined up in his usual right-back position, with the remainder of the back four consisting of Teixeira, Patrick Bauer and Morgan Fox, operating in front of goalkeeper Dillon Phillips.
New Year’s Eve goalscorer Andrew Crofts once again anchored the midfield with young duo Ezri Konsa and Aribo in front of him.
Meanwhile, Jordan Botaka and Adam Chicksen were out wide with Magennis leading the line.
After an even start to the game, the visitors were gifted the lead on 12 minutes when Bauer slipped as he attempted to play the ball back to Phillips midway into his own half.
The error allowed Jermaine Easter all the time and space in the world to gallop into the box before rounding the keeper and finishing with ease to put Rovers in front.
The Addicks’ first sight at goal came four minutes later when Aribo was chopped down 20 yards out after a good show of skill.
Magennis stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and struck it well, clipping the crossbar, much to the relief of the helpless stopper Will Puddy.
Charlton had responded well to going behind and saw all of the ball for the remainder of the half, plugging away patiently without creating anything clear-cut until another set-piece pathed the way for an equaliser four minutes before the break.
After Konsa was hauled down by Lee Mansell, Aribo swung in the free-kick from the right, perfectly picking out Magennis who headed home past Puddy for his sixth goal of the campaign, while Aribo could celebrate his second assist in as many games.
It could have got even better before half-time when Botaka’s teasing cross was nearly diverted into his own goal by Peter Hartley, while Chicksen’s 30-yarder skimmed just past the right-hand upright.
With the second half underway, the Addicks had an early opportunity to turn things around with a free-kick in a near identical position to that which made the first.
Looking to repeat the feat, Aribo stepped up and did just that, swinging the ball in, once again from right to left, for the unmarked Magennis to guide his header home to secure his brace and put the hosts in front.
The Northern Ireland international was full of confidence and came close to bagging a third moments later. After Bauer had surged forwards, he laid off the frontman who curled a good-looking effort only inches over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Come the hour-mark, however, and Charlton did get their third.
Konsa’s fine run through the entirety of the Rovers midfield saw him eventually chopped down by Mansell. Another free-kick meant another opportunity to score and the Addicks grabbed it with both hands.
Crofts’ clever set-piece pass set Aribo free on the left and the young midfielder picked out Teixeira at the back stick with a low cross from which the Portuguese swept home to give Karl Robinson’s men a healthy two-goal cushion.
That goal meant that 20-year old Aribo completed a hat-trick of set-ups to pull himself to four league assists in what was only his second league start of his career.
The home side were looking comfortable with Konsa seeing a shot deflected over before man of the match Magennis rounded off a memorable afternoon by plundering his hat-trick with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Crofts earned the assist this time, lofting an inch-perfect pass over the top of the visitors’ defence which the forward took down brilliantly.
There was still work to be done with Puddy rushing out of his goal, but Magennis kept his cool, opened his body up and finished brilliantly inside the far post to send SE7 into raptures.
Magennis was simply irresistible, striking the crossbar again from a tight angle in the dying minutes, as the Addicks saw out another emphatic result against the West Country outfit.
Indeed, the win secured a first double of the season after November’s 5-1 thrashing at the Memorial Stadium and stretched Charlton’s unbeaten run to three games with seven points from a possible nine over the festive period.
Robinson and his side can now enjoy a small break until their next challenge – a derby-day clash with Millwall at The Valley on January 14th, with a score to settle.
Charlton: Phillips, Solly (Ajose 82), Teixeira, Bauer, Fox, Crofts, Konsa (Foley 82), Aribo (Ulvestad 78), Chicksen, Botaka, Magennis.
Subs (not used): Mitov, Dasilva, Ahearne-Grant, Umerah.
Booked: Fox 28 (foul on Moore), Chicksen 75 (timewasting), Solly 80 (foul on Taylor)
Goals: Magennis 41, 50, 73, Teixeira 60
Bristol Rovers: Puddy, Leadbitter (Clarke 62), Brown, Lockyer, Hartley, Mansell, Lawrence, Easter (Taylor 59), Moore, Sinclair, Gaffney (Harrison 59).
Subs (not used): Roos, McChrystal, Bodin, Colkett.
Booked: Brown 32 (foul on Botaka), Mansell 58 (foul on Konsa), Moore 67 (diving)
Goal: Easter 12
Referee: D Deadman
Att: 12,252 (1,571 from Bristol Rovers)
Read Time: 5 mins