REPORT | Charlton 3 Bristol Rovers 1

Charlton made it three league wins in a row with a 3-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at The Valley.

Jamie Ward scored his first goal for the Addicks, Joe Aribo netted on the stroke of half-time and Karlan Grant scored his ninth of the season in stoppage time as the Addicks secured a deserved three points to move back into the sixth spot they occupied before Coventry City's draw with Peterborough United last night.

It was a much-changed side for the Addicks from the side that beat Walsall 2-0 before the recent international break. Leading scorer Lyle Taylor was suspended while Josh Cullen and Igor Vetokele picked up long-term injuries in that win. It meant the Addicks once again started in a diamond formation with a return in defence for Patrick Bauer, who had missed the previous two months with injury before playing in the FA Cup on Tuesday. Nicky Ajose was also handed a starting berth after an impressive appearance in that 5-0 win against Mansfield, where he scored and assisted two Taylor goals. 

The Addicks began the game with a real confidence and nearly had the lead in two minutes when a well flighted Ajose corner found Jason Pearce ahead of his defender. The centre-half wasn’t quite able to direct his volleyed effort on target.  

The next chance was even better and again Ajose was the provider as he got in behind the Rovers’ defence. His cut-back cross from near the byline on the left came to George Lapslie, close to the penalty spot. The academy graduate had time to place his effort but unfortunately picked out goalkeeper Jack Bonham.

The goal was coming and Ward delivered it in the 10th minute as Jed Steer turned a surprise provider. The goalkeeper came out to claim a Bristol Rovers attacking free kick and immediately, and accurately, launched a ball in the direction of the Northern Ireland international. Ward’s first touch, just in the Rovers half, took him away from the defenders and set himself up nicely for a delicate, volleyed chip from just outside the area over the on-rushing Bonham.

Charlton controlled much of the tempo of the game and Rovers were restricted to half chances with Ollie Clarke and Tom Nichols shooting at goal inside the area but neither bothering Steer with their efforts.

For that reason it was a surprise when Joe Martin levelled the scores on the half hour mark. Rovers counter-attacked and the ball fell for Martin just outside the area and he powered a first-time, left-footed wonder strike straight into the top corner of the goal giving Steer no chance. 

As half-time approached Steer was called into action and made a very good save down low to his left to deny Ollie Clarke.

The Addicks went straight up the other end and Ajose looked certain to score from a Karlan Grant cross from the left but the striker was well denied though by a sprawling Bonham. 

A 44th minute deflected free kick from Ajose went just past the post and it looked like the teams would go in level at half- time.

Aribo had other ideas and popped up at the back post to head home a scrappy goal after Bauer had done well to get on the end of an Anfernee Dijksteel cross from a short corner to give Charlton the lead again. 

The Addicks started the second half with equal intensity and within five minutes of the re-start Bauer had headed just wide after some good work and a decent cross by Pearce from the left wing after a cleared corner.

Charlton's best chance of the second half, until stoppage time, fell to Ward who was deep in the Rovers’ area when he collected a pass from Chris Solly. Caught between a shot and a cross his effort rolled harmlessly wide.  

Joe Aribo came close to two goals as well but his driven 61st minute effort went just past Bonham’s post. 

The introduction of Fosu, in place of Ajose, in the 71st minute, meant a change of formation to a 4-4-1-1. The move slowed the game down and both sides really struggled to create chances as the minutes ticked away. 

As Rovers chased the game in stoppage time they sent Bonham up for a set-piece, Fosu cleared well and Grant pounced to run, from just inside the Rovers' half, the ball into the empty net and ensure the Addicks collected another three points.

Charlton: Steer; Dijksteel, Bauer, Pearce (C), Solly; Bielik, Lapslie (Marshall, 82), Aribo, Ward (Hackett-Fairchild, 89); Ajose (Fosu, 71), Grant

Subs (not used): Phillips, Stevenson, Sarr, Morgan

Goals: Ward (10), Aribo (45), Grant (90)

Booked: Pearce (57, delay of game), Solly (78 foul on Leadbitter)

Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Leadbitter, Lockyer (C), Craig, Upson (Lines, 74), Sercombe, O Clarke (Rodman, 65), Payne (Bennett, 65), Nichols, J Clarke, Martin

Subs (not used): Smith, Jakubiak, Reilly, Partington

Goal: Martin (30) 

Booked: J Clarke (90, foul on Fosu)

Referee: M Donohue

Attendance: 10,328 (693 from Bristol)


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