Charlton recorded a first win of the Nigel Adkins era with a narrow 1-0 triumph over play-off rivals Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium on Good Friday.
Ian Maatsen’s first senior goal on 12 minutes proved to be the difference as the Addicks continued their impressive away form with a hugely professional display to return to SE7 with a vital three points.
Adkins made six changes from the side that drew at AFC Wimbledon almost a fortnight ago with Adam Matthews, Ryan Inniss, Ben Purrington, Darren Pratley, Alex Gilbey and Diallang Jaiyesimi all starting for Charlton in a 4-3-3 formation.
Maatsen offered an early warning to the hosts, applying great pressure to charge down goalkeeper Louis Jones’ clearance after a back-pass from Reece James but the ball cannoned off the Dutchman and out for a Rovers goal-kick.
Just moments later, Adkins’ inspired decision to start Maatsen on the right side of an Addicks front three got the desired return. Ben Amos’ kick forward was flicked on by Jayden Stockley and then by Jaiyesimi to Maatsen, who stayed strong to hold off James before firing in a left-footed finish at the near post.
Doncaster responded well, enjoying the lion’s share of possession thereafter with a flurry of chances. A wasteful curling effort from James Coppinger was followed by an Omar Bogle chance. Quick feet from the former Addick saw him drag the ball onto his favoured right foot before unleashing an effort towards goal, which was well-saved by the right boot of Amos.
Another opening fell to the hosts on 33 minutes when Matthews’ backheel found Fejiri Okenabirhie on the edge of the six-yard box but, fortunately for Charlton, the Rovers forward shot straight at Amos.
A bright passage of play then saw the Addicks spring forward as Pratley found the surging Gilbey. Charlton’s number 11 carried the ball down the right flank before playing a ball into Maatsen, whose poked ball across goal was well smothered by Rovers stopper Jones.
The final chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to the south Londoners; Jaiyesimi flew past Brad Halliday with dazzling feet but the winger’s cross evaded the onrushing Stockley, falling to the unexpectant Gilbey who couldn’t bring the ball under his spell.
An enterprising Addicks start to the second period was almost rewarded on 50 minutes when Stockley headed home Jake Forster-Caskey’s outswinging corner, though the ball nicked in off Jaiyesimi who was stood in an offside position.
Chances proved to be few and far between for both sides in the second period with Amos going relatively untested, but the Addicks defended the lead diligently nonetheless, remaining resolute and organised under Doncaster pressure to secure an important victory.
The result sees Charlton move back into the play-off places with eight games to play, just three points behind fourth-placed Lincoln City, who have a game in hand.
Doncaster Rovers: Jones; Halliday, Wright (John 68), Anderson (C), James; Smith (Greaves 88), Bostock, Robertson (Richards 58); Coppinger, Bogle, Okenabirhie (Lokilo 68).
Subs: (not used): Balcombe, Horton, Gomes.
Booked: Halliday 55 (off-ball incident)
Charlton: Amos; Matthews, Inniss, Pearce (C), Purrington; Gilbey (Shinnie 90), Pratley, Forster-Caskey; Maatsen (Gunter 90), Stockley (Aneke 84), Jaiyesimi (Millar 65).
Subs (not used): Maynard-Brewer, Oshilaja, Watson.
Goal: Maatsen 12
Booked: Stockley 55’ (off-ball incident), Purrington 70 (foul on Richards).
Referee: M Edwards
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Report by James Waller