Charlton Athletic 1 Doncaster Rovers 0: Rovers paying price for lack of quality in final third

Doncaster goal keeper Ian Lawlor was caught in the wrong position.  Picture: Chris Etchells
Doncaster goal keeper Ian Lawlor was caught in the wrong position. Picture: Chris Etchells

It is clear that is going to take more than one win to jolt Doncaster Rovers back into life.

A week on from their excellent demolition of Southend United, Rovers slumped back into a familiar rut with defeat at Charlton Athletic.

Again they came out on the wrong side of incredibly fine margins which decided the tight clash.

Tariqe Fosu caught both defence and goalkeeper napping with an audacious effort after just nine minutes.

And with nine minutes on the clock, the game was effectively over.

Try as they might, Rovers could not find the key to unlock the hosts.

And they failed to take advantage of Charlton’s inability to put the game to bed.

So we find ourselves yet again discussing another game that Rovers should not have lost but they, in fact, did.

There was nothing between the two sides, reflecting the fact Rovers are not too far off the top teams in the division in quality terms. What is setting them aside from the leading names and leaving them at the wrong end of the table is that they fail to put that quality into practice where it counts.

THE KEY MOMENT

One incident truly decided this game – Fosu’s goal.

And that is was eminently preventable only adds to the frustration for Rovers.

Fosu took possession in acres of space on the corner of the box after Rodney Kongolo chased the ball, looked up and drilled a shot towards the near post.

Ian Lawlor, clearly expecting a cross or pass, was positioned in the middle of his goal and caught out at his near post as the ball flew in.

As with so many occasions this season, a momentary lapse cost Rovers dearly.

It gave Charlton something to defend and piled pressure on Rovers to unlock the hosts.

And again they failed to find the answer.

seeing things differently

Darren Ferguson felt Rovers were poor in the first half but much improved after the break.

This writer saw the game a little differently.

Rovers seemed much more in control of the game in the first period, once they had settled following Charlton’s goal and James Coppinger’s enforced departure.

While the tempo of their play was lower than it might ideally have been, they were comfortable in possession and camped deep in Charlton territory.

The main issue in this period was a lack of quality in the final third, either with the delivery or the shot itself.

After the break they initially found themselves more on the back foot, pushed deeper by a Charlton side that really should have added a second.

There came a remarkable ten second blast when Charlton ought to have converted one of four efforts, but for the blocking heroics of Joe Wright and Andy Butler.

It took Rovers a while to get going. When they did, they piled the pressure on Charlton with the introductions of Liam Mandeville and Matty Blair off the bench a big factor.

But again they struggled for real quality in and around the box. Plenty of times an extra touch was taken when a shot should have been instead.

The game ultimately petered out as Rovers failed to find inspiration.

what now in attack?

Rovers head into Tuesday night’s game against Portsmouth with only one recognised fit senior forward in Liam Mandeville after injuries to Alfie May, Andy Williams and James Coppinger, plus a suspension for John Marquis.

That presents a problem with Mandeville hardly the type of striker that can act as a focal point.

Plus there is the absence of Coppinger, who could have operated off a lone forward if required.

There is plenty for Ferguson to think about heading into what has become an increasingly important game for his side.