By Gerry Prewett.
The last time Bristol Rovers visited Charlton Athletic at the Valley was for the opening game of the 2017/18 season.
On that occasion, Charlton’s Lee Novak was sent off after 7 minutes it appeared a 3 point start to the season was on the way. Whilst Rovers had some very neat approach play they lacked that cutting finish. On 37 minutes a moment of controversy as Patrick Bauer headed a corner home, or did he? As the ball bounced back out of the net (or was it the post) the Ref pointed to the centre spot.
He got his second seven minutes into the half from just inside the area as the home side dominated. Mark Marshall tapped in a third from close range, Taylor then impressively chipped Bobby Olejnik from the edge of the box to complete hat-trick
Nicky Ajose rounded the Stags' Austrian keeper and slammed home the fifth home goal in the final minute.
Charlton Boss Lee Bowyer, speaking of Taylor’s goal said, “The third one, that’s just him. His brilliance, he does that every week in training.
He then went on to highlight, Nicky Ajose’s performance, “You’ve got to praise Nicky for the first two he set up. How many times do we get into that situation and don’t make the right pass or right decision? It is the best game Nicky has had for us since I’ve been in charge.”
“He ran in behind, he fought and chased the ball down. He did everything properly today for me, then he got rewarded with his goal. I’m over the moon for Lyle but there are a lot of other positives to come out of tonight. Patrick Bauer got an hour into him. Billy Clarke got another 70 minutes or so.”
“I’d like to think I’m fair. I said they were a good team. It wasn’t a 5-0 result for me. They could have scored three or four. They missed some chances. Yeah be happy, I’m happy, but don’t get too ahead of yourself because trust me, on the night it wasn’t that result.”
Looking back at games between Rovers and Charlton the record is very even and dates right back to Rovers' first season in Division 3 (South). In those seasons the games were played on opposite week-ends, so Rovers won the first ever game at Eastville 4-2 on 10 September 1921 and the Addicks won the London game 2-0 one week later. In the Eastville game the scorers were, James Liddell, Jerry Morgan, Joe Walter and a David Steele penalty for Rovers and Bert Green and Alex Steele for Charlton. Bill Cox scored both goals for the home team at the Valley.
In London Rovers have won just 4 games, there have been 6 draws and 18 Charlton victories. Rovers last victory at the Valley was over 50 years ago when they came away from South London with a 3-2 win on 29 March 1958, Geoff Bradford, Barrie Meyer and John McIlvenny scored for the away team and Stuart Leary and John Summers notched for the home team to keep a 20,000 crowd entertained in a Division 2 game.
In those intervening years Rovers have made 18 visits to the Valley, they have lost 13 games and drawn 5 with a goal record of 22 scored and 48 conceded. On five occasions they have let in four goals and three of those have come in the last five visits.
In the 2016/17 season clash Jermaine Easter opened the scoring on12 minutes as he rounded the keeper and found an empty net. Magennis brought the scores lever on 41 minutes as he nodded home from Joe Aribo’s free-kick. Within five minutes of the resumption of the second half the same duo combined to give the home team the lead. Jorge Teixeira scored from another Aribo delivery before Magennis completed his hat-trick with a shot past Will Puddy.
There is some relief for Rovers as one of their pre-season striker targets, Lyle Taylor will be serving a suspension after accumulating 5 yellow cards. He will almost inevitably be the subject of transfer interest in the January window but Addick’s Gaffer Lee Bowyer is adamant that the club must resists advances for their star striker, “I’ll be surprised if there isn’t any interest because the lad has done well, but we have to take some credit for that.”
“He’s come here and is scoring goals. It shows what we do on the training pitches is working. Obviously we can’t lose him, that’s 100 per cent, because he is going to be a big part of us having a chance of promotion.”
“For sure there will be interest, not just in Lyle but others here as well. We’ve got a few who have done well and had good starts to the season.
“What pleased me the other night was Lyle’s work out of possession. He is putting a shift in for the team and that is making him a better player. Anyone can stand in the middle and score goals. It is doing the horrible side, winning possession back higher up the pitch, that makes you an all-round striker and then you become more attractive.”
Another player not in contention for the game is midfielder Darren Pratley but Ben Reeves and Jamie Ward should boost options in that area.
“The break from the league has allowed someone like Joe Aribo to recharge his batteries.” said Bowyer, “Jason Pearce was carrying a bit of an injury and that seems to have settled now.”