Charlton Athletic were able to extend their unbeaten run to three, and begin 2017 in an emphatic manner, thanks to super hat-trick hero Josh Magennis, and Jorge Teixeira. A performance which showed that Charlton are a strong competitive side on the attack, even with eight first team starters unavailable (including Ahmed Kashi). This season Charlton have displayed an impressive record against Bristol Rovers, with Charlton winning 5-1 in November at The Memorial Stadium, and the 4 – 1 win today, meaning this fixture aggregated across both games, shows an impressive 9 – 2 Charlton victory!
The team fielded by Robinson, had a few changes to the one which traveled to Southend on Saturday. The likes of Chris Solly returning to the starting XI, which lead Robinson to push Ezri Konsa up into midfield, who played alongside Joe Aribo, supported by the experienced Andrew Crofts, with Fredrik Ulvestad on the bench. The final change for the Addicks, saw Jordan Botaka join the starting XI, who replaced the out of form, Nicky Ajose.
The opening stages of the game saw the Red Army struggle to play with fluidity on the attack, and were unable to string passes together which added real value, many of the passes being from side-to-side, or an eventual return to Dillon Phillips.
The Red Army conceded the first goal due to Patrick Bauer slipping and feeding the ball to Jermaine Easter, 12 minutes into the game. The first half followed with the Pirates dominating in large spells of possession, but the Addicks back five not being challenged. Josh Magennis had a chance to equalise later into the first half, with a free kick close to the Rovers’ penalty box, Magennis launched the ball over the wall, but it was just off-target, as the ball dinked the crossbar.
However, in the closing stages of the first half, an excellent free kick was taken from Joe Aribo, who drove the ball into the Pirates’ penalty box, which was received and headed into the back of the net by Josh Magennis. Charlton now recovering from their error in the opening stages, and back to an equal footing just in time for the referee’s whistle.
Karl Robinson’s side came out in the second half, and were ready to bring the game to Bristol Rovers, and show The Valley faithful what it means to play for the Charlton badge.
The second goal came in the 50th minute, which showed a doppelganger setup and goal from the duo, Joe Aribo and Josh Magennis. Aribo once again, directed a long free kick into the box, and the Northern Irishmen was able to drive the ball into the back of the net, with a superb header.
Bristol Rovers’ low morale, nervousness and vulnerability now clearly evident, which Robinson’s side were willing to exploit. 10 minutes later saw the third goal, Aribo was left unmarked on the wing, the young talent was fed a low ball from a Charlton free kick. Aribo then continued to run into the box, and slotted the ball across the face of goal, and it was Teixeira who slotted it home for the Reds! The Valley now erupting, despite the well below record attendance, an atmosphere dearly missed in recent years.
Bristol Rovers continued to struggle, and appeared to be out of their depth, for the remainder of the game.
It was then in the 73rd minute when Magennis scored his first hat-trick of his career, and showed a true Charlton performance which meant the big man, would secure the EFL star of the weekend. Andrew Crofts, who has been in form in recent weeks, launched a long through ball towards the striker, Magennis elegantly controlling the high ball with his first touch, he then continued to run towards the goal, and curled the ball around the Rovers’ keeper.
The afternoon ended in a true Charlton fashion, a valiant round of applause for a team which showed real spirit and determination in the closing stages of the first half, and an emphatic second half. The cherry on the cake, was the revival of the tunnel jump, which saw the big Northern Irishmen do it twice. Magennis decided to keep the match ball, on what was a special afternoon for the fan favourite!
The notable performances came from Magennis, Crofts, Teixeira and Aribo.
It was evident that Karl Robinson is working hard with his squad on training days. A side if compared to their management under Slade, now polar opposite in playing style, a team which presses increasingly, and on the attack as a unit, are a strong and competitive force in League One. At this point in time, I would not rule out a promotion push for Charlton, if they can develop a positive run of form, and strengthen the squad in the current transfer window.
Charlton’s next game is against their South London rivals, Millwall, on January the 14th, and Robinson expects to have two new signings at The Valley, as well as Ricky Holmes and Declan Rudd available in time for the derby. Charlton today showed that fatigue is no issue for the injury riddled side, who has played two games in two days, but will have the upcoming weekend off, as Rochdale are unable to play due to an FA Cup fixture.
The Addicks now sit in 11th, only five points from a play-off position.
Post-Match Press Conference:
The match highlights can be found on the Sky Sports website.