Charlton Athletic and Rochdale shared eight goals at The Valley on Tuesday night, including some goal of the season contenders but for Brian Barry-Murphy’s side, it was very much a case of two points dropped.
Dale made three changes from the side that started against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, with Ryan McLaughlin, Jim McNulty and Kwadwo Baah coming in for Matty Done, the injured Eoghan O’Connell and Alex Newby respectively.
Tonight's team 👊#RAFC
— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) January 12, 2021
The away side started the game full of confidence after rescuing the 3-3 draw against David Artell’s side and found the opening goal with their first real attack.
Baah caused problems down the left-hand side which found Jimmy Keohane in space and his cut-back found Saturday’s hero Matty Lund in all sorts of space on the edge of the box, where he was able to place a shot in off the post to make it 1-0 with 12 minutes on the clock.
It was 2-0 not long after as Stephen Humphrys did well to hold the ball up and burst forward before finding Kwadwo Baah, and the 17-year-old hit it first time on the run, despite me begging him to cross it to the free men in the box.
Fortunately, his shot was an absolute rocket that crashed in off the Baah for his second goal in a Dale shirt, to add to the worldie he scored in the 5-0 win against Wigan.
His backflip celebration was nearly as impressive as the goal.
— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) January 12, 2021
However, whilst I was still in shock and noting down the time of the goal, Charlton got one back, as the dangerous Chuks Aneke robbed Haydon Roberts of possession and burst through on goal, before finishing low past Gavin Bazunu to make it 2-1 after 22 minutes.
The home side could not deal with Baah, as for some reason Lee Bowyer opted to field Paul Smyth at right-back, when he is usually deployed on the wing or up front, and the 17-year-old was beating him every time with his pace and power.
Dale were giving the former Crystal Palace man the ball at every opportunity, and he got his second goal with 31 minutes on the clock, as he burst past Smyth into the box, before finishing well past Luke Amos in the Charlton goal.
If Dale don’t get more than £1 million for this lad in the future, then they are doing something very wrong.
Unfortunately, we gifted Charlton a way back into the game before half-time, as Lund’s clearance was far from good enough, allowing Jake Forster-Caskey to curl in a shot from the edge of the box, via a McNulty deflection. The experienced centre-back might have been better leaving it, as Bazunu looked to have it covered.
Dale hit back again just five minutes later, with Barry-Murphy’s side hosting their own goal of the season competition in South East London.
Lund was scythed down on the edge of the box, leading to a minor brawl and after a disagreement with one of the Charlton defenders, Humphrys stepped up to absolutely hammer it into the top corner from 25 yards. He was then booked for celebrating in front of the Charlton defender à la Ruud van Nistelrooy against Andorra in 2006.
There was still time for Charlton to miss two golden opportunities to score before 45 minutes was up, as Aneke headed over, before Jonny Williams squandered a great chance from six yards out after the ball was deflected to him in the area.
Half Time: Charlton Athletic 2-4 Rochdale
Bowyer responded by sending on Albie Morgan and Ronnie Schwartz which certainly had the desired effect, as Baah was no longer able to beat Smyth on the left-hand side, whilst the home side having two strikers allowed them to pressurise Dale’s defence.
In a rare break, Lund found Humphrys whose shot was deflected wide but it was Charlton who found the first goal of the second half, as Aneke was afforded far too much space from a long ball and the Addicks worked it well before fizzing in a cross that was headed in by the former Arsenal youngster for his second goal of the game.
Two minutes later and Dale had thrown away their lead. Baah was replaced by Stephen Dooley, perhaps in an attempt to make the away side more defensively solid, but the Northern Irishman gifted the home side possession in a dangerous position, which allowed Aneke to slip in Schwartz, who curled in a shot emphatically past Bazunu to make it 4-4.
It should have been 5-4 moments later when Aneke headed over from just inside the box, with Dale well and truly on the rocks at this point.
However, Barry-Murphy’s side weathered the storm after the equaliser and grew back into the game, with captain Ollie Rathbone seeing a shot push round for a corner, before Lund’s header was tipped over the bar.
Bazunu then made an important stop to deny Aneke a hat-trick after a rapid break from the home side as they pushed for a winner.
The wind was taken out of their sails somewhat when Jason Pearce received a second yellow card after a late challenge on Bazunu, in what was surprisingly referee Trevor Kettle’s only real talking point from the match.
Dale then pushed forward but couldn’t find the breakthrough, although it would have been lovely if Rathbone’s effort from the half-way line with seconds remaining had dropped in.
Full Time: Charlton Athletic 4-4 Rochdale
Man of the Match: Chuks Aneke