Rochdale’s dreadful home form continued as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Charlton Athletic, in a game that lacked any real fight, passion, or quality from the home side.
Brian Barry-Murphy made three changes from the side that beat Bristol Rovers last weekend, with Ryan McLaughlin and Kwadwo Baah coming back in, whilst captain Eoghan O’Connell made a welcome return at centre-back after injury.
This meant Alex Newby, Jimmy Keohane and Matty Done dropped to the bench, with Haydon Roberts moving to left-back.
Today's team 👊
Eoghan O'Connell returns from injury, with Ryan McLaughlin also back in the starting line-up ✅
New signings Conor Grant, Conor Shaughnessy and Jack Vale are on the bench 🙌#RAFC
— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) February 6, 2021
As is so often the case with Dale’s games at the moment, the first real attack led to a goal, and on this occasion, it was for the visitors.
Dale clearly hadn’t learned their lesson from the reverse fixture when Chuks Aneke was so dangerous, as Liam Millar fed him inside the box, and the striker used his strength brilliantly to turn the Dale defence and fire a right-footed shot past Gavin Bazunu to make it 1-0 with seven minutes on the clock.
Lee Bowyer’s side were winning all the midfield battles, whilst Matty Lund was unable to win any headers against the dominant Charlton centre-backs, which nullified a lot of Dale’s attacking threat in the first half.
The Addicks were close to a second not long after, as Millar was afforded far too much time and space to cut inside but Ollie Rathbone’s block meant that his shot came off the crossbar, rather than finding the top corner.
However, Charlton continued to push forwards and controlled the game, with Manchester City-bound Kwadwo Baah struggling to force his way into the game.
They deservedly had their second before the half-hour mark and in the least surprising news of 2021 – it came from a corner.
Gavin Bazunu was unfortunate in that he produced a stunning save to deny Jason Pearce, but after the ball was whipped back in the Charlton defender won another header, which was flicked in by his centre-back partner Deji Oshilaja to make it 2-0.
Aneke was looking dangerous every time he received the ball and was unlucky not to score his second of the game before half-time, as his shot came off the far post after he turned Aaron Morley in the area.
Dale’s only real opportunity came from a Morley pass to Baah, who showed great feet to cut inside in the area, but his wild finish that flew over the bar was not quite the quality of his soon-to-be teammates Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva.
Half Time: Rochdale 0-2 Charlton Athletic
At least there were goals in the first half.
The second 45 was honestly one of the worst I’ve seen, and not just from a Rochdale perspective.
Charlton didn’t seem to be particularly interested in adding to their lead but were rarely troubled by the Dale attack, with the usual danger men anonymous for much of the game.
Aneke flashed another shot wide, with Dale sending on Newby, Done and new signings Conor Grant and Jack Vale to try and get back into the game.
The impressive Millar was extremely wasteful when found through on goal, as he failed to even get a shot away before Dale enjoyed a brief spell of pressure in the latter stages.
Humphrys tested Luke Amos with a stringing shot, before pulling an effort from inside the box just wide.
Jayden Stockley then wasted a great chance to add a third after good work from new signing Diallang Jaiyesimi, but it was always comfortable for Bowyer’s side, in a game that failed to live up to the 4-4 draw at the Valley.
Full Time: Rochdale 0-2 Charlton Athletic
Man of the Match: Deji Oshilaaja