Seven minutes in. It’s rare that you can pinpoint the exact moment that your hopes and dreams fade, but that was the time at which James Coppinger limped from The Valley pitch, and you just sensed it was all going to be uphill from there.
It was a fear duly born out almost instantly as Charlton took a lead just moments later. As Rovers were still adjusting to the loss of Coppinger, Tariqe Fosu took a pot shot at goal from the Rovers from the Charlton left and Ian Lawlor saw it too late to do anything about it other than flail in its wake.
Gradually Rovers did force their way into things and came close to an equaliser before the break when Alfie May made enough space on the edge of the box to send a curling effort towards goal that dinked off the crossbar.
Though Rovers’ efforts and possession improved in the second half, for all their puffing and passing, they tellingly only managed one shot on target; a relatively tame close-range effort from Tommy Rowe, straight into the arms of Ben Amos.
At the other end Lawlor was much busier; impressively beating away a number of Athletic efforts, whilst the one time he was beaten, Niall Mason was on hand to head off the line. One nil was how it finished – Charlton will be up near the top come the end of the season, Rovers probably won’t – the result then probably par for the course.
by Glen Wilson