In the EFL League One Playoffs, the main focus in England will be on the game between Portsmouth F.C. and Sunderland A.F.C., given the sizes of the respective clubs. However the other playoff semi-finalists should not be overlooked. It would not be surprising at all to me if the eventual playoff winner came out of this match-up between Charlton Athletic F.C. and Doncaster Rovers F.C..
The first of the two legs is played at Doncaster’s, Keepmoat Stadium kicking off at 7:15 AM EST/12:15 PM GMT on Sunday 12th May, while the return leg at Charlton's The Valley, in London takes place at 2:45 PM EST/7:45 PM GMT on Friday 17th May at The Valley.
Charlton Athletic finished the season in third place thanks to a last day victory over Rochdale A.F.C. by an emphatic score line of 4-0, and the reward is a tie against the Rovers who finished in sixth position. Doncster only earned a playoff spot with a last day victory over Coventry City F.C..
In contrast Charlton have been strong automatic promotion candidates under the guidance of Manager Lee Bowyer. Bowyer was previously a talented Premier League player, and earned a cap for England. However his career also included some high profile controversial moments.
Meanwhile, the Rovers Manager Grant McCann played his career largely in the lower leagues in England but also played international football for Northern Ireland, earning 39 caps.
Both clubs have supporters with a musical connection, Louis Tomlinson from the boyband One Direction is a huge Donny fan, while the lead singer from Squeeze Glen Tilbrook is a massive supporter of the Addicks and even wrote a song ‘Down in the Valley’ in tribute to Charlton.
Five Points to Consider
Doncaster will be boosted by their talisman midfielder James Coppinger who has signed a new contact and despite being 38 years of age, played in 49 games this season.
League One Team of the season included Doncaster striker John Marquis who scored 21 goals during the season, the same amount as the Charlton Athletic top scorer Lyle Taylor. The next two top scorers for both clubs finished on 14 goals, Karlan Grant for Charlton and Mallik Wilkes for Donny.
Both teams scored over 70 goals during the season, however the key to this tie could be the defence. Charlton’s total of 40 conceded was the second lowest in the Division. The 58 conceded by Doncaster was the second highest in the top half of the table.
In the games between the two teams this season, Charlton won their home game at the Valley in November 2-0, while the return match at the Keepmoat in March ended in a 1-1 draw.
The travel distance between the two clubs is 174 miles, over 3 hours on the bus for away fans and a true North-South encounter.
Charlton Athletic vs Doncaster Rovers Prediction
Playoff games are notoriously difficult to predict as form can sometimes be turned on its head. The miserly defence of Charlton should however prove vital and have looked a solid League One team throughout the season and although the 15 extra points they achieved over Donny is meaningless once the games start, it is an indication of their season.
Prediction: Leg 1: Doncaster 1 Charlton 1
Leg 2: Charlton 2 Doncaster 0
Aggregate 3-1 win for Charlton Athletic