At half time I feared the worst. After a bright start in which Rochdale almost went ahead from a bullet header by Pim Balkenstein, which was blocked, Charlton imposed themselves on the game and we actually found it quite difficult to get the ball for the last thirty minutes of the first half. Charlton were 2-0 up at half time after goals from Danny Hollands, who was unmarked after an excellent run, and Rhoys Wiggins who took advantage of a very poor clearance to steer home off the post on the stroke of half time.
Dale came out fighting at the start of the second half and got back into the game courtesy of one of the best headed goals I have ever seen. Ashley Grimes won the ball in midfield, released David Ball who found Jean Louis Akpa Akpro in a wide position, and his cross was brilliantly headed home by Grimes from the 18 yard line. Within minutes we were level after David Ball crashed through the Charlton defence and lashed in the equaliser. In truth, we should have gone on from that to take the game to Charlton and possibly put ourselves in a winning position, but we didn’t.
Slowly but surely Charlton weathered the storm and started to put themselves into good positions again. With 15 minutes to go I felt that the tide was definitely turning in Charlton’s favour. However, the winning goal, when it came, was another soft one, with Hollands given a free header on the six yard line that he headed home easily, to give the visitors three points that I feel, over the 90 minutes, they just about warranted. I am slightly disappointed that our goals were hard earned and well crafted while all Charlton’s three goals could have been prevented by better defensive play, but I cannot argue with the eventual outcome. I think Charlton will win promotion.