Doncaster – stronger than they seem?

Doncaster Rovers arrive at The Valley on Saturday in seventeenth place and with eight fewer points than Charlton, having played an extra game. On this evidence the home team should be strong favourites.

But this fixture means that Donny will have played six of the top eight teams in the first twelve games of this season. Contrast this with Charlton who will have played six of the bottom eight. Doncaster's six defeats include Scunthorpe (1-2), Shrewsbury (0-1) and Bradford (0-2). Their most notable performances have been their surprise 3-1 win at Blackburn at the start of the season and the 4-1 thrashing they gave Southend last week. It doesn't seem that they will be a pushover.

This will be only the ninth league encounter between the two teams and Charlton lead by five wins to three with no games being drawn. Doncaster have only won once at The Valley - their 2-1 win in March 2009 pushing their hosts into 24th place on the way to relegation. Of course, you could argue that this is the tenth encounter if you include the infamous abandoned game in August 2013 when the referee deemed the pitch unplayable at half time with the newly promoted visitors leading 3-1. Despite his team being down to ten men (striker Paul Keegan had been sent off for two yellows) manager Paul Dickov was outraged at the abandonment. The game was replayed three months later with Charlton winning 2-0. Six months later Doncaster were relegated on goal difference.

It was Ben Whiteman (on loan from Sheffield United) who bagged a hat trick last week against Southend, but Donny's leading scorer is ex-Millwall front man John Marquis who has scored 31 in 57 appearances for the club since joining in June 2016. Charlton fans may also have the opportunity to assess striker Alfie May who joined Doncaster in January and has scored 6 in 27 appearances. May started his career at Chatham but made his name at Erith & Belvedere before joining Farnborough on his way to Hythe Town. He had a trial at Crewe but it was Doncaster who took the risk of offering him a professional contract.

Apart from Jason Pearce, Charlton should be at full strength with Reeves and Marshall probably on the bench. Josh Magennis played two full games for Northern Ireland but seems to have returned unscathed along with DaSilva and Konsa. With away games at Oxford and Bradford to follow it seems essential that Charlton take three points from this game. We expect a narrow win.