Charlton travel up to The Crown Oil Arena this weekend to take on the team with (apart from Notts County) the worst defensive record in the country. After their 3-0 defeat at Wycombe on Tuesday evening Rochdale find themselves in seventeenth place, having conceded 31 goals in their opening fifteen games.
The fixture computer did not deal them an easy hand when it came to home games but their record so far must be trying the patience of their small but famously loyal fan base. They have lost five of their first seven home games - Peterborough 1-4; Barnsley 0-4; Walsall 1-2; Portsmouth 1-3 and Doncaster 2-3. Their only victory was against Gillingham (3-0) in September and they scraped another point against Bristol Rovers earlier this month. They have fared far better away from home where they have beaten Burton, Coventry and Bradford.
Our last visit to Rochdale (in May) was notable for the fact that everyone left the ground happy. For Charlton, Plymouth's defeat at Gillingham meant that our play-off berth was confirmed. For Rochdale the 1-0 win meant that they were saved from relegation at the expense of Oldham. In particular it was a poignant and memorable game for Joe Thompson who entered the field as a 67th minute substitute and scored the winning goal two minutes later. Less than a year previously he had been undergoing chemotherapy plus a cell stem transfer to survive cancer for the second time. When his goal went in "Everything went silent, like white noise, and time stood still for me,” he recalls. The full story can be read in this recent Guardian article to mark the publication of his autobiography:
Charlton first played Rochdale in a competitive match in the third round of the FA Cup in January 1947 at The Valley. Two goals from Chris Duffy were to set the hosts on their way to Wembley. The first league encounter wasn't until August 1972 when the newly relegated Addicks prevailed at Spotland thanks to goals from Horsfield and Peacock. The following season the teams shared a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 850. This was reduced to 780 when, according to Colin Cameron (Home & Away with Charlton Athletic), there was a pitch invasion by approximately seventy Charlton supporters calling for the resignation of chairman Michael Gliksten. Peter Reeves was in goal when The Dale equalised with two minutes to go - John Dunn having been sent off in the 71st minute.
Until last May our only defeat at Rochdale was a dismal 0-2 reverse in March 2011. A year later Chris Powell's rejuvenated side prevailed 3-2 on their way to promotion and in 2017 two Jorge Teixeira goals secured a 3-3 draw.
Tuesday's performance against Oxford was dismal, particularly after the team's strong showing against Barnsley but we are confident that the return of Krystian Bielik and Jamie Ward to the starting line-up will be enough to turn things around again. We should be able to exploit the vulnerabilities of the home defence but we will need to be aware that League One's top goalscorer - Ian Henderson with nine goals so far (and 86 in 235 games for Vale) - will be in their attack