Charlton beat Doncaster on penalties to qualify for play-off final

Charlton will meet Sunderland in the League One play-off final on 26 May, overcoming Doncaster on penalties despite the visitors holding the upper hand for long periods before The Valley’s first sell-out crowd in seven years.

Tommy Rowe, who had earlier scored a splendid equaliser, sliced horribly wide from the spot and Lee Bowyer’s side could make plans for Wembley.

Charlton made the ideal start, taking the lead in the second minute when the Arsenal loanee and Polish under-21 international Krystian Bielik metJosh Cullen’s free-kick with a powerful header.

If the home supporters imagined a comfortable evening, they soon had to think again, as the midfielder Rowe rifled in a fine first-time shot from outside the penalty area to bring Doncaster right back into the tie. They almost levelled the aggregate score three minutes later, when John Marquis sprung the offside trap and forced Dillon Phillips into a fine save.

Charlton attempted to reassert themselves and Marko Marosi had to dive smartly to his left to keep out Patrick Bauer’s header midway through the first half, but their inaccurate passing always threatened to present the visitors with opportunities. When Charlton at last produced a move that matched the fluidity of Doncaster’s play they created their best chance since the goal but Cullen’s shot was blocked by Andy Butler, with the referee, Gavin Ward, rightly waving away appeals for handball.

Bowyer, having seen his side struggle, made a change at half-time, Darren Pratley replacing Albie Morgan in midfield, but the switch failed to wrest control from Doncaster, who missed the first chance of the second half when Rowe, unmarked, headed wide.

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Chasing the goal that would force extra time, Doncaster pushed more players forward and they were rewarded when Butler headed in a corner at the far post in the 88th minute.

Charlton at last began to dominate in extra time but were hit by a slick counterattack when Marquis was presented with a close range header from a Mallik Wilks cross. Doncaster led for the first time in the tie but for only a minute as Marosi slipped and fumbled, leaving Pratley to tap home.


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