BAUER BAGS A LUCKY WINNER
BRISTOL Rovers manager Darrell Clarke criticised the officials after Patrick Bauer’s firsthalf header gave ten-man Charlton Athletic only their second opening day win in six years.
Having had striker Lee Novak controversially sent off after just six minutes, Gas goalkeeper Adam Smith appeared to do enough to keep out Bauer’s winner.
But his unmarked header from Ricky Holmes’ free-kick shortly before the break was adjudged to have crossed the line, much to Clarke’s angst.
“I’m angry with the decision – it’s never a goal,” he said. “The linesman’s guessed, which changes the complexion. It doesn’t look over the line to me.
“You want the big calls to be right and that wasn’t. I’ve had a look back and there’s no way he could say it’s 100 per cent over the line.
“I’m angry, my staff are angry, the players are angry. It’s one of those games that we’ve got to put to bed. We should have got something out of the game but we didn’t.”
The game’s first talking point came when Novak flew into a 50/50 tackle with Stuart Sinclair yards into the Rovers half.
After slight hesitation, referee Chris Sarginson showed red.
Charlton manager Karl Robinson disagreed with the decision, saying: “It’s not a sending off. From behind, it doesn’t look great. Simulation gets him sent off.
“I’m not going to tell my players to stop tackling. If I’m going to tell them that, we might as well go and play some silly sport. This is football – we want people going into brave challenges. I don’t want to see any players hurt, but if Lee hadn’t have gone in for the challenge, this place would have erupted.”
Robinson also agreed with Clarke’s assessment of Bauer’s winner. “I’ve seen it – I wouldn’t be happy,” he added.
However, the German centre-back almost doubled the hosts’ lead when Smith’s parry hit him on the shoulder before trickling wide.
Despite the numerical advantage, Clarke’s team failed to put the hosts under any sustained pressure.
Their best spell came early into the second half.
Loan goalkeeper Ben Amos saved well to deny Gas new-boy Liam Sercombe from close range, but was nearly embarrassed on the hour by Tom Lockyer’s 35-yard lob.
Clarke said: “I thought our final product, delivery and forward play was disappointing. We didn’t look like scoring, to be honest.”
Charlton's best chance for a second fell to Jason Pearce, whose goal-bound header from another perfect Holmes delivery was brilliantly deflected wide by Tom Broadbent 14 minutes from time.
Robinson added: “It was a deserved win. Our keeper’s made one save. I don'’t think you’d have known they had an extra man. Our fans made it even.” CHARLTON: (4-2-3-1): Amos 7, Solly 6, Bauer 8, Pearce 7, Dasilva 8, Forster-Caskey 7, Kashi 8, Fosu 8 (Ahearne-Grant 84 5), Clarke 7 (Watt 70 4), Holmes 7 (Crofts 90 N/A), Novak 2 Subs not used: Phillips, Sarr, Konsa, Reeves BRISTOL ROVERS: (4-3-3): Smith 6, Clarke J 5 (Nichols 15 5), Lockyer 7, Broadbent 7, Brown 7, Clarke O 5 (Broom 65 5), Lines 7, Sercombe 6, Bodin 5, Harrison 5 (Gaffney 66 5), Sinclair 6 Subs not used: Slocombe, Burn, Bola, Partington
IT’S RED: Charlton’s Lee Novak is sent off for his challenge on Stuart Sinclair MIXED EMOTIONS: Charlton celebrate Patrick Bauer’s goal while Rovers look round in confusion STAR MAN PATRICK BAUER Charlton