This tactical analysis will take a look at the EFL League One fixture between Charlton and Doncaster. Charlton had been relegated from the Championship and started the season with a win. Doncaster, on the other hand, drew at home to MK Dons. Both sides will be aiming for promotion to the championship. Despite the result, the game was relatively even. Both sides created roughly the same amount of chances. However, Doncaster was more clinical on the day (and were aided with a Charlton own goal). This report will take an in-depth look at the tactics deployed by both sides. The report will use analysis to highlight key tactics and how they were deployed.
Firstly, the tactical analysis will examine the starting line-ups of both sides. It will use analysis to determine how both sides intended to set-up and how they wished to play before kick-off. The tactical analysis will then consider the tactics used. Firstly, it will look at how Doncaster was able to get in behind Charlton to drive towards to goal. Secondly, it will consider Charlton’s average positions, and how this helped Doncaster in winning the games.
The tactical analysis will then conclude with a summary. It will go over the key tactics that resulted in the outcome. It will also briefly highlight what Charlton could have done to change the outcome.
Firstly, the tactical analysis will look at Charlton’s line up. As the image suggests, Charlton went with a 4-1-41 formation. . The formation suggests that out of possession, they wished to play with a flat 4 man midfield. This would have been done to make it difficult to for Doncaster to play between the lines. The two 8s would try to close the gaps, whilst the holding midfielder would look to win any balls that Doncaster played in-between the lines. This formation also allowed Charlton to be flexible. Throughout the game, the would switch to a 352. Darren Pratley would move into midfield, and Conor Washington would join Macauley Bonne upfront. They did this to get an extra body to Bonne. When they went one day, they looked to chase the game and going 2 up top gave them a greater threat. The report will now use analysis of the tactics of Doncaster.
As we can see from the image above, Doncaster started with a 4231 formation. In contract to Charlton, Doncaster played with two holding midfielders. This would have been done to provide greater protection to the back four. This was a sensible move by manager Darren Moore away to one of the favourites for promotion. The two midfielders cut the supply into Bonne, as well as Charlton wingers who look to drift inside into the 10 roles. These tactics also meant that the front four had greater freedom. This was a result of them having the assurance of extra cover behind.
Doncaster creating space in behind
The tactical analysis will reflect on how Doncaster was able to get in behind Charlton. John Taylor, who played right-wing for Doncaster was able to consistently get in behind Charlton. It also pinned the Charlton left-back Purrington. This forced Charlton to become uneven in their shape, which helped Doncaster win the game. However, this part of the analysis will focus specifically on Doncasters ability to get Taylor in behind.
Firstly, Doncaster very rarely went long from the goal kick, playing 24 short passes compared to 11 long passes. This allowed them to build-up from the back rather than going long. When they did this, Tyreece John-Jules (on loan from Arsenal) would drop deep, almost into a number 10 role. This dragged the Charlton centre-back into midfield, creating a big hole in behind. With good link-up play by John-Jules, they were able to get Taylor in behind into that space and directly in on goal.
This was a key aspect of winning the game. The ability to create space by Doncaster was a constant threat to Charlton. It forced the left-back to drop deeper and pinned back to match Taylors run. This meant that Charlton had very little balance in the side, and made it easier for Doncaster to defend. This was because the threat of Taylor meant Charlton could not attack down the left as he was fearful of the space left in behind. This meant that out of possession, Doncaster could condense the pitch and get extra bodies to the other side. This made it difficult for Charlton to break Doncaster down as they were able to congest that area of the pitch.
Therefore, the tactical analysis has shown that the tactics of Doncaster to get in behind was a useful weapon offensively as well as defensively. It allowed them to build-up play going forward, as well as turning the opposition defence towards their own goal. Defensively, it meant Charlton played exclusively down one side of the pitch, which is easier to defend against.
Doncasters holding midfielders
The tactical analysis will now consider the role played by Doncasters holding midfielders. Benjamin Whiteman and Madger Gomes had a key role in this game. They were able to snuff out attacks and cut the supply into the Charltons forwards. The analysis will consider how they were able to do this. It will use analysis to cover how this helped them win the game.
As the analysis has previously stated, Doncaster started with two holding midfielders. This made it easier for them to defend balls into the forwards by Charlton. This was done by either midfielder covering their side of the pitch. This meant that should the ball go to left-side of the pitch, Gomes would look to win the ball in that area, whilst Whiteman would cover the central area should Charlton beat that initial press. As a result, this meant that defensively, Doncaster was able to have a spare man in midfield, and made playing directly playing through Doncaster difficult. In comparison, Charlton played with the one defensive midfielder, which found it difficult to stop the supply and was therefore easy for Doncaster to get in behind. This, coupled with Charlton playing narrow, made that area of the pitch congested and suited the way Doncaster set-up.
The holding midfielders were also helpful to Doncaster in transition. The analysis has shown that Gomes and Whiteman’s very rarely ventured forward. This suggests they offered extra defensive protection. As a result, any Charlton counter-attack meant that they were often outnumbered. This nullified another Charlton threat, especially with the pace of Washington.
Therefore, the tactical analysis has shown that Doncaster was able to win the ball back in transition. They nullified any threat with extra defensive protection in key areas of the pitch.
How Charlton could have done better
The analysis has highlighted how Doncaster was able to win the game. However, there are areas in which Charlton could have improved to change the result of the game. Firstly, the should have come up with a solution to stop Taylor getting in behind. One of the tactics they could have employed is looking to play a higher line. Whilst risky, if used correctly it would have played Taylor offside on numerous occasions. This would have allowed Purrington to push forward and provide greater balance. It also would have closed the gap between defence and midfield, naturally making it harder for John-Jules to pick up space in between the gaps.
In conclusion, Doncaster was able to nullify the Charlton threat, and therefore win the game. They were a constant threat down the right-hand side and forced Charlton to become unbalanced. The threat of Taylor helped offensively and defensively for Doncaster. As well as that, Doncaster was able to break down Charlton attacks, and the use of two holding midfielders meant that Charlton was difficult to play through.
The tactical analysis also highlighted how Charlton could have done better in the game. A slight tweak Lee Bowyer should have considered is playing a high line. It would have been risky but would have bought greater balance and gone some way to reduce the threat of Taylor.
However, Doncaster defensively was very good and clinical, going 3-0 up before Charlton started to create good chances in terms of xG. They eventually ran out 3-1 winners and their push for promotion starts with 4 points and a big win on the road.