Charlton’s winning start to 2023 ended with a tight 2-1 loss at home to play-off chasing Bolton Wanderers.
Fifth-placed Bolton had the better of the first half on the back of an early wondergoal from Aaron Morley. Charlton came firing out of the blocks after the break, scoring within 25 seconds, and had chances to take the lead but it was Trotters’ striker, Dion Charles, who scored the all-important third goal to seize momentum back.
Dean Holden began the game in the 4-3-3 formation that he has been using in recent weeks, making four changes from the team that beat Barnsley, with new signing Matt Penney coming in for his Charlton debut and Macauley Bonne making his first start since returning to the club earlier this month.
Morley gave Bolton a fourth-minute lead with a sublime, 30-yard free kick that bounced off the post and in, giving no chance to a diving Ashley Maynard-Brewer.
The Australian stopper kept it at 1-0 five minutes later, making himself big and blocking Charles’ effort onto the crossbar.
Charlton responded, with a Jes Rak-Sakyi header comfortably saved by James Trafford, who then did well to collect a driven Scott Fraser cross from a successful high press by the Addicks.
Rak-Sakyi was Charlton’s biggest threat in the first 45 minutes and just before the half-hour mark provided the Addicks highlight of the half, with a jinking run and low shot that Trafford palmed behind for a corner.
Bolton finished the half well and it was only a sharp save from Maynard-Brewer and big blocks from George Dobson and Lucas Ness that kept it at 1-0 going into the break.
The Addicks came out for the second half firing and striking back immediately. Charlton were first to a Maynard-Brewer kick forward and, after some swift, intricate passing, Morgan played a clever one-two with Rak-Sakyi and unleashed a shot from just outside the area into the bottom corner of the goal.
Trafford was called in to action again but saved from Rak-Sakyi and was down well to keep out a Morgan second.
Maynard-Brewer tipped over to prevent a spectacular double from midfielder Morley before Rak-Sakyi saw a flicked shot from close range go just past the post as Charlton continued to press.
Charles struck the winner in the 67th minute, when Bolton broke down the right and the hard-working Kyle Dempsey was able to tee-up the in-form striker for a tap-in from eight yards.
Despite some later pressure, the Addicks weren’t able to get an equaliser, as Bolton took the three points.
Charlton: Maynard-Brewer; Clare (Leaburn 75), Inniss, Ness, Penney; Fraser, Dobson (c) (Henry 88), Morgan (Payne 88); Blackett-Taylor (Campbell 67), Bonne, Rak-Sakyi
Subs (not used): Harness, Sessegnon, O’Connell
Goal: Morgan 46
Assist: Rak-Sakyi 46
Booked: Bonne 75 (foul on Trafford)
Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Jones, Santos (c), Johnston (John 46), Charles (Jerome 80), Morley, Shoretire (Adeboyejo 56), Toal, Lee (Sheehan 82), Bradley, Dempsey
Subs (not used): Dixon, Isgrove, Williams
Goals: Morley 4, Charles 68
Assists: Shoretire 4, Dempsey 68
Booked: Lee 72 (foul on Morgan), Sheehan 83 (timewasting), Trafford 90+6 (timewasting)
Referee: C Brook
Attendance: 14,458 (1,511 from Bolton)