Burton Albion 2 Charlton 0
An impressive first-half performance from the Addicks was not enough on Saturday afternoon, as they succumbed to a 2-0 loss at Burton Albion.
It has been a busy few weeks for Michael Appleton and Andy Scott, as they have looked to bring renewed energy into this Charlton squad. With three January signings in the first XI and the other three on the bench, that energy was apparent from the very beginning.
Within two minutes, a lovely flowing move almost culminated in the away side taking the lead. Tayo Edun played a ball into the feet of Freddie Ladapo, but instead of taking his first touch for the Addicks, the striker dummied the ball for Tyreeq Bakinson.
The midfielder gave it back to Ladapo who had his shot saved at the near post by Max Crocombe. The linesman’s flag had already gone up, but the travelling supporters had already had an immediate glimpse into this new-look Charlton side.
The Addicks have struggled to create chances from set pieces this season, but they looked far better from dead balls this afternoon. In the tenth minute, Lloyd Jones got on the end of a Conor Coventry free-kick but his finish did not match the one he provided when these two sides met last month.
Halfway through the first half, another free-kick was rolled back cleverly for Alfie May who had peeled off Steve Seddon, but the striker could not keep his shot down.
Sandwiched between those two free-kicks came chances for Bakinson and Ladapo, as well as a penalty shout for a Jake Caprice challenge on Edun. Yet, astonishingly, the Addicks found themselves behind in the 24th minute.
Crocombe’s long ball was flicked on by Manchester United loanee Joe Hugill, and suddenly Mark Helm was driving at Jones. The midfielder cut inside and, from just inside the box, curled a shot into the far corner. It was the Brewers’ first meaningful attack of the game, but they were the side with the lead.
Charlton responded well and went so close in the 32nd minute when Terell Thomas nearly scored one of the goals of the season. After Ladapo’s shot was blocked by John Brayford, the Saint-Lucian centre-back hit a wonderful curling shot from 25 yards which was acrobatically kept out by Crocombe.
Burton would need their goalkeeper again from the resulting corner, when Coventry’s outswinger found Bakinson unmarked on the penalty spot and the midfielder’s volley looked destined for goal.
Bakinson had picked up from where he left off against Peterborough, and went close again just before half-time when he received the ball from Edun, took a touch, and curled a shot just wide of the far post.
The Addicks had enjoyed three quarters of the possession and three times as many shots, but they went into the break trailing.
They would made to further rue their missed chances almost instantly in the second half. Jasper Moon’s long throw from the right was only partially cleared, and Helm was able to recentre the ball.
Tennai Watson got to the cross ahead of former Addick Deji Oshilaja, but the ball fell to John Brayford who was able to stab the ball home from six yards out.
It was a difficult second half for Appleton’s side who, clearly bemused by going two goals down despite their dominance, struggled to get going again.
With 20 minutes to go, it could have been three. Helm played the ball out left to Ryan Sweeney, whose cross found substitute Beryly Lubala in the box, but the Congolese forward flicked the ball over from six yards out. His blushes were spared by the linesman’s flag.
The Addicks continued to have half-chances, Moon taking the ball off May’s toe in the 73rd minute as the striker went through on goal.
Ten minutes later, Daniel Kanu got on the end of an Edun cross from the byline, but volleyed the ball into the floor and into Crocombe’s arms.
Kanu was involved again in stoppage time, getting on the end of another incisive ball from Bakinson, but his powerful shot from 12 yards cannoned back off the crossbar.
Ultimately, it was just one of those days for Charlton, and there were few who were surprised when Burton’s stadium announcer awarded man of the match to goalkeeper Max Crocombe.
Appleton can take a lot of positives from the match but he will be looking for a better result when Northampton Town visit the Valley on Tuesday.
Charlton: Maynard-Brewer; Ness (Kanu 74), Jones, Thomas (Gillesphey 74); T Watson, Dobson (c), Coventry (Fiorini 74), Bakinson, Edun; May, Ladapo (L Watson 86)
Subs (not used): Isted, Edmonds-Green, Campbell
Booked: Thomas 35 (foul on Bennett), May 90+7 (foul on Carayol)
Burton Albion: Crocombe; Brayford (c), Sweeney, Moon; Caprice, Powell, Oshilaja, Helm (Chauke 83), Seddon; Bennett (Carayol 62), Hugill (Lubala 62)
Subs (not used): Blackman, Harper, Scott, Tamen
Goals: Helm 24, Brayford 47
Assist: Hugill 24
Booked: Bennett 5 (foul on Edun), Helm 42 (foul on Ness)
Attendance: 3,070 (561 from Charlton)
Referee: Alan Young