Unbeaten Addicks draw at Exeter

Freddie Ladapo battles Ben Purrington for the ball

Exeter City 1 Charlton 1

A late own goal from Cheick Diabate was enough to extend the Addicks’ unbeaten run to nine games, as Nathan Jones’ side drew 1-1 at Exeter City on Good Friday.

With both sides coming off the back of a two-week break, the sold out crowd at St James Park might have expected a slow start. But it would take only six minutes for the first goal to arrive.

The Grecians started really well, winning three corners in the opening stages, and their pressure eventually told when the third set piece was recycled by Tom Carroll. The midfielder laid the ball right to Jack Aitchison on the touchline, and the Scot’s cross went over the head of Tennai Watson to find Ben Purrington inside the six-yard box.

The former Addick’s header deflected off the back of Watson and found its way past Harry Isted at his near post, giving the home side an early lead.

Charlton responded well, steadying the game before beginning to create chances of their own. The first came in the 18th minute when a long ball from Michael Hector – on his first start since early January – was brought down brilliantly in the box by Watson. His cut back found Karoy Anderson, but the young midfielder’s first-time shot was palmed away by Viljami Sinisalo.

Another opportunity came just after the half-hour mark when a wonderful pass from Alfie May with the outside of his foot found Thierry Small with space on the left. The wing-back drove into the area and shot from a tight angle, but his effort was saved low down by Sinisalo.

By the end of the first period, the Addicks were well on top and thought they had found the equaliser on the stroke of half time. A nice move involving Daniel Kanu and May culminated in the latter finding George Dobson racing into the box on the left.

The captain’s left foot shot took a slight deflection off Pierce Sweeney which took it over the goalkeeper, before Purrington raced back to hook it clear from the goalmouth. Replays suggested that the ball may have crossed the line, but the referee’s whistle was only to signal half time.

Purrington clears off the line

The Addicks continued their good play into the second period, when they were bolstered by the half time addition of Freddie Ladapo. The striker’s eyes lit up in the 48th minute when Watson’s header looked to be dropping his way eight yards out, but Sweeney got to the ball first to clear in the nick of time.

Four minutes later Ladapo got in again, darting in behind Purrington to get on the end of a long ball from Hector, but his shot from a tight angle was held by Sinisalo.

It was a much more open half, and the hosts had their fair share of the chances. In the 62nd minute, Sweeney’s shot from 20 yards was deflected just over off Dobson. The resulting corner was not cleared, and Yanic Wildschut’s left-foot shot from 12 yards forced a smart save out of Isted.

Five minutes later the Grecians should have doubled their lead. Good work from Wildschut on the left ended in him picking out a perfect cutback for Luke Harris. Just in front of the Fulham loanee was Aitchison, who ran over the ball but in doing so put Harris off, and Harris shot well wide with the goal gaping.

It was a miss which the home side would come to rue, as in the 87th minute, Charlton finally found the equaliser their play had merited. Tyreeq Bakinson had only been on the field for a few seconds, but he was instantly involved, floating in a cross from the right touchline.

Fellow substitute Chuks Aneke, on his return to the side, beat Diabate in the air. The striker’s header was directed back across goal and wide, but hit Diabate and, in a similar fashion to Purrington’s goal, was diverted in at the near post. Cue the celebration from 1,223 travelling Addicks.

It might have got even better when Ladapo and Bakinson combined to send May through on goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time. League One’s top scorer rounded Sinisalo, but took it too far wide, and could only find the post with his effort.

The games will come thick and fast for the rest of the season, with Charlton back in action at The Valley on Monday when they welcome Stevenage.

Exeter City: Sinisalo; Sweeney (c), Aimson, Purrington (Diabate 77); Niskanen, Carroll, Woods, Wildschut (Rankine 71); Aitchison (Alli 71), Harris (Cole 85), Cox (Eisa 77)

Subs (not used): Fitzwater, MacDonald

Goal: Purrington 6

Assist: Aitchison 6

Booked: Woods 78 (time-wasting)

Charlton: Isted; Hector, Thomas, Gillesphey (Edun 71); T Watson, Dobson (c) (Campbell 86), Coventry, Anderson (Ladapo 46), Small (Bakinson 86); May, Kanu (Aneke 64)

Subs (not used): Maynard-Brewer, Ness

Goal: Diabate (og) 87

Booked: Thomas 37 (foul on Harris)

Attendance: 8,088 (1,223 from Charlton)

Referee: Declan Bourne

Read Time: 5 mins