Olly Groome reports from Stadium MK
Karl Robinson earned his first victory as Charlton boss with a 1-0 success over Milton Keynes Dons at Stadium MK on Boxing Day.
Ademola Lookman’s fine first-half finish was enough to seal the win, with the Addicks putting in a textbook away performance in the second half, remaining organised and resolute at the back to comfortably snuff out the hosts’ attacking threat.
Fredrik Ulvestad regained his place in Charlton’s starting XI, replacing Adam Chicksen as the Addicks made one change.
Dillon Phillips kept his place in goal, while a back four of Ezri Konsa, Patrick Bauer, Jorge Teixeira and Morgan Fox played in front of him. Ahead of them, Ulvestad, Andrew Crofts and captain Johnnie Jackson made up a midfield trio.
Lookman switched to a wide position, with Nicky Ajose occupying the opposite flank, and Josh Magennis leading the line.
The hosts carved out the first opening after four minutes when Samir Carruthers carved Charlton open with a smart through ball which Nicky Maynard latched on to. Phillips was not troubled by the former Bristol City man’s effort, however, dragging it wide of the post from a good position.
Charlton’s first sight at goal came with 16 minutes on the clock. Some good combination play between Ulvestad and Magennis saw the latter fire a decent shot towards the target from 20 yards which MK stopper David Martin kept held of.
MK Dons came close with a pair of opportunities midway through the half. First, Ben Reeves’ low cross, perhaps, should have been converted by Dean Bowditch from close range, only for the forward to divert it wide, before Carruthers saw a shot saved by Phillips, with the keeper catching Reeves’ headed follow up.
The majority of the chances in the first 45 were coming the way of the home side. Bowditch saw an effort from the edge of the box deflect wide, while the forward lifted another shot just over the bar following some pinball in the crowded penalty area.
Bowditch had been somewhat of a thorn in the Addicks’ side for much of the first half, but his afternoon would come to an end 10 minutes before the break when an injury forced his withdrawal and provided a vital shift in momentum as, three minutes later, the visitors took the lead, somewhat against the run of play.
A wonderful pass from Crofts saw the midfielder thread an inch-perfect pass through the defence, completely splitting it in two to pick out Lookman.
The youngster took a touch before steadying himself and firing confidently past Martin and into the far corner to put his side in front going into the break.
Early in the second period, Charlton suffered their own injury blow when Jackson was forced off, allowing Joe Aribo to enter the fray in midfield.
The Addicks looked to hold onto their lead while MK Dons enjoyed most of the possession without really threatening.
Indeed, there was not a chance of any kind at either end until the 84th minute when Ajose nearly took advantage of some hesitant defending, latching on to a long ball forward and very nearly putting a shot through Martins’s legs which the stopper kept out.
Thankfully, that was the only half-chance either side could muster and the Londoners stood firm to seal all three, much-needed points, give the travelling Addicks some festive cheer in Buckinghamshire.
Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Teixeira, Bauer, Fox, Jackson (Aribo 56), Crofts, Ulvestad, Lookman (Chicksen 87), Ajose (Johnson 90+2), Magennis.
Subs (not used): Mitov, Foley, Botaka, Ahearne-Grant.
Booked: Lookman 86 (time wasting)
Goal: Lookman 38
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Walsh, Upson, Carruthers (Powell 80), Bowditch (C Williams 35), Reeves, B Williams, Agard (Aneke 86), Downing, Maynard.
Subs (not used): Nicholls, Hendry, Furlong, Tshimanga.
Booked: Carruthers 63 (foul on Teixeira), Walsh 90+4 (foul on Ulvestad)
Referee: C Sarginson
Att: 10, 257 (928 from Charlton)
Read Time: 4 mins