REPORT | Charlton 1 Fleetwood Town 1

George Jones reports from The Valley

Charlton were forced to share the points with Fleetwood Town at The Valley on Saturday afternoon as they were undone by a stoppage-time equaliser.

Ricky Holmes’ first-half opener looked set to be enough for the Addicks but Amari’i Bell’s close-range finish, which came in the fourth of 10 added on minutes, earned the Cod Army a share of the spoils.

The result means that Charlton, who also lost Nathan Byrne to a late red card, are six matches unbeaten and remain six points off the play-off places.

In terms of team news, Karl Robinson made one change to the XI that started at Bolton last weekend, with Holmes replacing the suspended Lewis Page.

The Addicks came close in the opening minute when Tony Watt broke beyond two Fleetwood challenges to advance towards the penalty area. Visiting defender Ben Davies did well to dispossess the Scot before he was able to shoot at goal, though.

Jake Forster-Caskey fired a long-range strike off target a minute later and, at the other end, Declan Rudd made a smart save with his legs to deny Devante Cole, as both teams looked to make a quick start.

Charlton were bossing possession in the middle third of the pitch, without really creating much in terms of chances, and the match’s next opportunity fell the way of the Cod Army.

After a ball ricocheted kindly for Cole, he aimed a shot at goal that Rudd pushed behind for a corner from a tight angle. From the set-piece that followed, Rudd tipped a dipping Cian Bolger header over the bar and the Addicks then managed to see out the mini-spell of Fleetwood pressure.

Watt stung the palms of goalkeeper Alex Cairns, having got onto a clever through ball from Forster-Caskey on 36 minutes and, from the corner that followed, the Addicks grabbed the lead.

Forster-Caskey’s initial delivery was cleared but after the ball came back his way he dropped his shoulder and fired across the face of goal where Holmes was waiting to tap home from close range.

It was a brilliant bit of play from Forster-Caskey to set up the opener and that made it three assists in just a game and a half for the January signing.   

The Addicks held a one-goal led at the break and a lovely bit of link-up play between Forster-Caskey and Watt almost freed the latter in the opening moments of the second half.

Charlton had made a bright start to the second period and were knocking the ball around nicely. Their rhythm was interrupted by a change in linesman – due to injury - and, once play restarted, Fleetwood almost got themselves level.

A loose ball was pounced upon by Cole, who drove towards goal but a combination of Ezri Konsa and Patrick Bauer did really to get back at him. Adam Chicksen then completed the clearance, after Bell had seen a shot blocked.  

At the other end, a looping Bauer header was well cleared by Bolger and Rudd then made an easy catch from a deflected David Ball strike on 74 minutes.

Ball flicked an Ashley Hunter cross over the bar a couple of minutes later and Charlton then came close when Watt latched onto Bauer’s knockdown. He could only fire over the bar from 10 yards out, though the linesman’s flag was up for offside.

Chances were beginning to drop at both ends as the game entered its final stages. The Cod Army came close 10 minutes from time when Bauer headed a corner as far out as Ball, and the substitute controlled on his chest before sending a dipping strike wide of Rudd’s far post.

Chris Solly threw his body in the way of a rasping Bobby Grant strike two minutes from time and the fourth official then indicated an incredible 10 minutes of stoppage time.

Four minutes into it, Fleetwood found an equaliser. The Addicks half cleared a corner but the loose ball fell for Bell, who swept into the corner.

It was late heartbreak for the Addicks and, although they would still take a point from the match, things would get worse for them as they lost Nathan Byrne to a straight red card for a foul on Ball.

At first glance, the challenge looked more 50/50 than anything else but referee Tim Robinson – fussy towards both sides all afternoon - deemed it worthy of a straight red.

The final chance of the game came shortly after the dismissal when Ball curled towards goal but his shot bounced out off the post.  

Charlton: Rudd, Solly (c), Bauer, Konsa, Chicksen (Jackson 65), Crofts, Forster-Caskey (Teixeira 86), Aribo, Byrne, Holmes (Novak 78), Watt.

Subs (not used): Phillips, Dasilva, Botaka, Mavididi.

Goal: Holmes 37

Booked: Forster-Caskey 44 (foul on Dempsey), Holmes 69 (foul on McLaughlin), Konsa 90+2 (foul on Grant).

Sent off: Byrne 90+7 (foul on Ball)

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, McLaughlin (Brannagan 71), Bell, Eastham, Burns (Ball 46), Grant, Bolger, Dempsey, Davies, Schwabl (Hunter 62), Cole.

Subs (not used): Neal, Davis, Glendon, Maguire.

Goal: Bell 90+4

Booked: McLaughlin 45+2 (foul on Holmes), Eastham 90+5 (foul on Watt)

Referee: T Robinson

Attendance: 9,916 (140 from Fleetwood Town)
Read Time: 5 mins