Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton slipped to a second consecutive home defeat on Saturday as Bury came away from The Valley with a 1-0 victory.
Ryan Lowe’s 21st-minute strike for the visitors was enough to condemn the Addicks on a wet afternoon in SE7 and despite the hosts striking the woodwork and creating a number of good opportunities, they all passed them by as the relegation-threatened Shakers were able to come away with the points.
Karl Robinson made three changes to his starting XI to take on the Shakers for the Football for a Fiver fixture.
Declan Rudd started in goal, while Nathan Byrne dropped back to right-back, replacing the suspended Chris Solly, with Jorge Teixeira, Patrick Bauer and Lewis Page making up the rest of the defensive quartet.
Jake Forster-Caskey anchored the midfield, with academy graduates Ezri Konsa and Joe Aribo operating in front of him, while Stephy Mavididi and captain Ricky Holmes provided width, with Lee Novak leading the line.
The Addicks made the better start of the two sides and had the ball in the back of the net with their first set-piece of the afternoon when Bauer bundled the ball home from Holmes’ right-sided delivery, only for it to be denied by referee Trevor Kettle for a push.
With 14 minutes on the clock, the always-dangerous Mavididi came close with a well-hit drive from 20 yards which just skimmed past the right-hand upright, but seven minutes later, it was the visitors who went in front with their first foray into Charlton’s final third.
After Jacob Mellis had made a powerful run into the box, the hosts had ample opportunity to clear the danger but failed to clear their lines before the ball fell to veteran striker Lowe, who dispatched his effort into the bottom right-hand corner from 10 yards.
The Addicks rattled the woodwork just after the half-hour mark when Novak connected with Forster-Caskey’s delightful ball into the box, cushioning a header over keeper Joe Murphy which came bouncing back off the crossbar.
And Robinson’s men came close again moments later when another set-piece caused problems for the Shakers. Aribo fired a half-cleared corner back into the danger area which saw the ball fall to Novak who drew a fine, point-blank save from Murphy before Bury hacked away following a scramble.
Robinson made a switch at the break, bringing Andrew Crofts off the bench in place of Bauer – a move which saw Konsa move to defence, with the substitute filling the gap in midfield.
Mavididi enjoyed an early opportunity after the restart when he ran onto Forster-Caskey’s pass, but saw his shot blocked after cutting into the box from the right.
Charlton made their second sub nine minutes into the second period with Forster-Caskey making way for Josh Magennis as Robinson reverted to a 4-4-2 formation and the hosts very nearly found a way through the Bury defence soon after when Novak forced Murphy into a fine save at his near post with a header.
The Addicks continued to take the lion’s share of possession, but were finding it difficult to break down a stern Bury backline.
Mavididi cause more problems by getting to the byline to send in a teasing ball which caused havoc before Bury could clear their lines, while Holmes’ free-kick drew a save from Murphy, but that all-important equaliser was proving hard to come by.
At the other end, Rudd was called into action in the 73rd minute to palm Hallam Hope’s powerful effort over the crossbar, but it was still Charlton who were looking more likely.
Novak should, perhaps, have done better when he headed wide at the back stick from Holmes’ driven cross with 15 minutes left and Robinson used his final throw of the dice to introduce Tony Watt off the bench with 12 minutes remaining.
The Scot came close with a good-looking, curling effort in the 8th minute which was well saved by Murphy, but with time running out and the Addicks having to play the remainder of the match with 10 men following an injury to Mavididi, the hosts were heading for a sixth game without victory.
With Charlton now 11 points off the play-offs with 13 games remaining, the play-off dream is rapidly drifting off into the distance with a midweek trip to Shrewsbury Town the next challenge as the games continue to come thick and fast for Robinson’s men.
Charlton: Rudd, Byrne, Bauer (Crofts 46), Teixeira, Page, Forster-Caskey (Magennis 54), Konsa, Aribo, Holmes, Mavididi, Novak (Watt 78).
Subs (not used): Phillips, Jackson, Botaka, Dasilva.
Booked: Byrne 35 (foul on Hope), Teixeira 66 (dissent)
Bury: Murphy, Leigh, C Burgess, Kay (c), Mellis, Hope (Pope 83), Barnett, Moore, Styles, Lowe (Miller 57), Caddis.
Subs (not used): Lainton, S Burgess, Mackreth, Pennant, Beadling.
Booked: Moore 56 (foul on Holmes), Hope 60 (foul on Aribo), Kay 72 (foul on Crofts)
Goal: Lowe 21
Referee: T Kettle
Att: 14,640 (638 from Bury)
Read Time: 4 mins