Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton got back to winning ways with a hard-fought victory over play-off chasing Southend United at The Valley on Saturday.
The Addicks took a deserved lead courtesy of Ricky Holmes early in the first period, only to be pegged back by John White.
But Karl Robinson’s men took control of the second half and got their winner with 74 minutes on the clock when Shrimpers defender Adam Thompson diverted Nathan Byrne’s cross into the back of the net under pressure from Jake Forster-Caskey.
Chris Solly captained Charlton as Robinson makes four changes to his starting XI.
Declan Rudd kept his place between the posts and he was protected by a back four of Solly, Patrick Bauer, Jason Pearce and Jay Dasilva.
Ahead of them, Andrew Crofts, Ezri Konsa and Fredrik Ulvestad made up a central midfield trio, with Byrne and Holmes operating either side of them.
The wide duo also played support to lone front man Josh Magennis.
Charlton raced out of the blocks to make a bright start in the south-London sun and took the lead with just six minutes on the clock.
A fine move saw Konsa power his way through midfield before passing to Magennis, who laid off a first-time pass to the always-dangerous Holmes.
The winger breezed past the Shrimpers’ right-back and advanced towards goal before finally placing his shot past keeper Christian Walton from a tight angle.
It would not be long, however, before the visitors would restore parity.
Theo Robinson fired the first warning shot when he cut in from the left, only to shoot straight at Rudd but, moments later, a corner gave Southend the opportunity they needed to draw level.
With the delivery coming in from the left, White was allowed to rise unchallenged at the back stick to head home with ease.
After that action-packed start to the game, Southend began to see more of the ball without producing much in the final third.
Simon Cox dragged a shot wide for the visitors, while Byrne did similar at the other end as the two sides headed for the dressing rooms at half time level pegging.
Rudd was called into action soon after the restart when he was made to deal with Robinson’s powerful effort at his near post, while Jason Demetriou sliced an effort wide soon after.
Just before the hour mark, the Addicks came agonisingly-close to regaining their lead when Holmes’ corner caused chaos in the box.
Magennis’ initial header dropped loose in the penalty area for the striker to hook back into the mixer where the ball eventually came back off the inside of the post and along the goal line before finally being smothered by Walton.
The action switched to the other end of the field moments later when McLaughlin found himself through on goal with all the time in the world and just Rudd to beat. But Charlton’s stopper did brilliantly to race off his line to clear the danger as the Shrimpers man tried to round him.
Crofts was next to come close when he struck a good-looking, low, first-time effort inches past the left-hand post with 20 minutes remaining, but the Addicks would soon be celebrating in the sunshine.
With 14 minutes left on the clock, Byrne whipped in a dangerous cross which caught the attention of sub Jake Forster-Caskey. The midfielder put Thompson under just enough pressure to see the Southend defender divert the ball passed Walton and over the line via the underside of the bar for an own goal.
Charlton had taken control of the game and it was no more than their efforts had deserved.
The Addicks had the ball in the net again on 80 minutes when Walton failed to keep hold of Ulvestad’s shot, but by the time Magennis had put away the follow up, the flag was already up for offside.
In the 89th minute, Stephen McLaughlin’s free-kick had the Addicks worried. His powerful strike went through the wall, meaning Rudd saw it late, but he did brilliantly to keep it out, getting down low to his right to palm it away.
Deep into injury-time, Jermaine McGlashan pinged in a cross which Franck Nouble got a touch on, but the former Addicks loanee could only divert it wide, much to the relief of the Valley faithful.
The result went a long way towards relieving pressure at the bottom of the table, with Charlton now holding a five-point and five-place cushion from the bottom four with a vastly-superior goal difference.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Bauer, Pearce, Dasilva, Crofts, Ulvestad, Konsa (Forster-Caskey 71), Byrne, Holmes (Teixeira 90+1), Magennis.
Subs: Phillips, Chicksen, Jackson, Watt, Botaka.
Booked: Forster-Caskey 83 (foul on O’Neill), Pearce 88 (foul on McLaughlin)
Goal: Holmes 6, Thompson (og) 74
Southend: Walton, White (O’Neill 70), Thompson, Timlin, Cox, McLaughlin, Atkinson, Amos (McGlashan 63), Demetriou, Robinson (Nouble 75), Ferdinand.
Subs (not used): Bexon, Mooney, Antoine Fortune, Hines.
Booked: Demetriou 81 (foul on Holmes)
Goal: White 11
Referee: R East
Att: 11,730 (2,504 from Southend)
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