Olly Groome reports from the Proact Stadium
Charlton’s end-of-season run of form continued with a 2-1 victory over Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium on Saturday.
Jake Forster-Caskey’s fine strike from distance put the Addicks ahead at the break, before Ricky Holmes popped up with yet another free-kick to ensure Karl Robinson’s men would finish their travelling season with a fifth victory on the road.
Reece Mitchell did pull one back for the hosts deep into injury time, while Forster-Caskey was denied the chance to restore the two-goal lead from the penalty spot by Spireites stopper Thurston Stuckmann moments later, but it did not dampen the celebrations of the 573 travelling Addicks behind the goal.
Karl Robinson made two changes to the side which earned maximum points against Gillingham at The Valley five days earlier.
19-year-old academy graduate Karlan Ahearne-Grant was handed his first league start since December 2015, while Joe Aribo came back into the side in the middle of the park.
That saw Ezri Konsa revert to centre-back, with Patrick Bauer shifting to the bench, while Jordan Botaka also took his place amongst the substitutes after starting the Easter Monday clash against the Gills.
The first half-chance of the afternoon came the way of the hosts in the 9th minute when Mitchell’s inviting cross put the Addicks’ back four under pressure. Jason Pearce stuck a leg out, sending the ball spinning towards goal but, thankfully, it spun just the wrong side of the left upright.
Not long after, the Spireites registered their first effort on target with Dan Gardner stinging the palms of Rudd after he had powered his way into the box.
Charlton’s first sight at goal, meanwhile, came via Holmes. The winger first struck a free-kick on the edge of the box into the wall, before firing wide from 20 yards moments later.
With 16 minutes gone, Holmes had another opportunity with a free-kick from a similar position, this time drawing a superb save from Stuckman, who tipped the ball over the bar when it looked for all the world to be heading straight into the top left-hand corner.
The Addicks had begun to get a foothold on the match by the midway point in the first period and Josh Magennis was given a good opportunity to open the scoring when he received the ball at his feet in the box, 12 yards from goal.
The Northern Ireland forward, perhaps, was unaware just how much time he had, instead opting to stab a quick shot at goal, which was easily dealt with by Stuckmann.
Andrew Crofts was next to try his luck when his low shot from distance bounced wide on the half-hour mark, while a fine move resulted in Konsa being played into the box with plenty of space. When he tried to square the killer pass for a certain goal, however, a Chesterfield defender was on hand to make a vital clearance.
The hosts nearly took advantage of some hesitant Charlton defending with 10 minutes of the half remaining as Crofts was dispossessed on the edge of his own area, leaving Joe Rowley with the chance to pull the ball back for Kristian Dennis. With that pass leaving Rudd somewhat stranded, Nathan Byrne was on hand to make a goal-saving block on the line to shut the Spireites out.
That proved to be a pivotal moment in the match, as the Addicks went straight down the other end to take the lead.
Forster-Caskey picked up possession 25 yards from goal, picked his spot and pulled the trigger to send the ball flying into the bottom right-hand corner to register his first goal for the club as the visitors headed into the break in front.
Chesterfield made a positive start to the second half without really troubling Rudd in between the sticks, but 12 minutes after the restart, the Addicks doubled their lead with their first foray into the final third.
Ahearne-Grant did well to win a free-kick just outside the box and Holmes stepped up to have another crack at finding the net from one of his trademark free-kicks.
With the ball placed left of centre of the goal, 20 yards out, he hit a sweet strike which took a slight deflection before nestling into the bottom right corner of the net, putting his side well and truly in the driving seat with his 12th goal of the season.
The action slowed down somewhat following the second, with both teams seemingly going through the motions of an end-of-season square-off, although Dennis’ volley from the edge of the box rattled Charlton’s crossbar, while Laurence Maguire also came close for the hosts when Rudd spilled his drive with no one there to follow up.
The Addicks were happy to soak up the hosts’ possession for much of the half, but could have hit a third late on when the ball dropped to Botaka 12 yards out, only for the substitute to place his effort over the bar.
Chesterfield did find a way through in injury time when Mitchell fired home after Rudd had made a superb one-on-one save from David Faupaula and, with the last kick of the game, Charlton had the opportunity to make it 3-1 from the spot when Forster-Caskey was upended as he was about to round of a counter-attack.
The midfielder stepped up himself, but failed to beat Stuckmann from 12 yards, with the keeper guessing the right way to keep the arrears down to one.
As it was, two goals were all that was needed to beat the already-relegated Spireites as the Londoners signed off on the road with all three points in Derbyshire, securing 10 points from the last possible 12.
Charlton: Rudd, Byrne, Konsa, Pearce, Dasilva, Crofts, Forster-Caskey, Aribo, (Novak 70), Holmes, Ahearne-Grant (Botaka 70), Magennis (Jackson 88).
Subs (not used): Phillips, Bauer, Barnes, Dijksteel.
Booked: Aribo 17 (foul on Mitchell), Konsa 84 (altercation)
Goals: Forster-Caskey 37, Holmes 57
Chesterfield: Stuckman, McGinn, Maguire, Dennis, Mitchell, Rowley, Hird, Anderson, Nolan, Dimaio (Faupala 63), Gardner (Brownell 88).
Subs (not used): Fulton, Ebanks-Blake, Wakefield, Grimshaw, Jones.
Booked: Dennis 90+2 (dissent), Nolan 90+4 (foul on Forster-Caskey)
Goal: Mitchell 90+1
Referee: M Salisbury
Att: 5,657 (573 from Charlton)
Read Time: 5 mins