Charlton claimed an outstanding away victory and three vital points in their quest for the play-offs, beating Shrewsbury Town 2-0 on Tuesday evening.
Following two straight defeats, the Addicks went to Montgomery Waters Meadow needing a win to keep their promotion dream alive and kicking and they passed with flying colours, shutting down the high-flying hosts from beginning to end and inflicting just their fourth league defeat of the season on them.
The match was evenly-balanced until the second period when the Londoners began to take control and took the lead courtesy of captain Jason Pearce’s powerful header. And as Charlton displayed expert game management to prevent Shrewsbury from threatening as they tried to push forwards in injury time, Josh Magennis popped up to score another at the death to put the gloss on a potentially season-defining night in Shropshire.
Caretaker Manager Lee Bowyer made six changes to his starting XI. Lewis Page returned to play alongside Pearce, Patrick Bauer and Anfernee Dijksteel and, ahead of them, Ezri Konsa and Jake Forster-Caskey occupied the engine room.
They were flanked by Mark Marshall and Tariqe Fosu and up-front Magennis and Stephy Mavididi both returned to the starting XI.
The six changes saw Jay Dasilva, Ben Reeves, Michal Zyro and Nicky Ajose drop to the bench, while Sullay Kaikai and Joe Aribo missed out, with the latter nursing a tibial contusion to his right shin.
The Addicks registered the first effort on goal with five minutes on the clock when Forster-Caskey’s corner fell to the feet of Konsa, who drilled an effort through a crowded box, but deflected just wide for a corner.
The hosts, meanwhile, took 20 minutes to first threaten the visitors with Ben Godfrey powering down the left to pull a cross back for Carlton Morris to fire into the side netting.
By the midway point of the first period, Shrewsbury were beginning to see more of the ball, but Charlton carved out a good opportunity for themselves on 25 minutes when Fosu sent Mavididi clear on the left and into the box. His effort, however, was smothered by a defender who had desperately tracked back and that would be the best half-chance of an even opening 45 minutes.
It was much the same story in the early exchanges of the second half, with the match remaining on a knife’s edge.
Magennis headed over from Forster-Caskey’s out-swinging corner 10 minutes into the restart, while the Northern Ireland international headed Marshall’s cross back into the danger area moments later, only for Mavididi to have the ball nicked off his feet by a blue and yellow shirt.
It represented a good spell of pressure from the Londoners, with Fosu the next to come close when he burst through midfield and saw an effort tipped over the bar by Dean Henderson. And from the resulting corner, Pearce’s header was nearly bundled over the line by Magennis only to be denied by a last-ditch block, and from the next set-piece, Pearce sent a header bouncing inches past the right-hand upright.
Slowly, but surely, the Addicks were beginning to take control and with 16 minutes remaining, they took a deserved lead.
Fosu’s quick feet earned him a free-kick over on the left, leaving Forster-Caskey to whip in the delivery. Skipper Pearce was the man on the spot, battling his way through the box to throw himself at the ball and power a header into the back of the net to send the hardy travelling Addicks into raptures.
The goal only added to Charlton’s confidence and they nearly had a second on 82 minutes but for Henderson’s smart save at his near post to deny Mavididi who had done brilliantly to muscle his way into a good position in the box. From that moment on, it was all about seeing the game out and Bowyer’s men managed it brilliantly.
Although the Shrews threatened with some injury-time possession and a few lofted balls into the box, the Addicks kept them at bay with ease and even had time to go down the other end to make completely sure of the points in the eighth minute of the five added on.
With keeper Henderson advanced halfway into his own half, Magennis charged down an attempted clearance, forcing the stopper to slice the ball up in the air. The forward still had to challenge Henderson to get to the ball first and he did just that, hooking the ball into an empty net from all of 30 yards to make it 2-0 and declare it game over.
The three points thrusts Charlton into fifth position with three games left ahead of another mammoth game on Saturday when we head to fellow top-six hopefuls Portsmouth.
Charlton: Amos, Dijksteel, Pearce, Bauer, Page, Marshall (Reeves 75), Konsa, Forster-Caskey, Fosu (Dasilva 90+5), Mavididi (Lennon 90+5), Magennis.
Subs (not used): Phillips, Kashi, Ajose, Zyro.
Booked: Forster-Caskey 47 (foul on Eisa), Konsa 55 (foul on Nolan)
Goals: Pearce 74, Magennis 90+8
Shrewsbury: Henderson, Lowe, Godfrey, Sadler, Whalley (Eisa 46), Morris, Bolton, Jones (Morris 75), Nolan, Nsiala (John-Lewis 86), Rodman.
Subs (not used): MacGillivary, Gnahoua, Hendrie, Payne.
Booked: Nsiala 47 (foul on Mavididi)
Referee: Darren Handley
Att: 5,838 (360 from Charlton)