REPORT | Walsall 0 Charlton 2

Lyle Taylor and Krystian Bielik scored as Charlton beat Walsall 2-0 to complete back-to-back wins and in doing so moved into the play-off spots.

Charlton played some threatening, fast-paced football in the first half and defended very solidly in the second to take home a much-deserved three points. 

Taylor calmly slotted away a fifth minute penalty for his ninth goal of the season and Bielik smashed home a second six minutes into the second half in a game where Charlton’s midfield quartet of Josh Cullen, Darren Pratley, Joe Aribo and Tariqe Fosu were particularly dominant.

Addicks boss Lee Bowyer had hinted after Saturday’s game at the weekend that Taylor was unlikely to be seen in a Charlton shirt again until after the international break, which meant seeing his name on the teamsheet was certainly a surprise to the travelling support.

Bowyer did make four changes though from the side that beat Doncaster Rovers on Saturday. Naby Sarr and Pratley replaced the injured Anfernee Dijksteel and Ben Reeves while Fosu and Igor Vetokele came in for rested pair Jamie Ward and Karlan Grant. It meant a slight adjustment to Bowyer’s normal diamond formation, with Fosu operating from the left in what looked like a 4-1-3-2 formation with Josh Cullen in his normal role in front of the back four. 

The Addicks started the first half with real venom, pressing high and moving the ball quickly. The Saddlers had their warning in the third minute when Pratley found Fosu on the left. The tricky winger drove at his defender, cut inside, as he did to such effect last season, and curled his right footed effort just wide. 

Walsall weren’t getting a second warning as just two minutes later the Addicks were on the attack down the left again. This time it was Aribo and his cross/shot into the box fell to Fosu. The former Reading man controlled and shifted the ball on to his left foot only to be clumsily taken out by Saddlers’ skipper George Dobson for a clear penalty. Referee Tom Nield pointed to the spot and up-stepped Taylor. Goalkeeper Liam Roberts dived to his right as Taylor calmly placed to the keeper's left scoring his fourth penalty of the season in the process.

The Addicks continued to control the game with Fosu especially causing problems. The home side’s first half chance came on the 15-minute mark when Josh Gordon smashed over an effort from just outside the Addicks’ area.

It wasn’t long before the Walsall goal was under threat again a Taylor knock-down found Aribo who had a shot blocked, the ball was cleared but straight back to Charlton and Fosu had his shot blocked behind for a corner after another lovely bit of skill got him away from his defender. 

Unfortunately for the visitors Vetokele went down just inside the Walsall half trying to get away from his defender just after the half hour mark. After minutes of treatment, he was carried off and taken to hospital with a suspected shoulder injury and replaced by Grant.

The substitute was very well denied by Roberts in the 44th minute when he headed a lovely, deep Taylor cross back across goal. In stoppage time the Addicks had a large penalty appeal turned away with Nield indicating a foul on Aribo happened just outside the area.

It was an impressive first half from Charlton who deservedly led 1-0 at the break.

Krystian Bielik made it 2-0 just after the break from a Josh Cullen corner. The Arsenal loanee found himself unmarked but missed his header, the ball slightly fortuitously came back to the defender who made no mistake second time around smashing a volley past a helpless Roberts from eight yards out. 

Josh Ginnelly saw a free kick dip dangerously just over Jed Steer’s crossbar as the home side looked to get back into the game. 

As the game neared the end the home side began to exert some pressure and when Steer was called into action, by a Morgan Ferrier shot just inside the area, he responded with a fantastic save.

Another injury forced Cullen off but the Addicks were able to see out the game and nearly added a third when Bielik’s late acrobatic effort went just over. 

Charlton: Steer; Solly, Bielik, Pearce, Sarr; Cullen (Lapslie, 80), Pratley, Aribo, Fosu (Marshall, 82); Vetokele (Grant 34), Taylor

Subs (not used): Phillips, Stevenson, Ward, Ajose

Goals: Taylor (pen, 6), Bielik (51)

Booked: Cullen (24, foul on Gordon), Pearce (49, foul on Cook), Taylor (73, foul on Leahy)

Staff booked: Bowyer (64, dissent)

Walsall: Roberts, Leahy, Dobson (C), Guthrie, Devlin, Cook, Ginnelly (Ronan, 85), Ferrier, Gordon (Ismail, 75), Osbourne (Kinsella, h/t), Martin

Subs (not used): Dunn, Morris, Ismail, Johnson, Wilson

Booked: Leahy (42, taking a free kick too soon)

Referee: T Nield

Attendance: 3,719 (328 from Charlton)

Read Time: 4 mins