REPORT | Middlesbrough 1 Charlton 0

George Saville’s strike inside a minute was enough for Middlesbrough to keep the three points in the north-east as Charlton continue to hunt for their first win in eight games. 

Lee Bowyer made four changes to the side who were beaten 3-1 by Sheffield Wednesday last weekend and included new signing Joe Ledley in the starting XI.

The Addicks have found life difficult in recent months and Boro’s early goal inside a minute did little to ease that. Britt Assombalonga’s strike was blocked by Jason Pearce but fell kindly to Saville who was able to slot the ball through the legs of Dillon Phillips and into the back of the net.  

With Charlton staring at an immediate upfield battle, the hosts continued their pressure with Ashley Fletcher flashing the ball across the face of the visitors' goal but no red shirt was able to meet it. 

With eight minutes gone, Saville would again go close, having been afforded space on the edge of the area and being urged to shoot by the home crowd he took on the audacious effort which whistled past Phillips’ post. 

The visitors were making problems of their own with misplaced passes and sloppy defending as Middlesbrough continued to maintain their grip on the game. 

With less than a quarter of an hour gone, the Addicks were fortunate not to concede a second. Jason Pearce was looking to see out a Boro attack with a headed pass back to Phillips but a mix up in communications saw an awkward clearance from the ‘keeper. The ball fell kindly to Hayden Coulson who was thankfully unable to keep his makeshift effort down. 

Up the other end of the field, Middlesbrough’s defence was also doing its job, keeping the visitors at an arm’s length when they attempted to fashion an opportunity. 

Boro were continuing to put the pressure on Charlton as game approached the 30-minute mark and Assombalonga came close to doubling their advantage having shown great determination to get contact on the ball in a crowded penalty area but the Addicks did just enough to put the forward off.

Marcus Tavernier was next to go close when he improvised to get onto the end of an early cross into the back post, but his first time effort was just shy of the near post. 

With 33 minutes played, Assombalonga was really continuing to pester Charlton, meeting a cross into the box from the right wing from Adam Clayton but being unable to get enough contact to turn it goal bound. 

Bowyer made a double sub at the break with Albie Morgan and Lyle Taylor replacing Ben Purrington and Ledley. Taylor's involvement was a welcome sight as he was making his first appearance for the Addicks since the 2-0 victory at Reading and he fashioned a great chance for Charlton early in the half. The striker showed great strength to lay the ball off to Jonathan Leko who then looked to forward it on to Macauley Bonne but the Zimbabwean was unable to make up the distance and the ball went behind for a Boro goal kick. 

Boro were still showing signs of getting a second and the Addicks had to be on guard to ensure Tavernier’s effort was seen behind for a corner. 

The break was looking to have had a positive effect for the visitors who were beginning to ask questions of the hosts.

With an hour gone, Charlton were still trailing but looking a much better side than they did in the first half. 

However, Boro were still looking the more likely and the Addicks were fortunate to escape conceding again, with Djed Spence firing in a cross to an unmarked Tavernier but the Boro man somehow managed to fire over the bar. 

With just less than 70 minutes played Bowyer's men finally had a real chance to find the net. Conor Gallagher weaved through the defence and opened up to take the shot. His effort dipped, but was over the bar.

With 80 minutes played, Phillips was called upon to keep the game within the reach of Charlton, pulling off a fine reflex save to deny Fletcher’s effort.

Up the other end, Taylor looked to level things up when he beat his man to make a ball over the top, only to see his effort blocked. 

With five minutes to go, the game really opened up. As both sides threatened, Stephen Walker had a glorious chance as he was clean through, but he was only able to bend his shot wide of the frame. 

Having had little to do all game, Aynsley Pears was thrust into action when a clearance from Boro fell kindly to Morgan whose well-struck effort was met low by the Middlesbrough stopper. 

With four minutes of stoppage time added, on the atmosphere at The Riverside picked up but the hosts dug in enough to ensure that Charlton made the long trip back home a drab one. 

Middlesbrough: Pears, Ayala (c), Fry, Tavernier, Clayton, Assombalonga (Walker 63), Fletcher, Howson, Saville, Spence, Coulson

Subs (not used): Mejias, Wood, Bola, Malley, O’Neill, Walker, Liddle 

Goal: Saville 1,

Booked: Fletcher (Foul on Morgan)

Charlton: Phillips; Matthews, Pearce (c), Oshilaja, Purrington (Morgan 45); Doughty, Pratley, Gallagher, Ledley (Taylor 45) ; Leko, Bonne

Subs (not used): Taylor, Morgan, Solly, Sarr, Davison, Vennings, Maynard-Brewer

Booked: Gallagher 53 (Foul on Saville) Pratley 59 (Foul on Assombalonga) Leko 65 (Foul on Coulson)

Referee: Stephen Martin 

Attendance: 18,681

Read Time: 5 mins