Charlton suffered defeat as George Puscas’ third minute penalty proved the difference for Reading on a day where the Addicks were denied a perfectly good first half goal and a late penalty.
Back at The Valley after Tuesday’s defeat to Brentford, Lee Bowyer continued to utilize his entire squad for the heavily congested return of the Championship, making five changes for the clash with Reading.
June’s Championship Player of the Month, Jason Pearce, began at the heart of the Addicks defence alongside Tom Lockyer with Adam Matthews and Deji Oshilaja either side of the pair.
Josh Cullen partnered Darren Pratley in the midfield with Aiden McGeady on the right and Albie Morgan on the left. Chuks Aneke started up front with Macauley Bonne, scorer of Charlton’s goal at Griffin Park.
It was the worst possible start for the hosts as Reading won a penalty with their first attack of the game in the second minute. Andy Rinomhota was bundled down by Oshilaja and Puscas made no mistake with the spot-kick to give the visitors an early lead.
Charlton responded well to the set-back and a spell of sustained possession led to a pair of corners, the second of which couldn’t be steered on target by Pratley at the back post. Morgan then saw a volley blocked before Pearce eventually headed over.
Reading had a chance to double their lead in the 22nd minute, but Meite’s effort was straight at Dillon Phillips before Aneke headed over at the other end moments before the first half drinks break.
Charlton had the ball in the net in the 29th minute, but Aneke was deemed offside as he tapped home from McGeady’s saved shot. Replays showed the striker may in fact have been onside, but Bowyer’s side remained a goal down.
The Addicks continued to push for an equaliser and Bonne was left frustrated after flashing an effort wide of the target from McGeady’s near post cross.
Misfortune coupled with profligate finishing saw Charlton control the first half with 55.5% possession and nine shots to Reading’s four, but go into the dressing room a goal down.
Chasing an equaliser, Bowyer made a pair of changes at the break, Jonny Williams and Alfie Doughty replacing Morgan and Oshilaja.
Charlton began the second period where they left off, controlling proceedings without properly testing Cabral in the Reading net. Aneke had the first chance of the half, but his acrobatic effort was deflected over the bar.
Five minutes after the restart Bonne had the Addicks next opportunity, heading into Cabral’s hands at the near post.
Charlton were handed a reprieve in the 62nd minute when substitute Omar Richards ran down the left flank and fired a dangerous cross along the six-yard box, but the ball fortunately evaded everyone and went out of play for a goal-kick.
The Addicks continued to push for a route back into the game and once again created a dangerous opportunity when McGeady’s clipped pass found Matthews in the box. With a brief free moment, the full-back decided against a shot as his pass was blocked and cleared.
Despite once again struggling to turn possession into goals, Charlton were inches from an equaliser with 20 minutes to go. Doughty beat a pair of Reading players on the left flank before chipping a ball into the box towards Pratley whose diving header couldn’t quite reach the pass.
Luck just wasn’t on Charlton’s side as they searched for a goal and the Addicks were certain they had won a penalty in the 85th minute when Jake Forster-Caskey was manhandled in the box by Obita. The referee blew his whistle, but pointed the other way and booked the Charlton substitute for his protests.
Aneke and Williams saw shots blocked in stoppage time as Reading held on to win 1-0 courtesy of Puscas’ third minute penalty. It was an afternoon that left a bad taste after the Addicks saw a goal incorrectly chalked off before they were denied a seemingly clear penalty.
Charlton: Phillips; Matthews, Lockyer, Pearce (C), Oshilaja (Doughty 46); Cullen, Pratley (Forster-Caskey 84), McGeady (Hemed 79), Morgan (Williams 46); Aneke, Bonne
Subs (not used): Amos, Sarr, Purrington, Field, Oztumer
Booked: Doughty (63 foul on Meite), Cullen (70 foul on Richards), Forster-Caskey (85 simulation)
Reading: Cabral, Blackett, McIntyre, Morrison, Osho (Gunter 74), Pele (Obita 46), Olise (Richards 61), Rinomhota, Swift (Moore 74), Meite, Puscas (Baldock 56)
Subs (not used): Walker, Miazga, McCleary, Boye
Goal: Puscas 3’
Booked: Blackett (45 foul on Aneke), Osho (73 foul on Doughty), Baldock (77 foul on Phillips)
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 0 (Behind-closed-doors)
Report by Benjy Nurick