Charlton moved up in to the automatic promotion places in the League 1 table for the first time this season after a hard fought victory against Southend.
The Addicks went into the game as firm favourites. A combination of a heavy injury list for Southend as well as much better start from Charlton, including a 100% home record, meant the reds were expected to win. But it was Southend who got off to the better start. The shrimpers game tactic of long ball to the big strikers caught out the Addicks defence several times in the opening stages and Charlton had to scramble it away or Southend would miss the target. The blues’ best chance of the match fell to Nile Ranger in the 15th minute. The ball fell nicely for him inside the box after a good save was forced from Amos, but Ranger scuffed wide the glorious opportunity.
Charlton had opportunities of their own later on in the first half as they began to claw themselves back into the game. After Pearce dragged his shot wide on the half an hour mark, Clarke was very close to putting the hosts ahead. His fake shot created space but he couldn’t quite get his final effort on target.
It took 10 minutes for there to be any real chances in the second half. But Charlton created two of the best chances in the match within a few minutes. After a good move, Forster-Caskey couldn’t find the back of the net after controlling the ball well inside the Southend area from a good cross by Holmes. His acrobatic effort was saved comfortably from what looked to be a very promising attack for Charlton. Just a minute later, Maggenis couldn’t tap in a fizzing ball from Solly across the six-yard box. Maggenis did as much as he could but just couldn’t stretch far enough to get a toe on it and give Charlton the lead.
However just 10 minutes later he was able to give the reds the lead. Solly received the ball after an overlapping run past Fosu. His cross was headed home from Maggenis in the six-yard box, giving Charlton the lead. And just minutes later it was 2-0. Holmes received the ball outside of the area, and turned inside on to his stronger right foot. From there he struck beautifully into the bottom corner, doubling the hosts’ lead. The shot was from towards the top right corner of the penalty area.
Southend pulled one back however with 12 minutes left, giving the visitors hope. John White headed home from a good corner to set up a nervy finish. From that point on wards, it was very much backs to the wall for the hosts with Southend searching for the leveler. With 5 minutes left, Charlton fans had their hearts in their mouths after a goal-line scramble was eventually cleared by Josh Maggenis. Southend continued to pile the pressure on, but Charlton held out for a valuable three points.
The result may have felt harsh on Southend. The Shrimpers certainly had their fair share of chances in the first half and limited to Charlton to not many, The Blues will be kicking themselves for a sloppy 20 minute spell during the second half which ultimately cost them the game. They’re a big, physical team and certainly caused Charlton problems at times and looked more dangerous than Bristol Rovers and Northampton when they came to The Valley. I can’t see them being near a relegation scrap at all but it looks like it will take a lot of work if they are to reach the top six after a bad first six games for them.
As for Charlton, their pursuit of promotion is still looking strong. It wasn’t the most convincing of performances but the teams that get promoted win when they’re not at their best and that was certainly the case today. The Reds face their toughest game yet on Tuesday as they take on Wigan who look as if they will be up there at the end of the season. If the reds can win that then they must be considered as one of the promotion favourites who have only dropped points in an unlucky defeat at Plymouth so far.