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Match Reports

Report: Charlton 3-2 Wycombe

Williams and Cowan-Hall on target but the Addicks take the points.

8 September 2018

Promotion candidates Charlton Athletic edged a pulsating affair at The Valley with Wycombe going down to a 3-2 defeat on Saturday afternoon.

The Chairboys earned their lead given to them by Randell Williams' excellent finish from 20 yards, but the tide turned when Sido Jombati turned a cross into his own net to level the scores.

Despite a strong start to the second period from the visitors, Lyle Taylor and Naby Sarr seemingly put the game out of sight before Paris Cowan-Hall set up a grandstand finale with a bullet header, but there was to be no dramatic equaliser with the Blues tasting defeat for the first time in six games.

Gareth Ainsworth had made 10 changes to his side for the midweek win at Northampton in the Checkatrade Trophy but reverted as much as possible to the XI that took on Luton in the league seven days ago, though Matt Bloomfield was sidelined as a result of the concussion he sustained against the Hatters, with Curtis Thompson taking his place.

The Addicks looked to start on the front foot but found the door closed on their early efforts to enter the box, and fell behind soon after. Bryn Morris did excellently to win a throw and it was taken quickly by Jason McCarthy, with the ball finding Randell Williams via Curtis Thompson in acres of space just outside the box. The Watford loanee took a touch and curled a low effort past the keeper for his second goal of the season.

The goal rocked the hosts, in similar circumstances to the effect that the Chairboys had at Bradford a fortnight ago, and jeers from the home fans only heightened the need for the former Premier League side to find a response.

But Wanderers remained resilient, and largely in control, finding space in the box for Williams to send a header straight at the keeper and Morris to drill goalwards only to see it blocked.

And the game descended into a lull midway through the half, which suited the visitors just fine, with no efforts to trouble either keeper.

So it needed a touch of fortune for the hosts to level, and that’s exactly what they got just past the half-hour mark. Charlton worked the ball neatly to the left wing and Lewis Page’s cross was sliced into his own net by Sido Jombati in an attempt to clear on the six-yard line.

It was harsh on the Blues, but didn’t deter them from their endeavours, and after Naby Sarr was booked for a foul, Wanderers threatened from a corner when keeper Jed Steer failed to gather Joe Jacobson’s delivery and no blue shirt could quite convert.

Then action swung to the other end, and the visitors were indebted to a fine save from Ryan Allsop to keep the scores level. Karlan Grant was sent through into the area by a neat pass but Allsop reacted superbly to block his shot and then push the loose ball to safety.

Bryn Morris lashed a difficult chance over the bar from 20 yards as the game neared the interval, but there was still time for Lyle Taylor to go close with a spectacular effort, flying through the air to meet Grant’s cross from the right with a well-hit scissor kick, missing the target by a matter of feet.

The 1-1 scoreline at the break might have irked the Chairboys, who’d looked good value for their lead before the own goal, but boss Gareth Ainsworth will have been heartened by how his side remained focused to prevent the Addicks building on the momentum they had gathered.

Charlton made a change at the break, though new arrival Ben Reeves wasn’t ready in time to take his place for kick-off, so the Addicks resumed the second period with 10 men for two minutes following Nicky Ajose’s substitution.

Joe Jacobson fired a low free-kick into the arms of the keeper from the corner of the box following a foul on Williams, before Williams was scythed down on the counter attack by a wild Darren Pratley challenge, earning the Athletic midfielder a deserved yellow card.

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer withdrew Pratley soon after, bringing youngster George Lapslie into the fray, while Wanderers made a change of their own with Fred Onyedinma given licence to run at the home defence as Craig Mackail-Smith made way.

And he did so straightaway, dancing into the Charlton box and threatening with an early shot which was half-cleared and resulted in a free-kick to the Blues for a foul on Curtis Thompson, which was deflected off the wall for a corner.

Then, from Jacobson’s inviting cross, Onyedinma’s header was cleared off the line with Jason McCarthy also doing his utmost to force the ball into the net from close range.

But for all the visitors’ pressure, they almost fell behind to a second own goal, with Grant showing impressive footwork in the box to deliver a low cross which was turned behind by Jacobson as he slid in to clear the danger.

Wanderers recovered, and threatened again, with Jacobson carrying the ball forward superbly and teeing up Williams, whose low cross to the penalty spot was miscued by Morris as he attempted a first-time shot on his left foot.

Then came another substitution, with goalscorer Williams departing to make way for Scott Kashket, whose stunning strike in midweek had settled the win at Northampton.

Sido Jombati was booked for a foul on Taylor on 64 minutes, with Patrick Bauer heading over the top once the free-kick had made its way to Lapslie on the right wing.

And Ryan Allsop came to the rescue a minute later, letting Anthony Stewart off the hook when the defender midsjudged Jed Steer’s long punt and allowed Taylor a clear path to goal. The ball bounced awkwardly for the striker, and the keeper took full advantage, throwing himself brilliantly to block the shot and rescue the rebound.

But the second goal came, and it was Taylor who finally had something to show for his efforts. Wycombe were out-foxed down the Addicks’ left and Joe Aribo fed a clever pass through for Grant, whose low cross-shot was returned into danger by Ben Reeves at the back post and Taylor bundled home to complete the turnaround.

Charlton had their tails up, and Reeves drilled wide at the end of Lapslie’s clever run, with Wycombe needing a new gear to rediscover their attacking threat from earlier in the half.

Gareth Ainsworth introduced Paris Cowan-Hall for Akinfenwa with 12 minutes remaining, but the striker had no time to make an impact for the Addicks stretched their lead through Naby Sarr. A free-kick into the box sat up kindly via a couple of ricochets for the defender to nudge it home, leaving Wanderers wondering how the game had got away from them after at least matching the home side for long spells.

Kashket saw a shot blocked after Stewart neatly controlled Jacobson’s free-kick into his path, and Cowan-Hall sliced a chance over the bar from Onyedinma’s flick-on, though in truth the home side were now looking comfortable with their two-goal advantage.

But their nerves would have been shot on 89 minutes when the Blues gave themselves a lifeline, and it was Cowan-Hall who reduced the arrears with a bullet header from Jacobson’s excellent corner.

With five minutes of injury time, it was game on, and Charlton threw on Anfernee Dijksteel to tighten things up, with Taylor heading to the bench.

Then Jed Steer was booked for time-wasting, with Bauer lucky to escape the same punishment moments earlier, and hopes of a grand finale arrived with a Wycombe corner in the final seconds. The delivery was cleared, and that was that, condemning Wanderers to a first defeat in six games despite a valiant effort at the Valley.

Attendance: 10,358 (including 1,078 Wycombe fans)

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