Gary Haines reports from Portman Road
Ricardo Fuller netted his first goal in Charlton colours against his former club as the Addicks completed a much-needed win against troubled Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The Jamaican fired low into the bottom corner six minutes into the second half after Johnnie Jackson had fired the visitors in front soon after the restart.
A deflected Jason Scotland shot gave the hosts’ hope after 57 minutes, but Charlton held firm to pick up a priceless victory after three previous defeats.
It was tense and edgy in periods but the Addicks deserved this win, working hard to achieve a base to work upon and then cashing in against a fragile home rearguard.
The deflection appeared the only way the Tractor Boys would score on this afternoon and the fans booed them off at the final whistle.
The opening period was not shy of shots but it was Scott Loach that was tested more seriously.
Dale Stephens went closest with a sweet strike from range that forced a diving stop from the former England U21 stopper while Hamer had reacted well to gather a Daryl Murphy header earlier in the half.
Although the hosts probably got in more shots, most were wayward and it was Charlton who carried more of a threat going forward.
Having gone in at the break scoreless for the first time in three games, they at least had a base to build from – and they were ahead three minutes in.
Skipper Jackson was the man on target, firing into the roof of the net from close range after a dangerous Green centre was returned into the dangerzone with interest by Kerkar.
Fuller then robbed a defender and cut in before shooting into the bottom left corner of the net to put the hosts in firm control.
At this stage Portman Road was largely silent bar the odd frustrated shout from the home supporters, but they gave themselves hope three minutes shy of the hour mark as Scotland, never shy of a shot all afternoon, saw his effort fly past Hamer courtesy of an almighty deflection of Morrison.
You got the sense a goal of that ilk was what the hosts needed after a poor run of results and substitute Nathan Ellington lifted a great chance over the bar before Dale Stephens was foiled by Loach.
The visitors clung on bravely, and held firm for a first away win back in the Championship.
In terms of team news, Fuller made his full debut for the club after a series of impressive outings from the bench – and there was also a first league start for midfielder Kerkar.
An ankle injury picked up by Yann Kermorgant opened the door for Fuller to step up to the starting XI and partner Bradley Wright-Phillips up front.
And Kerkar got the nod over Danny Hollands and started on the left of midfield with skipper Jackson switching to a more central role.
The rest of the side was unchanged and there was a return to the bench for ex-Town man Danny Haynes and winger Scott Wagstaff after injury.
There was a landmark appearance for Ben Hamer, who made his 50th start for the club between the posts, and the backline remained the same with Lawrie Wilson on the right and Chris Solly on the left either side of Michael Morrison and Leon Cort.
Jackson and Dale Stephens were the central midfield partnership with Danny Green, who scored one and made one during the heartening finale at Derby County in midweek, on the right and Kerkar starting from the left.
Fuller was up top with Wright-Phillips as Kermorgant missed out through injury.
The bench was comprised of David Button, Cedric Evina, Dorian Dervite, Bradley Pritchard, Hollands, Wagstaff and Haynes, who netted against the Addicks on this ground in March 2008.
Ipswich, one place below the Addicks at the start of play, were without injured duo Michael Chopra and Paul Taylor.
Scotland came in up front and ex-Addicks loanee Lee Martin was out wide while new loan Ipswich signing Danny Higginbotham was on the bench for the hosts.
After some good early pressure from the visitors, Wright-Phillips snatched a shot after a Cort head-on following a half-cleared corner, and Martin cut inside before seeing his well-struck fourth minute effort well held by Hamer.
Good work from Scotland, as he stretched to retrieve possession, led to Martin crossing for Daryl Murphy on seven minutes, but his header was held low.
And moments later Martin pulled the ball back from the left and Scotland fired off target from the edge of the box.
A looping Cort header at a long throw was easy for Scott Loach while Murphy was wide with another header from a Cresswell cross at the other end.
Kerkar was a bootlace away from connecting with a fine cross from Wilson as the clock reached 12.
Charlton fashioned a good chance a minute later as Green swapped passes with Wilson and fired an angled shot into the side-netting.
The roar from the away fans on the opposite side of the ground suggested they thought it was in, but sadly not.
The shots continued to come with Scotland well wide after his marker Stephens was inadvertently blocked off by referee Martin Atkinson.
Fuller then conjured up a piece of magic on the quarter-hour to tee up another opening for the visitor as brilliant skill outwitted Luke Chambers and saw him cut along the goalline on the right.
His pull-back found Wright-Phillips but they striker’s shot was blocked behind as a cluster of defenders closed him down.
Scotland, not afraid to shoot, got in another sighter which was comfortably pouched by Hamer.
Charlton were looking more dangerous with their attempts, however, and Cort rose to head a Jackson corner into the left side-netting, giving the away fans more false hope.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was booked for a sliding challenge on Green on 26 minutes with Scotland again off target soon afterwards.
Stephens then forced Scott Loach into action on 28 minutes, collecting a throw-on centrefield, around 25 yards out, and striking sweetly with the extended keeper thrusting up a hand to save well.
Jackson put the ball into the net after a long-throw from Green, but more importantly after a foul in the box, and after Stephens lost possession, Solly got back really well to foil a home raid.
A shot from Fuller was blocked by a defender at the end of the half, and the sides went in locked together at the break.
There was a change for the hosts before the second period started as Emmanuel-Thomas made way for Nathan Ellington – but the hosts were in dreamland with two goals in the opening six minutes.
First Jackson claimed his first goal in the club’s Championship return three minutes in.
After Green bore down the right his superb cross was missed in the middle by Wright-Phillips but Kerkar kept the ball alive on the left.
His low centre was just what the doctor ordered too, with Jackson arriving to fire into the roof of the net from close range.
The Addicks faithful rejoiced as Portman Road fell silent – and there was differing noise from both sets off fans as the Addicks doubled their money on 51 minutes.
Fuller was on target with his first goal in senior Addicks colours, robbing Massimo Luongo and drifting past a defender before firing across Loach and into the bottom left corner.
As the away fans celebrated the home faithful vented their frustration, before the ground fell into eerie silence again.
The hosts’ frustrations continued as Martin was booked for a foul on Stephens with Spurs loanee Luongo sending a shot whizzing wide as they tried to regroup.
They did get back into it on 57 minutes, however, via a large slice of fortune.
Scotland was afforded a little too much space and cut inside before his shot took a massive deflection off Morrison and gave Hamer absolutely no chance as the ball veered into the bottom right corner of the net.
Luongo had a shot saved and Wilson and Cort produced successive blocks after Ellington and Scotland combined well.
Wright-Phillips’ shot was pouched by Loach after the striker cut in from the left and Murphy glanced a header wide after darting into space in the box as the game entered its closing quarter-hour.
Wright-Phillips couldn’t make the most of a poor back header as possession eluded him inside the box and the dangerous Ellington cut inside and curled just over for the hosts on the break.
There was a good block at the back from yet another Scotland shot before Josh Carson replaced Murphy for the hosts10 minutes from time.
After a good raid down the middle Green hoisted a shot well over the bar after swapping passes with Wright-Phillips
Pritchard replaced a tiring Kerkar and there was treatment for Fuller as the clock ticked down further.
After a home corner Jackson got a crucial touch to a Carson shot, sending the ball looping behind, and the skipper put good pressure on Ellington at the flag-kick with the sub nodding wide.
The Addicks ought to have wrapped the game up two minutes from time, but Stephens could not cash in.
Wright-Phillips did well to hold the ball up and Pritchard fed the ball to his right for Stephens.
But the midfielder could not get enough purchase on his flicked effort allowing Loach to get something on the ball before it was cleared away.
After a drop-ball caused a mini-scramble in the last regulation minute Ellington lifted a great chance over the bar from inside the box.
It was a big chance and in the five added minutes Higginbotham, Dervite, for his debut, and Haynes entered the fray.
The latter was given a warm ovation from all sides of the ground and there was a late free-kick chance for the hosts in the eighth added minute as Carson was upended.
Drury curled the set-piece over the bar and the Addicks saw out the remaining seconds to seal a hugely important win.
Charlton: Hamer; Wilson, Solly, Cort, Morrison; Green, Kerkar (Pritchard 83), Stephens, Jackson; Fuller (Haynes 90), Wright-Phillips (Dervite 90).
Subs (not used): Button, Evina, Pritchard, Hollands, Wagstaff.
Goals: Jackson 48, Fuller 51
Ipswich: Loach; Edwards, Cresswell, Smith (Higginbotham 90), Chambers; Emmanuel-Thomas (Ellington 46), Luongo, Drury, Martin; Murphy (Carson 80), Scotland.
Subs (not used): Lee-Barrett, Higginbotham, N’Daw, Ainsley, Hyam.
Goals: Scotland 57
Booked: Emmanuel-Thomas 26 (foul on Green), Martin 53 (foul on Stephens)
Ref: M Atkinson
Att: 16,587 (993 Charlton TBC)