Gary Haines reports from The Valley
It was a case of beauty and the Beast on Tuesday as Charlton’s fine recent run continued with a win against Peterborough.
Two late – and very different - goals from strikers Ricardo Fuller and Yann Kermorgant helped the Addicks over the line against the Championship’s bottom side.
A beaut of a strike from Ricardo Fuller broke the deadlock 13 minutes from time, a strike of such velocity that the Jamaican picked up an injury and was unable to continue.
Then Kermorgant, aka the Beast, then turned the ball home from close range to double his side’s lead and no doubt delight his watching parents in the stands.
Despite the win, a fourth in the last five games, Powell’s immediate concern ahead of Saturday’s South London derby at Millwall will be the health of Fuller.
But he will definitely be without the services of centre-back Michael Morrison, who collected a fifth booking of the season – and one match ban – in the first half.
Both sides had their moments in an opening period that ebbed and flowed with Kermorgant’s crunching volley in the second minute forcing a good stop from Bobby Olejnik.
The keeper would also deny Ricardo Fuller with his legs after some great skill from the striker while Posh were a threat going forward with Hamer flipping over a clipped effort from former Charlton schoolboy George Boyd at the end of the half.
It was certainly a watchable opening 45 minutes that ebbed and flowed but the most noteworthy incident came midway through the half when Morrison caught Lee Tomlin and was booked, a fifth yellow card of the season.
That meant a ban for the short trip to Millwall at the weekend, an early blow for Powell as he prepared to enter the Lions Den.
Before that there was 45 more minutes to negotiate against Posh and both sides struck the woodwork in the opening stages of the second period.
Solly centred for Pritchard to go full length and plant a diving header against the outside of the right post while, after Gayle spurned a great opening on the break, Tomlin inadvertently turned a Boyd shot against the base of Charlton’s left upright.
The match was finely poised going into the final quarter of the game with Posh, at times belying their lowly status, by attacking with enterprise and purpose.
At times, however, they lacked that necessary edge when it really mattered in the final third.
In Fuller the Addicks had a game-changer within their midst, and it was he who opened the scoring in the 77th minute in superb fashion.
Grabbing the ball more than 25 yards from goal he unleashed a blistering drive that flew over keeper Bobby Olejnik and into the roof of the net.
The Jamaican would quickly topple to the ground in agony and would play no further part in proceedings, clutching his right hamstring as he trudged off.
Daylight was then widened by Kermorgant towards the end.
He applied the decisive touch on the stretch after good work from two substitutes, Danny Green and Rob Hulse. The former’s fine low cross was helped on its way by Hulse and Kermorgant guided it home from close in.
Posh’s race was run by then leaving boss Darren Ferguson to rue a performance that perhaps merited better.
At first glance that lack of a ruthless streak is maybe why they are where they are, while the soaring Addicks can now focus on Millwall with real gusto.
The big team news saw a starting return for Kermorgant in the midweek clash against Posh.
After his cameo from the bench at the weekend, the French striker was in from the start as Hulse, unwell earlier in the week, dropped to the bench.
There was also a return at the back for Dan Seaborne after he was ruled out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town with a leg injury.
He slotted back in at left-back with Salim Kerkar moving forward to a wide midfield berth. And with skipper Johnnie Jackson slotting inside to partner Emmanuel Frimpong in the centre of the park, Dale Stephens missed out on a starting berth.
Ben Hamer was again between the posts for the home side with Morrison and Leon Cort flanked by Chris Solly and Seaborne at the back.
After his promising debut on Saturday, Frimpong was in the engine-room alongside Jackson with the width supplied by Kerkar and Pritchard.
The striking reshuffle pits Fuller and Kermorgant together from the start for the first time, although the duo were instrumental in a spirited riposte against Derby County back in mid-September.
The home bench was comprised of reserve keeper David Button, defender Dorian Dervite, midfielders Eggert Jonsson, Green and Stephens with Hulse and Bradley Wright-Phillips the striking options.
For the visitors Boyd was an obvious threat while Darren Ferguson handed a first start for the club for Dagenham & Redbridge loanee Dwight Gayle.
Tomlin and Boyd flanked Gayle up top for the visitors who fielded a 5-2-3/3-4-3 formation whichever way you looked at it.
Kermorgant almost made a blistering return to action with less than two minutes on the watch.
Collecting a lay off from Fuller, he let fly with a dipping drive form the edge of the box which was tipped round his left post by Bobby Olejnik.
At the other end a driving run from Grant McCann ended with a shot that flew horribly wide but Charlton went closer when Frimpong’s shot looped narrowly over after taking a sizable deflection.
The net result was two flag-kicks in rapid succession, the latter that was headed wide at the near post by Fuller.
Posh then broke dangerously with the speedy Gayle cutting on from the right but seeing his angled shot flash across goal and behind for a corner after an important touch from the sliding Cort.
It was shaping up to be quite an entertaining contest with more incident in the opening 10 minutes than in the whole game against Huddersfield at the weekend.
Posh were certainly threatening going forward, making the pitch as wide as big as possible with their attack-minded wing-backs.
But Frimpong got in another shot that was off target for the hosts with Solly overlapping and cutting inside before seeing his angled effort blocked.
The action was fast and furious as Kerkar’s delicate centre was headed over on the stretch by Jackson while a strange 20th-minute free-kick from Posh resulted in a fluffed effort by Tomlin but a sweeter connection from Bostwick with Hamer’s smart low save more impressive given he had a cluster of bodies obscuring his view.
Great work from Kerkar on the left, when he coasted past his man and drove a dangerous ball into the dangerzone, was somehow smuggled away but there was bad news midway through the half as Morrison picked up a booking that ruled him out of Saturday’s South London derby.
After the hosts lost possession in midfield the defender came out to meet Tomlin and his trip earned him a yellow card.
Play settled down somewhat after that, although a moment of magic from Fuller almost opened the door as the clock reached 35.
Collecting a pass from Solly, the Jamaican flipped the ball away from a defender and veered into the box from the right before seeing his angled effort saved by the legs of Olejnik.
Back in front of The Covered End Newell’s wickedly curling cross was met with a looping header just over by the sprightly Gayle.
The striker, previously of Essex Senior League Stansted and Blue Square South Bishops Stortford before moving to the Daggers, was certainly catching the eye in his first Championship start, and after some good work from the visitor Boyd prodded an effort over the bar from the edge of the area.
Boyd went even closer in the last regulation minute of the half, gathering the ball after a buccaneering burst from Little and again opted for a stabbed effort that was tipped over by a back-tracking Hamer.
Kermorgant couldn’t quite get a clean connection after teeing himself up in the box moments after the restart, and the big striker guided a cross from Solly wide of the left post soon afterwards.
Solly got forward well again five minutes in and Pritchard dived in at the near post only to see his header clatter off the outside of the upright.
Posh showed for the first time two minutes later as Tomlin meandered into space and let fly with a sizzling low drive that was matched by a strong arm from Hamer, diving to his right.
Hamer kept out a dangerous low centre from Boyd after the Posh man escaped on the left and the follow-up from Joe Newell was deflected wide.
West Bromwich Albion loanee Thorne headed down and wide at the corner, and he slipped a fine pass through for Gayle on 54 minutes with the striker’s shot comfortably saved by Hamer.
Gayle might have done better given he had space on the left side of the area and Frimpong was booked for a foul on Thorne before the visitors hit the post two minutes shy of the hour mark.
There’s little doubt it would have been one of the flukier goals scored here in recent times, but it stemmed from poor defensive work from the hosts at a corner.
Having worked the ball inside to Boyd, Tomlin darted into the box. Whether he meant to divert his teammate’s shot towards goal is something he only knows, but the ball, almost in slow motion, trundled dangerously forward before thudding against the post.
Fluke or no fluke, it was a let off for the hosts with Peterborough looking dangerous when they broke.
At the back they were clearly there to be got at, and after Bostwick was booked for a foul on Kermorgant the duo collided again with the Frenchman curling a free-kick over from 30 yards.
Tomlin’s appeals for a trip in the box from Kerkar was ignored by the referee before Frimpong made way for Green.
And the deadlock was broken in freak fashion by Fuller 14 minutes from time.
There appeared little on when the Jamaican received the ball more than 25 yards from goal, but he let fly with a vicious shot that bamboozled keeper Olejnik and flew into the roof of the net.
There was no time to celebrate as the striker immediately fell to the floor clutching his hamstring, and he would be unable continue, joining the unwanted clubs of strikers injured whilst scoring.
Hulse came on in his place while Shaun Brisley made way for Danny Swanson soon afterwards.
But the Addicks gave themselves some vital breathing space with a second goal five minutes from time – and it came from Kermorgant.
Green fashioned the opening on the right, driving the ball low and hard into the box and Hulse’s toe diverted the ball on its way before Kermorgant stretched to apply the final touch from a matter of centimetres.
The relief around The Valley was palpable and Hulse, in space on the left, was crowded out before getting a shot in as the clock ticked down.
McCann hoofed a shot high over the bar before there was a Valley debut for Jonsson in stoppage time, for goalscorer Kermorgant.
There was no late drama in the remaining moments as the hosts held firm for a clean sheet and an important three points.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Seaborne, Morrison, Cort; Pritchard, Jackson, Frimpong (Green 75), Kerkar; Fuller (Hulse 78), Kermorgant (Jonsson 90).
Subs (not used): Button, Dervite, Stephens, Wright-Phillips.
Goals: Fuller 77, Kermorgant 85
Booked: Morrison 23 (foul on Tomlin), Frimpong 56 (foul on Thorne)
Peterborough: Olejnik; Little, Newell, Brisley (Swanson 84), Knight-Percival, Bostwick; McCann, Thorne; Boyd, Tomlin, Gayle.
Subs (not used): Day, Alcock, Zakuani, Ferdinand, Clarke-Harris, Carthey.
Booked: Bostwick 65 (foul on Kermorgant)
Referee: I Williamson
Att: 17,377 (518 Peterborough)