Gary Haines reports from The New Den
Dogged Charlton dug in for a point from Saturday’s South London derby at The New Den.
A terrific defensive display from Chris Powell’s side extended the club’s recent unbeaten run to six matches – and the Addicks proved impenetrable again on the road.
A seventh match without defeat, and a third straight clean sheet on the road, would have been well received by the visiting support who flocked across the capital to attend.
And their point was preserved with a goal-saving intervention from Chris Solly 13 minutes from time.
The defender, on the right-side of an immaculate backline, was well positioned on the right post to clear a free header from former Addick Dany N’Guessan off the line.
The Addicks rearguard action went from back to front with skipper Johnnie Jackson revelling in the middle of the park on his 100th appearance as Cort, Dorian Dervite and Dan Seaborne (three clean sheets in three games on loan now) fought brilliantly behind them.
For the most the dangerous Chris Wood was kept quiet while Solly made another goal-saving challenge to foil Taylor earlier in the second half.
Clear Charlton chances came at a premium but Powell’s men can be mighty pleased with their efforts here as the Valley scoreboard keeps ticking over.
Millwall had the edge in the opening period, showcasing natural width on either flank plus the threat of Kiwi striker Wood down the middle.
His strike partner Andy Keogh was the big man’s clever foil and most of Millwall’s good work generally had him involved.
And it was his cross just shy of the half hour mark that was met by a sliding Liam Feeney on the far side, but his effort fizzed across goal and just wide.
For the most, the Addicks were on the back-foot but dug in from back to front to negate the pressure.
Rob Hulse flashed their most presentable opening across goal and wide while in the second half Solly blocked from Taylor and then reacted brilliantly to deny N’Guessan a goal against a club he played for on loan last season.
The hosts also had several penalty shouts turned down, the clearest for a potential hand-ball against Cort, but in a season of late drama, there would be no final act here as it ended all square.
In terms of team news there were three changes for the eagerly-anticipated South London derby at The New Den.
Suspension ruled out centre-back Michael Morrison so Dervite came in to partner Cort at the back while there were changes in midfield and up front.
Dale Stephens returned to midfield in place of Emmanuel Frimpong while the hamstring injury picked up by Ricardo Fuller when opening the scoring in midweek ruled him out. Rob Hulse started up top in his place
There was a return to the bench following injury for Danny Haynes while skipper Jackson brought up a century of appearances for the club.
Ben Hamer continued between the posts for the visitors, six games unbeaten on the road ahead of the game, with Dervite partnered by ex-Lion Cort at the back.
Solly and Seaborne were the full-backs, operating behind Bradley Pritchard and Salim Kerkar.
Jackson and Stephens were in the engine-room and Hulse and Yann Kermorgant started together up front for the first time.
Haynes, with three goals in as many games before missing the last two outings with hamstring trouble, was back on the bench where he was joined by David Button, Matt Taylor, Eggert Jonsson, Frimpong, Danny Green and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
In-form Millwall, who had soared to fifth in the table with a four-match winning streak, boasted the dangerous Chris Wood up front and the wily Andy Keogh was his strike partner.
There was also a healthy former Charlton link in the shape of former club youth products centre-back Danny Shittu and midfielder Josh Wright.
Two more ex-Addicks, Therry Racon and Dany N’Guessan, were on the bench.
The clubs may be linked together by a historical South London rivalry, but they remain bound together by their fight against anti-social behaviours and street violence.
And the match was dubbed ‘Jimmy’s Day’ in honour of the late Millwall fan, Jimmy Mizen, who was stabbed to death in May 2008. Colin and Sally Knox, the parents of Rob Knox, the Addicks supporter who was also the victim of a fatal knife attack, were also at the game.
Both managers signed the ‘Peace Car’ ahead of the game and a fabulous atmosphere greeted kick off.
It almost cranked up a notch inside 20 seconds when Liam Feeney broke down the right and cut inside before firing the first shot of the afternoon off target.
For a split second Charlton were in five minutes in after a volleyed pass from Jackson went beyond Shittu but the big defender recovered well to foil Hulse.
Keogh cut inside and saw his curler clutched high by Hamer on the quarter hour, but for the most it was tense and cagey.
With Wood the target at every opportunity for the hosts, the onus was on the Addicks to make sure his teammates were not left in space, and after a cross from Feeney eluded the Kiwi soon afterwards Chris Taylor guided a header down and wide of the right post.
Hamer watched a shot from left-back Shane Lowry fly wide while Solly’s strong challenge on Taylor left the former Oldham man writhing in agony.
Referee Dean Whitestone saw nothing wrong, however, and after the action resumed Hulse latched on to an angled pass forward from Dervite and flashed an effort across goal and wide of the right post.
It was the hosts, who were the more fluid of the two teams in the opening stanza, that went closest yet on 29 minutes, however.
The hard-working Keogh curled the ball into the corridor of uncertainty, and although Wood couldn’t connect in the middle, Feeney slid in on the blind-side and sent the ball back across goal and inches wide.
The hosts threatened again two minutes later. After Adam Smith’s cross was touched on by Taylor, Wood helped the ball goalwards, but the ball lacked the power to beat Hamer who moved to his right to gather.
Wright’s optimistic volley from well outside the box was well wide but the midfielder went much closer with a dipping effort from range six minutes before the break, his shot rippling the roof of the net after a long throw was half headed out.
Feeney was well over from the edge of the box before Hulse picked up a yellow card in the aftermath, possibly for dissent.
A high flick from Wood posed little problem for Hamer in the last regulation minute and in stoppage time Jimmy Abdou bludgeoned his way forward put pulled his shot wide of the left post.
That was the last act of the opening period and after Millwall broke dangerously from an Addicks free-kick soon after the restart Solly made a superb sliding block to foil dangerman Wood.
The hosts had loud appeals for a penalty turned down four minutes in after Keogh’s fizzing low centre bounced up against the torso of Cort.
After taking a corner from the left, following another superb challenge from Solly, Taylor picked up the loose ball and curled it wide.
Wood got the wrong side of Dervite but his low shot was saved by Hamer but it was Charlton who were starting to piece together some god possession as the game entered its final half hour.
Jackson was booked for a foul on Adam Smith after a good advantage from the referee ended with Feeney shooting wastefully wide.
That was the winger’s last act before he was replaced by N’Guessan midway through the half, and he quickly played a role in a half chance for the Lions as Taylor headed down for Abdou to thrash skyward.
Millwall broke quickly following another Charlton set-play, on 71 minutes.
Suddenly it was two-on-one, with Keogh shifting right and seeing his shot tipped over by Hamer.
The Addicks survived the subsequent corner after some good defensive work before Green replaced Kerkar.
Pritchard switched to the left to accommodate the newcomer in his preferred berth and Jackson did brilliantly to hook away a centre from Taylor after Hamer was caught in no-mans land.
And from the 77th minute corner the Lions ought to have taken the lead.
N’Guessan was left all alone in the box to meet the flag-kick but Solly was well placed to brilliantly clear the ball off the line.
The home pressure was building, as was the noise, with Wright-Phillips entering the fray for Kermorgant nine minutes from time.
Smith crashed a full-blooded drive just wide for the home side as the seconds ticked down further, and the Addicks had an escape two minutes later as a Taylor shot crashed off Cort.
Loud penalty claims were again waved away by Whitestone, and the corner count started to stack up for the Lions in the closing stages.
Thankfully, some notable defensive contributions, plus the odd foul, conspired to keep the ball away from danger.
The Addicks fashioned an opening in the second of three added minutes when Green’s quick throw fed Solly but his cross was headed wide by Cort.
And that proved the last act as honours ended even.
Sadly small factions of the supporters were not finished and a flare thrown from the away end triggered some ugly confrontational scenes in the far corner of the ground.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Seaborne, Dervite, Cort; Pritchard, Jackson, Stephens, Kerkar (Green 73); Hulse, Kermorgant (Wright-Phillips 81).
Subs (not used): Button, Taylor, Jonsson, Frimpong, Haynes.
Booked: Hulse 42 (dissent), Jackson 66 (foul on A Smith)
Millwall: Forde; A Smith, Lowry, Beevers, Shittu; Feeney (N’Guessan 67), Wright, Abdou, Taylor; Keogh, Wood.
Subs: Taylor, J Smith, Racon, Batt, Malone, Osborne.
Referee: D Whitestone