Gary Haines reports from The Reebok Stadium
Charlton’s fine recent run shuddered to a halt at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday thanks to substitute David N’Gog’s late show.
Two goals in six minutes from the mercurial Frenchman turned the game in Bolton’s favour and rendered the Addicks, who themselves might have thought of claiming three points going into the closing stages, empty handed.
The maximum looked a real possibility for Chris Powell’s road warriors having stifled Wanderers into submission and created several presentable chances.
But N’Gog, who entered the fray in the 63rd-minute, offered the Trotters an extra dimension and two clinical finishes settled matters – and earned him the man of the match award.
The first came 11 minutes after his arrival when he collected a Jay Spearing pass and took a neat touch before turning a low shot into the corner.
And a replica strike, albeit from the opposite side of the box was too hot to handle for Hamer after more nifty footwork.
It was enough to give Dougie Freedman his second win against the Addicks this season after leading previous club Crystal Palace to glory at The Valley earlier in the campaign.
The most significant act of the opening period saw an early booking for Dale Stephens, the midfielder penalised for a challenge on Jacob Butterfield and receiving a suspension-activating fifth yellow of the season.
Chances were few and far between, and all of note came in the final quarter hour of the half.
Hamer reacted well to swat away a shot on the turn from Chris Eagles before Danny Haynes spurned a gilt-edged chance by heading an inviting Lawrie Wilson cross wide of the left post.
Yann Kermorgant’s low drive was turned away by Adam Bogdan and Hamer saved from Butterfield but that was about that for the opening period.
The visitors probed after the break rendering the already fidgety natives decidedly restless, but the game would hinge on Freedman’s decision to summon N’Gog.
Two great pieces of skill, not in keeping with much of the Trotters work on the afternoon, would settle this match.
And the fact he was named man of the match at the end summed up his dynamic display.
Up to the goal it was the visitors who had the metaphorical key in the door, but they just couldn’t cash in on some good passages of play.
So N’Gog’s cameo was as disappointing as it was ruthless, ending the Addicks’ fine away unbeaten run at seven games and handing Powell and co a first defeat since November 1st.
In terms of team news Powell made two changes following last weekend’s draw against Brighton.
Dan Seaborne’s return from illness opened the door for Dan Seaborne to return at left-back so Chris Solly switched back to the right of the rearguard and Lawrie Wilson got the nod ahead of Pritchard further forward.
Powell’s second change saw Yann Kermorgant pitched in up front instead of Rob Hulse, and that marked the popular Frenchman’s 50th appearance for the club.
Ben Hamer was between the posts for the visitors with Solly and Seaborne flanking Michael Morrison and Dorian Dervite at the back.
Wilson and Haynes were either side of Arsenal loanee Emmanuel Frimpong, Stephens and skipper Johnnie Jackson while Kermorgant led the line.
Pritchard and Hulse dropped to the bench where they were joined by David Button, Bradley Pritchard, Salim Kerkar, Jordan Cook and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The hosts fielded a strong team with the ever-wily Kevin Davies the obvious threat up front.
Support from wide came from Chung-Yong Lee and Chris Eagles with Norwich City loanee Jacob Butterfield expected to be the furthest forward of the midfield three.
The Trotters lay three points behind their visitors at the start of play but their side packed plenty of Premier League punch.
Stephens registered the first shot of the afternoon, although it scarcely troubled the Trotters and of more significance for the midfielder was a sixth-minute yellow card for a foul on Butterfield.
It was his fifth booking of the season, and thus a one-game ban next week at Sheffield Wednesday.
Lee fed Eagles on the left on 10 minutes and steered his teammate’s pull-back wide of the right post.
A couple of corners came to nothing for the visitors with the sides largely cancelling each other out in the opening quarter.
Morrison’s penalty appeals were waved away as he tried to connect with a Stephens corner on the far side of the box midway through the half, but clear chances were at a premium.
Haynes was played in by a sumptuous pass from Stephens on 26 minutes but Tyrone Mears got across to make a brilliant sliding challenge as the striker licked his lips.
Hamer got a glove to an angled cross-cum-shot from Eagles with the loose ball mopped away from a corner – and the Addicks keeper had to be at his best to foil the same man following the 31st-minute flag-kick.
The former Manchester United man was allowed to spin sharply inside the box and his firm drive was superbly beaten away by Hamer.
In terms of chances business was slowly picking up – and Haynes spurned the game’s best opening five minutes later.
Kermorgant’s clever pass set Wilson free on the right and he stood up a cross from the right side of the box which set alarm bells ringing around the Reebok.
Haynes, no stranger to headed goals, was the man to connect with the goal at his mercy, but he could only nod down and wide of the left post.
It was a big chance for the Londoners but parity, unfortunately for those with a SE7 persuasion, remained.
Another chance went Charlton’s way soon afterwards as a misplaced header from Zat Knight was gobbled up by Kermorgant.
With Adam Bogdan off his line, the striker opted for a powerful drive rather that a subtle clip and the shot was saved by the relieved keeper.
Hamer was always behind a rasper from Butterfield and both sides had corners to no avail in the closing moments of the half and the boos as the sides trudged off summed up the feeling in these parts.
When the action resumed, in similar bitty fashion, it was the Addicks that chiselled out the first chance as Wilson and Solly combined with big Kermorgant off target with his header in the middle.
Wanderers made the first changes of the game as David N’Gog and Martin Petrov replaced Butterfield and Lee on 63 minutes
Haynes, switched down the middle in a tactical change by Powell, had a sniff of goal when his low drive was saved and he headed the loose ball over, although in fairness he had hardly any time to add direction on it.
Wilson, offside, headed a clipped centre wide, with the Addicks at this team looking the side most likely.
There was a minor scare at the other end as Eagles slashed wide from in space in the box, and Wanderers were ahead, arguably against the run of play 16 minutes from time.
The Frenchman darted into the box to collect a slipped pass from Spearing and his touch took the ball away from a clutch of red shirts before he stabbed a shot beyond Hamer and in.
Freedman’s change had thus reaped rewards, but Charlton will feel a touch hard done by to be behind here.
N’Gog’s movement was causing far more problems than his predecessors, and he couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot on the turn as Hamer gleefully clutched.
The keeper gathered Petrov’s shot from range, but was beaten for a second time by N’Gog 10 minutes from time.
Again the striker showed a super touch in the box and that allowed him the chance to smash in a shot that Hamer got a hand to but could not keep out.
Powell sent on Wright-Phillips and Cook for Haynes and Frimpong in a bid to salvage something from the game, and Wilson was blocked for charging down a free-kick too quickly.
The second effort from Eagles was saved low by Hamer, who then made a brilliant stop from Petrov’s angled drive at the start of four added minutes.
N’Gog fired over from range as the clock ticked on with Bogdan always behind Wright-Phillips’ late low effort.
Stephens ballooned a late effort over, and that proved the last act of a disappointing afternoon for the Londoners.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Seaborne, Dervite, Morrison; Wilson, Stephens, Frimpong (Cook 83), Jackson, Haynes (Wright-Phillips 83); Kermorgant.
Subs (not used): Button, Cort, Pritchard, Kerkar, Hulse.
Booked: Stephens 6 (foul on Butterfield), Wilson 88 (encroachment)
Bolton: Bogdan; Mears, Warnock, Ricketts, Knight; Eagles, Spearing, Andrews, Butterfield (N'Gog 63), Lee (Petrov 63); Davies.
Subs: Lonergan, Ream, Alonso, Pratley, Afobe.
Goals: N’Gog 74, 80
Booked: Warnock 84 (foul on Kermorgant)
Referee: K Wright
Att: 15,991 (634 Charlton)