Gary Haines reports
Charlton’s festive period started with defeat at Hillsborough after a frustrating afternoon in South Yorkshire on Saturday.
Goals from Rhys McCabe and Jeremy Helan sealed three much-needed points for the Owls, but the visitors were left to bemoan their luck after a key first half decision went against them.
And there was a real case of déjà vu for boss Chris Powell who watched the second half of the match from directors’ box, just like his first match after being appointed Addicks manager.
That initial Hillsborough visit came in a watching brief meaning his 99th match in charge was at the same venue.
His altered viewing perch here was the result of being banished from the touchline by referee Gary Sutton after angrily protesting about a pivotal decision that went against his side.
The Addicks were trailing to McCabe’s blistering 20th-minute volley by time Yann Kermorgant was sent tumbling by Reda Johnson’s clumsy challenge as he bore down on goal 17 minutes later.
But the visiting penalty appeals were waved away by Sutton, to mass frustration at the time and Powell’s extra two-penneth as the teams walked off would result in him watching the second half from up high.
Try as they might, the Addicks could not break down a home backline who dug in defiantly and rode their luck in equal measure throughout the afternoon.
And there would be no fightback to brighten Powell’s mood pre-Christmas, with Lawrie Wilson earning a ban-activating fifth yellow card of the campaign, with the hosts landing a knock-out blow deep into injury time as Manchester City loanee Jeremy Helan fired home from an acute angle.
Charlton had started the game well and after an early cross from Danny Haynes flashed inches away from Salim Kerkar, the Owls went close three times in rapid succession before the clock reached five.
First David Prutton was brilliantly denied by Hamer and Gary Madine’s follow-up was spectacularly hooked off the line by Leon Cort.
Antony Gardner lifted another opening over following the ensuing corner and the Owls grabbed a sensational opener midway through the half.
A corner from the right from the towering Llera was half cleared and former Rangers man McCabe plundered his first goal in magnificent fashion with a volley that ripped past Hamer and almost broke the back of the net.
As the Addicks tried to regroup, Antonio was denied by Hamer and was inches away from making it 2-0 as his shot flashed just wide.
The visitors should have had a penalty eight minutes before the break as Johnson's clumsy effort to challenge Kermorgant sent the big striker down to the turf.
Visiting appeals would be turned away by referee Gary Sutton, however, to the bewilderment of those on the pitch – and the coaching staff on the sidelines.
And after Sutton called an end to first half proceedings, manager Powell met him on his way off to furiously voice his opinion on the pivotal decision.
It would end in the boss being sent to the stands for the second period and Wilson collected a fifth yellow card early in the second period activating a Boxing Day ban.
Charlton were then left to rue a bad miss from Haynes as the striker somehow failed to make contact with Kermorgant’s header back across goal after great work on the right.
Ricardo Fuller was unleashed from the bench after that on his return from injury and Charlton’s positivity came in contrast to the hosts’ cautious attempts to protect their lead.
There were chances too with Fuller’s effort deflected behind and Jackson’s curling free-kick flew inches over the bar.
The Owls were clinging on, and their win was confirmed at the death as Helan fired home an acute angle.
In terms of team news Powell made two changes for the trip to Hillsborough.
The suspended Dale Stephens made way for Salim Kerkar and there was a switch at the back as Leon Cort was restored to a central defensive berth in place of Dorian Dervite.
Powell also tinkered with his system with Haynes joining Kermorgant up front while there was a return to the bench for the fit-again Fuller.
The switch meant skipper Jackson, who netted a famous free-kick winner at this famous ground last season, started in central midfield with Kerkar coming in on the left.
Cort got the nod at the back to partner former Sheffield Wednesday man Michael Morrison after missing the last two games.
And there was also a place on the bench for John Sullivan in place of an injured David Button.
Ben Hamer was again between the posts for the Addicks, who were aiming to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat at Bolton Wanderers.
Chris Solly and Dan Seaborne was the full-backs, either side of Morrison and Cort with Kerkar and Lawrie Wilson flanking Jackson and Emmanuel Frimpong in midfield.
Kermorgant and Haynes were the likely front two while Sullivan, Dervite and Fuller were joined on the bench by Danny Green, Bradley Pritchard, Bradley Wright-Phillips and ex-Sheffield United striker Rob Hulse.
For the hosts there was a start for former Addicks defender Miguel Llera at the back but an injured Jose Semedo missed out.
Reda Johnson returned to the backline for the hosts at left-back while Chris O’Grady and Gary Madine supplied the frontline threat.
After unrelenting rain in the build up to the game, the pitch was passed fit by referee Sutton and the players kicked off in a sodden South Yorkshire.
Charlton were much the brighter in the early moments and in their first raid of note Haynes got away from Llera on the right and sent in a dangerous low cross that narrowly eluded Kerkar on the far side.
After Wilson was send spiralling to the turf by Johnson, Charlton were presented with a free-kick on the right and when it was half cleared, Kerkar missed a good chance to drive it back in hard and low. He opted for a higher method and the ball missed all and sundry and harmlessly dropped behind.
Wednesday reacted with two good chances of their own – and only a smart stop and a goalline clearance kept them at bay.
A mighty long throw from the left was partially punched out by Hamer who reacted brilliantly to block David Prutton’s venomous drive. The loose ball fell to Madine but his goalbound effort was acrobatically cleared off the line by Cort.
After the subsequent corner, the ball then dropped invitingly to Anthony Gardner but the Owls skipper lifted a decent chance over the bar.
It was fact and furious stuff in the pouring rain, the conditions adding to the excitement, and Johnson’s second cynical foul on Wilson, when he made next to no effort to win the ball, saw him enter Sutton’s notebook on 12 minutes.
Some brilliant pressing from Chris Solly, when he stalked Manchester City loanee Jeremy Helan and won possession on the edge of the box, was ruined when Haynes strayed offside.
And it was Wednesday that drew first blood in spectacular fashion as the clock reached 20.
The unlikely figure of Llera trudged across to take a corner from the right and although the ball was cleared, the Addicks had reckoned without midfielder McCabe who proceeded to smash a stupendous volley that flew past Hamer before the keeper had any chance to react.
It was just what the hosts needed, having ended a poor recent run of form with a much-needed win last week against Barnsley, and left the Addicks chasing the game.
It might have been worse moments later as the elusive Michail Antonio bobbed and weaved as he jinked in from the right, but his low shot was saved by Hamer.
Morrison took one for the team when blocking a fierce drive from Madine while Frimpong was warned by Sutton after catching O’Grady a smidgeon late.
The hosts’ tails were certainly up at this stage, and O’Grady helped the ball through to Antonio on 33 minutes with the skill-laced winger letting fly with an angled shot that went across Hamer and agonisingly wide of the left upright.
The Addicks fashioned an opening on 37 minutes as Kerkar slipped the ball through to Haynes and Kermorgant and Gardner made chase for the pull-back.
The Frenchman went down under Johnson’s desperate challenge and a penalty – and red card – seemed inevitable. Incredibly, despite loud appeals, on and off the pitch, Sutton saw nothing wrong.
Kermorgant’s reaction to the decision was then mimicked by the supporters behind the goal, with Frimpong nipping in to dispossess Madine as he thought about a shot.
The Addicks had the ball in the net three minutes before the break as Haynes swept home Kerkar’s cross after good work from Seaborne, but an offside flag dashed his hopes of adding to his goal tally.
The visitors ended the half on top, but the sides went ahead level at the break, not before a furious Powell confronted the referee as the players trudged off.
The boss would not emerge for the second half after being sent to the stands, with Alex Dyer was directing traffic from the technical area as the game resumed.
There was a blow early in the second period as Wilson was booked 11 minutes in, thus earning him a suspension on Boxing Day, and from a Wednesday free-kick out on the right, Gardner rose to head just wide.
O’Grady’s low shot was snared by Hamer just shy of the hour mark and then a glorious chance went begging for the visitors on 62 minutes.
Wilson and Solly worked a great opening on the right and the latter’s cross was headed back by the towering Kermorgant with Haynes somehow failing to make contact in the middle.
Any touch would have resulted in a certain goal, but the natives were allowed to breathe again.
Fuller returned to the fray moments later, for Kerkar, while a clobbered Prutton was withdrawn midway through the half and replaced by Chris Lines.
Charlton’s newcomer drifted inside and saw his low drive deflected behind and Morrison appealed for a penalty after his header at the corner bounced off the torso of Johnson.
Kieran Lee came on for the hosts in place of O’Grady, a sign perhaps of things to come for the hosts with Charlton offering two far more positive changes with Hulse and Green replacing Haynes and Frimpong.
After great work from Hulse, a Fuller drive was blocked by a fine covering challenge eight minutes from time
As the hosts dropped deeper and deeper, a loose ball fell to Morrison, up for a long throw, but he steered wide
On a rare Owls raid, Helan’s angled drive was saved by Hamer but the visitors were still probing.
The visitors were then awarded a dangerous-looking free-kick as Helan upended Green but skipper Jackson, at the opposite end to his stunner last season, curled his effort inches over the bar.
Mamady Sidibe replaced Madine four minutes from time and there was a nervous moment for Kirkland as he had to scamper back to gather the ball with Hulse lurking.
Hamer made himself big to save from Lee after Wednesday worked an opening on the right, and McCabe’s chip was inches away in the last regulation minute.
Johnson’s cynical challenge on Fuller earned the hosts a late free-kick on the right. The left-back escaped censure and despite the presence of Hulse at the far post, the hosts survived again.
And they sealed the points in the fourth added minute as the impressive Helan fired home from an acute angle.
The relief was as palpable as the frustration in the away end and that was the final act as the home side toasted a welcome win.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Seaborne, Cort, Morrison; Wilson, Frimpong (Green 79), Jackson, Kerkar (Fuller 63); Haynes (Hulse 79), Kermorgant.
Subs (not used): Sullivan, Dervite, Pritchard, Wright-Phillips.
Booked: Wilson 57
Sheff Wed: Kirkland; Buxton, R Johnson, Gardner, Llera; Antonio, Prutton (Lines 67), McCabe, Helan; O’Grady (Lee 75), Madine (Sidibe 86).
Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Maguire, J Johnson,
Goal: McCabe 20, Helan 90
Booked: R Johnson 12 (foul on Wilson)
Referee: G Sutton