Gary Haines reports from King Power Stadium
Yann Kermorgant and Danny Haynes were the heroes as Charlton sealed a famous win at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
Big Frenchman Kermorgant gave Charlton a 19th-minute lead against his former club before the prolific Chris Wood levelled midway through the second half.
But the final act belonged to Haynes who, mere minutes after arriving on the pitch, blasted a magnificent left-foot dipping shot over Kasper Schmeichel.
The Addicks held firm after that to toast a magnificent away win to snap a four-game winless streak.
It was written in the stars that Kermorgant would play some kind of part on his return to the East Midlands – and how.
His second goal against a club he left under something of a cloud after that play-off penalty miss, means he has now netted more goals against Leicester than he did for them.
And he is up to seven for the season for his new club, tied with Johnnie Jackson at the top of the scoring charts thanks to his calm finish.
After Wood took advantage of a ricochet to fire home it was Haynes who continued to pursue his skipper and French teammate with his sixth of the campaign.
And the stupendous drive 12 minutes from time may not quite be as good as his goal against Derby County late last year, but it is almost certainly in silver medal position in a goal of the season competition he is threatening to monopolise.
The Addicks defended doggedly throughout the 95 minutes on the night leaving Powell to toast a double against the man who gave him his big coaching chance, Nigel Pearson. Scripts don’t come any better than that.
As expected it was Leicester that did much of the probing in the early stages and Ben Hamer had to be on his toes to keep out a stinging shot from the lively Anthony Knockaert in the early stages.
The keeper was well protected by his back four and midfielders, and that firm foundation was added to by a sensational opener from Kermorgant on 19 minutes.
And while Addicks boss Powell will laud the efforts of his players for creating the opening, Leicester boss Pearson will be fuming at the hosts’ part in the goal.
It was Danny Drinkwater that produced an all-too short back-pass after Scott Wagstaff had chased a lost cause on the left, and Pritchard pounced.
The midfielder pulled the ball back to Kermorgant and the striker buried his shot to stun all those who had been jeering him throughout the evening.
Great defending by Addicks kept the hosts, stung into action at bay, with the wing threat of Ben Marshall and Knockaert, plus the overlapping Paul Konchesky and Ritchie De Laet asking all kinds of questions.
Most were answered thanks to several timely interventions with dangerman Wood snuffed out by Leon Cort and Michael Morrison, and when the ball did break nicely for Knockaert six minutes before the interval after a blistering break from De Laet, the Frenchman could only blast over.
Defending deeply, but with purpose and vigour, the visitors might have grabbed a second four minutes after the restart when Pritchard burst down the middle onto a Kermorgant pass, but his chip sailed off target.
Then, seven minutes in, only a superb stop from Schmeichel denied Morrison a goalscoring return after the defender had let fly following an initial error in judgement from the keeper.
The chances came amid a bright start to the second period, but Leicester began to threaten again and Wood had penalty claims turned down after his shot clattered against Cort before he levelled matters.
The striker was stationed perfectly as ball broke to him towards the edge of the box and his finish was every bit as precise as Kermorgant’s as he steered the ball past Hamer and into the bottom left corner of the net.
Wood hooked wide as the Blue wave followed but moments after Haynes emerged from the bench he fired the Addicks back in front with a ripper of a shot from range after gathering a Kermorgant flick.
It was a wonderful moment and the Addicks battened down the hatches in the closing stages with Hamer producing a superb late save to foil Drinkwater.
And the visitors continued to defend with purpose right to the final whistle to ensure there would be no sting in this tale. What a result!
The headline team news was the return to the King Power Stadium for striker Yann Kermorgant – but there were three changes from the weekend defeat at Hull City, including a recall for left-back Rhoys Wiggins.
Wagstaff and Dorian Dervite were also included in the team in the East Midlands as Chris Powell returned to one of his former clubs.
Kermorgant, vilified in these parts after a fluffed penalty in a play-off shoot-out defeat against Cardiff City, netted against the Foxes at The Valley in the opening week of the season and led the line in what appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Wiggins replaced Cedric Evina at left-back, his first senior start since September’s multiple metatarsal fracture, while Lawrie Wilson and Ricardo Fuller dropped to the bench.
A third returnee in the Addicks team was defender Michael Morrison who was again in the centre of defence.
Hamer continued between the sticks for the visitors with Wiggins returning to the backline that includes Chris Solly, Morrison and Cort.
Dervite was in a holding midfield role with Pritchard and Wagstaff flanking central duo Johnnie Jackson and Dale Stephens.
Kermorgant was up front on his own while Wilson, Fuller and Evina were joined by Danny Haynes, David Button, Matt Taylor and the returning Salim Kerkar in reserve.
There were two familiar faces in the Leicester squad in the shape of former Addicks Paul Konchesky, at left-back and Martyn Waghorn, on the bench.
The big news from a Foxes point of view was the inclusion up front after injury of Kiwi striker Chris Wood alongside former England man David Nugent.
There was danger from out wide in the shape of Ben Marshall and Anthony Knockaert while there was plenty of attacking threat at the disposal of Nigel Pearson from reserve.
Hamer was called into action in the third minute, reacting well to turn a stinging drive from Knockaert round his post on three minutes.
Nugent’s clever movement had drawn out Cort and the striker picked out his French teammate, who was foiled.
Dervite’s clearance was charged down by Matty James requiring Hamer to make another stop soon afterwards and Charlton’s first effort came from Pritchard as he burst onto a Kermorgant flick and shot narrowly off target from the edge of the box.
Morrison got across well to cut out a dangerous cross from the overlapping Konchesky, after the left-back combined with Marshall, and centre-back Wes Morgan ambled into the attacking third in the next phase of play and found himself in the middle before heading a ninth-minute cross from De Laet.
Schmeichel grabbed a Cort header after Kermorgant had headed a Jackson free-kick back across the dangerzone.
There was certainly plenty of efforts in the early stages although the keepers’ were not being overly tested with Hamer watching a low drive from Knockaert drift wide on the quarter hour.
But it was the Addicks that grabbed the lead in the 19th minute through ‘you know who’.
The Frenchman produced a precise low finish into the bottom right corner of the net, but the moved owed much to the persistence of two teammates and a mistake from a Fox.
Having chased a lost cause on the left, Wagstaff did brilliantly to keep the ball in play right by the corner flag, and in his attempts to guide the ball back to his keeper Drinkwater failed to notice the run of Pritchard.
The midfielder pulled the ball back to Kermorgant and the striker finished with some aplomb to put his side in front.
The pocket of Addicks fans in the opposite corner of the ground rejoiced, but when the action resumed they had a close look at two good pieces of defending, first from Wiggins when he headed a dangerous Marshall cross away from a lurking Wood.
Then Cort, as he so often does, flung himself in the way of a goalbound shot, and ended up on the turf, and Knockaert was wayward again for the hosts as the natives started to grumble.
Jackson was booked after sending James sprawling on the half hour with Konchesky wastefully blasting over from range after Hamer had punched the free-kick out.
Hamer gathered a low cross from Marshall after the Foxes broke with real purpose down the left, and took a knock for his trouble.
As the clock reached 39 a threat came from the other side as De Laet skinned his man and pulled the ball back for Knockaert to lift a great chance over the bar.
It was another warning of the home side’s multi-layered threat, but the Addicks remained vigilant as the interval crept ever closer.
The visitors survived two corners in that time and Marshall curled wide after cutting in from the left, and in the first added minute, up at the other end, Jackson fastened on to a Pritchard nudge and blasted narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
That proved the last act as the Addicks retreated with the advantage and after an early Leicester corner was claimed by Hamer, the Addicks carved out a good chance four minutes in.
Kermorgant span and fed a bursting Pritchard and the midfielder’s attempt to chip the advancing Schmeichel saw his effort drift off target as the hosts drew a sizable sigh of relief.
Then, on 52 minutes, Schmeichel kept his side just one goal down.
After Jackson’s free-kick was initially missed by the keeper, Morrison licked his lips on the left side of the box.
There was nothing wrong with the defender’s blistering angled drive and Leicester were grateful to their recovering keeper who flung out an arm to make a magnificent stop.
Having all too many times reflected on pivotal moments in games, the visitors continued to offer enterprise.
Wood did have the ball in the net on 59 minutes after a through pass from Wes Morgan, but a flag was already up for offside.
Drinkwater’s drive took a deflection off Cort but Hamer claimed as the clock passed the hour mark and Pearson was the first man to make changes as Marshall made way for Paul Gallagher and Lloyd Dyer replaced Knockaert.
There were penalty claims for the hosts turned down after a Wood rasper flew behind off the torso off the ever-willing Cort.
But the hosts did level on 69 minutes through their prolific striker Wood.
There was more than a degree of fortune in the goal as following a meander from Gallagher a handy ricochet sat the ball up nicely for the Kiwi to shoot into the bottom right corner.
It was a gutter for the visitors having worked so hard for more than three quarters of the game, and Wood hooked over after a cross was half cleared.
Dervite made way for Haynes 13 minutes from time – and what an impact the striker made.
Just over a minute after arriving on the pitch the striker latched on to a header from Kermorgant and sent a stunning drive over Schmeichel and in.
The King Power Stadium fell silent, aside from the delirious pocket of fans that got a great view of the strike and Powell and his management team embraced on the touchline.
As Leicester, who introduced Andy King in their last change, sought a second response Drinkwater was reluctant to pull the trigger on the edge of the box and Gallagher eventually blasted over.
Wood was much closer with a 25-yarder that took a nick and nestled in the side-netting, and Hamer then dived to his right two minutes from time to superbly touch a Drinkwater fizzer round the post.
It was a terrific save, and more penalty claims came and went after Morrison hooked clear before Wilson came on for Stephens in the last regulation minute.
There were four added minutes to navigate as Wagstaff made way for Matt Taylor and there was a late free-kick chance for the hosts as Cort felled Wood but the Addicks were reprieved as the striker blasted the dangerous free-kick wide.
Despite hoofing the ball forward in the dying embers the Addicks, as they had done all night, held firm and the final whistle ended a superb night’s work.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Wiggins, Cort, Morrison; Pritchard, Dervite (Haynes 77), Stephens (Wilson 90), Jackson, Wagstaff (Taylor 90); Kermorgant.
Subs (not used): Button, Evina, Kerkar, Fuller.
Goals: Kermorgant 19, Haynes 78
Booked: Jackson 30 (foul on James)
Leicester: Schmeichel; De Laet, Konchesky, Morgan, Keane; Marshall (Gallagher 64), Drinkwater, James (King 79), Knockaert (Dyer 64); Nugent, Wood.
Subs (not used): Logan, St Ledger, Vardy, Waghorn.
Goal: Wood 69
Referee: M Naylor
Att: 19,920 (680 Charlton)