Gary Haines reports from John Smith's Stadium
Callum Harriott’s first goal in senior football helped Charlton seal a dogged away win at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The 19-year-old swept home the winner in the third minute on just his third start for the club and the Addicks dug in after the break to clinch a first clean sheet since December 1st.
That date marked the Terriers last home loss in the league before an afternoon of pure resolution from Chris Powell’s road warriors on a brute of a pitch.
Four points in a week away from the uncomfortable Valley has eased their worries entering the critical closing stages of the season – and boy they worked hard for this win.
They were the better side before the break and but for some desperate last-ditch defending may have gone in further ahead.
After the break it was all about the home side who monopolised possession and thrust the ball forward at will.
But some marvellous defending and excellent handling from keeper David Button kept them at bay to secure what would be a telling win come May.
There was a nigh on perfect start from the Londoners as youngster Harriott drew first blood after just three minutes.
After teeing up Danny Haynes for an early shot that was deflected wide, he was on hand to sweep home from around 12 yards after Chris Solly picked him out courtesy of a clever free-kick routine.
Peter Clarke and Oscar Gobern went close with headers as the hosts attempted to hit back and they saw plenty of possession in the Charlton half in the opening stages of the game.
After a quick free-kick caught the Londoners napping, David Button had to be on his toes to tip a glancing header from Theo Robinson over the bar
The Addicks were a real threat on the break, however, and with the hosts committed up front, Harriott played a gorgeous pass in for Haynes, but the striker was denied by Alex Smithies, a gaol-saving contribution.
Smithies was on hand again to prevent Anthony Gerrard scoring an own goal at the end of a scramble that followed Clarke’s incredible scissors-kick goalline clearance from Lawrie Wilson’s text-book header.
The hosts then almost levelled in stoppage time at the end of the half as Button propelled himself to tip away a long-ranger from Oliver Norwood, a save that maintained the lead going into the break.
Town quickly introduced Alan Lee and Danny Ward after the break and pushed forward with real intent in a bid to get back in it.
But the Addicks defended magnificently as the ball boomed into the box at will from the home side.
The back four all played their part as Button scooped up high balls behind, Rhoys Wiggins, Matt Taylor and Michael Morrison all producing timely interventions as Town hogged possession but failed to create many clear chances.
Even the intervention in the box from home keeper Alex Smithies late on was repelled as the away day specialists clung on for a massive three points.
In terms of team news Chris Powell pitched an unchanged side into battle at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Following the 2-2 draw at London Road in midweek, the Addicks boss resisted the temptation to make changes so once again a 4-4-2 formation was utilised as two teams locked together on 44 points at the start of play collided.
That meant youngster Harriott started successive games for the first time in his brief Addicks career with Danny Haynes and Ricardo Fuller again paired up front as Yann Kermorgant sat out the third and final match of his suspension.
With Leon Cort still nursing a knee injury, Taylor continued in the heart of the defence and there was a return to the bench for Dale Stephens following his recent hip injury.
Dave Button continued between the posts for the home side with Chris Solly and Wiggins flanking Morrison and Taylor at the back.
Skipper Johnnie Jackson, who netted an eighth goal of the season in midweek, partnered Bradley Pritchard in the engine room/with Harriott and Lawrie Wilson out wide. Fuller and Haynes, who now has seven goals to his name after his strike in midweek, were up top.
The away bench was comprised of Ben Hamer, Cedric Evina, Dorian Dervite, Stephens, Scott Wagstaff, Danny Green and Jonathan Obika.
The Terriers, unbeaten on home turf in the league since December 1st, came into the game fresh from a dramatic late victory against Middlesbrough in midweek.
Lee Novak and Theo Robinson were the strike options with Danny Ward, who scored from the bench against Boro, available in reserve.
Adam Clayton , whose late penalty sealed a point for 10-man Huddersfield at The Valley earlier in the season, was in midfield but the winning marksman in the FA Cup tie between the two clubs in January, Jermaine Beckford, was injured.
On a rutted surface in South Yorkshire the Addicks created the first chance of the afternoon just over a minute in.
Harriott showed good feet on the left and skipped away from his man before teeing up Haynes and after taking a touch, his drive was deflected behind for an early corner.
And the youngster did even better on three minutes as he fired the Addicks in front,
After a foul on the left side of the box, Solly trotted forward to take and, in a routine straight from the Sparrows Lane training pitches, Harriott peeled into space and met his pull-back with a crisp drive into the back of the net.
It was his first goal in senior colours and meant a lot to the away bench too, as all and sundry rose to celebrate.
The hosts went close to levelling soon afterwards as Robinson unwittingly deflected on a drive from Neil Danns, but the ball flew past the far post.
And from a sixth minute corner, Peter Clarke rose but Button stretched out an arm to flip the ball over the angle.
Oscar Gobern held his head in his hands after glancing a corner wide on the quarter hour, and Harriott, after he had lost the ball on the left in an act of experience, was punished for a trip on Clayton with the game’s first yellow card two minutes later.
It was certainly an eventful start from Harriott, and that continued as he won possession in the Terriers half and found Haynes, but his pass to Fuller was too heavy for the Jamaican and the ball rolled out for a throw.
At the other end, the Addicks were almost made to pay for being caught napping at a quick free-kick from the hosts on 27 minutes.
The ball was switched to left-back Paul Dixon who had all kinds of space to measure a cross and Robinson’s glancing header would have dropped in but for a fine tip-over from Button.
Wiggins got across well to put pressure on Novak after the ball was whipped in low from Robinson, and the striker could only skew wide from close in.
Charlton then broke well down the right 10 minutes before the break and an unmarked Haynes headed a Wilson corner down and wide of the far post.
Then, the visitors almost broke to devastating effect two minutes later.
With Huddersfield committed upfield, Wilson sent Harriott scampering away on the left and the winger looked up before threading a superb ball through the retreating backline.
Haynes, one of two red men advancing on the right, took the ball into his stride but could not beat Alex Smithies who made a smart stop to deny the striker making it 2-0.
Having escaped, Huddersfield promptly gifted possession back to Charlton but Fuller, with men well placed around him, opted for a spectacular curler and the ball sailed well wide.
The Addicks were then desperately close to grabbing a second two minutes before the break with Clarke and then Smithies saving Town in quick succession.
After Solly was chopped down by Gobern on the right, Jackson flighted in a fine free-kick and Wilson connected with a perfectly-timed glancing header. The ball was headed inside the far post but skipper Clarke somehow hooked it off the line with a spectacular clearance.
The ball pinballed in the box for some time afterwards and Smithies prevented his own man Anthony Gerrard from slicing into his own net with a fine point-blank stop.
It was another near miss for the hosts, and they almost cashed in on the strike of half-time as a superb shot from distance from Norwood was brilliantly tipped away by Button.
The half-time whistle sounded moments later with the visitors ahead.
Heavy rain greeted the players upon the resumption and Taylor was booked for an early challenge on the marauding Hunt.
In his bid to retrieve the free-kick from Clayton, Button spilled the ball, but referee Stroud eventually blew for a foul after a semi-scramble in front of the unguarded net.
Novak hoisted high over the bar before Mark Robbins introduced striker Alan Lee and winger Ward for Robinson and Norwood nine minutes in.
It was a bold move from the home boss and Town pushed forward in search of a leveller, with the Addicks struggling to get out.
Gobern’s daisy-cutter was held by Button while Harriott and Wiggins combined on the left and the teenager’s effort on the stretch ricocheted behind.
Dervite replaced Fuller as Powell opted to stiffen up the midfield in a bid to stem the tide and having twice seen off Lee, Wiggins was booked for delaying his throw 13 minutes from time.
Evina came on for the hard-working Harriott 11 minutes from time to offer added solidity to the left and Scott Arfield replaced Gobern soon after.
After a hoof upfield from Dervite was misjudged by Clarke, Smithies reacted well to clear as the striker honed in.
And after a Jackson corner was half-cleared an effort from Taylor was blocked as the visitors looked to claim a killer second.
Lee was booked after catching Button late with Haynes making way for Obika two minutes from time.
The board for five added minute drew cheers and groans from the respective fans around the ground as the Londoners dropped deeper and deeper.
Smithies, up for a late corner, had the ball snatched off his feet from Dervite and Morrison, not or the first time, got in a timely clearance as the pressure piled on.
Danns was booked for a rugby tackle on Evina, the type of challenge that would have better graced the Huddersfield Giants rugby league side that also play at the ground.
The ball just wouldn’t stick for the visitors as the ball was pumped forward yet again moments later but Button, as he had done all game, came confidently to claim and that was enough to earn the Addicks three precious points.
Charlton: Button; Solly, Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison; Wilson, Jackson, Pritchard, Harriott (Evina 79); Haynes (Obika 88), Fuller (Dervite 66).
Subs (not used): Hamer, Stephens, Wagstaff, Green.
Goal: Harriott 3
Booked: Harriott 17 (foul on Clayton), Taylor 48 (foul on Hunt), Wiggins 77 (time-wasting)
Huddersfield: Smithies; Hunt, Dixon, Gerrard, Clarke; Clayton, Norwood (Ward 54), Gobern (Arfield 81), Danns; Robinson (Lee 54), Novak.
Subs (not used): Bennett, Woods, Wallace, Atkinson.
Booked: Lee 88 (foul on Button), Danns 90 (foul on Evina)
Referee: K Stroud
Att: 13,591 (470 Charlton)