Gary Haines reports from The Valley
Charlton suffered derby defeat against fierce rivals Millwall on Saturday.
Second-half strikes from Jermaine Easter – his first touch in his second loan spell as a Lion – and Shane Lowry gave the visitors three priceless points from the early afternoon affair.
Easter, unleashed from the bench mere seconds earlier, stole in to turn a low shot under David Button after a cross from fellow debutant Richard Chaplow in the 58th minute.
And Lowry, who had filled in for most of the game at centre-back after an early injury to Karleigh Osborne, then curled home a free-kick from more than 30 yards seven minutes later.
There was no way back or the Addicks after that as they enter the international break with work still to do to preserve their Championship status.
For Millwall, meanwhile, a first Valley win since 1979 was the perfect end to a dream week that had seen Kenny Jackett’s side win at Blackburn Rovers to seal a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Wembley.
Although Charlton edged the opening period, there was no sign of lethargy or weariness from the Lions, with former Addicks youngster Danny Shittu a colossus at the heart of the defence.
And try as they might the hosts could not find a way back into the game, and were thus left to face up to yet another blank Valley outing.
Powell’s men have tasted victory at home just four times this season and a third successive SE7 defeat was galling to the extreme given the opposition.
The Addicks have collected just one point from the last 15 available on home soil making their away heroics all the more vital going into the closing eight games of the season.
You could argue that on South London derby day Easter, on loan at Millwall from Crystal Palace, was a fitting scorer, but the fans here will be sick of the sight of him.
He famously knocked the Addicks out of the League Cup when a Wycombe Wanderers player and made his mark here within seconds to assume instant hero status at the start of a second stint at the club.
Lowry’s free-kick was also a work of art and sadly for the Addicks they could not brighten up proceedings on a grey day.
On a rain-lashed afternoon in SE7 it was David Forde that was by far the busier keeper in the opening period.
He kept out a stinging early drive from Bradley Pritchard and snaffled the ball in front of an eager Danny Haynes, and later in the half reacted well to tip a shot on the run from Callum Harriott past his left upright.
At the other end Button was not tested although two presentable chances went begging either side of Charlton’s chances as Liam Trotter and substitute Adam Smith – on for the injured Osborne – pulled shots wide from inside the box.
Other than that there was no quarter given in the midfield with skipper Johnnie Jackson and Pritchard tenacious in the middle of the park.
Kermorgant curled a free-kick inches wide moments into the second period as the rain fell harder and Harriott blazed high over the bar from the edge of the box soon afterwards.
Despite their fast start to the half, Charlton were breached 12 minutes in as the Lions drew first blood thanks to Easter’s incredible intervention as he steered his first touch under Button and in.
The keeper was beaten again by Lowry’s terrific free-kick as the visitors opened up a commanding lead and Millwall, led by skipper Shittu defended diligently in the closing stages to ease their own fears of getting dragged into a late-season dogfight.
In terms of team news there was a return to the frontline for a suspension-free Kermorgant ahead of the eagerly-anticipated South East London derby clash.
The Frenchman was straight back into the starting XI after serving a three-match ban following his sending off against Nottingham Forest with Ricardo Fuller dropping to the bench.
That was the only change from the fine away win at Huddersfield Town the previous weekend with an unwell Danny Green not in the matchday squad and Thursday signing Mark Gower also not involved.
Youngster Harriott started a Championship game at The Valley for the first time out wide on the left.
Button continued between the posts for the hosts with Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins flanking Michael Morrison and Matt Taylor at the back.
Skipper Jackson, who became a father again on the eve of the game, was partnered in the engine-room by Pritchard with Lawrie Wilson and academy product Harriott the wide options.
Kermorgant was up front alongside Danny Haynes.
Fuller was joined on the bench by Cedric Evina, Dorian Dervite, Dale Stephens, Scott Wagstaff and Jonathan Obika.
There were several familiar faces for the visitors in the shape of Rob Hulse, Shittu and Dany N’Guessan.
Hulse scored three goals in 15 loan appearances for the Addicks earlier this season – and played against Millwall in the 0-0 draw at The New Den in December.
N’Guessan scored several vital goals in Charlton’s League One run-in last season and defender Shittu came through the club’s youth ranks.
Hulse was the fulcrum up front for the visitors with N’Guessan and Chris Taylor the wide outlets.
Friday signing Richard Chaplow went straight into the Lions’ line-up in a midfield that also included the highly-rated Liam Trotter.
Fellow recent loan recruit Easter was on the bench, and will have fond memories of SE7 thanks to his League Cup heroics as a Chairboy.
The early afternoon kick-off marked the fifth anniversary of Charlton’s pioneering Street Violence Ruins Lives campaign and the parents of Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen, fans of the respective rivals whose lives were tragically cut short, lay wreaths in the centre-circle ahead of the game.
Keepers Button and David Forde put those wreaths behind the goals in a gesture that again showed the unification between the two clubs.
The Lions were Wembley bound after a tremendous FA Cup win at Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night booked a semi-final clash against Wigan Athletic, and they got the first shot away at a rain-lashed Valley as N’Guessan pulled an effort wide.
At the other end, Forde’s hands were warmed for the first time by Pritchard as his skidding low drive, following a back-heel from Haynes, was parried by the Irishman. Haynes sized up the loose ball but the keeper grabbed it in the nick of time.
After Hulse was blocked off following a barrelling run, Wiggins headed clear and Trotter dragged a good chance horribly wide of the left post.
And another Charlton chance fell to Pritchard on eight minutes as Morrison headed a Jackson corner back and the midfielder spooned over.
Shittu got in a fine block to stop a meaty volley from Jackson and a fine sliding challenge by Karleigh Osborne would prove the defender’s last act. He was replaced by Tottenham loanee Adam Smith who went straight to the left with Shane Lowry filling in in the centre.
As the teams continued to trade metaphorical jabs, the atmosphere was cranked up a notch by two vocal sets of supporters.
After Kermorgant’s flick sent Haynes racing away on the half hour, sweeper-keeper Forde dashed off his line to clear just in front of the striker.
Fine challenges from Jackson and Pritchard drew warm acclaim and Forde was called into action again on 35 minutes as Harriott zipped in from the left and saw his drive tipped round his left post by a diving Forde.
Hulse’s speculative dipper was well off target before Kermorgant found Harriott on the left and connected with the youngster’s cross with a volley that dropped well wide.
Smith picked up the game’s first booking a minute before the break after catching Wilson late and as the board went up for added time, the stand-in left-back was well-placed in the box as a header flew across goal but slammed a presentable opening wide.
That was the last chance of the half as the sides went in locked together at nil apiece.
Two minutes after the restart the Addicks were a whisker away from breaking the deadlock through their talismanic Frenchman.
After Harriott was caught by a cynical lunge from Alan Dunne, one the Lion was booked for, the striker curled a free-kick over the wall and just wide of the left post.
His head-in-his-hands gesture suggested how close it was, and as the Addicks strived to hammer home that early momentum, Millwall were grateful to Shittu who twice ushered out Haynes as the striker raced down the middle.
Forde, not for the first time, dashed off his line to foil Kermorgant as the striker looked to latch onto a pass down the middle.
Then, after a free-kick was only half cleared, Harriott seized the ball on the edge of the box but lifted his shot over the bar.
After an improvised cross from the left from Wiggins, Kermorgant, under pressure got a faint touch in the middle with Wilson stretching to lift the ball over.
Before the resumption Kenny Jackett sent on Easter for N’Guessan – and it proved an inspired change as the striker struck with his first touch.
After the ball was switched to the Millwall left, Chaplow sent the ball across low and Easter nipped in to slide the ball under Button and in.
It was an incredible intervention from the newcomer and it sent the away fans behind the goal into utter bedlam.
Jackson flung himself in front of a Trotter effort after the ball came inside from the left all too easily, and the visitors doubled their money in spectacular fashion as the clock reached 65.
Pritchard was booked after catching a marauding Smith and Lowry assumed free-kick duties, curling home a superb shot into the roof of the net from more than 30 yards out.
It was a hammer blow to the hosts as an uphill task became mountainous and Powell quickly sent on Wagstaff and Fuller for Wilson and Haynes.
After Fuller went down under a Shittu challenge, home penalty claims were waved away before Nadjim Abdou entered the fray in the visitors’ final change.
Harriott could not get a shot away after being slipped in by Pritchard and Hulse was well wide from range for the Lions
After a Harriott cross was headed back by Kermorgant, Fuller could not read the path of the ball in the middle and Solly’s low drive was kicked away by keeper Forde.
Fuller volleyed wide after a Shittu header flew into his path and at the other end Trotter headed a Taylor free-kick narrowly wide.
But the game rather fizzled out after that with the Addicks ending the afternoon empty-handed again.
Charlton: Button; Solly, Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison; Wilson (Wagstaff 67), Jackson, Pritchard; Harriott, Haynes (Fuller 67), Kermorgant.
Subs (not used): Hamer, Dervite, Evina, Stephens, Obika.
Booked: Pritchard 65 (foul on Smith)
Millwall: Forde; Dunne, Lowry, Shittu, Osborne (Smith 16); Taylor, Smith, Chaplow (Abdou), Trotter, N’Guessan (Easter 57); Hulse.
Subs (not used): Taylor, Saville, Woolford, Abdou, Keogh.
Goals: Easter 58, Lowry 65
Booked: Smith 44 (foul on Wilson), Dunne 47 (foul on Harriott)
Referee: N Swarbrick
Att: 18,514 (3,153 Millwall)