Gary Haines reports from The Valley
South London bragging rights belong to Crystal Palace after the Eagles swooped to conquer on Friday night.
A 51st-minute volley from Kagisho Dikgacoi gave the Selhurst Park side a first league success at The Valley since March 1968.
The South African was left in space in the box after a corner was headed across and took a touch before slamming home a superb volley.
Few could have argued that the visitors didn’t deserve the lead, although Charlton had a first-half goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips wrongly chalked off for offside. And despite a late rally the Addicks could not find a way back into the game.
Amid a pulsating finale, substitute Ricardo Fuller steered a great chance wide and then saw a deflected shot loop against the bar before Mile Jedinak cleared off the line.
And deep into stoppage time there was almost the most unlikely of saviours as keeper Ben Hamer was denied on the line by Owen Garvan – who himself had been foiled in familiar fashion by Leon Cort in the opening period.
The strong finish disguised more fallibility back in the second tier for the inexperienced League One champions with seasoned Championship veterans Palace offering more threat for large chunks of the game.
Prompted by two livewire wingers, particularly the outstanding Wilfried Zaha, they were by far the better side in an opening period in which Chris Powell lost reliable left-back – and former Eagle – Rhoys Wiggins to injury.
Either side of Wiggins landed awkwardly and being unable to continue, it was Palace that peppered the Covered End with wideman Zaha causing all manner of problems.
Leon Cort cleared off the line from Garvan but it was the Addicks who were unlucky not to take the lead when an offside decision went against them.
Bradley Wright-Phillips thought he had scored when he headed home after a 33rd-minute free-kick was nodded into his path, but an offside flag dashed his celebrations.
It was a decision that television replays showed was incorrect with a grounded defender looking to play him onside, but the hosts were out of luck.
They were also behind six minutes after the break as Dikgacoi was afforded all manner of time to chest down and slam home a volley and send the boisterous away end into total elation.
As well as dancing and singing there were flairs and firecrackers in the Jimmy Seed Stand, and other chances went begging before the hosts finally cranked up a gear.
Palace were far from comfortable dealing with free-kicks in and around the box and Danny Hollands skewed a good chance wide with the introduction of Fuller and Danny Green offering the Addicks an added dimension.
Wiggins’ replacement Lawrie Wilson teed up Fuller to plant a great chance wide, and in a monumental scramble the Jamaican saw a deflected shot loop up – almost in slow motion – before bouncing off the bar, and the ball was scooped away before Wright-Phillips could poach.
Then came Hamer’s moment and although there was nothing wrong with his header, Garvan was well-placed to clear.
And that proved the last act as the Eagles clinched their first ever three points in SE7 (given the win reward was only extended in 1981).
Previously they had not won in SE7 since man set foot on the moon, but it was the away fans that were in orbit at the end of the night.
In terms of team news Dale Stephens returned to the fold for Charlton’s crunch Friday night South London derby against Crystal Palace.
After unsettling speculation saw him removed from the firing line at Nottingham Forest little under a fortnight ago, the cultured midfielder was back in the engine-room for the eagerly-anticipated clash against the Eagles.
It was a derby three seasons in the making and one the Addicks faithful earmarked since the fixture list was unveiled in the summer.
And the match also caught the imagination of Sky television who broadcast live to the nation.
The Addicks, who had taken four points from their opening two Valley matches back in the Championship, were aiming to bounce back to winning ways after losing at Nottingham Forest on the first of the month.
Jordan Cook made way from that afternoon to accommodate Stephens in a standard 4-4-2 formation, while Fuller and David Button were both on the bench at The Valley for the first time.
Ben Hamer continued between the posts for the hosts with two former Eagles in the Addicks rearguard.
Left-back Wiggins and centre-back Cort were the men in question, and the latter played against the Addicks for Palace in a South London derby.
Chris Solly and Michael Morrison made up the rearguard with Hollands partnering Stephens in central midfield. Skipper Johnnie Jackson was on the left with Bradley Pritchard on the right and Wright-Phillips, whose father was an Eagles frontman of real esteem, and Yann Kermorgant were up top.
Fuller, whose debut header went in via the bar and keeper Lee Camp for Charlton’s consolation at Forest, was joined on the bench by keeper Button and Wilson, Dorian Dervite, Salim Kerkar, Green and Michael Smith.
Palace picked up their first win of the season last time out at home to Sheffield Wednesday and the dangerous Zaha and recent signing Yannick Bolasie supplied the width either side of striker Glenn Murray.
Dikgacoi was the sole Palace change, replacing Andre Moritz in central midfield.
Plumes of smoke emerged from the Jimmy Seed Stand after a fire cracker greeted the kick-off, and the first half chance was in front of the Palace fan as Pritchard got his shoulder to a Wiggins centre and Julian Speroni was able to gather.
Zaha’s first raid down the right resulted in a disappointing cross, but his second, on seven minutes teed up a chance for Dikgacoi with the South African blasting a shot over the bar from just inside the box.
This was a promising spell for the visitors but Charlton produced a great break of their own as the clock reached 10.
Stephens was the architect, filtering a fine ball to Wiggins on the left and the full-back’s cross was volleyed wide at the back post – on the stretch – by Wright-Phillips.
Hamer then had a wobble two minutes later, spilling a cross from Zaha before standing up to foil Garvan. The ball unwittingly clattered back off the midfielder and away from the keeper but Cort was well-placed to clear off the line.
After a horrible miss-kick from Morrison inside his own box, the defender blocked from Garvan as the Eagles threatened again.
The next incident saw Wiggins fall awkwardly when tussling with Zaha, and after lengthy treatment he was unable to continue, eventually making way for Lawrie Wilson.
Solly switched to left-back with the newcomer coming in on the right but before the substitution was made, Stephens was booked for a challenge on Bolasie.
Pritchard and Mile Jedinak were warned after the midfielder reacted angrily after getting caught when the duo fell to the turf in competitive unison.
When the action resumed Bolasie wriggled in from the left and blasted an angled shot over the bar.
The visitors were certainly looking the more likely going forward, but it was the hosts that had the ball in the net first – although Wright-Phillips 33rd-minute ‘goal’ would be disallowed.
The all-action Jedinak upended Wright-Phillips in Addicks territory and the free-kick was headed across by Cort for the striker to nod in.
He peeled away in ecstasy, but his celebrations would be cut short by an offside flag, although replays suggested grounded Eagle Darcy Blake was actually playing him onside.
The decision went against the Addicks, however, and Bolasie’s shot on the run moments later was pouched by Hamer.
Bolasie, who had switched wings to the right, went close again from range in a chance that originated when stumbling referee Tony Bates fell in favour of the visitors.
Kermorgant and Jonathan Parr both required treatment after the Frenchman’s soaring leap and header in the middle.
The ball dropped well wide and Stephens’ blistering drive four minutes before the break fizzed over after a neat lay-off from Hollands.
Zaha, now on the left, jinked inside and flashed a shot across goal and wide, and there was a late free-kick opportunity for the hosts as Wright-Phillips was caught by Damien Delaney.
Jackson usurped Kermorgant and although his curling effort beat the ball, Julian Speroni darted to his right to gather.
Palace also had a free-kick in good territory deep into stoppage time but Bolasie latched onto a loose header and fired the last kick off the half well off target.
Six minutes into the second half the visitors took the lead.
After forcing a corner on the right, Garvan delivered the ball in and Delaney headed back into open space in the box.
Dikgacoi, all on his own, could not believe his luck and took a steadying touch before volleying superbly into the back of the net.
It was a deserved lead as the packed Jimmy Seed Stand rejoiced and as the Addicks rocked Palace sensed blood.
First Bolasie veered in from the left but his shot was held by Hamer and then, as the pressure continued, another right-wing corner was firmly headed over the bar by Murray.
Powell’s response was to summon Fuller and the Jamaican replaced skipper Jackson a minute shy of the hour mark, Hollands assuming the armband.
Brilliance from Zaha tied the Addicks up in knots but Murray’s wayward cross was favourable to Hamer, and the keeper then beat the winger in a foot-race, hammering the ball clear as the natives held their breath.
At the other end Fuller featured for the first time five minutes after his arrival, heading a fine Wilson cross narrowly off target.
Jedinak was booked after he upended Fuller, who had cleverly drifted away from him, but Kermorgant’s 30-yard curling free-kick flew well over the bar.
Bolasie was booked a minute later for kicking the ball away and from the free-kick the Addicks went close.
The ball was flighted in from the right and Cort headed across goal for Hollands who could only skew a left-foot shot wide from close range.
The booked Bolasie, having just escaped with a warning after tripping Pritchard, left the action moments later as Jonathan Williams came on in his place.
Soon after there was a seasonal debut for Green as he replaced Pritchard and he showed early promise with a neat spin, although his cross went out of play before Speroni fisted the ball over the bar.
Garvan’s shot was deflected wide after the midfielder burst on to a ball on the edge of the box and at the other end Stephens hoisted a Solly pull-back from the left high over the bar.
There was a great chance for Fuller as the clock reached 83, but the striker could only fire wide after great work from Wilson on the right.
The defender pulled back a delicious pass but Fuller could only steer his shot wide of the right upright, and in their next attack Charlton saw Wright-Phillips head just off target.
Fuller span and fired high over the bar and after a great burst from Green on the right his cross was spilled, under pressure from Kermorgant by Speroni, before the Argentinean gleefully gathered.
Aaron Wilbraham replaced Murray three minutes from time but it was the Addicks that were pressing in the closing stages.
The board indicating an extra four minutes offered them hope and there was all kinds of incidents in that time.
First Fuller, left inexplicably all alone in the box, collected a cross on the left side and his shot looped up off a defender and beat Speroni – but not the bar.
The ball dropped down but as Wright-Phillips loomed, the excellent Jedinak somehow cleared off the line.
From the subsequent corner Hamer joined the throng, and almost snatched a last-gasp leveller.
He met the corner with a thumping header but this time it was Garvan on the line who rescued the visitors.
It was further proof that this would not be Charlton’s night as the Eagles clung on for a deserved win.
Charlton Athletic: Hamer; Solly, Wiggins (Wilson 22), Morrison, Cort; Pritchard (Green 77), Hollands, Stephens, Jackson (Fuller 59); Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips.
Subs (not used): Button, Dervite, Kerkar, Smith.
Booked: Stephens 22 (foul on Bolasie), Wilson 62 (foul on Bolasie)
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Blake, Parr, Ramage, Delaney; Zaha (Ward 90), Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Garvan, Bolasie (Williams 75); Murray (Wilbrahim 87).
Subs (not used): Price, Moxey, Moritz, Goodwillie.
Goal: Dikgacoi 51
Booked: Jedinak 69 (foul on Fuller), Bolasie 70 (kicking the ball away)
Ref: T Bates
Att: 21,730 (3,217 Palace)