Olly Groome reports from Madejski Stadium
A strong second-half push was not enough for Charlton as they fell to defeat at the hands of Reading on Tuesday evening.
Billy Sharp's crisp, first-half strike was all it took as the Royals earned a 1-0 victory at the Majedski Stadium.
But it didn't tell the full story as the Addicks' huffed and puffed in the second period, but just could not blow the Reading door down.
Charlton's second-half performance would have been enough to warrant at least a point in their trip to Berkshire but it was another story of missed half-chances as Chris Powell's men suffered a second single-goal defeat in three days.
The big news before kick-off came in the form of Cedric Evina. The left-back made a return to the starting XI for the first time in the league since last February's defeat at Hull City.
Having taken his place on the left-wing, Johnnie Jackson dropped to the bench, with Michael Morrison wearing the armband in his absence.
With both sets of supporters in fine voice from the off, it was the home side who started on the front foot.
A Pavel Pogrebnyak run into the Addick's box threatened in the opening minute as Dorian Dervite was left to clear up the danger.
And with Alex Pearce heading just over from a Danny Guthrie corner shortly after, it looked as if Charlton would be in for a long for a long night.
The visitors had a strong penalty appeal waved away 10 minutes into proceedings.
When Simon Church, returning to his old stomping ground, chased onto a long searching ball, he outstripped Stephen Kelly for pace.
But as the Welsh international took his touch, he appeared to be clipped by the Royals defender, sending him tumbling to the Madejski Stadium's turf.
As Church, and indeed more than 800 travelling Addicks, appealed, the referee shook his head as play was waved on.
Charlton had been denied what looked like a stonewall penalty.
Decisions such as those have the ability to turn a game on its head and make all the difference come 90 minutes.
Indeed, after 13 minutes, Reading took the lead.
With Dale Stephens taking a heavy touch in his own half, the ball was laid off to Sharp. The striker, on loan from Southampton, was allowed to approach goal before unleashing a low shot from the corner of the box.
As his effort flew goalwards, there was nothing Ben Alnwick could do as it settled in the bottom left-hand corner of his net.
Powell's side looked shell-shocked. It was certainly going to take some work for his side to regain their footing in this match.
With 19 minutes gone, the Royals once again threatened from range as Pogrebnyak unleashed an effort from 25 yards which should have been gobbled up by Alnwick.
But as the deputy keeper spilled the initial effort, it took quick thinking from Michael Morrison to clear Charlton's lines as Sharp was lurking to pounce on the rebound.
By this stage, the Addicks were really struggling to make an impact going forward.
With key danger men failing to find their feet, Charlton were failing to provide danger going forward.
But just after the half-hour mark, one of those men sprung into life with a fine ball into the hosts box.
Bringing down Jordan Cousins' fine, raking cross-field pass with a delightful first touch, he whipped a cross for the onrushing Yann Kermorgant who was just beaten to the punch by Reading's giant defender Kaspars Gorkss.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Cedric Evina's cross was met by Stephens who's controlled volley cleared the bar easily.
With the game heading for the break, Charlton had a glorious chance to go in level.
Stephens' flick was met by Kermorgant who provided a through-ball for Church.
As he approached goal with just Alex McCarthy to beat in between the Royals' sticks, his near-post effort was saved.
With his head in his hands, all those in red followed suit with the realisation that it may just have been the Addicks' best chance to climb back into the game.
Regrettably, that chance was Charlton's only real attacking contribution to a half in which Reading were the much better side.
Come the second-half, the home side began much as they did the first.
Garath McCleary let fly from 25 yards in the opening moments of the half. And the former Bromley winger's strike drew breath from the 18,149 in attendance as his strike bounced off the outside of the right post.
Church then found space down the right flank a minute later, providing a dangerous crossed pass into the middle of the Reading box.
With Evina having made a beeline into the area, Kelly scrambled the ball away to avoid what would have been a certain clear-cut opening for the Addicks.
Proceedings then entered a scrappy period, with both sides conspiring to give up the ball sloppily on more than one occasion.
With very few opportunities at either end, set-pieces were going to be a key component to any chance of a Charlton equaliser.
And when Rhoys Wiggins' turn of pace took him past Kelly, the Reading full-back brought him down just outside the box to give the Addicks a decent chance at goal.
As the delivery was swung in, the ball was half cleared with Kermorgant ultimately attempting a trademark overhead kick which flew harmlessly wide.
With 20 minutes remaining, Powell threw caution to the wind with a triple substitution.
Skipper Johnnie Jackson entered the fray along with Danny Green and Marvin Sordell with Stephens, Church and Evina making way.
And it was a switch which breathed life into the Addicks.
A good-looking Stewart cross was just nicked off the head of Kermorgant by Gorkss shortly after as Charlton pushed forward for that elusive equaliser.
There was short-lived joy for the travelling faithful from SE7 as Sordell diverted Wiggins' 30-yard effort towards goal.
But with the net bulging, the linesman's flag was up immediately as the goal was ruled out for offside – a decision which was, unfortunately correct.
The Addicks had the Royals on the back foot as the final ten minutes approached.
Green looked lively down the right as the Addicks earned a series of corners and the home crowd grew increasingly frustrated at their sides inability to put the game to bed.
Powell's men pushed and pushed but just could not find that final opportunity for what surely would have been a deserved equaliser.
As it was, Charlton left the Majedski Stadium empty handed. But it was not for the want of trying as the Addicks' abundant show of effort was not enough.
Charlton: Alnwick; Wilson, Wiggins, Morrison, Dervite; Stewart, Cousins, Stephens (Jackson 70), Evina (Green 70); Kermorgant, Church (Sordell 70).
Subs (not used): Pope, Hughes, Pritchard, Wood.
Booked: Morrison 26 (foul on McAnuff).
Reading: McCarthy; Cummings, Kelly, Gorkss, Pearce; Guthrie, Williams (Akpan 64), McCleary (Blackman 93), McAnuff; Pogrebnyak, Sharp (Robson-Kanu 67).
Subs (not used): Federici, Obita, Drenthe, Le Fondre.
Booked: Kelly 29 (foul on Evina), Gorkss 71 (foul on Green).
Goals: Sharp 13
Att: 18,149 (836 from Charlton)
Referee: Mr D Sheldrake