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Match Report


Posted Wed 17 Jul 13 at 06:37 AM

Charlton 3 Brighton 2

Olly Groome reports

Christmas day is overrated. Every Addick knows the best presents are delivered on Boxing Day.

And Charlton certainly delivered at The Valley as they blew Brighton & Hove Albion away with a fine performance which encapsulated all the fighting spirit and tenacity which the Addicks have shown in recent weeks but with little previous reward.

This time, however, everything came together as the Addicks earned a fully deserved, and indeed, much needed three points in their quest to pull away from the bottom three.

Chris Powell named an unchanged starting XI to that which earned a hard fought point at the Reebok Stadium the previous Saturday as Chris Solly made his first Valley appearance since August. 

Andrew Crofts supplied the first piece of action when his speculative 25-yarder sailed over Ben Alnwick's crossbar after Jordan Cousins was dispossessed via a fine sliding tackle. 

But after that early Seagulls scare, the Addicks would get at their visitors in the early exchanges. 

Brighton, under the tutelage of former Barcelona midfielder Óscar García, and their style of football struggled to come to terms with the Valley's stodgy playing surface in the opening exchanges as Charlton's middle men nibbled and picked away to break down their passing in possession. 

A quiet opening 15 minutes was interrupted by an unlikely shot from the edge of the box from stand-in skipper Michael Morrison, which was blocked on it's way towards goal, while Keith Andrews came inches away for Brighton when, unmarked as he hared into the box, Leonardo Ulloa's cross only just eluded him as the Addicks' defence looked on. 

Powell's men were doing brilliantly to close down their opponents, constantly forcing them backwards as they looked to find a way through. 

But on the 22nd minute, their hard work was undone, shooting themselves in the foot to allow Brighton a way in to take the lead. 

With Andrew Crofts and Will Buckley combing well, a chance was provided for Ulloa just inside the box. But with the Argentine outnumbered in the Addicks' defence, Charlton had more than one opportunity to clear their lines and, it is difficult to argue, they should have done. 

Failure to do so resulted in Ulloa taking his touch before firing low to the right of Alnwick to ripple the net and put the Seagulls 1-0 up. 

Charlton nearly provided an immediate response. 

When Brighton stopper Peter Brezovan punched clear an initial right-wing cross it fell as far as Cameron Stewart on the edge of the area. 

Composing himself, he finally unleashed a right-footed shot which narrowly glided past the right-hand upright. 

Dale Stephens followed up with a wild, but well-hit, free-kick from all of 35 yards before the Addicks' positive reaction to conceding was justifiably rewarded. 

With Lawrie Wilson in acres of space in the box on the right, Yann Kermorgant teed up the versatile winger who made no mistake as he banged an effort across Brezovan to draw level. 

The hosts had their tails up and looked confident in possession. 

Wilson was proving a threat down the flank and he provided Simon Church with an opportunity on 40 minutes as his side looked to grab a lead before the break. 

Delivering his inch perfect cross, the ball bounced just in front of the on-rushing Welsh international as his connection bent well over. 

It was the home side which looked the more dangerous going forward but Brighton still remained a threat from distance.

Liam Bridcutt's vicious left-footer went soaring wide of the post, but it had Alnwick scrambling. 

With 43 minutes on the clock, Powell's men had a convincing shout for a penalty. 

With a delivery coming in from the right, Church, just inside the box, seemed to receive a clear push in the back from Adam El-Abd which sent the striker sprawling. 

But despite the loud appeal from the men in red, as well as from three sides of the ground, referee Mike Russell showed no interest as he wave play on. 

Charlton would have to settle for heading into the break with the score one apiece. But they could certainly be pleased with their strong first-half showing against a Brighton side flirting at the upper echelons of the Championship table. 

And the Addicks came out for the second half in much the same way. 

Constant harrying of Brighton's players denied them the chance to stick to their preferred style as Charlton came at them early on. 

Church busted a gut as he ran at the Seagulls defence while a dangerous Stewart cross was headed behind his own goal by a visiting defender. 

The Addicks had The Valley on their feet. They were on fire and completely at their opponents' throats. 

Then, with 58 minutes gone, SE7 erupted.

When Kermorgant's attempt at a trademark scissor kick didn't pay off, the ball fell loose to Wilson. 

And, from a similar position to his equaliser, he rifled into the roof of the net to put Charlton 2-1 ahead. And it could not have been more deserved. 

Wilson had become the unlikely hero; his goals being his third and fourth in the red of Charlton. 

Church continued to run his boots into the ground for the cause and shortly after his side took the lead, he chipped a delightful cross for Kermorgant at the back post. But the Frenchman was just beaten to the punch as it was headed behind for what should have been a corner. To the Covered Ends' disbelief, though, a goal-kick was given. 

It's arguable that Adam El-Abd could count himself lucky to still be on the pitch after the 66th minute. 

Already in the book, he cynically fouled the hard-working Church on the touchline.

But, with the referee having to make the decision, he chose not to call the obvious foul, and El-Abd was able to live another day. 

With 20 minutes remaining, Solly provided an utter piece of class as he sent a first-time volleyed cross into the danger area. 

With El-Abd getting there before Kermorgant, the ball fell to Cousins whose crack from distance spun off for a goal-kick. 

Charlton were well on top. But they survived a scare when a Brighton corner was headed goalwards by Ulloa. 

With Alnwick beaten, Stephens was the man on hand to head off the line. 

Undeterred, the Addicks kept going for the kill. 

On 75 minutes Wiggins was upended by Bridcutt on the edge of the box during another swift attack.

Smelling blood, Kermorgant stepped up. 

It had been a while since the burly Breton had tucked away one of his famous free-kicks and he had the opportunity to pull his side away and grab a third. 

And that proved no problem. 

Kermorgant confidently bent the ball straight into the top left-hand corner to make it 3-1 and The Valley was in delirium. 

Powell's men had to stand firm. 

With ten minutes left, the Seagulls hit the woodwork twice in quick succession.

First, substitute Ashley Barnes' low drive came bouncing back off the base of the right stick while fellow sub Inigo Calderon saw a similar effort do the same off the opposite post. 

With that, the Addicks settled in to prepare to weather a Seagulls' attacking storm. 

A series of Brighton corners were defended expertly as Alnwick and his defensive crew gave it their all. 

Meanwhile, down the other end, a counter attack resulted in Cedric Evina, who had just entered the fray from the bench, go down in the box under pressure. But again Mr Russell shook his head. 

The visitors grew increasingly frustrated as they failed to break down Charlton's resolute defence.

But there would be one final scare as Ulloa doubled up to score an injury-time consolation goal. 

The striker tapped in from what looked like an offside position. But replays showed that Solly was playing the Argentine on. 

But that would be it as all eleven of Powell's players dug in until the very end. 

And with the final whistle, the undeniable sound of a late Christmas cheer reverberated around The Valley.

Those cold Turkey sandwiches will taste all the more sweeter for it. 

Charlton: Alnwick; Solly, Wiggins, Morrison, Wood; Wilson  (Pritchard 94), Stephens, Cousins, Stewart (Evina 83); Church (Dervite 83), Kermorgant.

Subs (not used): Pope, Green, Cook, Sordell. 

Goals: Wilson (32,58), Kermorgant (75)

Brighton: Brezovan; Saltor (Calderon 45), El-Abd, Upson, Ward; Andrews (Agustien 76), Bridcutt, Crofts; Buckley, Ulloa, Lopez (Barnes 63).

Subs (not used): Kuszczak, Dunk, Orlandi, Ince.

Goals: Ulloa (22,90)

Booked: Saltor 42 (foul on Stewart), El-Abd 54 (foul on Kermorgant)

Referee: Mr M Russell

Att: 17,404 (2,820 from Brighton)

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