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Match Report


Posted Mon 24 Feb 14 at 23:09 PM

SWFC 1 Charlton 2

Olly Groome reports from Hillsborough

A purely professional second-half performance saw Charlton book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals with glorious victory over Sheffield Wednesday. 

The Addicks defended astutely to ensure Simon Church's second-half winner remained just that, adding to Callum Harriott's first-half strike which was cancelled out by Leon Best. 

And with their backs up against the wall, Chris Powell's men earned a fully-deserved date with Sheffield United for the right to play at English football's crown jewell, Wembley Stadium. 

Powell made five changes to the side which earned a memorable victory over Queens Park Rangers two days earlier. 

And the big news was the inclusion of Morgan Fox who would make his senior Addicks debut at left-back in place of Rhoys Wiggins. 

The Welsh international's inclusion meant that there were no fewer than four academy products in the starting XI. 

Ben Hamer made his first start since the third-round clash with Oxford United taking his place between the sticks with Yohann Thuram-Ulien shifting to the bench. 

Elsewhere, Richard Wood was drafted in at the back to face the team he used to captain while Callum Harriott and Astrit Ajdarević started following their game-changing appearances off the bench against QPR. 

With the match under way Charlton started positively with a couple of forays forward in the opening five minutes. 

An Ajdarević corner was cleared to safety before a low, dangerous Jordan Cousins ball was smothered by Owls' stopper Damian Martinez while Simon Church lurked with intent. 

Charlton were on the front foot and on 12 minutes they came close to taking the lead. 

Harriott showed fantastic footwork down the left leaving Liam Palmer for dead as he lay it off for Ajdarević near the penalty spot. 

The midfielder's attempt to sidefoot an effort goalwards came back off a Wednesday defender and when the home side failed to clear their lines, a second effort from the loanee bounced agonisingly wide of the post with Martinez looking beaten. 

On 19 minutes, Church found acres of space on the right as the Addicks broke swiftly. 

But as the Welsh international flashed a ball across the six-yard box there was no one on the other end to get that all-important touch. 

Powell's men had started confidently and were looking far more likely to go ahead, and in the 22nd minute they did just that. 

Diego Poyet worked hard to keep the ball in play down the right before putting in Jordan Cousins. 

His pass into the box was met, yet again, by Ajdarević and with his attempted shot spinning away from goal thanks to an intervention from a Wednesday player Harriott was on hand to crash home an almighty effort on the half-volley straight into the top left-hand corner from 15 yards. 

Charlton were well deserving of their lead and with their tales up they went again as the Hillsborough crowd grew restless. 

With Church in space he took a pot-shot from range which had Martinez scrambling across his goal before claiming via a deflection. 

As the Owls looked for a way into the game their first meaningful attack did not come until the 28th minute. 

A dangerous ball in deep had the Addicks' back four worried but Leon Best could not connect as the cross curled wide for a goal-kick. 

The hosts began to get a foothold on the game and on 38 minutes Gary Gardner sent a powerful drive from all of 30 yards which Hamer did superbly to keep a hold of at the first time of asking. 

Then, with 42 minutes on the clock, Best hit a half-volley with full force which, again, Hamer was equal to. 

Hearts were in mouths two minutes later when Poyet looked to have sold Hamer short with a back- pass. But, thankfully, the returning 'keeper got there in the nick of time to hack it clear. 

It was a heavy spell of pressure from the home side as the half came to a close but the Addicks rode it out to lead at the break. 

There was still time, however, for ex-Addick Miguel Llera to escape with a last-man foul on Church who appeared to be clean-through. 

The striker beat the defender all ends up as he turned the Spanish defender who appeared to clip his heels. But the referee, with a decision to make, chose to wave play on leaving Llera very lucky to remain on the pitch. 

The Owls started the second-half in much the same way as Charlton started the first and went on the front foot. 

Referee Mark Clattenburg again chose to ignore what looked like a blatant foul on Poyet in his own box. 

Left unpunished, Giles Coke hit a dangerous shot which bent wide of Hamer's upright.

Moments later, at the other end, the Addicks came close themselves when Johnnie Jackson's low shot from 25 yards skidded just to the right of the Wednesday goal. 

On 57 minutes, Wednesday drew level. 

When a free-kick was punted in from just inside Charlton's defensive half, Llera nodded a header back down across the six-yard box. 

Best was the man on hand to slam home the equaliser from close-range leaving Hamer with no chance. 

The Addicks needed to compete with the rocking Hillsborough atmosphere and stay strong as the hosts laid on the pressure.

Another long ball into the box was very nearly met by substitute Atdhe Nuhiu, but the south-Londoners' back line cleared desperately. 

Just as the hosts were threatening to get on top, Charlton received a free-kick in Wednesday's half. 

Llera was the man who once again took out Church who had left the defender in his dust. But this time, Clattenburg blew up brandishing his yellow card. 

And from the resultant free-kick, the Addicks dragged themselves back in front. 

Jackson, who knows all about executing vital set-pieces at Hillsborough, bent in the dead ball from the right flank. 

Martinez came but he failed to get there as Church nodded into the net before wheeling off in delight. 

The game was on a knife-edge and with 17 minutes remaining the whole ground thought that the Owls had equalised. 

With a corner swinging in, Nuhiu rose highest to divert a header into, what looked like the top left-hand corner. 

With the home crowd exploding there was surprise when Clattenburg had disallowed the goal. 

But the replays showed it was the right decision. The ball struck the left-hand upright before Hamer reacted brilliantly to claw the ball out before crossing the line and the Addicks could breathe a deep sigh of relief. 

As the minutes ticked down it became a case of Charlton doing their professional best to stop Wednesday's aerial bombardment. 

And with three minutes remaining Hamer was the hero when he made a superb double save to deny an equaliser. 

A bamboozling ball in from the right saw the stopper come haring out to tip it out of Nuhiu's path, and with Best baring down on goal he put his body on the line to smother the danger. 

It was tense. Charlton were required to summon up every sinew to keep the hosts at bay. The Owls were throwing everything at them. 

In injury time Hamer received more plaudits. A drilled shot from Chris Maguire deflected up towards the top corner where he flew to his left and palmed it out miraculously. 

Charlton's defensive rearguard had become impenetrable. There was simply no way through for Wednesday.

The final whistle came, the celebrations began and the Addicks were in the FA Cup quarter-final with one eye on a place at Wembley.

Dare to dream?

Charlton: Hamer; Wilson, Fox, Morrison, Wood (Dervite 90); Harriott, Poyet, Cousins, Jackson, Ajdarević (Hughes 93); Church (Ghoochannejhad 85). 

Subs (not used): Thuram-Ulien, Nego, Green, Sordell.

Booked: Wood 88 (foul on Nuhiu)

Goals: Harriott 22, Church 65

Sheffield Wednesday: Martinez; Palmer, Loovens, Mattock,Llera; Maghoma (Lavery 58), Coke, Maguire,Gardner (Nuhiu 58); Afobe (Helan 74), Best.

Subs (not used): Kirkland, Hutchinson, Buxton, Onyewu.

Booked: Mattock 77 (foul on Harriott), Loovens 67 (foul on Ajdarević), Llera 64 (foul on Church), Best 62 (dissent) 

Goals: Best 57

Referee: M Clattenburg

Att: 24,607

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