Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a last-gasp winner against Wigan Athletic at The Valley on Saturday.
Substitute Franck Moussa’s deflected effort in injury time saw the Valley faithful explode into a frenzy as the Addicks claimed a 2-1 victory from a cagey game which saw very few chances.
Jordan Cousins had given the hosts an early lead with a classy finish from range before Callum McManaman had drawn the visitors level.
And just when it looked like the two sides would take a share of the spoils, Moussa popped up to give his side a deserved victory and all three points for victory, soured only by a second-half injury to stopper Stephen Henderson.
Bob Peeters named an unchanged starting XI to that which earned an opening-day draw with Brentford.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson was one of seven players who were drafted back into the side following Tuesday evening’s Capital One Cup thrashing of Colchester United while Igor Vetokele was hoping to follow up his impressive showing at Griffin Park.
The Addicks had to deal with an immediate scare after only a minute when McManaman got to the byline to deliver a low, dangerous cross which Henderson was forced to collect at the feet of former Alcorcon forward Oriol Riera.
But it only took the hosts eight minutes to get into a rhythm of their own, taking the lead with their first sight on goal.
Cousins picked up the ball after a good passage of passing play before eyeing up an effort 25 yards from goal.
The academy graduate unleased an effort from the angle which took just enough of a slight deflection to see the ball fly into the top right-hand corner and out of Scott Carson’s reach.
It was a perfect start for Peeters’ first league game in charge at the new-look Valley.
Wigan, just like Charlton, were keen to get the ball down and play and enjoyed a good spell of possession having fallen behind.
But the Addicks’ wall of defence stood firm with Henderson left unbothered in between the sticks.
That was until the 22nd minute when the tricky McManaman punished the men in red’s defence.
The wideman got on the end of a ball over the top to skip past Rhoys Wiggins before cutting inside and striking past Henderson from the tightest of angles.
It was, in truth, a very impressive solo effort and, perhaps, what the Latics’ early possession had deserved.
Wigan continued to keep hold of the ball well in a half of very, very few chances and the goalmouth action (or lack thereof) was summed up by Emyr Huw of the visitors’ speculative shot from range which soared high over the bar and into the Covered End.
Suddenly, with eight minutes remaining before the break, the hosts sprung into life in front of goal with two chances in close succession.
First, Cousins fed the overlapping Wiggins who cut inside the box from the left before firing a good effort at goal which drew a save from former Addick Carson.
Then, Chris Solly provided a centre for Vetokele who attempted an audacious overhead kick which, while connected with well, bounced wide of the upright.
Charlton had tussled control of the game away from Wigan and were well on top as the minutes ticked down to the break.
There was still time for Gudmundsson to send a tame shot wide and Cousins to attempt a carbon copy of his goal, cutting in from the left once more, but this time could only watch as the ball flew over.
And so, Peeters’ men retreated for the break to reflect on what was a promising end to the first 45.
The second half started much in the same vein as the first with both sides exchanging good passages of play with the ball firmly on the floor.
Gudmundsson has shown that he is more than capable of firing in an effort from range, and he tested the waters early to sting the palms of Carson.
And 10 minutes into the second period the Addicks tested the former England keeper again.
Vetokele did superbly well to turn his marker before dashing towards the box. Under pressure he still managed to get his shot away to send Carson sprawling down to his right and tip the ball round the post for a corner.
With 66 minutes gone, the home side suffered a set-back when Henderson pulled up in the box, seemingly injured.
After some treatment the signal was given for the swap and the stoppers’ afternoon had come to a premature end.
The injury provided an opportunity for Nick Pope who entered the fray to make only his second appearance for the club but the stoppage disrupted the flow of the game somewhat with neither side able to make their mark.
There was a bright spell for the home side during the final 10 minutes and it came to a head a minute from time when substitute Lawrie Wilson burst towards the box.
Waiting patiently, he played in the overlapping Chris Solly who cut the ball back for Gudmundsson 10 yards from goal.
But the Iceland international’s touch allowed a Wigan defender to make the block before clearing their lines.
Tails were up and Charlton were in again when Franck Moussa hared down the right to blaze a shot just wide.
A fire had suddenly been lit in the Addicks’ belly and Vetokele used his lightning pace yet again when he turned Ivan Ramis midway into the Wigan half leaving him with just Carson to beat.
But the keeper stood up brilliantly to the Angolan to keep his one-on-one effort out.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Charlton had missed their chance. But Charlton were not finished.
It was clear that the men in red would not relent and in injury time they got their just desserts with a winner to send The Valley into a frenzy.
Moussa was the man to claim the plaudits, taking aim from 25 yards to see his shot take a wicked clip off of a defender and loop just over Carson’s and into the top corner.
It was the perfect start at The Valley for Peeters and the win leaves the Addicks full of confidence ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Derby County.
Charlton: Henderson (Pope 67); Solly, Wiggins, Bikey-Amougou, Ben Haim; Gudmundsson, Buyens, Jackson (Wilson 75), Cousins; Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 61).
Subs (not used): Morrison, Harriott, Church, Fox.
Goals: Cousins 8, Moussa 90+3
Wigan Athletic: Carson; Perch, Taylor, Kiernan, Ramis; Huws, McArthur, Cowie (Espinoza 78); McManaman, Riera (Maloney 46), Fortune (Waghorn 69).
Subs (not used): Al Habsi, Tavernier, Caldwell, Barnett.
Booked: Taylor 25 (foul on Gudmundsson)
Goal: McManaman 22
Referee: A D’urso
Att: 15,334 (447 from Wigan)