Olly Groome reports from New York Stadium
Charlton gained another point on the road and kept their unbeaten start to the season intact after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Rotherham United on Saturday.
It is now eight games into the Championship season and Bob Peeters’ side have yet to taste defeat and it could have been even better for the Addicks after Johann Berg Gudmundsson had given them the lead in the first-half with his strike.
But it was the quintessential game of two halves as a second-half onslaught from the hosts saw the visitors stand up to a barrage of chances before a defensive mistake allowed Luciano Becchio to head home a leveller and the South Londoners would, eventually, be happy to come away with a point.
There were three changes to the side which shared a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday, with Gudmundsson making a welcome return to the starting XI after recovering from a groin strain.
Elsewhere, Chris Solly slotted back into the right-back position, while Franck Moussa made his first league start for the Addicks as George Tucudean, an ever-present up to this point, dropped to the bench.
It was a shaky start from the Addicks who struggled with the hosts' eagerness to close their opponents down as they tried to play from the back.
And they benefitted from pushing high up the pitch with a chance for Alex Revell who turned and drilled a shot straight at Stephen Henderson with four minutes gone.
After the early scare Charlton had to settle and they responded with an effort of their own through Jordan Cousins.
Receiving a lay-off after good work from Gudmundsson, the midfielder unleased a good-looking effort from 25 yards which did not clear the bar by much.
Shortly after, the visitors had another sight at goal when the skipper Johnnie Jackson let fly in similar fashion, with identical results.
With 17 minutes on the clock, Moussa made a run into the box, knocking the ball to the side of Millers’ defender Kari Arnason before throwing himself to the ground in search of a penalty.
The referee, Darren Deadman, quite rightly waved the appeals away before brandishing the forward with a yellow card before the hosts went close at the other end via Joe Skarz’s header which bounced narrowly wide.
Moussa had, by now, become the villain of the piece in the eyes of the New York Stadium crowd and amidst the boos, he cracked a shot into the side-netting on 22 minutes as the action swung from end-to-end.
The home side had an appeal of their own turned down when Rhoys Wiggins did well to shield Paul Green as the two tumbled to the ground.
With boos still running ringing around the stadium, the Addicks hit Rotherham with a sucker punch, taking the lead just before the half-hour mark through Gudmundsson’s first goal for the club.
Receiving possession on the right-hand side, the Iceland international cut in before striking a perfectly-placed effort low into the bottom left-hand corner from distance.
It was a long time coming, but after game upon game where the winger had tried his luck from range, it finally paid off and Charlton were ahead.
With frustration growing from the home support , they urged their team forward as Revell tested Henderson with a clever header before Vetokele linked up well with Moussa to see a powerful effort blocked on the edge of the box.
And just before the break, the pair were at it again.
Gudmundsson, who was by now dictating much of the action in midfield, laid it on to Vetokele who cleverly flicked it off to Moussa; his striker partner this time the one to see his effort well blocked.
With the Addicks piling on the pressure, Rotherham failed to clear their lines and Tal Ben Haim popped up out of nowhere to fire in a decent shot which sent Scott Loach into a sprawling save.
Peeters’ men surely did not want the half-time whistle to come and there was one more chance before the break when Rhoys Wiggins ran on to a half-cleared corner to send a piledriver goalbound. But, again, Loach was equal to it as Charlton headed for the changing room with a one-goal lead in tow.
The visitors will have been hoping to begin the second period in similar fashion, but it was the Millers who came close within seconds of the restart when Jordan Bowry laid off to sub Lee Frecklington, who forced Henderson into the save.
Indeed, there were echoes of the first half as Rotherham pushed high in an attempt to stem the Addicks’ flow from the back.
With nine minutes of the second half played, the hosts got in again when Bowry flicked on a header for Paul Taylor at the back post. But the Ipswich Town loanee should have done better instead of blasting wildly over the bar.
Just after the hour mark, Rotherham did have the ball in the net.
When a ball was swung in from wide left, it was flicked on to Bowry at the back post who poked it home.
But, much to the relief of the 1, 106 travelling Addicks, the flag was up for offside.
In truth, the visitors were under immense pressure but they only had themselves to blame for the equaliser which finally came with 20 minutes remaining.
With Charlton happy to play the ball about at the back casually, a slip from Ben Haim crucially let in substitute Becchio to put their backs up against the wall.
And with the ball finding its way back out wide, it was delivered to the back post where the former Leeds United man was able to head past Henderson to draw the Millers level.
Peeters’ men were struggling to create as their opponents dominated the second half possession and as the clock ticked down, it appeared as if the Addicks would have to dig in if they were going to keep hold of a point.
But on 86 minutes they very, very nearly made a breakthrough when Frederic Bulot burst down the right-hand side to get into the box.
His shot took a deflection and snuck behind Loach before rolling towards the goal line. The keeper, however, was quick to pounce on it to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
In the 90th minute, the Millers nearly nicked it themselves through Skarz who drew a superb save from Henderson when he headed a goalbound effort at the back post.
Then at the death, Frecklington came inches away from condemning Charlton to their first league defeat of the season, lopping an effort from 25 yards which beat Henderson but not the bar as Peeters’ men let out a big sigh of relief.
So there would be not fairy tale of New York for Peeters’ men but you can certainly start spreading the news.
The Addicks are STILL unbeaten.
Charlton: Henderson; Solly, Wiggins, Bikey-Amougou, Ben Haim; Gudmundsson (Harriott 80), Cousins(Fox 90+4), Jackson (c), Buyens; Moussa (Bulot 60), Vetokele.
Subs (not used): Pope, Wilson, Morrison, Tucudean.
Booked: Moussa 18 (diving), Buyens 88 (foul on Pringle)
Goal: Gudmundsson 27
Rotherham: Loach; Richardson, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Taylor (Pringle 68), Green, Smallwood (Frecklington 46), Wordsworth; Revell (Becchio 39), Bowery.
Subs (not used): Collin, Broadfoot, Derbyshire, Clarke-Harris.
Booked: Morgan 66 (foul on Vetokele), Becchio 78 (dissent)
Goal: Becchio 70
Referee: D Deadman
Att: 9,620 (1,106 from Charlton)