Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton ensured their longest unbeaten start to a second-tier season as a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City saw the Addicks stretch their run to eleven at The Valley on Saturday.
Igor Vetokele headed the hosts into the lead early on but they failed to recreate their spark of the early exchanges as the visitors hit back to score a deserved second-half equaliser through David Davis.
And although Charlton responded well having lost their lead, they simply did not have enough to claim a fourth home win of the season.
There were two changes to the side which defeated Norwich City at Carrow
Road in midweek with Chris Solly returning at right-back, while Michael Morrison made his first league start of the campaign in place of Tal Ben Haim who was given permission to sit out to observe the religious holiday of Yom Kippur.
Meanwhile, there was a return to the fold for George Tucudean who recovered from a back complaint to take his place on the bench while youngster Karlan Ahearne-Grant kept his spot amongst the substitutes after making his debut against the Canaries.
And there was yet more good news for the club’s esteemed academy as Terell Thomas took his place amongst the subs for the very first time.
The Addicks made a quick start to proceedings, playing keep-ball before fashioning out their first opportunity with three minutes on the clock.
Igor Vetokele raced onto Jordan Cousins’ nicely-weighted ball over the top and, despite being kept under close watch by Paul Robinson, the forward showed his skill to cut onto his left and bend a shot which beat Darren Randolph, but curled just wide.
Blues responded with a log-range Paul Caddis effort which was hit straight at Stephen Henderson, but minutes later Charlton would take the lead with Vetokele, this time, hitting the target.
Frederic Bulot delivered an inch-perfect cross from the left and the Angolan made no mistake, leaping to nod home his sixth of the season and the hosts were in front.
The Addicks were choosing to go ever so slightly more direct than seen previously in SE7 and it had certainly made a positive impact early on.
Birmingham, though, responded well to going behind and enjoyed a good spell of possession before Clayton Donaldson missed an opportunity to draw level.
Dwelling on the ball 25 yards from goal, Yoni Buyens was dispossessed allowing the former Brentford front man to be played in behind.
Thankfully, the striker fluffed his lines, skewing his shot high and wide of Henderson’s goal.
It almost seemed as if Charlton had taken their foot off the pedal having taken the lead, but they did have another sight on goal on 23 minutes when Johnnie Jackson eyed up a carbon copy of his winner against Norwich. His drilled effort, however, was saved well by former Addick Randolph between the sticks.
At the other end, Donaldson was in again when David Cotterill delivered from the right, but once again, he could not hit the target as he headed wide.
The forward did have the ball in the net after 34 minutes after Blues showed good work down the right to expose the Addicks’ defence.
And when the ball was cut back from the byline into the feet of Koby Arthur, the youngster’s shot beat Henderson and was heading in before Donaldson tapped it in from half a yard.
Had he left the ball to cross the line, the visitors would have been celebrating an equaliser. But the flag went up to signal the fact that Donaldson was stood yards offside.
In truth, it was a let-off for Charlton who, after a bright start, had lost their way as the half progressed.
They would, however, have the final say of the first period after Bulot delivered a free-kick from 30 yards.
Andre Bikey-Amougou jumped to loop a good-looking header goalwards and it looked like it might have caught Randolph out, only to loop just over the crossbar.
The half-time whistle was a welcome relief to the home side who knew they would have to transfer the positive start they had made to the afternoon into the second period if they were to secure victory.
And they certainly showed signs of that within 30 seconds of the restart when Vetokele terrorised Blues’ defence again.
The nippy striker showed great tenacity to turn his man and power towards goal before being pushed wide and slipping over.
But the goalscorer somehow managed to recover to cut into the box and square a ball across the area which was met by Lawrie Wilson.
The wide man, however, snatched at his left-footed effort which glided over the bar.
Birmingham still looked dangerous, however, and only an impressive stop from Henderson prevented Robinson from heading home an equaliser on 47 minutes before they did, eventually, grab the leveller which had been coming.
A corner routine saw the ball played across the face of the box before finally settling with David Davis.
The midfielder turned before firing low into the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the box and the visitors were all square.
The Addicks were in serious danger of letting their unbeaten run slip and Bob Peeters made a change before the hour in attempt to shore things up, with skipper Jackson withdrawn in place of Franck Moussa.
Suddenly, the hosts seemed to retain their grip.
A slick passing move resulted in Wilson cutting a ball into the box, just missing Vetokele in a dangerous position before Solly danced his way through midfield and curled a left-footed effort wide of the left upright.
Tucudean emerged from the bench for the final 20 minutes and just could not bring down a cross in the six yard box, chesting it before Blues managed to hack away. and there were signs that Charlton had responded well to conceding.
But there was just that missing touch in the final third - something the Addicks would have to rediscover if three points would be earned.
However, there were far bigger things to worry about on 87 minutes when Jordan Cousins fell awkwardly after jumping for a challenge.
The medical team immediately signalled for the stretcher and the young midfielder was placed in a neckbrace before being carried from the field of play.
It was certainly a worrying scene for all those assembled in SE7 and there will surely be a nervous wait to hear of the extent of Cousins’ injury.
Morgan Fox came on for the six additional minutes as the hosts went in search of a potential winner, but the chances weren’t forthcoming and the Addicks would have to settle for a share of the spoils.
Nevertheless, it cannot be argued; to reach the second international break still unbeaten is some achievement for Peeters' side.
And with a fortnight before they return to action, Charlton can sit and enjoy what has been a remarkable start to a new era at The Valley.
Henderson; Solly, Wiggins, Bikey-Amougou, Morrison; Wilson (Tucudean 70), Buyens, Jackson (Moussa 58), Cousins (Fox 90), Bulot; Vetokele.
Subs (not used):
Pope, Harriott, Munns, Ahearne-Grant.
Randolph; Caddis, Grounds, Robinson, Edgar; Davis, Reilly (Gray 65), Cotterill, Gleeson, Arthur (Thomas 79); Donaldson.
Subs (not used):
Doyle, Packwood, Hall, Johnstone, Lee.
Gleeson 75 (foul on Bulot)
16,369 (1,500 from Birmingham)