Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton bounced straight back from their first defeat of the season to secure a fourth home league success with a 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers at The Valley on Tuesday evening.
Johnnie Jackson added to George Tucudean’s first-half strike after the break to put the hosts in a comfortable position, but were forced to endure a tense final third of the game when Dean Moxey pulled a goal back.
But despite nails bitten well and truly to the wick, the Addicks’ defence put on another resolute show to earn a narrow victory under the lights.
With Igor Vetokele and Johann Berg Gudmundsson missing out through injury, Bob Peeters called Tucudean and Frederic Bulot back into the starting XI.
Meanwhile, Chris Solly gave way for another midweek encounter, allowing Lawrie Wilson to slot into the right-back berth and Franck Moussa also made a starting return to the side with Karlan Ahearne-Grant reverting to a youthful-looking bench.
The youngster was among five of the seven substitutes aged 20 and under, with Zak Ansah also appearing on the bench for the first time.
With two minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who would get the first shot away when Lee Chung-Yong broke free into space before drilling a low effort towards goal. But with the ball swerving, Stephen Henderson did well to make the save with his legs.
Tucudean saw three appeals for a free-kick waved away (and rightly so in all fairness), but saw referee Simon Hooper blow his whistle at the fourth time of asking after being bundled to the floor some 25 yards from goal.
And the quick-thinking Romanian played an immediate pass from the dead ball to lay-off for Jordan Cousins the left. With the cross coming in, however, Andrew Lonergan gathered the ball to deny the Addicks a first sight on goal.
In truth, the opening exchanges were fairly slow going with very little action at either end.
Johnnie Jackson’s attempted swivel shot in the box found air as Charlton failed to make the desired impact in the final third.
That was until the 28th minute when the hosts opened the scoring with their first shot on target.
A delightfully lofted ball over the top saw the striker control brilliantly before bringing the ball down and sending a left-footed finish expertly past Lonergan and into the bottom left-hand corner to spark the game into life.
Suddenly, the Addicks looked more confident , and with Yoni Buyens patrolling the centre of midfield with gusto alongside the skipper, the signs were good that Charlton might continue their impressive form in SE7.
Bolton did pick up towards half-time with former red Dorian Dervite heading a corner wide while former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing drove in a long-range effort which Henderson was equal to, ensuring Tucudean’s strike would be the difference going into the break.
With Bolton showing some positive signs going forward in the latter stages of the first period, Charlton perhaps needed an early boost to remove the visitors' sting in the second.
And they got just that six minutes into the half thanks to the captain.
When Moussa split the defence to play in Tucudean, the forward held play up superbly before unselfishly laying off to Jackson in acres of space to his left. And the midfielder did what was expected, slotting home to give the Addicks a two-goal advantage.
That cushion would not remain intact for long, however.
Just three minutes later, Bolton were right back in it when a corner was only half cleared to the edge of the box.
And with former Crystal Palace man Dean Moxey lurking, the defender fired into the bottom corner to reduce the arrears.
Inevitably, the goal gave Neil Lennon’s side some impetus and an attacking storm ensued. Battening down the hatches, Charlton stood strong, and when Jermaine Beckford’s looping header beat Henderson, only for Rhoys Wiggins to make a heroic clearance off the line, there was an audible sigh of relief.
The Valley faithful were growing anxious and there was concern when Buyens gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position, picking up a fifth booking along the way which will see the Belgian sit out Friday’s clash with Fulham.
But although there was relief when Neil Danns’ effort came off the wall, there was no time to relax. Backs were now against the wall.
With Bolton enjoying the lions’ share of possession, they continued to threaten in and around the Addicks’ box. Corner after corner came in as the Trotters kept asking the hosts’ back four questions – yet they always had an answer to prevent Henderson from really having to make a save.
Morgan Fox was brought on to shore things up in place of Bulot with Ahearne-Grant following swiftly to make his Valley debut with the tireless Moussa giving way as Peeters looked to ensure three points.
Spearing tried his luck with another rasping long-range effort with four minutes remaining which evaded the sprawling dive of Henderson, but not the left-hand upright to go out for the safety of a goal-kick, while another threatening Bolton foray forward only just failed to meet the path of Beckford after a mazy run into the area by Danns.
With the game well into (a somewhat excessive five minutes of) injury time, a Trotters’ delivery sailed just wide before Beckford was beaten to a dangerous through-ball by Henderson as Danns continued to do a merry dance with the Addicks’ stern defence.
But ultimately, Peeters’ men stood strong and with the final whistle came a huge exhale of breath to celebrate another hard-fought victory at The Valley.
It was certainly a vital tonic to what was a disappointing defeat three days earlier at Bournemouth, and with a trip to Fulham coming hot on the heels, they can now travel to Craven Cottage in confident mood and only out of the top six on goal difference.
Charlton: Henderson; Wilson, Wiggins, Bikey-Amougou, Ben Haim; Bulot (Fox 78), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins, Moussa (Ahearne-Grant 86), Tucudean (Harriott 90+1).
Subs (not used): Pope, Morrison, Ansah, Munns.
Goals: Tucudean 28, Jackson 51
Booked: Tucudean 29 (excessive celebration), Buyens 70 (foul on M Davies)
Bolton: Lonergan; McNaughton, Moxey (Ream 81) Mills, Dervite; Feeney (M Davies 63), Spearing, Danns, Pratley (Clayton 81), Chung-Yong; Beckford
Subs (not used): Kenny, Hall, Vela, C Davies
Goals: Moxey 54
Booked: Chung-Yong 74 (foul on Moussa)
Referee: S Hooper
Att: 13, 433 (473 from Bolton)