Olly Groome reports from Craven Cottage
Charlton fell to defeat on Friday evening despite a spirited second-half performance, with Fulham winning all three points thanks to their early show in front of the cameras.
The Cottagers ran out 3-0 winners against an Addicks side depleted by injuries, and while the home side were able to make seven unforced changes to their side which drew at Rotherham United three days earlier, including the return of the frustratingly impressive Scott Parker, it was clear early on that the visitors were up against it.
Parker came back to haunt Charlton with a sixth-minute opener before Hugo Rodallega doubled the lead six minutes later. And although the visitors were by far the better side after the break, the damage had already been done by the time Rodallega sealed a brace a minute from time.
While Chris Solly made a return at right-back, Bob Peeters was forced into a change on the opposite flank with Rhoys Wiggins missing out with a foot injury, allowing Morgan Fox to make his first league start of the campaign.
Elsewhere, Lawrie Wilson came back into the side due to Yoni Buyens’ exclusion having gained his fifth yellow card of the season in the victory over Bolton Wanderers, and it was a move which saw Jordan Cousins make a switch back into the centre of the park, while Frederic Bulot patrolled the left-hand side.
Meanwhile, there was a welcome return for Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who returned from injury to take his place amongst the substitutes.
There was an early scare when Ross McCormack’s ball in was headed back towards goal by Morgan Fox after a minute, leaving Stephen Henderson scrambling across goal with Hugo Rodallega in hot pursuit.
And as the Addicks cleared their lines, they immediately went down the other end to win a corner, which Andre Bikey-Amougou very nearly stroked home at the near post.
The big defender, however, could not get the desired connection as the ball dribbled wide.
It had been a bright start to the clash by the Thames, but as Charlton tried to play out from the back, they were closed down quickly, and punished, as Fulham took the lead.
When former Addick Scott Parker intercepted a pass midway into the visitor’s half, he bore down on goal before playing in McCormack on the right-hand side.
And as the multi-million pound striker returned the ball to the advancing Parker, the midfielder finished in off the bar from 10 yards to further antagonise the travelling support.
The star-studded west-Londoners suddenly threatened to run riot, and went straight for Charlton’s jugular.
Controlling possession in the midfield, the hosts were attacking Peeters’ men in numbers in the early exchanges, and as the rain poured down, things got worse when the Cottagers doubled their lead with 12 minutes gone.
When McCormack’s shot from just inside the box was drilled towards goal, Henderson made a good, sprawling save, only for it to fall straight at the feet of Hugo Rodallega.
And the former Wigan Athletic man made no mistake as he completed the easy task of stroking the ball home for 2-0.
The Addicks really were struggling to get to grips with their hosts, and although Marcus Bettinelli had enjoyed a quiet first 20 minutes in the Fulham goal, he was very nearly caught out by his own defender.
Fox’s dangerous ball in was intercepted in the six-yard box with George Tucudean lurking, and with the clearance falling to Tim Hoogland, he sliced his attempted boot upfield back towards his own goal, forcing Betteinelli into tapping the ball over the bar as it looked to be dipping in.
Although Charlton were struggling to make an impact, that marked a far more settled spell in the game and Tucudean did manage to register the Addicks' first shot on target, low to the right of the keeper from 20 yards, although it was a tame one.
Fulham came close to a third when Hoogland, at the right end this time, glanced a header narrowly past the post, before Charlton came even closer through their bandaged skipper.
Johnnie Jackson stretched to reach a ball in from the right, but being well marshalled by a Whites defender, the ball skidded past Betteinelli and out for a corner.
In truth, the half-time whistle was much-needed and as the sides emerged for the second period, there were signs that the Addicks had not yet given up the ghost.
An early flurry saw Bulot’s shot well-saved before Tucudean’s header drew an even better one from Bettinelli moments later, leading to a corner from which Bikey's shot appeared to strike a Fulham arm in the box. But it went unnoticed.
Fulham had the ball in the net through Hoogland on 57 minutes, but it was correctly ruled out for offside before the Addicks went back on the offence.
Franck Moussa drilled a shot just wide minutes later, but that would be his last contribution with Gudmundsson entering the fray for the final half hour, while Karlan Ahearne-Grant followed suit eight minutes later in place of Fox as Charlton, with nothing to lose, went all out in search of a way back into the game.
The 17-year-old looked bright, and saw a shot deflected wide for yet another corner before holding play up brilliantly to lay-off Jackson on the edge of the box, but the captain bent his shot well over the bar.
It had been a vast improvement for Charlton in the second-half and the Addicks were looking the far more likely as the hosts began to tire.
Bulot left the field of play with a hamstring injury with 15 minutes remaining, and with Morrison replacing him, Peeters threw caution to the wind, chucking Bikey up top.
However, Charlton needed to remain vigilant, and there was a reminder of that fact when substitute Cauley Woodrow’s cross was put inches wide by Lasse Vigen Christensen’s touch.
Meanwhile, Ahearne-Grant continued to look dangerous in the final third, turning one way, then the other, before seeing his cross cleared as Bikey approached.
Such was the contrast to the first-half, there was a sense of injustice that it looked like the Addicks would get nothing from the game as the clock ticked down, if only for their second-half performance alone.
But the game began to stretch in the final five minutes, with Rodallega drawing a superb save one-on-one from Henderson before the Irishman tipped Woodrow’s effort wide of the post.
And that injustice shone through one minute from time when Rodallega steamed through, this time bending a shot past the keeper to make it 3-0 and it was game over.
There was still time for Wilson to crack a low shot against the inside of the post deep into injury time, but it summed up the Addicks’ luck on a frustrating night in west London.
Despite the result, Charlton can take heart from their showing in the second 45, and with an eight-day break before they go again, Peeters’ side can expect to be in far better shape by the time Sheffield Wednesday come to town.
Charlton: Henderson; Solly, Fox (Ahearne-Grant 67), Ben Haim, Bikey-Amougou; Wilson, Jackson, Cousins, Bulot (Morrison 77); Moussa (Gudmudsson 59), Tucudean.
Subs (not used): Pope, Harriott, Munns, Thomas.
Fulham: Bettinelli; Hoogland, Bodurov, Burn, Stafylidis; Parker; Christensen, Kavanagh; Ruiz (Woodrow 76); Rodallega (Roberts 90+2), McCormack (Zverotić 87).
Subs (not used): Kiraly, Hutchinson, Williams, Smith.
Goals: Parker 6, Rodellega 12, 89
Referee: K Stroud
Att: 17, 923