Olly Groome reports from the iPro Stadium
Charlton went out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Derby County on Tuesday evening despite a resolute defensive display on at the iPro Stadium.
It took a late Ivan Calero strike to break down the Addicks’ defence after they withstood a Rams onslaught for much of the 90 minutes.
But while the result was fair on the balance of play, it is fair to say that Charlton could count themselves unlucky with the manner of the goal after Nick Pope was bizarrely adjudged to have held on to the ball for an excessive amount of time.
And after the resultant free-kick had been cleared, Calero found space to fire home the winner which sent the hosts into the hat for the third round at the Addicks’ expense.
As expected, Bob Peeters made a number of changes to the side which drew with Huddersfield Town three days earlier, with six new starters coming in.
Lawrie Wilson returned to the starting XI, hoping to build on his man-of-the-match performance in the last round against Colchester with Johann Berg Gudmundsson taking his place on the bench.
Joe Gomez slotted in at right-back in place of Chris Solly while Michael Morrison, Callum Harriott, Franck Moussa and Morgan Fox came in for Tal Ben-Haim, Yoni Buyens, Rhoys Wiggins and Igor Vetokele.
The hosts made a bright start, putting the Addicks under some early pressure by attacking from the off.
And it was role reversal to the clash at The Valley a week earlier, with Charlton finding it difficult to get a hold of possession, with the Rams knocking the ball around with confidence.
But despite Derby’s early pressure, it was the visitors who would be the first to get a shot away when George Tucudean, scorer on the opener in the league clash, let fly from 25 yards.
The Romanian’s effort took a wicked deflection which very nearly deceived Lee Grant in the Rams goal, but despite fumbling his stop, it was enough to keep the scores level.
Then, with 11 minutes gone, Charlton tried their luck from range once more.
This time Moussa found a yard to send a shot bouncing off an outstretched Derby defender’s foot to send it looping just over the bar.
Peeters’ men looked threatening going forward and had another chance five minutes later – Tucudean once again proving to be the danger man.
Wilson cut in from the right before cutting back a ball for the forward who volleyed goalwards only for Derby skipper Richard Keogh to thrash away the effort.
While it was true that the Addicks had taken their time to get into full flow, they had certainly gained a foothold on the game by the midway point of the first 45.
A lovely one-touch passing move saw Charlton knock the ball around with great patience and verve before it finally found its way through to Gomez just inside the box, but the youngster’s effort did not provide the end product that the move, perhaps, deserved as it skidded off a defender and into the safety of Grant’s glove.
The home side responded with a Johnny Russell shot which stung the palms of Nick Pope before the Addicks’ custodian pulled off a fine save, stretching low to his right to keep out Leon Best’s powerful drive from the edge of the box with his fingertips.
Suddenly, Charlton found themselves in the middle of a Derby storm with white shirts besieging the visitors’ box.
A third chance in as many minutes fell to Jeff Hendrick, who probably should have hit the target after getting in round the back, but pulled his angled effort wide from 10 yards out.
Peeters’ side had survived the onslaught and even had time to very nearly catch their opponents off guard when a free-kick fell to an unmarked Tucudean at the back post.
The striker banged his shot off the post but the gasps of the travelling Addicks were curtailed by the linesman’s flag as the two sides retreated for the break all square.
Derby started the second half much in the same fashion as they did the first, putting the south-Londoners on the back foot.
A flighted ball into the box was knocked down into the path of Best who just could not get the desired connection before the ball squirmed wide of the post before Russell fired another shot from the edge of the box which cannoned off Morrison and out for a corner.
On the hour, Russell fizzed a low ball across the six-yard box where Best lay in wait, but thankfully spun away for a throw before a free-kick was thrown into the mixer moments later where Dawkins had his scrambled shot muffled by the Addicks’ defence followed by goalmouth pinball which Charlton, eventually, cleared to safety.
Derby were, in truth, well on top, and Peeters tried to inject some life into his side with a double change on 64 minutes, introducing Vetokele and Buyens in place of Tucudean and Jackson.
However, Derby kept coming as they continued to pile on the pressure and a treble substitution of their own saw Chris Martin bend a shot just wide before the former Norwich City man saw back-heeled effort roll tamely into the arms of Pope.
With 10 minutes remaining, Peeters threw on Gudmundsson and the winger’s first involvement would be to step up to a free-kick on the corner of the box after Wilson had been felled.
And the Iceland international went for the spectacular, bending in a powerful shot which forced Grant into a save at his near post before Derby went down the other end to draw a good save from Ivan Colero from close range before a baffling refereeing decision led to the same player giving the hosts an 88th-minute lead.
Confusion ensued as the referee booked Pope after kicking the ball upfield. While all around tried to figure out what exactly for, it became apparent that he had awarded an indirect free-kick for holding onto the ball for an excessive time – extremely harsh considering neither side fancied the prospect of extra-time rendering the suggestion of time wasting somewhat redundant.
And although the initial free-kick was blocked by the wall, Colero picked up possession on the edge of the box before driving across the face of goal and powering a shot into the top corner.
While it was fair to say the goal was coming, the incident which resulted in the goal was extremely cruel on the visitors and they could quite rightly feel frustrated.
A late onslaught on the Rams goal had the hosts worried with five minutes of time added on, but it was not enough as the Addicks took a traditional early exit from the League Cup.
Charlton: Pope; Gomez, Fox, Bikey-Amougou, Morrison; Wilson, Cousins, Jackson (Buyens 64), Harriott; Moussa (Gudmundsson 79), Tucudean (Vetokele 64).
Subs (not used): Mitov, Wiggins, Church, Ben-Haim.
Booked: Morrison 61 (foul on Best), Pope 86 (time wasting)
Derby County: Grant; Forsyth, Shotton, Whitbread, Keogh; Hendrick, Mascarell (Martin 69), Hughes; Russell (Calero 69), Dawkins (Santos 69), Best.
Subs (not used): Roos, Christie, Bryson, Rawson.
Goal: Calero 87
Referee: G Salisbury
Att: 16,367 (297 from Charlton)