Charlton’s FA Cup adventure came to an end at the first hurdle as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at The Valley on Saturday.
The Addicks got off to a slow start when Chris Taylor headed the visitors in front after four minutes, but recovered well, enjoying the better of proceedings before finding a deserved equaliser through Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s free-kick 10 minutes into the second half.
But Blackburn responded four minutes later, going back ahead against the run of play as Taylor netted a second before Yoni Buyens’ dismissal for a second yellow card 18 minutes from the end killed off all hope of a place in the next round.
There were three changes to the side which lost at Ipswich Town in midweek, with Lawrie Wilson making his first start since November’s trip to Leeds United, while Simon Church was given a starting berth for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Morgan Fox returned at left-back and was one of three former academy players in the starting XI, while there was an unprecedented six Charlton youngsters named amongst the seven substitutes, including Oliver Muldoon who took up his place on the first-team bench for the first time.
In typical cup fashion, the action began very openly as the pendulum swung from one side to the other, and with just two minutes on the clock, Johnnie Jackson’s killer pass split apart the Blackburn defence with Church racing through on the other side.
And although the forward stretched to get a touch, he could not get the ball under control quick enough to test Simon Eastwood in the Rovers goal.
It was a promising start to the encounter from the Addicks, but just two minutes later the visitors embarked on their first attack, taking the lead through Taylor.
Ben Marshall was given plenty of time on the left wing to weigh up his cross before sending in an inch-perfect delivery for the forward to nod past Etheridge from 10 yards.
It was far from the start that the hosts needed, but Bob Peeters’ men responded well as they went in search of an equaliser.
Jordan Cousins saw an effort well-blocked from the edge of the box before Gudmundsson picked up possession 25 yards from goal and drilled a powerful effort just wide of Eastwood’s right-hand upright.
Then with 22 minutes gone, more good work down the right wing saw George Tucudean shrug off the attentions of Adam Henley to race into the box and square for Jackson whose effort looked to have soared over the bar courtesy of a decent Blackburn block, but referee Keith Stroud pointed for a goal-kick as the Addicks continued to look dangerous.
Cousins bent a clever ball round the back of the defence shortly after which found Tucudean, but the Romanian just could not get the right touch as Eastwood came to collect.
Just as the hosts were finding some momentum, however, the action was called to a stop with a powercut putting all the lights out at The Valley.
But after a delay of around 10 minutes, the action got back under way with 15 minutes of the first half left to play, with Rovers next to create a good opportunity.
In a move very similar to the opening goal, Craig Conway got down the left to put in a cross where Chris Brown waited unmarked. This time, however, Etheridge was equal to the headed effort to keep the score at 1-0.
At the other end, the Addicks continued to threaten with André Bikey-Amougou mishitting a shot just inside the box before great work down the left from the hard-working Church presented Yoni Buyens with a good sight on goal.
The Belgian received the cut-back just inside the box and sent his effort goalbound, only for it to canon of the back of Tucudean and loop over the crossbar to safety.
It was all Charlton, just as it had been for the majority of the first 45, but despite knocking on the door for an equaliser, that golden opportunity was, thus far, proving elusive.
The Addicks emerged from the dressing rooms with a shift in formation, moving to a 3-5-2 with Wilson switching to the right of midfield and Gudmundsson moving centrally behind Tucudean and Church.
And although the hosts continued to enjoy the majority of possession, it was Rovers who missed a gilt-edged chance after 52 minutes.
David Dunn slipped a ball through to Brown who teed up Craig Conway, but the winger pulled his shot wide from 12 yards when it looked easier to hit the target.
But three minutes later, the home side finally got the goal they deserved, and in some style too.
Gudmundsson’s ability from range has lit up SE7 of late and the Iceland international was given an opportunity to try his luck from 25 yards having won a free-kick.
And the winger bent a sumptuous free-kick round the wall which nestled into the bottom right-hand corner to draw Charlton level.
Just as they thought they could crack on for the lead, however, Blackburn responded within four minutes, striking back into the lead, once more, against the run of play.
Brown was the supplier, spinning in a cross from the left for Taylor to steal into the danger area and strike first-time past Etheridge for his brace.
The goal was hard to take with the Addicks having impressed throughout and there was a sense of injustice that they found themselves behind for a second time.
Peeters shuffled his pack just after the hour, introducing Karlan Ahearne-Grant from the bench in place of Church, and the youngster very nearly made an immediate impact, showing a great turn of pace down the left before providing a dangerous cross for Tucudean to glance a header narrowly wide.
The Addicks always looked the more likely, but for the second home game running, they gave themselves an uphill struggle when Buyens, already booked in the first half, made a clumsy challenge on Conway, picking up his second yellow card as the hosts were reduced to 10 men.
That gave the visitors some incentive as they gained a foothold back on proceedings, and Etheridge was called into action to keep out Brown’s shot following a scrap in the box, before reacting well to prevent Marshall’s deflected shot 15 minutes from time.
Indeed, the red card had all but killed off Charlton’s hopes of making the fourth round as they struggled to get hold of possession, and Rovers threatened a third when Cairney cannoned a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar in the dying minutes before Mr Stroud called time on the tie, and the Addicks involvement for at least another year in the FA Cup.
Charlton: Etheridge; Wilson, Fox, Ben Haim, Bikey-Amougou; Gudmundsson (Gomez 84), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins; Tucudean (Pigott 89), Church (Ahearne-Grant 62).
Subs (not used): Pope, Lennon, Muldoon, Thomas.
Booked: Buyens 40 (foul on Brown), Gudmundsson 70 (dissent)
Sent off: Buyens 72 (second bookable offence)
Goal: Gudmundsson 55
Blackburn Rovers: Eastwood, Marshall, Duffy, Kilgallon, Henley, Conway, Taylor, Williamson, Cairney, Dunn (Varney 72), Brown
Subs (not used): Steele, O'Connell, O'Sullivan, Green, Rhodes, Gestede.
Booked: Duffy 34 (foul on Church), Kilgallon 68 (foul on Tucudean), Cairney 69 (foul on Fox)
Goals: Taylor 4, 59
Referee: K Stroud
Att: 8,727 (1,038 from Blackburn)