Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton faced more frustration at The Valley on Tuesday evening, suffering their first home defeat of the season at the hands of Huddersfield Town.
The Yorkshireman put on a solid defensive display while nicking two first-half goals at the other end as the Addicks played all the football, but could not find a breakthrough, despite Naby Sarr giving the hosts hope just before the break.
And while they probed for an equaliser in the second-half, the Terriers’ defence stood firm and Charlton remained shut out.
Guy Luzon made two changes to the side which shared a 1-1 draw with Rotherham United on Saturday, with a now fully-fit Simon Makienok returning to lead the line alongside Tony Watt, while Igor Vetokele dropped to the bench.
Meanwhile, Naby Sarr was drafted in to make his full league debut for the Addicks in place of Alou Diarra, who earned himself a well-earned rest amongst the substitutes which also included new loanee Conor McAleny.
It took just four minutes for the hosts to register their first shot on goal with Johann Berg Gudmundsson sending a low shot spinning inches wide after good link up play between Watt and Makienok.
Moments later, Watt played provider again when he laid off Jordan Cousins, who fired well over the bar, as Charlton enjoyed a bright start under the Valley’s floodlights.
But in the 11th minute, it was the visiting Terriers who took the lead against the run of play.
When Morgan Fox was dispossessed by Sean Scannell, the winger supplied a killer ball for Harry Bunn, who cushioned a volley towards goal. And while Nick Pope looked to get behind it, the power of the shot beat the young stopper as the ball cannoned into the top left-hand corner.
The goal galvanised Chris Powell’s side who could well have doubled their lead on 14 minutes when Bunn saw his free header head straight into Pope’s hands.
But the Addicks looked for a response and nearly got it when El-Haji Ba sent a clever cross bending round the back of the defence for the on-rushing Makienok.
But with keeper Jed Steer just beating him to the literal punch, Huddersfield cleared to safety to deny the big Dane.
While Charlton were on top, they remained exposed at the back at times and very nearly came undone just after the half-hour mark when Carayol cut inside from the left and sent a curling effort towards the bottom right-hand corner.
Pope got down to make a good save and very nearly fell straight into the path of Scannell with the goal at his mercy, but the former Crystal Palace man could not sort out his footing and the hosts had got away with it, for all of three minutes.
Suddenly, Huddersfield found themselves two goals to the good when Ishmael Miller won a free-kick 25 yards from goal.
Emyr Huws stepped up and stroked his low effort through a gap in the wall and into the bottom left-hand corner to leave the Addicks shell-shocked and Powell’s men with a comfortable two-goal cushion.
In truth, the Yorkshire side had offered little up to that point, but Charlton just could not find the right formula in the final third, while errors at the back proved costly and Huddersfield’s brute strength was winning out.
Luzon’s men needed a solution to find a way back into the game, and five minutes before half-time, they got it via a set-piece.
Gudmundsson swung in the assist from close to the right touchline and the Frenchman rose highest to flick the ball past Steer and give his side a valuable lifeline going into the break.
There was even one last half-chance to draw level before the two sides retreated to the dressing rooms as Ba lined up a shot 20 yards from goal, but his bending effort was denied by Steer, who got down well.
Charlton made an immediate impression straight after the break with Ba going close to an equaliser inside just 20 seconds of the restart.
Makienok flicked a pass forward into the path of the midfielder and his measured effort on the half volley had beaten Steer, but bobbled off the turf, agonisingly wide of the left-hand post.
With 10 minutes of the half played, Luzon chose to shuffle his pack, introducing Zakarya Bergdich in place of Ba, with Cousins shifting to the centre of midfield from the left.
Charlton were certainly seeing plenty of the ball, but were left frustrated by Huddersfield’s brick wall as they threw men behind the bakll.
Makienok came so close when he latched on to a big kick forward, sending a volley rolling goalwards, only to see yet another effort head desperately wide with Steer beaten.
Then, on 68 minutes, the Addicks came closer still when Bergdich lashed over a great opportunity from 12 yards following Gudmundsson’s centre from the right.
Once again, it was the hosts who were playing the better football, but Terriers were all the while looking as if they could catch them on the break.
Chris Solly and Patrick Bauer put in a vital block each to deny Miller, while at the other end, Gudmundsson stung the palms of Steer with a vicious strike from 25 yards and another chance went begging when Makienok sent a volley wildly over from the edge of the six-yard box.
Another change was in the offing as McAleny entered the fray, replacing Fox for his debut with 16 minutes remaining, while Igor Vetokele came on for Makienok with 80 on the clock.
The Everton loanee came close with a first-time side-footed effort with seven minutes left, and again with a low shot just past the post in injury-time, but Charlton just could not get past that impenetrable wall of Terriers, while the visitors found a variety of ways to count the clock down.
Charlton: Pope, Solly, Bauer, Sarr, Fox (McAleny 74), Gudmundsson, Kashi, Ba (Bergdich 54), Cousins, Watt, Makienok (Vetokele 80).
Subs (not used): Mitov, Diarra, Jackson, Ahearne-Grant.
Booked: Sarr 59 (foul on Miller)
Goal: Sarr 45
Huddersfield Town: Steer, Davidson, Whitehead, Scannell (Smith 89), Carayol (Dempsey 78), Miller, Ward, Crainie, Huws (Billing 46), Bunn, Lynch.
Subs (not used): Allinson, Paterson, Lolley, Wells.
Goals: Bunn 11, Huws 34
Booked: Lynch 25 (foul on Watt), Carayol 27 (foul on Cousins), Steer 68 (time wasting), Smith 90+5 (time wasting)
Referee: C Breakspear
Att: 13,873 (339 from Huddersfield)