George Jones reports from Cardiff City Stadium
Charlton were undone by goals from Joe Mason and Season Morrison as Cardiff City came from behind to win in the Welsh capital on Saturday afternoon.
Half-time substitute Karlan Ahearne-Grant had put the Londoners ahead five minutes into the second period but the home responded to record the points.
First Mason poked home from close range before Morrison, who had posed a threat from set-pieces all afternoon, nodded home the winner from a corner 15 minutes from time.
Head Coach Guy Luzon made one change from the side that started in the Addicks’ last Championship encounter away at Blackburn Rovers seven days ago, with Naby Sarr coming into the back four in place of the suspended Alou Diarra.
On the bench, meanwhile, Franck Moussa was named in a first-team squad for the first time in 10 months following injury, while academy product Josh Umerah earned his first call-up into a senior squad.
Barring a low through ball that saw home striker Mason flagged offside, the opening five minutes or so passed without incident, with Charlton just edging the possession statistics.
But Cardiff forced the first opportunity of the clash when Anthony Pilkington cut in from the left and curled towards the corner, forcing Nick Pope to palm his dipping strike away on seven minutes.
That seemed to spark the hosts into life. A rash clearance from Naby Sarr gave them a corner and from the resulting set-piece Jordan Cousins did magnificently to head Sean Morrison’s effort off the line.
Another delivery followed and Matt Connolly met it this time, glancing across the face of goal, with Pilkington then doing likewise from the other side before Kenwyne Jones eventually headed into the side netting.
Morrison nodded over the bar as the home side continued to benefit from some excellent dead-ball delivery in the early stages from from long-term Bluebird Peter Whittingham.
Some strong play from Jones enabled him to roll Sarr down the right on 16 minutes. His cut-back was met by Joe Ralls, who had two stabs of a shot at goal before the Addicks managed to clear their lines.
At the other end, Cousins found Johann Berg Gudmundsson as the Addicks embarked on a rare, early foray forward. The away side won a corner and, from there, they caused their first real threat of the game.
Gudmundsson swung in from the right and Patrick Bauer met his delivery with a powerful header that beat home stopper Simon Moore but was hacked off the line. Charlton recycled possession.
Solly whipped in a deep cross, which again found the head of Bauer. He nodded towards the far stick where Moore got in a vital punch ahead of the incoming Sarr.
Possession again dropped for Solly and Bauer was again the recipient of his ball in. This time he looped a header over the top of Moore, who managed to fling up an arm to divert the ball straight up into the air before catching at the second attempt, and the hosts had escaped.
Tony Watt, the Addicks’ sole figure up top, bore down on goal just after the 20-minute mark but was eventually robbed of possession by the home defence before Bauer glanced another inviting free-kick from Gudmundsson over the bar.
Play then settled down as both sides attempted to consolidate a real dominance. The next chance of the game fell Charlton’s way. A strong interception from Ahmed Kashi got the Addicks moving on 38 minutes. He fed Cousins, who in turn found Zakarya Bergdich, and his cross was picked out Watt at the far post with the Scot forcing Moore into a stunning save to his right.
Cardiff responded as Pilkington fired narrowly over the bar two minutes later. The first-half’s major talking point then arrived. Mason broke the offside trap and, when faced with just Pope between him and the goal, he attempted to round the goalkeeper and flung himself to the ground.
Referee Andrew Madley blew his whistle and pointed towards the centre circle, thus indicating that the Cardiff man had dived. It was a relief for the Addicks, who had seen two penalties harshly awarded against them in midweek, but clearly the right decision from the official.
Pope got his body behind a dangerous strike from Pilkington as one minute of additional time was indicated and that proved to be the last opportunity of the first half as the two sides headed in level.
The Addicks swapped Bergdich for Karlan Ahearne-Grant at the interval and the academy graduate took just five minutes to make a decisive impact.
Watt escaped on the right-hand side and squared for the youngster, who took one touch to evade the challenge of Morrison before slotting beyond Moore for his first Championship goal.
The hosts cried for a penalty two minutes after the opener as a clearance from the Addicks’ defence inadvertently bounced up onto the arm of Kennedy in the box. Charlton countered as a result and Gudmundsson fired into the arms of Moore.
But Cardiff levelled on 53 minutes when a cross from the right fell for Mason and he poked beyond Pope.
Now backed by a vocal crowd, the hosts went in search of a second and some fancy footwork from centre-back Matt Connolly almost yielded it as he wriggled beyond two men before Charlton were able to scramble to safety.
They were soon almost silenced, though. Watt skipped away from Kagisho Dikgacoi and sent a rocket goalwards that Moore could only get flesh behind. The rebound fell for Cousins but the goalkeeper recovered excellently to turn his effort behind.
At the other end, Cousins got in an important block to divert substitute Samuel Ameobi’s curling drive behind on 70 minutes. Morrison rose to head over from the corner.
But Morrison would soon get his goal as Charlton were again caused problems from a corner. The Addicks cleared an initial delivery from Whittingham but, with his second attempt, he pinpointed the head of Morrison, who nodded down, across and beyond the helpless Pope.
They came close to extending their advantage when Mason concluded a fast-paced move by firing over the top of the bar from 10 yards.
Conor McAleny, playing against the club he spent part of last season on loan at, shot well over from the edge of the box five minutes from time but Charlton were unable to find an equaliser.
Cardiff City: Moore, Da Silva, Morrison (c), Connolly, Malone, Whittingham, Ralls, Pilkington (Noone 75), Dikgacoi, Jones (Ameobi 68), Mason (Gunnarsson 85).
Subs (not used): Wilson, Manga, Revell, Tamas.
Goals: Mason 53, Morrison 76
Bookings: Mason 43 (simulation)
Charlton: Pope, Solly (c), Bauer, Sarr, Fox, Kennedy (McAleny 69), Kashi (Moussa 86), Cousins, Bergdich (Ahearne-Grant 46), Gudmundsson, Watt.
Subs (not used): Mitov, Lennon, Ba, Moussa, Umerah.
Goals: Ahearne-Grant 50
Bookings: Sarr 47 (foul on Pilkington)
Referee: A Madley