Charlton suffered a third consecutive 3-0 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
The Addicks put in a dogged, defensive shift for 60 minutes but were broken down by the goals of David Nugent, Albert Adomah and Daniel Ayala to secure what would, eventually, be a comfortable victory for the promotion hopefuls who arrived off the back of a Capital One Cup victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
Karel Fraeye embarked on a tactical shake-up in his first game in temporary charge, setting out a 4-1-4-1 formation, while making three changes ahead of the clash in the north east.
Alou Diarra was available again after serving his one-game suspension, while Karlan Ahearne-Grant made a return to the starting XI on the right of midfield and El-Hadji Ba took up a position between the back four and midfield with Johann Berg Gudmundsson playing on the left.
The early exchanges were cagey, and although the home side enjoyed the majority of possession, they did not carve out a meaningful effort on goal until the 20th minute when Stewart Downing tried his luck from distance, but Stephen Henderson was not concerned as the ball dipped over the bar.
The Irishman was called into action two minutes later, however, when former England International Nugent looked to round off a neat passing move, stroking the ball goalwards from 12 yards, but the keeper got down well to make a relatively routine save.
Adomah was next to have a go from distance but, once again, the Addicks’ rear guard limited the wide man to a harmless shot which spun well wide, with Henderson remaining unfazed until he was forced into a fine save to keep out Diego Fabbrini’s powerful drive inside the box.
Downing and Nugent again combined well to play in the Watford loanee on the left who unleashed an almighty effort, only for the stopper to raise a hand and tip the ball over with a spectacular save.
As the half wore on, Charlton’s defensive tactics left the hosts increasingly frustrated, thus proving to be extremely affective.
The Londoners even enjoyed a pair of their own openings at the end of the half.
First, Gudmundsson tested Dimi Konstantopolous with a low drive from the edge of the box, before the Iceland international looked to benefit from a free-kick right on the edge of the box after Jordan Cousins was hacked down, but his set-piece was struck straight at the wall before Chris Solly fired the rebound well over the bar.
Two minutes after the restart, Henderson proved his worth with another save to keep out Fernando Amorebieta.
The lively Fabbrini put the ball in from the left and the defender looked to convert his chance, only to see the Addicks stopper react brilliantly, stretching out an arm to keep the danger at bay.
On 55 minutes, another chance came and went the way of the hosts when Downing looked to punish a sloppy midfield pass by surging forward and firing from 20 yards. But Patrick Bauer stood strong to get in a block to deflect away for a corner.
A rare opening at the other end saw the visitors come close moments later, with Johnnie Jackson supplying a cross for Simon Makienok, but Konstanopoulos just beat the big striker to the punch.
As the game reached the hour-mark, however, Boro’s pressure would pay off, with Charlton’s defence finally breached.
With a cross being delivered from the right-hand side, the ball was knocked down by the head of Adam Clayton for Nugent to poke home from inside the six-yard box.
Although the Addicks’ previous efforts at the back had been admirable, there was a distinct sense that the goal would signal the end of the Londoners’ chances of a point.
Indeed, just six minutes later, Boro had their second to seal all three points when Adomah was given free reign outside of the box before a firing in a shot, which took a deflection, and looped beyond the reach of Henderson for 2-0.
And soon enough, it was 3-0 when Daniel Ayala headed home from close range after Nugent had flicked on Clayton’s corner.
Charlton would come close late on through Reza Ghoochannejhad’s vicious strike, which drew a solid save from Konstantopoulos, but it was the closest occasion to scoring for the Addicks, who face a big trip to Milton Keyenes Dons on Tuesday evening.
Charlton: Henderson; Solly, Fox, Bauer, Diarra; Ba (Ghoochannejhad 69), Ahearne-Grant (Moussa 79), Cousins, Jackson, Gudmundsson; Makienok (Watt 61).
Subs (not used): Pope, Sarr, McAleny, Bergdich.
Booked: Ba 53 (foul on Fabbrini), Diarra 64 (foul on Amorebieta), Bauer 76 (foul on Fabbrini), Solly 88 (foul on De Pena), Ghoochannejhad 89 (foul on Amorebieta)
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Ayala (Stephens 79), Gibson, Amorebieta, Clayton, Zuculini, Fabbrini (Kike 82), Adomah, Downing (De Pena 80), Nugent.
Subs (not used): Mejias, Friend, Leadbitter, Kalas.
Booked: De Pena 87 (foul on Solly)
Goals: Nugent 60, Adomah 66, Ayala 78
Referee: A Madley
Att: 20,943 (244 from Charlton)