George Jones reports from Ashton Gate
Harry Lennon brought Charlton some festive cheer by curling home a 93rd-minute equaliser to rescue the Addicks a point away at Bristol City on Boxing Day.
The youngster’s first goal for the club cancelled out Nathan Baker’s first-half opener and punished the hosts for their wastefulness in front of goal in a second half that saw them miss a penalty.
Karel Fraeye made one change to the eleven that started at Burnley last weekend, with fit-again Ademola Lookman replacing Patrick Bauer.
That meant that Alou Diarra dropped back from his holding-midfield role into the heart of defence alongside Harry Lennon. Chris Solly and Morgan Fox again operated in the full-back positions, while Jordan Cousins and Johnnie Jackson were tasked with anchoring the midfield.
And Lookman the made up one quarter of a four-pronged attack, which also consisted of Ricardo Vaz Te, Reza Ghoochannejhad and Simon Makienok.
The Addicks created the opening opportunity of the game, and it came courtesy of their offensive quad.
Lookman fed Vaz Te on the left and he, in turn, found Ghoochannejhad. The Iranian got his head up and, from a narrow angle, drilled into the arms of home goalkeeper Frank Fielding.
Jonathan Kodjia looped a header onto the roof of Stephen Henderson’s net as the hosts threatended in the seventh minute.
The hosts soon pushed forward again. Joe Bryan cut in from the left wing and hammered a strike at goal that Henderson pushed over his crossbar.
A scuffed clearance from Aden Flint almost fell for a purple shirt after Lookman and whipped in a low cross from the right. Instead, it found Bristol’s Marlon Pack, who initiated a counter attack that ended with Bryan turning over at the far post.
A brave block from Diarra then denied Wilbraham a clear sight of goal after Henderson had spilled Luke Freeman’s dangerous, in-swinging free-kick.
But Charlton’s stopper made amends on 29 minutes. Wilbraham met a Freeman cross with a glancing header and the Irishman plunged down to his left to claw it away.
The lively Kodjia blazed wastefully wide having latched onto a long ball over the top and Nathan Baker then nodded over the bar five minutes before the interval.
The hosts were well on top and they should have gone in front a couple of minutes later.
Kodjia was again at the centre of things. He wriggled away from two defenders inside the box and cut possession back to Wilbraham, who smashed a first-time effort over the bar.
Flint got his head to Morgan Fox’s corner to divert it away from trouble as the first period entered into stoppage time. But, at the other end, the hosts would get themselves in front before the whistle.
Freeman delivered a corner from the right and Baker was able to meet it at the far post, heading it down into the ground and beyond Henderson.
Kodjia glanced an Ayling cross wide of goal three minutes into the second period as the hosts looked to extend their advantage.
They should have made it two on 53 minutes. Bryan got in down the left, cut back for Wilbraham and only a brave, flying block from Fox prevented the striker’s powerful strike from hitting the net.
From the block, the loose ball dropped from Kodjia, who headed over. Moments later, the forward raced clear on goal and fired wide of the target from the edge of the box.
Wilbraham missed his kick at the far post as the home side continued to apply the pressure and, at the other end, Makienok curled into the arms of Fielding, having been freed by Ghoochannejhad.
Freeman dragged wide from 25 yards on the hour mark and the Robins were then presented with a golden opportunity to double their lead after Lennon pulled back Kodjia inside the box.
Pack placed the ball on the penalty spot. He stepped up and thundered against the underside of the crossbar and the Addicks were able to scramble clear.
Boosted by their let off, Charlton went in search of an equaliser. Holmes-Dennis pumped a long ball forward that Makienok headed into the path of Lennon and the centre-back volleyed at goal, forcing Fielding into a smart save.
Freeman broke into the penalty area two minutes from time and saw a shot well blocked by Lennon, and Fox then shot wide from the edge of the box for Charlton.
The Addicks claimed for handball when Ghoochannejhad’s 90th-minute volley was deflected behind by goalscorer Baker, but only a corner was forthcoming and the home side were able to clear.
That looked to be it for the visitors but one more chance was to fall their way. Solly launched possession towards Makienok, the big Dane again won the flick on and it dropped for Ghoochannejhad.
He was unable to dig out an effort at goal at goal, so instead teed up Lookman. The youngster took aim and saw a strike blocked on the line and the loose ball fell for Lennon to pick out the bottom corner.
It was a finish of great maturity from the fledgling defender and it earned his side a vital point, to the delight of the traveling faithful.
Bristol City: Fielding, Flint, Ayling, Smith, Bennett, Freeman, Baker, Wilbraham, Pack, Kodjia (Burns 90+4), Bryan.
Subs (not used): O’Leary, Little, Williams, Cox, Reid, Moore.
Goals: Baker 45+4
Booked: Wilbraham 75 (kicking the ball away)
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Diarra (Sarr 32), Lennon, Fox, Cousins (Holmes-Dennis 46), Jackson, Vaz Te (Ba 54), Ghoochannejhad, Lookman, Makienok.
Subs (not used): Pope, Charles-Cook, Moussa, Ahearne-Grant.
Goals: Lennon 90+3
Booked: Lookman 52 (foul on Ayling)
Attendance: 15,285 (529 Charlton supporters)
Referee: O Langford