Charlton enjoyed their first win since November with a thumping 4-1 victory over Rotherham United at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
The game had been dubbed a ‘six-pointer’ ahead of kick-off with both teams vying for Championship survival come May and the Addicks arrived at the Yorkshire club, where they have not won since 1963, desperate to end a run of 12 games in all competitions without tasting success.
What unfolded was an outstanding away-day performance by the Londoners who took an early lead through the outstanding Simon Makienok, before Chris Burke hit back for the hosts.
But Igor Vetokele’s goal on the stroke of half-time set Charlton up for a superb second-half display which saw Makienok head home for his brace amongst the bile (and the odd bottle) directed towards him by the Rotherham locals, while Ademola Lookman added a fourth at the death to provide more than 700 travelling Addicks with that winning feeling that had been a long time coming.
José Riga made just one change from the side which earned a 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers at The Valley seven days earlier, with Makienok coming in to lead the line alongside Vetokele in place of Tony Watt, who had departed to Blackburn Rovers on loan on Friday.
Elsewhere, there was a return to the substitutes bench for Lookman who has been missing with a hamstring injury since the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 28th.
Such was the importance of the clash between the Championship strugglers, it was vital for Charlton to get off to a positive start, and they did just that, taking the lead in impressive fashion after just four minutes.
Makienok started and finished the move, cleverly flicking a header down to Zakarya Bergdich to send the wide man away down the left wing.
The Moroccan did well to hold off the attentions of the right-back before squaring back to the big Dane who rifled an unstoppable finish into the back of the net from just inside the penalty box.
The goal sent the Valley faithful behind the goal into raptures as the Londoners took the upper hand.
With their tails up, Vetokele stung the palms of Lee Camp shortly after with an angled drive, but the joy would not last long, with the hosts hitting back on 11 minutes.
As Rotherham streamed forward, Burke was played in on the right and the forward had plenty of time to pick his spot and fire low past Stephen Henderson to draw his side level.
From there, the sides remained evenly matched with few chances coming the way of either side before the break.
Vetokele’s tenacity earned him a free-kick 25 yards from goal which Johann Berg Gudmundsson stepped up to, but although the Iceland international hit the target, he could not get his dipping effort past Camp.
At the other end, the Millers enjoyed a free-kick from a similar distance which Burke stuck wide of the post as snow began to fall in Yorkshire.
Five minutes before the break, the hosts found an opening when Harry Lennon’s interception fell to the feet of Grant Ward 12 yards out, but with the Addicks defence applying pressure, he could only skew his shot terribly wide.
But just when it looked like the teams would retreat for the dressing rooms level pegging, Charlton struck the increasingly-frustrated home crowd with a gut-punch, regaining their lead as the clock ticked over into additional time.
Gudmundsson claimed the assist, breaking away down the right, leaving his marker for dead before picking out the oncoming Vetokele on the edge of the six-yard box, and the Angolan made no mistake, tucking the ball away for his first league goal of his injury-hit season.
The second-half started with Charlton enjoying a lot of the early possession, although Danny Ward’s 50th minute drive tested the reflexes of Henderson between the sticks, while Johnnie Jackson’s instinctive strike in a crowded Rotherham penalty area skimmed just wide of the post for the visitors.
Substitute Luciano Becchio came inches away from getting on the end of a flicked header from three yards out, but Henderson’s quick-thinking saw the Irishman get there first to snuff out the danger as the action hotted up with a number of tough tackles and altercations taking place on the pitch.
One such battle saw Makienok become the villain of Rotherham’s piece after a coming together with Millers captain Kirk Broadfoot which saw the duo booked.
And it made it all the more sweet for the giant striker when he nodded home Gudmundsson’s corner directly in front of Rotherham’s hardcore support on 69 minutes.
Makienok towered over his adversary Broadfoot to send a powerful header home before directing his celebrations behind the goal as the Addicks fans erupted with pure joy at the other end.
All was looking rosy for Riga’s men, but a scare was not too far behind when Jorge Teixeira, who followed up last weekend’s solid debut with another impressive display, was harshly adjudged to have tripped Jonson Clarke-Harris in the box, leading the somewhat-unsure referee Keith Stroud to take his time before eventually pointing to the spot.
Clarke-Harris dusted himself off with the opportunity to put his side right back in it, but completely fluffed his lines, putting his spot-kick well over the crossbar to provide the travelling fans with something else to celebrate.
From there, it was all about the Addicks’ tenacity to see the game out.
Clarke-Harris sent a header wide from a Rotherham set-piece in the final five minutes, while Henderson pulled a world-class save out of the top drawer to deny Becchios downwards header.
And other than the odd speculative shot from range, Charlton did their job superbly from front to back to ensure the points would be heading to South London.
Of course, there was still time for the Addicks to add a cherry on top, bagging a fourth deep into injury-time to make it an emphatic victory.
With Rotherham caught on the break, Gudmundsson fed in substitute Lookman who kept his cool to slot confidently past Camp to make it 4-1.
It was certainly a far cry from the disappointment of recent weeks and the win gives Riga’s men a huge platform from which to work from ahead of next Saturday’s visit of Bristol City to The Valley as they find themselves just one point away from 21st spot.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Teixeira, Lennon, Fox, Gudmundsson, Cousins, Jackson, Bergdich, Vetokele (Lookman 90+2), Makienok (Ghoochannejhad 75).
Subs (not used): Pope, Johnson, Ba, Poyet, Harriott.
Booked: Fox 58 (timewasting), Makienok 63 (spat with Broadfoot), Vetokele 77 (foul on Ward)
Goals: Makienok 4, 69, Vetokele 44, Lookman 90+4
Rotherham: Camp; Facey, Broadfoot, Rawson, Mattock; Burke (Clarke-Harris 59), Green , (Becchio 46), Smallwood, Newell (Shinnie 59); G Ward; D Ward.
Subs (not used): Cairns, Wood, Richardson, Derbyshire.
Booked: Broadfoot 63 (spat with Makienok)
Goal: Burke 11
Referee: K Stroud
Att: 9,227 (739 from Charlton)