Greg Stubley reports from The Valley
Charlton were unable to snatch a vital victory after they were held to a 0-0 draw by MK Dons at The Valley.
The Addicks, who had Yaya Sanogo sent-off late on, could not break down the visitors’ defence to tie a match for the 11th time this season.
The result means that the Addicks remain in 23rd place and are still seven points outside the relegation zone with 10 league fixtures remaining.
Jose Riga’s side’s best chance of the match fell to Jordan Cousins, but the midfielder’s second-half effort curled past the post.
MK Dons had opportunities of their own to snatch victory, however, substitute Rob Hall saw his fine run and shot well saved by Nick Pope in the Charlton goal.
Then with seconds remaining, Sanogo then saw red for an off-the-ball elbow to round off a bitterly disappointing evening for the Addicks.
Riga stuck with the same 4-4-1-1 formation that won 2-1 against Brentford last Saturday but was forced to make two changes.
After replacing Alou Diarra as a substitute during the Bees’ victory, Diego Poyet came into the Charlton central midfield spot with the Frenchman nursing a back problem.
The other change saw Simon Makienok start in place of Sanogo with the Arsenal loanee struggling through injury.
Just like the previous weekend, Cousins skippered the side in the absence of Johnnie Jackson, Chris Solly and Stephen Henderson.
MK Dons, meanwhile, made two changes to the team that won 2-0 at home to QPR last Saturday.
And it was the visitors who had the first half-opportunity of the match with just three minutes on the clock. Rod Fanni’s clearance cannoned neatly into the path of Nicky Maynard, but the forward was unable to seriously test Nick Pope, as the Addicks’ keeper gathered easily.
Charlton’s first shot of the match came courtesy of Yun Suk-Young after 11 minutes. The South Korean, again operating on the left side of midfield, picked up the ball from range and tried his luck. However, the ball sailed comfortably wide.
In a quiet opening 20 minutes, Charlton fashioned a nice move down the right-hand side, culminating in Callum Harriott placing the ball through Dean Lewington’s legs, before Marco Motta’s first-time whipped cross caused momentary panic for the Dons’ defence, as they scuffled the ball behind for an Addicks’ corner.
With neither team really threatening, Karl Robinson’s side were next to try and take the initiative, but Josh Murphy’s long-range strike flew just past Pope’s far corner.
Out of nothing, the Addicks created an opportunity of their own. A long ball was flicked on into the path of Johann Berg Gudmundsson as he got to the ball ahead of Antony Kay. The Icelandic winger then took a touch before Dons’ keeper David Martin came off his line quickly to smother the effort.
Nevertheless, it was Karl Robinson’s men who had the final chance prior to half-time. Dean Bowditch took a touch and let fly, but failed to trouble Pope, to conclude a drab and rather nervy opening half.
With neither team making changes at the break, it was the Addicks who came out the traps the better of the two sides.
On 55 minutes, Harriott bamboozled the MK Dons defence before crossing to the back post where Suk-Young found Cousins on the edge of the box. The stand-in skipper then unleashed a curling effort that was unfortunate not to find the corner of the far post.
Moments later, the visitors created their best opportunity of the match. Substitute Hall drove at the Addicks defence and tested Pope with a stinging drive that the academy graduate had to parry away to safety.
Following a flurry of substitutions, the game continued to display a nervy performance from both sides.
Nevertheless, efforts on goal were certainly speculative to say the least.
Ben Reeves, another Dons’ substitute, unleashed an effort from range that untroubled Pope’s goal and Hall once again went close but his effort was well-blocked by Morgan Fox.
Zakarya Bergdich was given the chance by Riga to make a difference for the Addicks and it was his cross that nearly opened the scoring.
Fellow sub Sanogo drifted into the penalty area but Bergdich’s cross-field pass somehow evaded the forward and his strike-partner Makienok as Dons saw the ball go behind for a goal kick.
Ademola Lookman was the next Addick to be thrusted from the bench. And the youngster made an immediate impact, with a sharp and skilful run that earnt his side a corner.
The subsequent set-piece made its way to the back post where, Fox crossed into the penalty area, causing havoc in the Dons’ defence before Sanogo’s shot was closed down and eventually cleared.
Again Lookman aimed to be the hero. The 18 year-old’s free-kick, with a minute left of normal time, was flicked on by Rod Fanni and somehow, stayed out.
With four minutes added on and Charlton knocking on the door for a victory, it was in fact MK Dons who had a glorious chance to seal an important away win. A long ball forward made its way to Samir Carruthers, but fortunately, the midfielder’s effort sailed wide.
Then just prior to the final whistle, Sanogo summed up a frustrating evening for the Valley faithful.
The forward was involved in an off-the-ball incident and was sent-off by referee Charles Breakspear after appearing to elbow Dons’ defender Kay.
Following the subsequent melee, Charlton rallied players forward but to no avail as the referee blew up for full-time.
Charlton now host Middlesbrough on Sunday, knowing a win is so crucial in their battle to stay up.
Charlton: Pope, Motta, Fanni, Teixeira, Fox, Gudmundsson, Poyet (Bergdich 71), Cousins, Suk-Young, Harriott (Sanogo 58), Makienok (Lookman 82).
Subs (not used): Mitov, Johnson, Holmes-Dennis, Ghoochannejhad.
Sent-off: Sanogo 90 + 4 (elbow on Kay)
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Williams (Hall 54), Carruthers, Potter, Murphy, Bowditch (Reeves 61), Maynard (Revell 69).
Subs (not used): Cropper, Spence, Emmanuel-Thomas, Powell.
Booked: Bowditch 49 (foul on Suk-Young), McFadzean 89 (foul on Lookman), Carruthers 90 +2 (foul on Lookman)
Attendance: 13,146 (532 MK Dons fans)
Referee: C Breakspear