George Jones reports from Hillsborough
Charlton suffered a 3-0 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon.
After a goalless first half, in which the Addicks were arguably the better side, they fell behind on 65 minutes when Tom Lees’ powerful header sailed into the net.
The Owls doubled their advantage through Fernando Forestieri’s close-range finish and Alex Lopez completed the scoring with a deflected strike from 22 yards.
The result leaves Charlton six points from safety with eight matches of the season remaining.
Head Coach José Riga made two changes to the starting XI that began last weekend’s 2-0 triumph against Middlesbrough.
One of them was enforced with Jordan Cousins - struggling with a hamstring complaint - having to miss out through injury. He was replaced by El-Hadji Ba in the centre of midfield. Reza Ghoochannejhad also came into the line-up, in place of Ademola Lookman, who dropped to the bench.
The home side created the opening chance of the game on three minutes. Jack Hunt escaped down the right and sent in a teasing cross that Forestieri met with a looping header. Backtracking, Nick Pope threw up an arm to claw the ball away to safety.
Having survived, Charlton immediately poured forward as Callum Harriott escaped three men before freeing Yun Suk-Young on the left. No one in the middle was able to connect with his centre, though.
Ba won his side a free-kick in a promising position on five minutes. From a near identical position in which Johnnie Jackson, back on the bench after recovering form injury, fired home in January 2012, Johann Berg Gudmundsson aimed at goal but his effort hit the head of a man in the Wednesday wall.
The Addicks had made a bright start to proceedings and a combination of Glenn Loovens and Tom Lees just managed to snuff out Harriott as the winger chased down Ba’s lofted through ball soon afterwards.
The Owls’ defence were on hand to mop up the danger after Harriott - again lively - charged home stopper Keiren Westwood’s punt down field, with no-one in red able to capitalise on the loose ball.
The slightest of touches from skipper Alou Diarra sent Forestieri tumbling on the edge of the box after 20 minutes. Ross Wallace sent the resulting free-kick over the top of the crossbar for the hosts.
The former then dragged a tame strike into the side netting and, at the other end, Harriott tried to slip strike-partner Ghoochannejhad in on goal but his pass had too much on it.
Some intelligent link-up play between Gudmundsson and Marco Motta released the latter down the right four minutes before the break. He reached the byline and tried to hang the ball up for Harriott but his delivery was too high for the frontman.
Suk-Young picked things up at the far post and, after he did find Harriott in the middle, he could only send a tame strike straight at Westwood.
Pope held onto Wallace’s 25-yard drive five minutes into the second period and the stopper was then on hand to smother from half-time substitute Atdhe Nuhiu after he had broken into the box.
A good spell of Charlton possession ended with Suk-Young being dispossessed on the edge of the box as he was about to pull the trigger and Ghoochannejhad almost got in on goal but was denied a shooting chance by the linesman’s flag.
Pope was sprung into action on the hour mark. Forestieri dropped a shoulder to skip beyond his man and unleashed a powerful strike that, after taking a sizeable deflection, the goalkeeper managed to get in the way of before gathering at the second attempt.
Now with the crowd behind them, Pope had to be out to smother at Nuhiu’s feet again, and then held onto Kieran Lee’s curling, bobbling strike.
Wednesday went in front after 65 minutes. Wallace flighted in a corner from the right that Lees met at the far post with a firm header, which flew into the net.
The home side doubled their lead five minutes later. The influential Nuhiu met a Wallace cross with a glancing header that rebounded back out off the post and Forestieri followed it up to bury the rebound.
Pope made a smart stop from a corner-bound Forestieri free-kick on 77 minutes. The Addicks’ reprieve was short lived, however. The Owls delivered the resulting corner out to Lopez on the edge of the box and he fired a first-time strike towards goal that Ba inadvertently deflected into his own net.
The Addicks looked for a route back into the game late on and came close when Motta volleyed into the side netting from just inside the penalty area.
But they were unable to register themselves on the scoresheet and the contest ended 3-0.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hutchinson (Lopez 46), Loovens, Hooper, Lees, Lee, Hunt, Wallace (Matias 82), Pudil, McGeady (Nuhiu 46), Forestieri.
Subs (not used): Wildsmith, Palmer, Joao, Sasso.
Goals: Lees 65, Forestieri 70, Lopez 77
Booked: Hutchinson 35 (foul on Motta), Wallace 57 (foul on Gudmundsson)
Charlton: Pope, Motta, Fanni, Teixeira, Fox, Gudmundsson, Ba (Jackson 78), Diarra (Lookman 83) Suk-Young, Harriott, Ghoochannejhad (Vetokele 68).
Subs (not used): Mitov, Lennon, Poyet, Makienok, Lookman.
Booked: Fanni 31 (foul on Forestieri), Ba 75 (kicking the ball away), Harriott 90+2 (foul on Hunt)
Referee: S Attwell