Charlton’s Capital One Cup campaign is over after falling to a 4-1 defeat to local rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday evening.
After the Addicks showed a good, confident defensive display in the first period, they fell behind early in the second half before they were undone by three very questionable penalty decisions.
While the visitors should have received a chance to draw level from the spot when Conor McAleny was felled in the box, Palace went down the other end and were awarded a soft penalty which Dwight Gayle put away.
Although Naby Sarr’s header reduced the arrears, it was game over with 16 minutes remaining when another very questionable penalty saw Alou Diarra red-carded and Gayle score his second before adding a late fourth for his hat-trick against the 10 men.
With one eye on a difficult trip to Cardiff City in the league in three days’ time, Guy Luzon made a number of changes to his starting XI at Selhurst Park.
Sarr was called in from the start in place of Patrick Bauer, who received a well-earned rest, as did Ahmed Kashi, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Tony Watt, while El-Hadji Ba, Conor McAleny, who was making his full Addicks debut, and Karlan Ahearne-Grant all came in.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Kennedy kept his place in the side for what was just the 19 year-old’s third start in a Charlton shirt.
During a typically-cagey start at the Surrey border, the Addicks were the first to get a shot away on goal when McAleny dragged an effort wide of the post from 25 yards just a minute into proceedings, while Gayle came close with a dipped free-kick minutes later.
Palace carved out another chance on 10 minutes with Wilfred Zaha heading well over the bar from six yards before the winger sliced a shot wide as the hosts enjoyed the early possession.
With 14 minutes gone, Palace failed to capitalise on a loose Zakarya Bergdich pass which allowed Zaha to steam into the box. With the ball cut back Frazier Campell attempted to stroke the ball home from 12 yards, only to be denied by a superb block courtesy of Diarra, who improvised well to divert over the bar with his head for a corner.
At the other end, McAleny tried his luck with an almost identical effort to his earlier one just after the 20-minute mark, but Palace would come close again not long after when Gayledrove a dangerous shot narrowly wide of Nick Pope’s left-hand upright.
Nine minutes before the break, the Addicks enjoyed their best chance of the first 45.
After good work by Bergidch to win back possession, the wide man played in Ahearne-Grant who showed patience before drilling a low shot towards the near post, but Wayne Hennessey was equal to it, getting down to make the save.
In truth, the home side had been on top throughout the first half, but without a shot on target to their name, Charlton had kept them out well with some astute defending.
Another chance came and went for Palace five minutes after the restart when Zaha delivered an inch-perfect cross which Campbell headed horribly wide.
Unfortunately, the forward made amends immediately, putting his side in front.
Palace worked the ball into the box and despite the Addicks attempts to hack it away, Campbell swivelled and finished neatly in a crowded area.
Charlton very nearly responded when Bergdich drew a good save from Hennessy, and should have had a penalty when McAleny was shoved to the floor in the box, but the referee, despite having a good view of it, waved play on.
Indeed, Mr Swarbrick would compound matters when he opted to award the home side a penalty for a seemingly lesser offence at the other end.
Campbell and Diarra’s legs tangled as they both went for a ball into the area, and with the referee pointing the spot, Gayle stepped up to put the ball past Pope, who dived the right way, but could not get a touch.
It was harsh on the visitors, but the fact remained that they had been chasing much of the game. A lifeline was needed and on 65 minutes they go it.
With Johann Berg Gudmundsson having arrived off the bench, the Iceland international delivered a perfect corner for Sarr, who headed home from close range for 2-1.
Four minutes later, another set-piece nearly saw the Addicks level. Another Gudmundsson delivery was this time met by Diarra, but his looping effort was caught on the line by the Eagles stopper.
However, just as Charlton were getting into a position of ascendency, they were undone by yet another questionable penalty decision.
Gayle was the man to tangle with Diarra, waiting for contact before going down to see the Frenchman sent off, while the former Dagenham & Redbridge forward dispatched his penalty.
Watt was unleashed from the bench shortly before that goal and he nearly pulled another goal back when he did fantastically to latch onto Solly’s through-ball and power into the box, brushing off a clear foul, before stabbing an effort narrowly wide.
The 10 men could not find any momentum, however, and were dead and buried by the time Gayle headed home a fourth leaving the Addicks to concentrate on far more pressing matters in the league, with the Cardiff City Stadium beckoning on Saturday.
Charlton: Pope; Solly, Fox, Diarra, Sarr; Kennedy (Gudmundsson 59), Cousins (Kashi 65), Ba, Bergdich; McAleny (Watt 72), Ahearne-Grant.
Subs (not used): Mitov, Bauer, Lennon, Holmes-Dennis.
Goal: Sarr 65
Booked: Diarra 58 (foul on Campbell), Bergdich 68 (foul on Zaha)
Sent off: Diarra 76 (denying a goalscoring opportunity)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Kelly, Mariappa, Delaney (Hangeland 34), Souare; Zaha, McArthur (Cabaye 74), Ledley, Lee; Gayle, Campbell (Bamford 60).
Subs (not used): Speroni, Bolasie, Sako, Puncheon.
Booked: Campbell 54 (Foul on Solly)
Goals: Campbell 51, Gayle 59, 74 (2 pens), 86
Referee: N Swarbrick
Att: 16,576 (2,900 from Charlton)