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Match Report


Posted Sat 20 Aug 16 at 17:03 PM

Walsall 1 Charlton 2

Olly Groome repors from Banks's Stadium

Nicky Ajose’s brace earned Charlton their second win on the bounce, beating Walsall 2-1 at Banks’s Stadium on Saturday.

The striker signed from Swindon Town during the summer but went four games without a goal before announcing his arrival in the Midlands, putting the Londoners ahead in the first half before he immediately cancelled out Kieron Morris’ equaliser just two minutes after the Saddlers had drawn level.

And with every Addick digging deep to keep the hosts at bay for the remaining 15 minutes, they saw it through to the end to secure a deserved first success on the road for the new season.

Russell Slade opted to stick with the same starting XI that made short work of Shrewsbury Town four days earlier, with the only change coming on the bench as Brandon Hanlan replaced Lee Novak who continues to struggle with his fractured hand.

Indeed, it was the third consecutive game that the Addicks had remained unchanged.

Charlton saw plenty of ball in the opening exchanges, but it was not until the 13th minute when they caught their first sight of goal when Ricky Holmes’ burst down the left resulted in a squared pass to Andrew Crofts, who fired over the bar from 20 yards.

Moments later, Josh Magennis stung the palms of former Addick Neil Etheridge with a low drive from the edge of the box.

On 17 minutes, the Saddlers enjoyed their first half-chance through Simeon Jackson’s effort, which was spilled by Declan Rudd, after the striker had cut into the box from the left-hand side and six minutes later, Isaiah Osbourne’s cross/shot was kept out brilliantly by the stopper.

At the other end, a fine move down the right saw Chris Solly get himself into a good position in the box. The right-back tried his best to pick out Nicky Ajose who was lying in wait at the edge of the six-yard box, only to be denied by a vital interception from a red shirt.

Just before the hour mark, Rudd was called into action to make a stunning double save, first from Jackson to make a point-blank save with the forward just six yards out, and then from Morris’ thunderous rebound.

Moments later, Charlton very nearly took the lead themselves when Ajose looked to send a delightful chip over Etheridge.

With the keeper well and truly beaten, the effort just did not dip in time and clipped off the top of the crossbar to deny the striker what would have been an impressive maiden goal.

Just as he did against the Shrews in midweek, Holmes was seeing plenty of the ball and when it sat up perfectly 20 yards from goal, he sent a well-hit volley spinning towards Etheridge who made a mess of the save with Magennis lurking for the rebound. But the Philippines international stopper’s blushes were saved by the linesman’s flag.

Slade’s men just about had the edge over their opponents in the first half and two minutes before the break fired themselves into the lead thanks to Ajose’s long-awaited first for the club.

Magennis claimed the assist, flicking on Holmes’ cross from the right for the Addicks’ number 10 who was on hand to turn it in at the back post, sparking wild celebrations from the summer arrival, clearly delighted at getting off the mark, as the Londoners headed into half-time with a one-goal lead.

Two minutes into the restart, Etheridge very nearly gifted Charlton a second goal when his sloppy pass fell straight to the feet of Solly in the box, but the full-back’s shot was saved to give the keeper a real let off.

Slade was forced into a change before the hour when Johnnie Jackson had to be withdrawn, bringing Ademola Lookman into the fray and the 18-year-old nearly claimed an immediate assist, using his trickery to get down the left and cross low for Holmes who saw his effort blocked at the back post.

But just as the visitors were looking comfortable in their lead, the Saddlers equalised with a goal seemingly out of nowhere through Morris.

The winger picked up the ball and fired a low effort across goal which Rudd looked to have well covered, but a tricky bounce right in front of the keeper saw the shot bobble over the line and nestle in the bottom left-hand corner.

The hosts may have drawn level, but their joy was short-lived as the Addicks fired themselves back in front almost immediately.

Great work down the right by Magennis saw the Northern Ireland international sprint into the box, drawing a low save from Etheridge which fell at the feet at Ajose at the far post, who completed the simple task of turning the ball over the line for his brace.

Rudd was forced into a save moments later when another long-range effort came skimming towards him courtesy of sub Amadou Bakayoko, but this time the Norwich City loanee made no mistake in tipping the ball away to safety.

The last 15 minutes or so were just a case for the Addicks to see out, limiting Walsall to anything in the way of chances until the fourth minute of injury time when Erhun Oztumer’s cross deflected into the path of Florent Cuvelier, who volleyed agonisingly wide at the death.

Then, in the very last few seconds, a long punt forward fell to Jackson who sent an angled drive flying towards Rudd, who made another fantastic save to keep the Saddlers out.

It had been a fine away performance from Slade’s men to earn all three points at the Banks’s Stadium with Charlton now unbeaten in three games and up into fifth position ahead of the visit of table-toppers Bolton Wanderers to The Valley next Saturday.

Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Konsa, Pearce, Fox, Foley, Crofts, Jackson (Lookman 58), Holmes (Holmes-Dennis 80), Magennis, Ajose (Bauer 84).

Subs (not used): Phillips, Johnson, Botaka, Hanlan.

Booked: Solly 67 (foul on Bakayoko)

Goals: Ajose 43, 74

Walsall: Etheridge, Edwards, O’Connor, McCarthy, Dobson (Oztumer 81), Jackson, Morris, Osbourne, Preston, Makris (Bakayoko 63), Moussa (Cuvelier 74).

Subs (not used): Macgillivray, Kinsella, Ginnelly, Robert.

Booked: O’Connor 68 (foul on Magennis)

Goal: Morris 72

Referee: C Sarginson

Att: 4,586 (739 from Charlton)

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