George Jones reports from The Valley
Ademola Lookman netted a 90th-minute equaliser as Charlton came from behind to earn a point against league leaders Bolton Wanderers at The Valley on Saturday afternoon.
The academy graduate’s strike, which zipped across the turf and nestled in the bottom corner, cancelled out Gary Madine’s opener for the visitors.
In truth, the Addicks were on top for the majority of the encounter but they can be happy with their point, which saw Wanderers’ 100 per cent start to the season come to an end.
In terms of team news, Manager Russell Slade elected not to change the XI that had brought the Addicks six points in their last two matches.
Declan Rudd began between the posts and he was provided protection by a back four that consisted of Chris Solly, Ezri Konsa Jason Pearce and Morgan Fox.
Andrew Crofts operated just in front of the defensive quartet, with Kevin Foley, Johnnie Jackson and Ricky Holmes further ahead of him.
Josh Magennis and Nicky Ajose – fresh from his two goals at Walsall last weekend – led the line.
It was a cagey start to proceedings, with neither side threatening until the 12th minute. When the game’s first chance did arrive, it fell the Addicks’ way.
Holmes broke away from Jay Spearing and chipped the ball towards Ajose, who, from a tight angle, fired a low strike towards goal that visiting stopper Mark Howard made a smart save from.
Josh Vela fired harmlessly over the bar from 20 yards for Wanderers and Ajose was then denied again, this by an important block from defender Mark Beevers, after he had made himself some space on the edge of the box.
The Addicks were dealt a blow as the first half reached its midway point when Jackson had to be replaced. Still feeling the effects of a hamstring complaint, he was replaced by Patrick Bauer.
The switch saw the German slot into the heart of defence, with Konsa moving to right-back and Solly – who also took the armband – going into midfield.
Having quickly settled into his new role, Solly saw a shot blocked by Beevers and, on 34 minutes, Ajose flashed one into the side netting after stepping away from David Wheater.
Charlton were on top and maybe should have broken the deadlock four minutes later. Following a foul on Fox on the left, Holmes flighted in an inviting cross that Pearce met with his head, with his effort flying narrowly wide.
It would have been a deserved lead for the Addicks but moments later they were grateful to just be level. Jamie Proctor headed a Jay Spearing corner down and into the ground, and Solly did brilliantly to divert deflect the striker’s effort onto his own crossbar with his head.
There was a lengthy stoppage at the beginning of the second period when Bolton’s Mark Davies went down with a knee injury. He had to leave the field on a stretcher and once play restarted the league leaders quickly took the lead.
Liam Trotter escaped down the left and cut the ball back to Madine, who slotted into the net from 12 yards.
Lookman was introduced on 64 minutes and he quickly got himself involved in the action by reaching a deep Konsa cross and, in turn, sending in another centre that Bolton hacked away.
A cross from Fox was similarly cleared by the visitors and the Addicks then had appeals for a penalty turned down when a Lookman shot struck the arm of Dean Moxey inside the penalty area.
Magennis rose to head a Solly cross over the bar and Lookman then dragged a 25-yard strike wide with his left foot, as Charlton looked for an equaliser.
Time looked to be running out for the Addicks and, when Magennis again climbed highest but could only head over, it seemed that it was going to be one of those afternoons.
But, as the clock struck 90, Lookman unleashed a shot from 22 yards to earn us a point. He found half a yard of space in a central position and fired a left-footed strike into the bottom coner.
The goal was met with a great cheer from the Covered End – a cheer that got louder after hearing that there would be seven minutes of stoppage time to play.
The home side poured forward in search of a winner and half of The Valley thought they had it when replacement Brandon Hanlan headed into the side netting from a Holmes delivery.
There was still time for Ajose to drag a strike a couple of yards wide in the dying seconds but it finished all square and Slade’s men now have two week before they return to their league campaign.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Konsa, Pearce, Fox, Foley (Lookman 64), Crofts, Jackson (Bauer 23), Holmes, Magennis (Hanlan 90), Ajose.
Subs (not used): Phillips, Johnson, Lennon, Botaka.
Goal: Lookman 90
Bolton Wanderers: Howard, Buxton, Moxey, Beevers, Vela, Spearing (c), Proctor (A Taylor 74), Madine (Wilkinson 82), Davies (C Taylor 51), Trotter, Wheater.
Subs (not used): Turner, Wilson, Walker, Woolery.
Goal: Madine 53
Booked: Moxey 36 (foul on Holmes)
Referee: D Whitestone.
Attendance: 10,926 (900 Bolton)