George Jones reports from the County Ground
Charlton’s six-match unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday afternoon as they suffered a 3-0 defeat against Swindon Town at the County Ground.
The Addicks, missing four first-team regulars, fell behind three minutes before the break when Sean Murray’s deflected strike completely wrong-footed Declan Rudd and bobbled into the corner of the net.
Lloyd Jones’ close-range finish made it two on 51 minutes and hosts completed the scoring late on when Johnny Goddard found the net from inside the box.
In terms of team news, Russell Slade was forced to shuffle his pack due to international call-ups.
With Josh Magennis, Ademola Lookman and Jordan Botaka all missing - and Ricky Holmes absent through injury - the Manager made three changes to the side that started against Scunthorpe United in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend.
Fit again Jason Pearce and Chris Solly came into the eleven, with Lee Novak also earning a starting berth.
The opening chance of the game arrived on the two-minute mark and it fell the way of the hosts. Darnell Furlong concluded a good burst forward by whipping in a cross that Yaser Kasim met on the volley but Solly was there to get an important block in.
Michael Doughty nodded a Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill centre onto the roof of the net on seven minutes, as the hosts made the early running.
At the other end, Morgan Fox and Pearce were both just a couple of inches away from connecting with an inviting, Johnnie Jackson free-kick and Swindon’s Goddard then dragged a shot harmlessly wide after showing some decent footwork inside the box.
A good tackle from Patrick Bauer set the Addicks on their way forward with 19 minutes on the clock. He found Fredrik Ulvestad, who drove into the Robins’ half and slipped possession into the right channel for Ajose. The former Swindon man drilled a low cross into the box and home stopper Lawrence Vigouroux had to rush out to smother the ball with Novak lurking.
In truth, chances had come at a premium in the match’s opening half hour but the home side then created their best opening to-date on 33 minutes. Goddard cut in from the left and picked out Murray on the edge of the box; his strike was comfortable for Declan Rudd to save and, soon afterwards, the hosts threatened again when Luke Norris let fly from the edge of box. Rudd was able to make a good stop again, though.
Charlton responded and, in turn, forced their first meaningful chance on 38 minutes. Fox galloped down the left flank and crossed for Novak, who sent a glancing header over the top of the crossbar.
Jones did well to get his head in the way of Patrick Bauer’s goal-bound effort five minutes before the break and Ulvestad then zipped a long-range strike wide, as the Addicks upped it towards the end of the first period.
There would be another chance before the break, however, and it saw Swindon take the lead. Murray made himself half a yard on the edge of the box and fired a strike at goal that was heading wide before it took a wicked deflection off Fox and trickled into the far corner.
It was cruel luck on the full-back as he could do nothing about it and handed the hosts the advantage in a game that looked destined to be goalless at the break.
Before the half-time whistle was sounded, Ajose won Charlton a corner that Bauer rose highest to meet, but his effort flew over the bar.
Slade made a change at break, introducing Brandon Hanlan in place of Kevin Foley, but it was Swindon that began the second half the brighter and they doubled their lead on 51 minutes.
Doughty whipped in a low corner that was flicked on at the near post and Jones peeled off his marker to tuck the ball home at the far post.
Rudd claimed a Murray cross as the hosts looked to add to their advantage on the hour mark and, as Charlton countered down the other end, they were then denied a route back into the game.
Novak looked for Hanlan at the far post with a floated pass and, with the youngster set to try and connect with it, he was clearly dragged to the ground by full-back Ormonde-Ottewill.
Referee Tim Robinson did not point to the penalty spot, though, but if he had seen the incident clearly he would surely have had no choice but to point to the spot.
With Charlton in the hunt for a goal, Ajose then fired a tame strike into the arms ofVigouroux. Novak nodded an Ulvestad cross down at the far post 15 minutes from time but no-one in the middle was able to poke it over the goal-line, as it became increasingly clear that it wasn’t going to be Charlton’s day.
It was almost three on 79 minutes when Kasim burst clear on goal but Rudd raced off his line to make a fantastic save. The loose ball looped up into the air but the Addicks were able to scramble it clear.
Swindon did make it 3-0 on 86 minutes. Kasim slipped in Goddard and he opened up his body and curled into the net to compound a miserable afternoon for the depleted Addicks.
SwindonTown: Vigouroux, Furlong, Rossi-Branco, Jones, Ormonde-Ottewill, Kasim (C), Thomas (Rodgers 73), Murray, Doughty (Iandolo 90), Goddard, Norris (Delfouneso 76).
Subs (not used): Henry, Barry, Smith, Evans.
Goals: Fox (og) 43, Jones 51, Goddard 86
Booked: Thomas 40 (foul on Foley)
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Pearce, Bauer, Fox, Foley (Hanlan 46), Crofts, Ulvestad, Jackson (Chicksen 84), Novak, Ajose.
Subs (not used): Phillips, Teixeira, Konsa, Lennon, Umerah.
Booked: Jackson 81 (foul on Furlong)
Att: (504 from Charlton)
Referee: T Robinson