Charlton earned their fourth straight home victory, defeating Port Vale 2-0 at The Valley on Saturday afternoon.
The Addicks all-but finished the job in the first half thanks to the goals of Josh Magennis and Nicky Ajose and despite a spell of pressure from the visitors in the second period, the Londoners put in a formidable defensive display to keep their opponents quiet and make sure of all three points.
Caretaker Manager Kevin Nugent made two changes to the starting XI. Magennis, who picked up a hamstring problem playing for Northern Ireland in midweek, recovered enough to take his place in the line-up.
Ademola Lookman also earned a starting berth, having represented England U20s in the last fortnight, and started on the right wing.
Declan Rudd started in goal with a back four of Kevin Foley, Patrick Bauer, Jason Pearce and Morgan Fox operating in front of him, while Chris Solly missed out with a knee complaint.
Lookman was joined in midfield by Andrew Crofts, Fredrik Ulvestad and skipper Johnnie Jackson, while Magennis partnered Ajose up top.
The visitors enjoyed a pair of half-chances in the early exchanges with former Addick Jerome Thomas’ seeing his dangerous cross diverted past the post, before Ryan Taylor had the opportunity to hit the target from a free-kick in a good position, although the ex-Newcastle United man could only strike into the wall.
Charlton’s first sight at goal came courtesy of Lookman with 16 minutes on the clock when the youngster controlled Ajose’s cross from the left before forcing Jak Alnwick into a good save at his near post with a powerful volley.
And from the resulting corner, the hosts came inches away from taking the lead when Pearce met Lookman’s delivery with a header which came bouncing back off the woodwork.
The Addicks had found their feet after a somewhat slow start and came close again moments later when Magennis got up brilliantly to nod Ajose’s centre narrowly wide.
On 26 minutes, a lovely passing move saw Ajose, Magennis and Lookman link-up well with some eye-catching one-touch play before the former was played into the box, only to see his shot well blocked by a white shirt.
Then, dot on the half-hour mark, Charlton took the lead.
Fox was the provider, laying on a sumptuous cross towards the back post for Magennis, who stretched his neck muscles to send his header looping over Alnwick and into the back of the net.
Vale looked to find a quick reaction with Alex Jones’ snapshot stinging the palms of Rudd, who got down well to keep it out, but the Addicks stayed on the front foot and scored again to stretch their lead before the break.
Fox claimed his second assist of the afternoon, intercepting a Port Vale ball out wide before galloping forward and threading a ball forward for Ajose. The striker sprung the offside trap and raced into the box to finish past Alnwick one-on-one, with a huge amount of confidence.
The hosts remained on top early in the second half. Lookman had a penalty appeal turned away by the referee, who bizarrely awarded Port Vale a free-kick instead, before Crofts lined up a half-volley from all of thirty yards which only just dipped over the bar with Alnwick seemingly beaten.
Port Vale then enjoyed most of the pressure in the second period, seeing plenty of possession and testing Charlton’s backline with a number of balls into the box, but the reds held firm, with Bauer and Pearce in fine form at the heart of the defence.
Jackson gave way for Jordan Botaka after 63 minutes, while Brandon Hanlan replaced Josh Magennis with 15 minutes left on the clock as the Addicks looked to see the game out safely.
There was very little more in the way of action until the last five minutes when Jones forced Rudd into a routine save from distance, before Ajose had the ball in the back of the net at the other end, only to be denied his brace by the linesman’s flag from Hanlan’s assist.
Nathan Smith sent a flick just wide for the visitors from a fizzed in cross from the right in the dying minutes, but on the whole, Rudd’s afternoon was relatively quiet despite Vale’s superior second-half possession.
The victory moves Charlton into 14th, just four points off the play-off positions with a game in hand, while the Addicks have suffered just one defeat in seven ahead of Tuesday evening’s trip to Bristol Rovers.
Charlton: Rudd, Foley, Bauer, Pearce, Fox, Lookman (Konsa 90+1), Crofts, Ulvestad, Jackson (Botaka 63), Magennis (Hanlan 75), Ajose.
Subs: Phillips, Lennon, Teixeira, Novak.
Booked: Ulvestad 38 (foul on Tavares), Lookman 55 (kicking the ball away)
Goal: Magennis 30, Ajose 44
Port Vale: Alnwick, Streete, Knops, Smith, Taylor, Tavares, Amoros (Paterson 46), De Freitas, Kelly (Forrester 78), Thomas (Pereira 63), Jones
Subs: Santos, MacIntosh, Kiko, Cicilia.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Att: 8,992 (423 from Port Vale)