Iain Liddle reports from Broadfield Stadium
Charlton made it six wins out of six in pre-season after Danny Green’s first-half free-kick proved the difference against League One newcomers Crawley Town.
Set-pieces have proved somewhat of a speciality so far in pre-season, with Yann Kermrogant scoring two against Barnet and Johnnie Jackson converting one against Sporting Clube de Portugal in Spain, so the Sussex-based hosts could not say they were not warned ahead of time.
However, midway through the first period, Danny Green’s pinpoint curling effort was too powerful for the outstretched fingers of keeper Paul Jones.
Although still nearly three weeks away from their opening game of the Championship season at Birmingham City, the SE7 natives showed signs of continued improvement in producing a quietly confident victory.
Salim Kerkar put pen to paper on a permanent one-year with the Addicks earlier in the afternoon, but the former Glasgow Rangers midfielder, who had impressed on trial, started the evening on the substitute’s bench.
Instead manager Chris Powell, who kept faith the diamond midfield which served him well against Barnet last Thursday, preferred Jordan Cook on the left of the four, while Danny Green occupied an attacking role behind the two forwards.
Danny Hollands also started his second match in four days after skippering the side at Bromley on Saturday, as he stepped up his recuperation from a toe injury which delayed the start to his pre-season. Up front, towering young forward Michael Smith led the line alongside Danny Haynes.
It took less than four minutes for Charlton to force their first effort on goal, when Green’s corner fell to the edge of the area, but the wide-eyed Jordan Cook lashed an effort over the bar.
The visitors were assured in possession for the opening 15 minutes of the contest, with full-backs Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins showing no signs of any rust as they buccaneered up their respective touchlines with regularity.
However goalkeeper Ben Hamer had to be alert after a quarter of an hour when the roaming Scott Neilson drifted in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot low to the stopper’s right, although he quickly got down to turn the effort round the post.
Former Crystal Palace striker Calvin Andrew, who spent time on loan at Leyton Orient last season, was on trial up front for the home side and made an early impression when his burly frame out-manoeuvred Matt Taylor, forcing a weak back-pass to Hamer, but the keeper reacted quickly once again and just beat the onrushing forward to the ball.
At the other end, Smith was being given a physical test by experienced Jamaican centre-back Claude Davis, but the defender was over eager when challenging Haynes on the edge of the box after 22 minutes, giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Such mistakes have proved especially costly against Charlton so far in pre-season and, true to form, set-piece specialist Danny Green stepped up to curl the ball round the wall and into the bottom right corner of the goal, despite goalkeeper Jones getting his fingertips to the ball.
Davis should have made amends for his error two minutes later when a Crawley corner found him completely unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but he headed over the bar as a dismayed Powell gesticulated frantically at the poor defending in the visiting dugout.
Crawley grew into the game after going behind and in Andrew and fellow forward John Akinde they had two willing outlets up front willing to chase lost causes.
However Charlton continued to create the better openings and Cook, who saw little of the ball in the first half an hour, then showed his class by carrying the ball up the left flank under pressure, before curling a sublime ball with the outside of his right boot into the path of Haynes.
However, as the striker gleefully raced onto it, with seemingly only the keeper to beat, the slippery surface intervened and he lost his footing at the critical moment.
Sergio Torres warmed Hamer’s palms with a long-range effort, but Smith should arguably have done better for the Addicks when picked out by Solly at the back post shortly afterwards.
Haynes, who looked lively up front all evening, nearly doubled the visitors’ lead before half-time, as he pounced on Matt Sadler’s hesitation in the area, before drilling an effort low and wide of the post.
Both managers resisted the urge to make changes at the break, where Charlton deservedly led, although the hosts nearly drew level soon after the restart.
After giving away a free-kick in an advanced position, Hamer struggled to get his message across to those attempting to form a wall allowing the quick-thinking Scott Davies to pick out Neilson, but he headed wide from close range.
As is traditional in pre-season matches, the action faded as the contest progressed and Charlton were largely comfortable in possession despite the energetic Crawley players hurrying them at every opportunity.
Apart from an injury-enforced stoppage when Andrew fell awkwardly on his neck after challenging for an aerial ball with substitute Michael Morrison, there was little to write home about.
However, if ever inspiration was needed, another replacement was there to provide it in Kermorgant, as he showed Gallic flair to back-heel a cross from Solly low towards goal, but agonisingly wide of the post.
The French forward was picked out again after 74 minutes when Wiggins picked him out with a deep cross to the back post, but – this time preferring the more orthodox option of using his head – he nodded wide.
As the heavens opened, the home side continued to search for an equaliser and would have been successful, but for a fine save from Hamer.
As the hosts exploited space down Charlton’s right, a low cross pinballed off the boots of Morrison and winger Nicky Adams and flew towards the bottom corner of goal, before the cat-like custodian fell sharply to force a corner.
Powell did give the visiting supporters in the KL-R stand a glimpse at Kerkar with 11 minutes remaining, however the contest petered out in the closing stages as the Addicks held on for a deserved victory.
Charlton Athletic: Hamer, Solly (Wilson 79), Wiggins (Evina 79), Taylor, Dervite (Morrison 60), Hollands (Stephens 70), Wagstaff (Pritchard 70), Green (Jackson 60), Cook (Kerkar 79), Haynes (Wright-Phillips 70), Smith (Kermorgant 60).
Subs not used: Sullivan, Cort.
Goals: Green 22.