Gary Haines reports from The Valley
Charlton extended their unbeaten run to four matches, but had to make do with a point on Saturday as 10-man Huddersfield Town hit back for a plucky point.
A penalty from Adam Clayton two minutes from time cancelled out Rob Hulse’s opener and earned them a share of the spoils despite playing for more than half the game with 10 men.
Keith Southern was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Collins after his meaty collision with Michael Morrison in the 34th minute.
On the saturated surface, it was a challenge there for the making and the Terrier can possibly count himself unlucky to have been dispatched to the dressing rooms.
The visitors, who had settled into the game well, reacted well to falling a man down and clear Charlton chances were at a premium until Hulse swivelled to turn home a Pritchard cross on the hour.
Had a shot from Ricardo Fuller flown the other side of the upright late on, they ,may have collected a fourth successive win, but they had to make do with a point after Chris Solly’s challenge on Peter Clarke in the box prompted Collins to point to the spot.
There was still time for Alex Smithies to keep out a last-gasp Hulse header as the hosts were forced to settle for a point.
On a rain-lashed afternoon in SE7, it was the visitors that made the more promising start.
Just two minutes had elapsed when a Clayton shot was cleared off the line by Johnnie Jackson, and Terriers skipper Clarke spooned the loose ball over the crossbar when he should have done better.
There was another scramble in the Addicks box when a Lee Novak drive was blocked and although Charlton fashioned little in terms of shots on goal, their cause was aided with the sending off of Southern.
In fairness to the midfielder, the ball was there to be won when Morrison brought the ball out of defence with purpose.
The duo collided in the centre-circle as Morrison went sprawling, and there was little time to digest what had unfolded before Collins said ‘walkies’ to the Terrier.
Replays suggested the red card was harsh, but the hosts were hardly complaining as they were left a man up with little under an hour remaining.
Frustratingly, but for a flashing Fuller drive across the face of goal after a great burst of speed from the Jamaican, they hadn’t created too many clear openings – but they took one when it mattered on the hour.
After the visitors surrendered possession the Addicks slickly kept the ball moving with Pritchard eventually sending in a peach of a cross for Hulse to turn home the opener.
Sadly, the hosts could not build on that momentum and the visitors, who like Burnley last week, were far from overawed playing a man down were still very much in the game going into the closing stages.
And after Ricardo Fuller planted a great opening wide which would effectively have sown up the points, they did draw level.
The towering Alan Lee had added nuisance value after entering the fray and the Irishman had been denied by two great defensive blocks before a desperate challenge from Solly on Clarke left Collins to point to the spot.
Clayton was the coolest man in SE7 after that, firing home from 12 yards, and the visitors will say parity was the least they deserved given their spirited display. They would have a point.
Still, they might have ended empty handed after Hulse spurned a glorious chance to win it in injury time, connecting with a superb cross from sub Danny Green but seeing Alex Smithies somehow claw the ball away.
In terms of team news there was a first start for the club for Arsenal loanee Emmanuel Frimpong, but there was a double blow for the hosts ahead of the game with in-form striker Danny Haynes and on-loan left-back Dan Seaborne sidelined through injury.
Haynes was replaced up front by Fuller while Seaborne’s knock meant Salim Kerkar switched to left-back.
Aside from Frimpong, more off-setting good news for the home faithful saw the talismanic Yann Kermorgant named on the bench for the first time since suffering a fractured ankle in late-September
Also back in the starting XI was midfielder Dale Stephens after he was ruled out of the trip to Burnley last week through illness.
He came in for Eggert Jonsson, who dropped to the bench.
Haynes had notched three goals in his last three games so the absence of his goal-threat and pace was a sizable blow ahead of the game but it opened the door for the fit-again Fuller to join Hulse down the middle.
Kerkar’s switch to left-back opened up a midfield berth with skipper Jackson switching to the left and Frimpong getting the nod over Jonsson to start in central midfield.
It was the midfielder’s first taste of league action this season although he did feature for Arsenal in the dramatic Capital One Cup clash at Reading recently. Stephens also adds style alongside the all-action Frimpong.
Ben Hamer continued between the posts for the home side with Solly, who belatedly picked up his player of the season trophy from last season ahead of the game, and Kerkar flanking Leon Cort and Morrison at the back.
Jackson and Pritchard were the wide outlets, either side of Frimpong and Stephens as Hulse and Fuller started together for the first time.
Jonsson was joined on the home bench by David Button, Matt Taylor, Dorian Dervite. Danny Green, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant, the latter’s first squad action since picking up a training ground injury.
Huddersfield, who have made a good start to life back in the Championship were without the injured Jermaine Beckford but Reading loanee Simon Church and Novak formed a potent-looking frontline.
The dangerous Danny Ward was also a threat from out wide while steel in midfield came from Clayton and Southern.
There was a huge let-off for the hosts in the second minute as Huddersfield were denied first on the goalline, and then saw their skipper miss horribly.
After a corner caused problems in the box - following a deflected shot wide from Novak - and Jackson was on sentry duty on the post to smuggle Clayton’s effort off the line.
The ball squirted across goal dangerously and with Hamer out of the picture Clarke looked sure to put his side ahead.
But he could only spoon the ball over the bar when he really ought to have scored, and the hosts breathed again.
Fuller’s cross into the box at the end caused a mini scramble in the Terriers box, but the visitors were by far the livelier in the early stages with Novak collecting a loose ball and guiding a shot wide.
Frimpong was certainly covering the turf in the early stages of his Addicks career, and one mouth-watering ball in from the right narrowly eluded Hulse and Stephens in the middle.
There was another near miss for the fast-starting visitors on 16 minutes after a break down the left saw the Addicks exposed again.
Novak peeled into space in the box but his shot clattered against one of a sea of bodies in the box – maybe one of his own teammates – and the chance passed after a scramble. In the aftermath Church stole in front of Morrison to connect with a low centre but Hamer saved to his left.
Paul Dixon was booked on 25 minutes after ploughing down Pritchard and Alex Smithies tipped Jackson’s curling free-kick over the bar amid a clutch of players.
Smithies was also distinguishing himself with his positive punching at set-pieces but Fuller almost conjured up a moment of brilliance for the hosts two minutes after the half hour mark.
Fastening onto a Jackson nod-down, the striker clicked through the gears and sped into the box but, under pressure, sent a shot flashing across goal and wide.
Hamer saved low from Church’s effort from the edge of the box, and then pounced on the loose ball before the complexion of the game changed on 34 minutes.
As Morrison powered out of defence and the ball span loose in the centre circle, the centre-back was met by a full-blooded challenge from Southern.
The defender was sent sprawling and referee Collins immediately brandished a red card to Southern, leaving Charlton a man up for the second successive Saturday.
Pritchard was booked after a sliding challenge on Clarke soon afterwards and that proved the last significant act of the half.
A flailing drive from Clayton four minutes after the break was diverted behind by Cort and in the aftermath of the corner that followed Ward’s fierce low shot was well saved by Hamer.
Morrison, up for a corner, was offside when gathering a Pritchard pass soon afterwards although Smithies made a smart save.
Referee Collins saw nothing wrong after Hulse was barged off the ball by Clarke and the striker darted into space to nod a clipped centre from Solly over on the stretch as the hour mark approached.
Then cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Hulse was on target for the third time in Charlton colours after a slick move that saw the hosts ruthlessly cash in on a misplaced pass from Clarke.
Jackson seized possession and switched the ball to Fuller, who had the foresight to pick out Pritchard to his right.
It was all about the ball in after that, and Pritchard didn’t disappoint, driving the ball low and hard and allowing Hulse to sweep home from close range.
It was just what the doctor ordered as the rain continued to team down, and
Frimpong’s 65th minute skidder was held by Smithies before the tiring midfielder was replaced after that, after treatment, with Green returning to the fold.
Pritchard slotted inside to a central berth in the reshuffle and Norwood made way for Scott Arfield as Huddersfield made a change soon afterwards.
Alan Lee then entered the fray, and after the referee played a good advantage after a foul on Pritchard by Norwood – an offence the Terrier would be booked for – Fuller surged into space but curled inches wide.
There was an almighty roar six minutes from time when Kermorgant made his long-awaited return from injury.
The big striker was well placed to head away the danger after the Terriers started to crack things up with Morrison sliding to deny Lee, and the Irishman’s header then blocked brilliantly by Cort.
The pressure was building and Town were awarded a chance to level two minutes from time. As the ball was played towards the far post Solly was penalised for a high challenge on Clarke and Collins pointed to the spot.
Clayton kept his cool to send outwit Hamer from 12 yards and the visitors were level.
It was a blow for the hosts, although the board for four added minutes offered hope that they might fashion some late drama.
And they almost did in stoppage time as Green whipped in a superlative cross from the right and Hulse only to see his header saved a point-blank range by Smithies.
It was a big chance, but there was little time to dwell as the effective Lee spread the play to Church and his low cross was superbly cut out by Solly.
That proved the last act as honours ended even.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Kerkar, Morrison, Cort; Pritchard, Stephens, Frimpong (Green 67), Jackson; Fuller (Kermorgant 84), Hulse.
Subs (not used): Button, Dervite, Taylor, Jonsson, Green, Wright-Phillips.
Goal: Hulse 60
Booked: Pritchard 41 (foul on Clarke)
Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Dixon, Clarke, Lynch; Southern, Clayton, Norwood (Arfield 71); Ward (Hammill 84), Novak (Lee 77), Church.
Subs (not used): Bennett, Woods, Gerrard, Robinson.
Goal: Clayton pen 88
Booked: Dixon 25 (foul on Pritchard) Clayton 80 (foul on Pritchard)
Sent off: Southern 34 (foul on Morrison)
Referee: L Collins
Att: 20,012 (1,085 Huddersfield)