Charlton 3 (Pearce 20, Holmes 31, Magennis 55) Gillingham 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Holding the fate of several relegation-haunted teams in their hands, among them Gillingham, Charlton did their noisy so-called neighbours no favours with this deceptively comfortable drubbing. This was the second of four games against doomed and nearly-doomed opposition which will put a merciful end to their own deeply troubling season. Think of it as the Addicks' "There but for the grace of God tour" (dated T-shirts and other merchandise available).
On Good Friday, it had been Charlton's unpleasant duty to administer the last rites to Coventry City. A diplomatic 1-1 draw at the Ricoh Arena allowed the Sky Blues to retain their dignity but officially consigned them to League Two. Next Saturday, their ministry moves to Chesterfield, where the all-but-mathematically condemned Spireites will be lowered down with similarly respectful ritual. A week later, desperate Swindon Town are due at The Valley to face relaxed hosts with a 3-0 score to settle and consequently little charity in their hearts. As the common denominator in the unpleasant business of relegation, Charlton will be expected to show compassion to the stricken and to avoid a crowing "better them than us" attitude. Yeah... right...good luck with that. This is football, an industry not burdened by selfless goodwill
Easter Monday visitors Gillingham competed with their hosts to be their own worst enemy. From as early as the second minute when Cody McDonald faced an open goal after being played clear by Lee Martin's astute pass but shot lazily into the sidenet, to the embarrassing air-kick applied by McDonald to substitute Josh Parker's cross just past the hour, their finishing was comical. Martin made his own contribution by blasting the loose ball created by McDonald's clumsiness into the away stand. In between the stand-out misses, the Gills were almost at pains to avoid the target, not least when McDonald and Joe Quigley impeded each other in their anxiety to convert Martin's cleverly dinked cross from the right byeline. One of them headed it wide.
In stark contrast, Charlton for once made the most of their chances. On the end of the first of them, Jason Pearce comprehensively outjumped Quigley and Deji Oshilaja before unstoppably powering Ricky Holmes' right wing corner past Czech keeper Tomas Holy. Pearce's first goal for the club was riotously received and swells to nine the useful total provided by centre backs.
While the breakthrough was still being celebrated, an all too familiar lapse by Ezri Konsa almost nullified the Addicks' advantage. Caught dawdling in possession, his error allowed McDonald brief sight of goal before the striker tumbled dramatically under Patrick Bauer's recovery tackle. McDonald was almost sheepish in his appeal for a penalty and was booked. The talented Konsa will no doubt be invited, meanwhile, to explain his recent lack of due care and attention on the ball. He needs to avoid risks and sharpen up.
Just past the half hour, Holmes reacted to the mini-controversy by doubling Charlton's lead. Outstanding left back Jay Dasilva's determined run was halted by Max Ehmer's crude challenge, for which the German defender was booked and which set up Holmes in his favoured free kick position to the left of goal. From 25 yards, his sumptuous delivery dipped sweetly inside the left post to put clear daylight between the teams.
Any prospect of a Gillingham rally was ruthlessly quashed ten minutes after the break, with the irrepressible Holmes again at the heart of the action. His meandering run from right to left, during which he occasionally considered shooting, brought him close to the left byeline, along which he squeezed a pass to Jordan Botaka. An instinctive feint by the Congolese international wrongfooted Gillingham's rearguard and allowed Josh Magennis clear sight of a gaping goal into which the burly target man casually sidefooted the Addicks' third goal.
While cruising routinely to only their 12th win of this nightmarish season, only unsighted Declan Rudd's fumbling of Rory Donnelly's free kick caused brief consternation. Even then, a posse of Rudd's alert colleagues spared his blushed by mopping up the danger and preserving a rare clean sheet. Nothing was to be allowed to mar a singularly satisfying bank holiday.
So there it is, two more games to complete before the summer re-building, both in personnel and hopefully attitude, commences. Until the regime changes, the same divisiveness will fester but some respect for the manager is overdue. Only with an uninterrupted pre-season behind him can he be fairly judged, not that fairness has much to do with this schoolkiddish mangling of his name. Boycotting games is unreservedly everyone's right, one I'll defend rigorously so long as I don't have to hear it trumpeted as some kind of badge of honour. And as for hoping Charlton lose so you can feel somehow vindicated...do leave off. Winning is all it's ever been about. My cockles are still warmed by memories of the time we won the Evening News five-a-sides. I recall the diamond system was used to irresistible effect.
Charlton: Rudd, Byrne, Bauer, Pearce, Dasilva, Holmes, Crofts, Konsa Forster-Caskey (Aribo 88), Botaka (Ahearne-Grant 75), Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Jackson, Watt, Ulvestad, Texeira. Booked: Byrne, Magennis.
Gillingham: Holy, Jackson, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Quigley (Donnelly 46), Cornick (Parker 46), Martin (Osadebe 82), Hessenthaler, Wright, Dack, McDonald. Not used: Nelson, Herd, Muldoon, Rehman. Booked: Ehmer, McDonald, Martin.
Referee: Brett Huxtable.
Att: 12,449 (2,185).