Hartlepool 0 Charlton 4 (Wright-Phillips 9,37, Hollands 55, Wagstaff 84).
Charlton fans are really beginning to warm to the cut of Chris Powell's managerial jib. He comes across as balanced and mature, exactly the qualities that stood him in good stead during a lengthy, distinguished playing career.
Powell's measured reaction to recent defeat at Stevenage was revealing. Not for him the sour ugliness of Neil Warnock, the strawberry-veined ranting of Alex Ferguson or the quasi-psychological superiority of Arsene Wenger. Instead, his thunderous brow spoke of a determination to look within himself and his players for its cause and to avoid the easy option of blaming officials. There's no doubt he's a gentleman but he's also a complete professional with an aversion to losing but also an ability to maintain perspective in an otherwise triumphant campaign. Simply stated, he has his head screwed on.
There was little chance of the Addicks suffering their second loss of the season at chilly Victoria Park, where Hartlepool United were comprehensively beaten. A quickfire double from the insatiable Bradley Wright-Phillips placed United squarely behind the eight-ball, a daunting position from which they were never likely to recover.
Currently hotter than a pistol, Wright-Phillips has rattled in twelve goals in fifteen league starts, the last five of them notched in his last three games. An instinctive awareness of space carries him into the right place at invariably the right time, while uninhibited finishing does the rest. An occasional touch of luck also comes in handy, as was the case when Charlton's sureshot opened his account after nine minutes.
The build-up was smooth enough, Yann Kermorgant's chipped pass playing Rhoys Wiggins in behind outwitted right back Neil Austin. The rampaging Wiggins drilled over a low cross for Wright-Phillips to bobble a first-time shot which deceived Scott Flinders on its bouncing way into the bottom right corner.
With strapping centre backs Matt Taylor and Michael Morrison in commanding form, Danny Hollands bossing midfield and fullbacks Wiggins and Chris Solly their usual dependable selves, 'Pools prospects were already bleak. Adam Boyd did force a fine save from Ben Hamer but it came as little surprise that Wright-Phillips doubled his account and his side's lead before the break.
The irresistible left-sided partnership forged between Wiggins and Johnnie Jackson did the spadwork this time, their sharp exchange of passes sending Wiggins rampaging to the left byline. His clipped cross was hooked into the roof of the net, with practised ease, by Wright-Phillips, making simple work of what was actually a difficult skill.
From time to time this season, Charlton have wobbled in possession of a two-goal lead, most recently while working out an awkward midweek win over Wycombe Wanderers. A tendency to sit back on their advantage and invite the opposition on to them has encouraged apparently beaten sides to stage unlikely rallies. It seems the thoughtful Powell has addressed the problem because there was to be no miracle revival for the outclassed 'Pools who found themselves adrift at three down shortly after resumption.
Kermorgant had been regularly targeted for rough stuff by United's outgunned defenders. Five minutes into the second period, his quick turn eluded Peter Hartley, who responded by chopping down the Breton striker a yard outside the penalty area to the right of goal. Hartley's inevitable yellow card was only part of his punishment because Jackson's wickedly inswinging free kick was bulleted home by the onrushing Hollands from five yards. There's no better way to defend a two-goal lead than by making it three.
As the Addicks relaxed, Wright-Phillips came within a whisker of claiming his first-ever senior hat-trick but failed to toe-end Jackson's low centre past Flinders. At the other end, meanwhile, Taylor demonstrated Charlton's professional ruthlessness by heroically blocking James Poole's point-blank shot. Much earlier, Hollands had set the example with a ferocious, but eminently fair tackle on Andy Monkhouse.
There was still time for a final flourish provided by late substitutes Scott Wagstaff and Paul Hayes. Wagstaff had replaced the enigmatic Danny Green, a rare disappointment in the visitors' solid team performance but a player with so much to offer. Pulling back in anticipation of an alertly cutback pass from Hayes, the indefatigable winger crisply drove home the Addicks' fourth goal.
So the Stevenage blip, though still a sore point, has been answered by three successive victories within eight days. It's still early days - a fact of which nobody is more aware than one of League One's up-and-coming managers - but Charlton are the real deal. There's more to them than mere style. They're a hardbitten lot, very much cut from their guvnor's mould. He won't mind us saying so.
Stevenage: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Murray, Poole, Liddle (Luscombe 55), Monkhouse, Nish, Boyd (Brown 55). Not used: Rafferty, Humphreys, Wright.
Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Taylor, Morrison, Wiggins, Green (Wagstaff 69), Hollands (Euell 86), Hughes, Jackson, Kermorgant (Hayes 81), Wright-Phillips. Not used: Sullivan, Cort.
Referee: D. Mohareb. Attendance: 5,333.