Huddersfield Town 0 Charlton 1 (Church 54).
Kevin Nolan reports from the John Smith Stadium.
With two mighty leaps, gutsy Charlton threw off their FA Cup shackles and, with this second victory in four days, vaulted from the third to the fifth round in easy stages. Say what you like about their ability but leave their spirit out of it. Despite regular setbacks, that burns brightly.
In wet, windy West Yorkshire, where the rain was siling down as they say hereabouts, they were up against the usual handicaps. For different reasons, their outstanding full back partnership of Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins was unavailable, while talisman Yann Kermorgant was rested with Tuesday's critical assignment at Doncaster Rovers considered a more pressing priority. With his dwindling resources showing signs of being reduced rather than augmented before the transfer window closes, Chris Powell performed his customary sleight-of-hand and sent out a side dedicated to disputing every inch of territory with the locals.
Ace midfielder Dale Stephens possibly took the Henry V exhortations a little too literally with an unnecessarily robust 28th minute tackle on Adam Hamill, which triggered an unseemly outbreak of the usual "you and whose army?" pseudo-aggression between the opposing bands of brothers. Stephens escaped with a caution, Michael Morrison and Anthony Gerrard joined him in referee Attwell's notebook for disagreeing about the colour of the card, Danny Ward's nasty lunge took out Town's resentment on innocent Cedric Evina before Stephens pushed his luck with a fair but borderline challenge on Oliver Norwood. Both Hamill and Evina limped off later but this wasn't rugby where stamping has apparently succeeded eye-gouging as the evil deed de nos jours and peace eventually broke out again.
Pre-hostilities, the Addicks had been indebted to keeper Ben Alnwick for staying on terms. His sturdy reliability had already been demonstrated with a competent gathering of Norwood's snapshot before a marvellous save denied Ward. Played through by Paul Dixon's measured pass, Ward shot firmly on the run but Alnwick somersaulted to his left to parry, then recovered the rebound as James Vaughan closed in for the kill.
Replacing Kermorgant, Marvin Sordell had come closest for the visitors when blasting Simon Church's cutback narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar, Johnnie Jackson nodded Stephens' free kick wide but it was Town who called the first half tune and the Addicks who were more grateful for the break.
Nine minutes after resumption, all that changed as willing workhorse Church shot Charlton into the lead. Full debutant Astrit Ajdarevic (Ad-ar-evitch) played his part by picking out Lawrie Wilson, whose darting infield run and clever reverse pass dovetailed with Church's intelligent off-the-ball running. Turning sharply, the Welsh international beat Alex Smithies with a low, scuffed crosshot which found the net off the far post.
Town boss Mark Robins had seen enough. Possibly regretting that he hadn't started Sean Scannell, he sent on the tricky right winger to turn the tide. A one-man army, Scannell began to run at the visitors' rearguard, where 19 year-old Harry Lennon had relieved Evina to make his first team debut. The latest in an encouraging supply line of Academy talent, the tall, well-built kid, normally a centre back, acquitted himself nobly but Scannell was a different proposition. His direct running and unselfishness caused chaos and created a flood of chances.
The newcomer began by bamboozling Callum Harriott on the right byline before cutting back for Ward to blast wildly into the crowd. Hungry for the ball, he set up Ward again but a weak shot scudded wide. Taking the bull by the horns, Scannell eluded Lennon and crashed in a fiercely angled drive which was sneaking inside the right post until Alnwick dived to beat it clear. Charlton's in-form goalie also plunged bravely into flying feet to claim a dangerous low cross from second sub Duane Holmes, who stood out for the Terriers last Spring in an U-21 play-off semi-final at Sparrows Lane.
Scannell had one last shot in his locker. Embarking on a determined solo run, he made it into the penalty area where he was surrounded by a wall of pursuing defenders. Sapped by his unremitting effort, he managed only an inconclusive effort which dribbled harmlessly wide.
The wise word, meanwhile, is that this Cup run diverts attention from the bread-and-butter priority of staying in the Championship. It's hard to refute that assertion but Charlton are damned if they do and damned if they don't. A less than enthusiastic attitude to Cup commitments has outraged supporters in the recent past and no doubt persuaded Powell, a natural competitor, to have a genuine go at progressing. Added to which, the club has already made about a quarter million in prize money, which will cheer Roland up. Success breeds success anyway, so it's onward to the Keepmoat Stadium for the fourth of five successive away games on Tuesday evening. We'll talk again on Wednesday morning.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Smith, Gerrard, Wallace, Dixon, Hamill (Sinott 35, Scannell 55), Gobern (Holmes 64), Norwood, Clayton, Ward, Vaughan. Not used: Bennett, Woods, Stead, Bunn. Booked: Gerrard.
Charlton: Alnwick, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Evina (Lennon 35), Adjarevic (Cousins 69), Stephens, Jackson, Harriott, Sordell (Green 69), Church. Not used: Thuram-Ulien, Wood, Cook, Pigott. Booked: Stephens, Morrison.
Referee: Stuart Attwell. Att: 10,102 (382 visiting).
NB .... And Charlton's reward for the heroics described above? An away tie at Hillsborough against fellow Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, that's what! No disrespect to an historic old club but how's that for a kick in the nuts? Mind you, the winner will be one game away from Wembley. I'm starting to warm to it.