Charlton 3 (Holmes 32, Lookman 78, Magennis 88) Coventry City 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Soaring majestically through an overcast sky, pigs definitely flew in Charlton today - several hundred of them, all pink, perky and plump. They were launched on to the pitch seconds after referee Darren Deadman signalled the start of this clash between teams with tarnished pedigrees and caused a five minute delay while order was restored. Shame really because Charlton were well on top at the time.
The porcine interruption was part of a protest mutually organised by dissenters dissatisfied with the regimes at The Valley and Ricoh Arena. Their opinions were expressed legally and succinctly, a point graciously conceded by Russell Slade during his post-game musings. Referencing the General Strike of 1926, the miners' strike and obliquely at least many another act of civil disobedience, he stoutly defended the people's bitterly earned right to peacefully protest. In the touching spirit of his comments, he was readily excused for placing the General Strike in 1928. You wouldn't get this enlightened attitude from the likes of Harry Redknapp. Unless, of course, he was on an earner for his customary insight.
Destined to be merely a backdrop for bigger issues, the Addicks and Sky Blues buckled down to a round up of the pigs, then turned their attention to serving up a mildly entertaining encounter, the outcome of which could prove crucial to the futures of both these venerable clubs. At the end of their joust, the hosts were left breathing a little easier while the Midlanders were even more firmly mired at the bottom of League One.
A mutual need for victory was reflected in the lively post-porker opening. From a corner won by the hustling Josh Magennis, Ademola Lookman's flagkick was headed, via a deflection, against a post by Patrick Bauer. In reply, Ruben Lameiras surged through to set up a shooting chance for Jamie Sterry who drove into the sidenet as the visitors found their feet. Great blocks by the ever-reliable Chris Solly and Jason Pearce on Ben Stevenson and Andre Wright respectively kept the scores level though Charlton rode their luck when Lameiras' sharp left-footed drive beat Declan Rudd but rebounded harmlessly off the base of the keeper's left-hand post.
Neat in their approach play but disastrously lightweight up front, as evidenced by a return of only eight goals from twelve league games, Coventry leave themselves vulnerable to the concession of an opening goal. Just past the half hour, their prospects duly took a body blow when Ricky Holmes' third goal of the season punished their lax defending of another Lookman's setpiece. Their immediate difficulty seemed solved by Jordan Willis' scuffed clearance but was intensified as Fredrik Ulvestad's speculatively lofted hit-and-hope return over the top of a ball-watching defence left an onside Holmes in space to control superbly and finish neatly past Lee Burge.
Making his usual busy, determined contribution, Holmes followed his goal by expertly threading a low centre through City's spreadeagled rearguard but Magennis, at full sliding stretch, was unable to make telling contact. Behind Burge's goal, meanwhile, nearly 1,500 Midland accents called for the ousting of Roland Duchatelet, while, at the other end, there was a strong Cockney clamour for the head of someone called Sisu. Such solidarity between brothers - it all smacked of socialism.
Shortly after the break, Rudd more than earned his corn with a double save of rare quality. Flying sideways to parry a ripsnorter from Chris McCann, he regained his feet to touch aside a potential own goal as the rebound bounced treacherously goalward off Pearce. Burge responded with a superb save of his own to keep out Magennis' header from Holmes' free kick. But the keeper's heroics delayed Charlton's critical second goal for only four more minutes.
Tussling with Turnbull near the the right byline, Magennis pilfered possession from the hapless centre back, before cutting in to set up an easy tap-in for Lookman. Mere minutes later, the same cast of characters combined for an identical third goal but this time Lookman blasted the chance over the bar.
Fittingly, Magennis' restless, unselfish performance received the reward it deserved before the end. Winning the argument with Sam Ricketts for control of Ulvestad's deliciously flighted delivery from the right, he shook off the defender and lifted the ball over the advancing Burge.
Having already witnessed bacon on the wing, Charlton fans are now surprised by nothing. Next week, working class hero Russell Slade is expected to conduct twin seminars about the Peterloo Massacre and the Tolpuddle Martyrs. A full house is anticipated.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Pearce, Bauer, Fox, Holmes (Hanlan 86), Crofts, Ulvestad, Lookman, Novak (Jackson 77), Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Chicksen, Ajose, Konsa, Lennon. Bookings: Holmes.
Coventry: Burge, Willis (Reid 65), Turnbull, Bigirimana, Page (Ricketts 24), Lameiras, McCann, Wright (Jones 65), Sterry, Stevenson, Sordell. Not used: Charles-Cook, Agyei, Gadzhev, Tudgay. Bookings: McCan
Referee: Darren Deadman. Att: 11,406 (1387 visiting)