Coventry City 1 (G. Thomas 28) Charlton 1 (Bauer 55).
Kevin Nolan reports from Ricoh Arena.
Still in need of a point or two to guarantee survival in League One, Charlton edged closer to safety with their eighteenth draw this term, no fewer than 13 of which have employed a jaw-dropping 1-1 formula. With just three games left before a merciful veil is drawn over a pinched, parched, plodding campaign, there has been little to celebrate and much to deplore along the way. The end of a sorry season can't come soon enough for most of its thoroughly worn out principals.
In saving themselves - or as good as saving themselves, given the remote mathematical equations still hanging over them - the Addicks simultaneously lowered the boom on Coventry City, whose failure to win this game confirmed their relegation to League Two next season. Beset by inner strife, weakened by civil war and haunted by the lurking threat of extinction, this shambles of a once-great football club slipped mutely to its fate, hastened there ironically by equally shambolic visitors who are going through a period of similar self-harm. This was another example of the lack of sentimentality in football, where dog eats dog and wastes little energy in regurgitating an apology. It's how it is, take it or leave it. Duly warned, most Charlton fans will gratefully take it, many of them through gritted teeth.
Winners of five of their last six games, the Sky Blues had left it too late to stave off the inevitable but they gave it an honest go. Playing with a freedom which belied their desperate plight, they buckled down cheerfully after a ten-minute delay caused by a pitch invasion of plastic pigs (some of them veterans of a similar porcine protest at The Valley earlier this season) and gamely took the fight to Charlton.
Sparked by young winger Jodi Jones, who began an enterprising contribution by jinking infield from left to right before forcing a diving save from Declan Rudd, the Midlanders clearly intend to depart League One with a bang not a whimper. But they should have fallen behind minutes later when Nathan Byrne headed Jay Dasilva's precise cross against the crossbar. Though not exactly renowned for his aerial ability, Byrne should have buried the chance. And Josh Magennis might have done better with the rebound than blast it over the bar. Naturally, the Addicks were made to pay for their waywardness.
The immediate danger which loomed when George Thomas slipped past Dasilva, then advanced along the right byline was temporarily checked by Jason Pearce's alertness at the expense of a corner. But Ruben Lameiras' short delivery found its way from Jordan Turnbull's lucky deflection to Thomas, who converted the gift from 10 yards.
Before the interval, further saves by Rudd, first from Gael Bigirama's long distance piledriver, then by plunging to his left to tip Jones' accurate shot past a post, kept Charlton in touching distance. Duly encouraged, Magennis shook off two defenders moments before the break, prodded an improvised shot goalward but was foiled by Lee Burge's legs at the keeper's near post.
Rudd continued his defiance in the second half, an outstanding block confounding George Thomas in one-on-one confrontation. One minute later, his side was level. Switching flanks regularly, Ricky Holmes attacked down the left and earned a corner off Farrend Rawson. His inswinging delivery was nodded on by Magennis and headed firmly under the bar by Patrick Bauer.
The instant replacement of a deeply disappointing Ezri Konsa, reputedly the next cashcalf on his post-season way out of The Valley, by Jake Forster-Caskey, increased Charlton's prospects. Too often caught dawdling in possession, Konsa needs to recapture the urgency he showed when he first broke through from the academy.
The pick of Rudd's string of fine saves, meanwhile, his latest a quite magnificent effort to foil Jones' drive at full length, kept the scores level. At the other end, Burge matched his excellence with a similarly athletic response to Forster-Caskey's full-blooded effort. And so it ended 1-1. Just like we knew it would. Don't knock it. 1-1 kept Charlton up.
Coventry: Burge, Willis (Foley 73), Turnbull, Lameiras, Jones (Reid 76), Beavon (Kwame Thomas 46), Rawson, Haynes, George Thomas, Stevenson, Bigirimana. Not used: Charles-Cook, Stokes, Reilly, Tudgay. Booked: Jones, Stevenson.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Pearce, Bauer, Dasilva, Crofts, Konsa (Forster-Caskey 58), Ulvestad, Byrne, Holmes (Aribo 78), Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Jackson, Watt, Botaka, Texeira. Booked: Crofts.
Referee: Darren Handley. Att: 9,479.