Charlton 4 (Magennis 2, Holmes 61, Forster-Caskey 90, 90), Northampton Town 1 (Richards 79).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
The quality of a football team should be judged not on their results but on their performances. It's an interesting theory advanced by no less an expert than Alan Curbishley but with due deference to the great man, it simply doesn't hold water. In fact there are those of us, for whom the word "cobblers" is the only sensible response.
Last weekend, for instance, a large contingent of pilgrims trekked miserably back from Plymouth, enduring a one-and-a-half hour motorway stoppage among other inconveniences on their tortuous journey. According to Curbishley's mantra, they should have been celebrating a dominant performance, particularly during an one-sided first half, which nearly blew Argyle away; instead they chewed mournfully over Charlton's almost inexplicable 2-0 defeat by a patently inferior side. It's safe to say they'd have chosen scruffy result over silken performance any day of the week and twice last Saturday. We're talking hardnosed football here, not a trip to an art gallery.
There was no such dilemma at The Valley on Saturday. To a man, which included outstanding contributions from substitutes Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Ezri Konsa, Charlton were a pleasure to watch. Their uninhibited, fluent performance more than justified the emphatic 4-1 result. They did, of course, thoughtlessly inflict a late outbreak of nail-biting on their long-suffering fans, who squirmed as the added-time board showed that the visitors had five more potentially excruciating minutes to rectify their 2-1 deficit. No sweat as it turned out with Jake Forster-Caskey adding two overtime flourishes to the scoreline.
The Addicks' almost perfect afternoon began promptly. Less than two minutes after kick-off, Ricky Holmes staggered through David Buchanan's challenge, righted himself and crossed perfectly on the run. Stealing a step on marker Aaron Pierre, Josh Magennis planted a text-book centre forward's header beyond David Cornell's right hand.
Holmes was a restless menace to his former employers, his crisp low drive forcing Cornell to dive low at his left post. But it was Ben Amos in the home goal who was actually the busier keeper before the interval. After Marc Richards eluded Jason Pearce, Amos turned aside the big forward's fierce cross-shot at full length. He then alertly charged down Ash Taylor's close range effort before adding a brave save at Billy Waters' feet. At the other end, Holmes and Billy Clarke combined in setting up Tariqe Fosu to shoot across Cornell but narrowly wide of the far post.
A rollicking second half almost started disastrously for Charlton as early substitute Brendan Moloney came within decisive inches of reaching Waters' soaring cross. In response, Magennis should have eased the tension when Cornell palmed Fosu's curling drive into his stride but from ten yards, the big target man blazed wildly over the bar. Magennis was an otherwise impeccable target man, the first-time volleyed pass an impressive part of his wide repertoire. That's not to say he couldn't use a finisher alongside him up front.
With the insatiably industrious Ahmed Kashi anchoring them, midfielders Forster-Caskey, man-of-the-match Clarke and Holmes were steadily sapping the Cobblers' resistance. Just past the hour mark, their bout of precise passing tore open a hole through which Holmes stepped to wrongfoot Waters and finish viciously inside the left-hand post.
The second goal should have sealed the deal but, needless to say, Charlton wavered. With ten minutes left, Matt Crooks crossed from the right, Daniel Powell overpowered a physically outmatched Chris Solly at the far post to head down and Richards reduced the arrears from five yards.
The 83rd minute replacement of Holmes by Konsa was a shrewd counter by Karl Robinson. While Ahearne-Grant pinned the visitors back with his pace and power, Konsa briefly ran riot. Brought down clumsily by Cornell, he was denied a penalty but remained unruffled. Alertly retrieving possession on the right byline, the supremely talented youngster cut back a pass which Forster-Caskey awkwardly scuffed past Cornell on the bounce. And the fourth goal was possibly the pick of the bunch as Forster-Caskey hustled out to the right touchline to pick up a loose ball, turned back infield and almost casually bent a superb left- footed drive into the far top corner. His skill crowned a great performance and an even greater result. It's joy when they come together as Alan Curbishley undoubtedly meant to say. So we'll say it for him.
Charlton: Amos, Solly, Bauer, Pearce, Dasilva, Kashi, Holmes (Konsa 83), Foster-Caskey, Clarke (Jackson 90), Fosu (Ahearne-Grant 73), Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Aribo, Sarr, Hackett-Fairchild. Booked: Forster-Caskey, Pearce.
Northampton: Cornell, Buchanan, Kasim (Grimes 57), Barnett, Taylor, Waters, Revell, Pierre (Powell 74), Phillips (Moloney 13), Richards, Crooks. Not used: Coddington, McWilliams, Poole. Booked: Pierre, Crooks.
Att: 11,289 (881 visiting).