Charlton 1 (Magennis 39) Bury 1 (Beckford 9).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Already mired in trouble near the bottom of League One, Bury optimistically headed south on Saturday. The six points they earned from Charlton last season effectively saved the Shakers from relegation and kindness like that encourages hope.
From Charlton's point of view, those defeats by Bury stand out as twin nadirs in a miserable campaign. Their disdainful 2-0 dismissal at Gigg Lane on opening day set the bar low for the shambles which followed. By the time Lee Clark's perennial strugglers showed up at The Valley last February and completed the double with a 1-0 win, their ragged-trousered hosts were themselves languishing perilously in 14th place but still in selflessly philanthropic mood.
Only two survivors from Charlton's February starters (Patrick Bauer and Jake Forster-Caskey) were on duty again on Saturday. That number would have swelled to three but Ricky Holmes had removed himself from the equation by making Bury the beneficiaries of his one-game suspension. The waspish winger was missed, though not, it's safe to say, by the appreciative visitors.
Early possession errors by Ahmed Kashi and Billy Clarke hardly inspired confidence that the Addicks were about their business and only Jay DaSilva's alertness in blocking Michael Smith's close range effort kept them briefly level. But after nine nervous minutes, they duly fell behind.
Up front for Bury, itinerant veteran Jermaine Beckford has been extending a prolific career by scoring regularly wherever he lays his hat. Already responsible for four of Bury's eight goals this season, he made it five with an absolute gem. Picking up a loose ball in the inside left channel, he made room for himself by stepping inside on to his right foot and before being closed down, bent an unstoppable beauty into the far top corner. Forget tedious defensive inquisitions - Beckford produced this goal from nothing, leaving Charlton the latest victims of a quickthinking striker whose ability the years have yet to dull. Before the interval, their own estimable No.9 responded in kind. We'll get to him soon.
Ben Amos had been left helpless by Beckford's bombshell but fared better in diving full length to his left to spectacularly divert a similar effort from Chris Maguire. From Maguire's resultant corner, Tom Aldred's looping effort was comfortably cleared off the line by Chris Solly.
Disjointed and out of sorts, meanwhile, the Addicks suddenly clicked five minutes before the break. A bout of intricate passing, involving some five players, left the Shakers bewildered and created space on the left for Forster-Caskey to cross precisely. Rising majestically, Josh Magennis planted a clever downward header past Joe Murphy. Not quite as stunning as Beckford's contribution but that's four this season - all headers - for the honest-to-goodness target man. He could use a little support from a mobile foil alongside him but that's hardly likely to happen in the short term. The academy continues to produce everything for the first team but a reliable goalscorer, a shortfall temporarily disguised by Charlton's deceptive record of 14 league goals, eight of which were scored in two games.
Magennis' timely equaliser appeared to set the stage for the home side to swamp their visitors in the second half. At times they swarmed all over them but in Murphy, ran into a defiant goalkeeper who belied his 36 years with three fine saves which confounded them. Murphy's backpedalling response to Clarke's wickedly deflected shot began his display of excellence; the outstanding reflexes which enabled him to waft Forster-Caskey's bulleted header over the bar were breathtaking; his scrambling heroics which denied Magennis an added time winner from Solly's perfect cross became almost routine by comparison.
Amos showed his own sharpness in tipping Beckford's dipping volley over the bar but it was largely one-way traffic after the interval. Guilty at times of over-elaboration, with Fosu regularly dribbling into self-made cul-de-sacs and Karlan Ahearne-Grant a willing but ineffective replacement for the sorely missed Holmes, the Addicks toiled earnestly without reward. Which will probably be their fate until a penalty area predator is unearthed, someone to finish the attractive football they serve up. It's a business, we're told, which pays off in results, not performances. The trick is to marry them up.
For their part, Bury. for whom left wingback Greg Leigh stood out, deserved a valuable point for the grit they showed. In fact, it was the least they expected from such usually dependable benefactors. They'll be looking forward with keen anticipation to Charlton's visit in January. And that's a bit embarrassing.
Charlton: Amos, Solly, Bauer, Pearce, Dasilva, Kashi, Clarke (Dodoo 78), Forster-Caskey, Fosu. Ahearne-Grant (Konsa 64), Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Jackson, Aribo, Sarr, Hackett-Fairchild. Booked: Konsa.
Bury: Murphy, Leigh, Edwards, Aldred, Humphrey, Reilly (Danns 55), Cameron (Whitmore 18), Laurent, Maguire (Dobre 67), Beckford, Smith. Not used: Fasan, Williams, Bunn, Lowe. Booked: Aldred, Laurent.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.
Att: 9895 (346 visiting).