Northampton Town 0 Charlton 4 (Reeves 14, Fosu 19, 51, Magennis 79.
Kevin Nolan reports from Sixfields.
With this second impressive victory since taking over temporarily from Karl Robinson, Lee Bowyer improved his chances of landing a permanent job -at least as permanent as it gets at The Valley- as Charlton's new manager.
With the wise counsel of Johnnie Jackson at his elbow, Bowyer's combative attitude has already rubbed off on an increasingly rudderless team. Newly focused, spirited and tenacious, they're being made over to reflect their new boss' unquenchable commitment as a player, not to mention the considerable skill he brought with him in a successful career, which began as a junior Addick and ranged far and wide at the top level of English football.
After the winning start he made by seeing off in-form Plymouth Argyle, Bowyer followed up with this tape-to-tape drubbing of relegation haunted Northampton, currently managed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, an ex-teammate at Leed United in the late 90s. Ironically, his main rival for the Charlton job is Harry Kewell, a third member of Leeds' Premiership side which trounced the Addicks 4-1 at Elland Road in November 1998. If the club, as has been rumoured, passes into Australian hands, fellow-antipodean Kewell would be favoured to take over. That would, almost certainly, be a mistake to rival the treacherous sacking of Chris Powell in 2014. And be honest, a Valley-full of sobbing, breast-beating Aussies would be difficult for us whingeing Poms to stomach.
Confident and assured, Charlton had this important win wrapped up in little over a quarter of an hour, the time it took them to move effortlessly into a two-goal lead they were never in danger of relinquishing. Smooth and fluent, they carved their way through the Cobblers' right flank, with Lewis Page played clear by Joe Aribo's weighted pass. The left back's perfectly flighted cross was met by Ben Reeves, who beat Shaun McWilliams to the ball before directing his header off Richard O'Donnell's left hand and in off a post. If, as Reeves later confessed, it was his first-ever headed goal, it was taken with surprising ease.
After Matt Grimes skimmed the bar from 25 yards, the visitors responded by doubling their lead with a splendid goal. Breaking over the halfway line, commanding centre back Patrick Bauer zipped a raking diagonal ball to Nicky Ajose's feet, over which the lively forward instinctively dummied. With the bedazzled home defenders heading in the wrong direction like so many Keystone Kops, Fosu weaved sinuously between them, defied Shay Facey's earnest effort to chop him down and created an angle for a low, right-footed drive which homed in on the bottom left corner.
So used to seeing their side falter when in the lead, a healthy contingent of travelling Londoners were unusually relaxed about their immediate future. Clearly the Cobblers' superiors, Charlton had no intention of resting on their laurels and Jason Pearce's header from Jake Forster-Caskey's corner was hacked off the goalline by Grimes. There was no sign of the nerves which so often unmanned them when in front during this exasperating season and resulted in so many disastrously conceded late goals. Calmer on the touchline than he was on the pitch, Bowyer always had a healthy distaste for losing. His new charges have inherited his hardnosed attitude. Like dogs and their owners, football teams and their managers get to resemble each other. Charlton have adopted their new gaffer's terrier-like tenacity.
Game but limited, meanwhile, Hasselbaink's men fell further behind six minutes after the interval, through another beauty from Fosu. Supplied by the quietly effective Michal Zyro, the rejuvenated wide midfielder jinked past a posse of defenders, drew a bead from 25 yards and left O'Donnell sprawling helplessly with another low shot into the bottom left corner.
Having played his full part in a team effort, Zyro was replaced by Josh Magennis, who promptly rubbed salt in Town's wounds. Picked out by Reeves' cleverly chipped cross at the far post, the selfless target man nodded in a fourth goal to round off a soggy but satisfying Good Friday afternoon in the rain.
It might prove to be too little too late but Bowyer has breathed life into Charlton's promotion ambitions. It seemed as good as over just two short weeks ago. Now they dare to hope again. Bowyer in!
Northampton: O'Donnell, Moloney (Ariyibi 41), Taylor, Buchanan, McWilliams (Bunney 52), Long, Crooks, Van Veen (Mathis 68), Facey, Grimes, Turnbull.
Not used: Cornell, Barnett, Hoskins, Pereira. Booked: Moloney, McWilliams.
Charlton: Amos, Dijksteel, Bauer, Pearce, Page, Aribo, Reeves, Fosu (Kaikai 80), Forster-Caskey, Ajose (Mavididi 64), Zyro (Magennis 66). Not used: Phillips, Konsa, Marshall, Sarr. Booked: Pearce.
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Att: 6,416 (1,208 visiting).