Reading 0 Charlton 2 (Leko 51, Taylor 80, pen).
Kevin Nolan reports from the Madejski Stadium.
These Charlton reports are beginning to write themselves. They tell a repetitive story of consistency, team spirit and ability- in a side which features several loan signings, but shows touching pride in the shirt and an insatiable will to win. Operating with one of the most modest budgets in the division, they are already on their way to confounding dire predictions that they would be outclassed at this level. There will be setbacks, of course, but Lee Bowyer's band of brothers seem equipped to deal with them.
This latest success over a side tipped to beat them comfortably showed the Addicks at their most dangerous. Though marginally second best in a testing first half, they stayed in the game, held their nerve and ultimately put Reading in their place. They were denied a clear penalty when home skipper Liam Moore clean-and-jerked Jonny Williams to the ground but survived a scare of their own shortly before the break. Dillon Phillips' save with an instinctively deployed right foot in one-on-one confrontation with George Puscus was outstanding.
The Romanian striker was inches away from telling contact with Omar Richards' pass which bounced freakishly up against the bar and also shot narrowly wide on the turn as the Royals had the better of things. But four minutes after the break, they found themselves behind.
Chosen regularly by Bowyer, West Brom loanee Jonathan Leko has captivated and frustrated in equal measure. Adhering to no obvious plan, he makes his own one up as he goes along but is a troublesome handful for defenders expecting a more orthodox challenge. Typically chancing his arm from outside the penalty area, his well-struck left foot drive enjoyed a treacherous deflection off Tom McIntyre which left Rafael Cabral helpless as it changed direction and found the left corner. Leko's joy at scoring his first goal for Charlton was shared by a healthy contingent of travelling Addicks, who were belatedly joined by their new hero as soon as he realised he was heading off in the wrong direction. The goal crowned his best performance in the famous old red shirt.
Taking, then holding, the lead has been in the still recent past, a problem for Charlton. A chronic habit of conceding late goals had robbed them of points with alarming regularity. This failing has not been inherited by the class of 19-20. Not while a rock-like defence is being marshalled by granite-hewn centre backs Jason Pearce and Tom Lockyer, with full backs Chris Solly and Ben Purrington steady Eddies alongside them. And behind an obdurate back four, Phillips added to his crucial first half save with spectacular flying stops of Ovie Ejiara's resounding drive and a vicious late free kick from John Swift. The Royals were stopped around their visitors' 18 yard-line, with blocks, interceptions and expertly timed tackles frustrating their efforts to break through a stubbornly organised red wall.
While diligently protecting their lead, the enterprising Addicks had passed up several chances to add to it. Leko did the hard part by sharply cutting inside but hit the sidenet with an effort on the turn. With the bit firmly between his teeth, he then set up Connor Gallagher, whose fierce drive on the run forced a fine, full length save from Cabral. Another versatile contribution from the 19 year-old Chelsea academy graduate was slightly marred by the hesitant mess he made of another opening from closer range.
But with ten minutes left, Reading were finished off from the penalty spot. Having emerged from a strong bench to relieve a bruised and battered Williams just past the hour mark, Chuks Aneke had been a physical nightmare for the home defence. Slipped in by Leko, he staggered through one foul but was dragged down by a second, more ruthless offender. Following a bout of kidology involving Lyle Taylor and Cabral, the striker sauntered up from the "D", took two quick steps and slid the ball casually inside the right post. It's not everyone's recommended penalty routine but, listen, it works for Taylor. The same can be said about the methods Charlton are using to put together an impressive, unbeaten start to their season. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Reading: Cabral, Moore, Morrison, McIntyre, Yiadom (Boye 65), Richards (Meite 65), Joao, Gomes (Barrett 81). Ejaria, Swift, Puscas. Not used: Rinomhota, Virginia, Adam, Osho, Barrett.
Charlton: Phillips, Solly, Lockyer, Pearce, Gallagher, Purrington, Williams (Aneke 62), Field (Pratley 74), Cullen, Leko (Hemed 81), Taylor. Not used: Amos, Sarr, Oztumer, Lapslie.
Referee: J. Gillett. Att: 16,906 (2144 visiting).