Fulham 2 (Cavaleiro 55, Mitrovic 63) Charlton 2 (Gallagher 41, Bonne 57).
Kevin Nolan reports from Craven Cottage.
Battered, bruised and brainweary, Charlton trudged off after this punishing, enthralling Thameside derby clutching a precious point. They had withstood a second half pounding from a wave of white-shirted attackers, ridden their luck at times but shown genuine character in clinging on to a share of the spoils. With four points quarried from an unholy trinity of recent games against Championship high flyers Leeds, Swansea City and Fulham, they had earned rest and recuperation during the second international break before tackling another daunting schedule featuring Derby County, Bristol City and West Bromwich Albion.
Not that the first lay-off worked in their favour; it disastrously cost them the services of top scorer Lyle Taylor, injured while on duty with Montserrat. There was brief alarm as the Addicks promptly lost to the modest likes of Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic; in Taylor's absence, in fact, they have picked up just four points from five games. But their spirited defiance at Craven Cottage, not to mention the ability and guts they showed, encourages hope that their mini-slide has been checked. They gave almost as good as they got, fought courageously and survived.
Among a catalogue of superb performances, the pick of which was a stupendous display of goalkeeping by Dillon Phillips, another more unlikely hero emerged. Taylor's injury has given Macauley Bonne an opportunity to step up from non-league football with Orient to the Championship with newly promoted Charlton. The massive leap in class proved initially tricky and the overawed tyro struggled to impress. Then the small matter of Charlton's winning goal against Leeds, which was claimed with a veteran's chutzpah by the newcomer despite only vague evidence it was his to own, changed his fortunes. Bonne had bravely thrown himself in where the boots were flying and, at the very least, forced defender Stuart Dallas to put through his own goal. The record book duly credits him with his first Charlton goal and nobody any longer disputes his right to it. Least of all Dallas.
Having made little impression on Swansea during midweek defeat at The Valley, Bonne came into his own against Fulham. He was significantly involved in the Addicks' first goal and brilliantly scored their second. His overall performance up front on his own, meanwhile, was accomplished and effective.
A first half during which Charlton held their own with Scott Parker's talented Cottagers was drawing to an entertaining close when Bonne cleverly nodded Phillips' long clearance on to Conor Gallagher, who instantly relayed the ball to Jake Forster-Caskey near the left touchline. Stepping inside to cross right-footed, the wide midfielder picked out Chris Solly closing in at the far post. Solly's canny header was cushioned perfectly for Gallagher, intelligently on the move as usual, to half-volley past Marcus Bettinelli. Five players had contributed to a fine team goal.
No doubt irritated to find themselves behind at the interval, Fulham took steps to redress the situation. Inspired substitute Bobby Decordova-Reid was immediately dangerous, his sharp exchange of passes with Ivan Cavaleiro outwitting the attentions of Forster-Caskey and Naby Sarr and sending the electric-heeled Portuguese winger through to beat Phillips with a blistering 25-yard strike.
Fulham's equality lasted just two minutes, the time it took Bonne to put the visitors in front again. Josh Cullen's right wing corner was scuffed clear for Jonny Williams to re-cycle possession to Darren Pratley on the left. The wily campaigner switched feet and crossed for Bonne to climb above Aleksandar Mitrovic and flight a deft header over Bettinelli and sweetly under the bar. This goal had "Bonne" indelibly stamped on it.
Again Charlton's lead was shortlived. After Joe Bryan and Mitrovic had each rattled the crossbar, the bustling Serb drew Fulham level again under frankly dubious circumstances. Returning from an offside position as Phillips brilliantly saved Tom Cairney's diving header, Mitrovic re-joined the action, turned and bullied a second equaliser over the fallen keeper. Neither referee Keith Stroud nor his equally myopic assistant were interested in Charlton's protests.
A riproaring, rumbustious game now seemed Fulham's - and especially Decordova-Reid's - for the taking but Phillips had other ideas. Two wonderful saves from the Jamaican flyer, first from a point-blank header, then a corner-bound curler, were mere tasters for the frankly incredible block on the goalline which kept out Decordova-Reid's sure thing in added time. His save defies description so none will be offered here, except to point out that goalkeepers hear a different drummer and are often not accountable for their actions. Many of them are not all there but Dillon was the coolest customer inside Craven Cottage on Saturday. Anyway, I can't talk. I swore in fluent Hungarian when the added time board showed seven extra minutes, then broke into a fit of hysterical giggling when they were over. See you after the break if they let me out in time...
Fulham: Bettinelli, Mason, Johansen (Onomah 97), Ream, Sessegnon (Decordova-Reid 46), Bryan, Cairney, Arter (Reed 46), Knockaert, Cavaleiro, Mitrovic. Not used: Rodak, Odoi, Le Marchand, Kamara. Booked: Bryan, Mitrovic.
Charlton: Phillips, Solly, Pearce, Lockyer, Sarr, Pratley, Cullen, Forster-Caskey (Field 89), Williams, (Leko 64), Gallagher, Bonne (Matthews 90). Not used: Amos, Oshilaja, Oztumer, Lapslie.
Booked: Gallagher. Referee: Keith Stroud. Att: 18,654 (1,970 visiting).