Charlton 0 Huddersfield Town 1 (Daly 90+2).
Kevin Nolan reporting from the Valley
That comforting points gap which has consoled Charlton during their disastrous two-month slump is disappearing like (as my mum was fond of saying) the snow that fell last year. The Addicks are in freefall and no amount of reassurance that they'll be fine when their injured players return cuts the mustard. Despite their barnstorming start, this season was always about staying in the Championship, with 50 points the generally accepted minimum to aim at. Right now, they need 27 more points but if they continue to throw away useful draws, that total may turn out to be notional.
A grim, scoreless stand-off was clearly on offer when three unwanted added minutes were announced. Satisfied with their night's work, Huddersfield's body language made it obvious that they were ready to shake hands and call it off as sensible cricket teams do. A point's a point, no sense risking all three, was the message conveyed by their languid attitude to throw-ins and goal kicks.
Charlton had other ideas. Despite having failed to register a single effort on target, they fancied their chances of coming up with a late winner. For a few wild seconds, it seemed that Lyle Taylor had turned the trick but Naby Sarr was ruled offside before touching the ball on to his galvanic colleague. But there was a sting left in an awful game and the visitors were about to inflict the same painful misery on their victims as Bristol City and Millwall had recently.
From a free kick on the right, Junior Bacuna's delivery charted an uncertain course to the opposite flank, where Chris Solly was offered an opportunity to clear his lines on an anywhere-will-do basis. Instead his weak, left-footed squibber went straight to Florent Hadergjonaj, allowing the Swiss wide man to find Matt Daly inside him. The 18 year-old substitute swept his first-ever league goal, ironically enough, through Solly's legs into the far corner and the Addicks had yet again snatched defeat from the jaws of a perfectly acceptable draw. It's only fair to observe that Solly's solitary error marred an otherwise solid contribution from this ultimate team man. Next time though, Chris, put your laces through the bloody ball and send it to Kingdom Come. Nobody but the purists will blame you. Trust me.
There was precious little else to encourage beleaguered boss Lee Bowyer as he prepares for the potentially season-defining visit of Hull City on Friday evening. His team has adopted a jaded, threadbare look, which can only partly be explained by a catastrophic injury list. among which Josh Cullen's is the most sorely missed name. There is no lack of effort from the survivors but an understandable fear of making mistakes is unmanning them. Gone for the time being at least is the freewheeling, exuberant joy and cussed satisfaction they derived from defying pre-season predictions of their imminent downfall. Bowyer's own decisions, meanwhile, such as his preference for greenhorn James Vennings over Albie Morgan as a replacement for a third novice in Alfie Doughty, seemed an almost perverse exercise of his authority and had the amateur tacticians scratching their heads. Young Vennings was probably not alone in being surprised by his manager's call.
Trawling through my meagre notes, meanwhile, I've failed to disinter so much as the whiff of a threat to Kamil Grabara's goal. Even when Solly ran dangerously on to Macauley Bonne's low cross intended for Taylor, his shot was capably blocked by Hadergjonaj. There was also, I believe, a first half shot from Doughty which whistled high and wide but that may be wishful thinking on my part. The Terriers were marginally more aggressive, with Dillon Phillips saving alertly from Karlan Grant and Josh Koroma early in the second half, not to mention Solly's razor-sharp interception to deny Grant an unhindered run on goal.
Shot-shy themselves, the Addicks fired popguns at their almost equally feeble visitors. It fell to an 18-year old Terrier to produce the marksmanship necessary to separate them and send Charlton slip-sliding into what certainly looks like a crisis. It feels like a crisis. Chances are it's a crisis. Yeah, it's a crisis.
Charlton: Phillips, Lockyer, Pearce, Sarr, Solly, Pratley, Gallagher, Purrington, Doughty (Vennings 73), Leko (Taylor 68), Bonne. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Matthews, Oshilaja, Ledley, Morgan. Booked: Lockyer, Gallagher, Bonne.
Huddersfield: Grabara, Hogg, Bacuna, Kachunga, Koroma (Simpson 73), Schindler, Stankovic, Hadergjonaj, Mounie (Daly 76), Edmunds-Green, Grant. Not used: Coleman, Harratt, High, Austerfield, Jackson. Booked: Kachunga, Stankovic.
Referee: Graham Scott.. Att: 13,488 (680 visiting).