Plymouth Argyle 0 Charlton 6 (Forster-Caskey Stockley 45, Watts 47 o.g., Gilbey 49, Millar 56, (Aneke 89).
When Chuks Aneke rounded off the scoring in the 89th minute to make it 6-0, Charlton had equalled the club's record away win so memorably established at Barnsley ten years ago. And incredibly six different players registered on the scoresheet as they had at Oakwell, although Plymouth's Kelland Watts won't relish being included for turning the Addicks' game-clinching third goal into his own net. There was still time for Aneke to squander an easier chance to make it 7-0 but that would have been pure greed. Which, in certain political circles, is of course good.
Argyle were ultimately blown away by an exhibition of clinical finishing not normally associated with Charlton but were far better than the scoreline suggests. During a torrid opening quarter hour for the visitors, in fact, there was little warning of the carnage to come as the Westcountrymen pinned their visitors into their own half and earned a flurry of early corners. A clever exchange between Ryan Law and Danny Mayor set up top scorer Luke Jephcott for a fierce shot which was heroically charged down by Jason Pearce, then Lewis MacLeod's cross was glanced narrowly wide at the near post by Ryan Hardie.
Chronically slow starters, Charlton survived the onslaught and began to find their feet. Diallang Jaiyesimi's crisp drive, well saved by Mike Cooper, lifted the siege and before the half hour, they were in front. Liam Millar surged irresistibly down the left flank before cutting in to force a defiant save from Cooper. Unhappily for the keeper, his parry reached Jake Forster-Caskey, whose deliberate header made it into the top right corner, despite Watts' half-hearted attempt to punch it clear. An eventful evening for the defender kicked off with a booking for deliberate handling.
A fine save by Ben Amos from Law's stinging drive preserved the lead, which the Londoners duly doubled a minute before the break. Combining with Millar near the right touchline, Adam Matthews delivered a fine cross for Jayden Stockley, who shook off Sam Woods and planted a diving header inside the right post. Almost immediately after the break, Nigel Adkins' stick-or-twist 2-0 dilemma was resolved for him by the unfortunate Watts. Plymouth had started the second half brightly with Byron Moore setting up a point blank chance for Joe Edwards; Amos brilliantly saved Edwards' "gimme", then regained his feet to send Millar racing along the left touchline. The winger cut in, potshotted off target with his weaker right foot and was chuffed to see an off-balance Watts drag the ball over the goalline. Charlton had wasted little time in securing their vital win with that often-elusive third goal.
Two minutes later, a more salubrious strike extended the Addicks' lead. Quickfire combination involving Stockley and Millar created space for the bustling centre forward to centre low and hard from the right. Making up ground intelligently on the opposite flank, Alex Gilbey's half-volley gave Cooper no chance. As the Pilgrims pondered developments, they fell even more ruinously behind.
Right back Matthews again advanced over the halfway line to link up with Jaiyesimi, who held on to the ball briefly before crossing crisply. Stockley's heads-up dummy left Millar the simple task of slotting past Cooper to put the Addicks 5-0 up. And so it stayed until Aneke relieved willing worker Stockley, equalled the record, then spurned the opportunity to set a new standard. More worrying was his limping departure at the final whistle. His mission magnificently accomplished, Adkins's attention would naturally have switched to results elsewhere. Same as all of us, to be honest. And a more perfect evening would be hard to imagine. Portsmouth had lost 3-1 to bottom-of-table Swindon Town (attaboy, Brett!) and slipped a point behind us with a game more played; Oxford were also beaten, 2-1 at good old Wimbledon (attaboy, Joe!), and with two more games played, were also a point adrift,which was a setback for that smug Oxford fan who pontificates on Quest. And Blackpool's recent winning run was halted 1-0 by lowly Rochdale (attaboy, Ollie!) to leave them squarely in our sights.
Which leads us to Peterborough United, formidable guests at The Valley on Saturday. Posh were beaten 1-0 at home by Steve Evans' Gillingham but it's hard to know how to react to that outcome. It keeps the Gills clinging on to faint hopes of making the play-offs, having achieved the impressive feat of holding the automatic promotion certs scoreless. But does it denote the beginning of a dip in United's form or merely a one-off blip?
We'll know more at the weekend when the Addicks' fine performance at Home Park sets them up to confront second-placed Peterborough. From Amos in goal to Stockley up front, their demolition of Argyle was a thing of beauty. Centre backs Pearce and Akin Famewo were indomitable, full backs Matthews and Ben Purrington as adept going forward as they were defending the flanks; wide men Jaiyesismi and Millar were old school in their touchline artistry but tracked back when necessary; central midfielders Forster-Caskey and Gilbey both scored and controlled the crucial middle ground. Meanwhile Ben Watson diligently shielded the back four until Darren Pratley helped him mop up the closing quarter hour. And Aneke came back to striking form again. So here's to Saturday and an improvement in our home form. We owe it to the Upbeats. Can't let those guys down!
Plymouth: Cooper, Aimson (Moore 38), Woods, Watts, Edwards, Camara, MacLeod (Reeves 58), Mayor, Law, Hardie (Ennis 58), Jephcott. Not used: McCormick, Opoku, Lewis, Fornal. Booked: Watts.
Charlton: Amos, Matthews (Gunter 57), Famewo, Pearce, Purrington (Shinnie 67), Watson, Forster-Caskey (Pratley 76), Jaiyesimi (Morgan 67), Gilbey, Stockley (Aneke 76), Millar. Not used: Maynard-Brewer,
Referee: S. Purkiss.