Wycombe Wanderers 2 (McCleary 43,71) Charlton 2 (Lavelle 90+2).
Kevin Nolan reports from Adams Park.
It's five defeats in seven league games for Charlton after this craven surrender in leafy Buckinghamshire, where Wycombe Wanderers brushed them aside but came close to blowing a two-goal lead during five frantic added minutes.
Until Sam Lavelle powerfully headed home Elliott Lee's outswinging corner in the second of those minutes, the visitors had hardly bothered David Stockdale. The centre back's first goal for his new club, however, triggered mayhem around the startled goalkeeper, with substitute Josh Davison almost bundling an equaliser past him. Visiting supporters behind Stockdale's goal recognised Wycombe's mini-collapse. It's familiar viewing at The Valley.
Charlton's late flurry hardly wipes clean the memory of a performance which was beyond abject. Having deplored his side's descent into "hoof ball" during their recent humiliation by Cheltenham Town, Nigel Adkins was treated to more of the same at Adams Park, where Jayden Stockley toiled fruitlessly to make something of an endless supply of lofted balls and lusty clearances. To be honest, the Chairboys weren't a whole lot better but their own "hoof ball" had slightly more quality than Charlton's. And, more significantly, they had 34 year-old Garath McCleary in their line-up. More about him a little later.
With six changes from the Cheltenham fiasco and set out in 3-4-3 formation, Adkins' Addicks somehow survived until the 41st minute in a game which set uncharted levels of tedium, not to mention cluelessness. They were frankly awful, aimless, abysmal. In a more apposite word, they lacked gumption. A word or two, by the way, about "gumption" (gump-shun), "the ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a particular situation and to do it with energy and determination." Lovely word - gumption - solidly old-school and resolutely uncompromising. Says what it means and means what it says. Clearly it doesn't apply to Charlton right now so forget I mentioned it.
Not much happened, meanwhile, in a first half which featured one chance before McCleary stepped up to put Wanderers ahead. It was the veteran's pass to Daryl Horgan which led to that chance for Curtis Thompson, who drilled a low drive against the left post.
Posing frequent problems along the left flank in partnership with Jordan Obita, McCleary took matters into his own hands -or more accurately his right foot - with four minutes of a dire first half remaining. Cutting inside from left to right, his crisp drive left Craig McGillivray helpless on its way into the bottom right corner. It was a fine goal, totally out of context in its scruffy surroundings and scored by the game's best player.
So too was the home side's clincher on 71 minutes, a goal I'll try gamely to describe though the lay-out of Wycombe's quaint ground make it a daunting task. Let me explain that the dug-outs completely obscure at least a third of the playing pitch, as seen from the press box. I gather, however, that a Wycombe player crossed from the right, another Wycombe player headed back from the far post and McCleary popped up at the opposite post to nod home what turned out to be the winning goal. As near as I could tell.
The premature withdrawals of McCleary, Horgan and Sam Vokes were a relief to Charlton and hardly among popular Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth's shrewdest decisions. Even Charlton's almost moribund side sniffed half a chance, especially after the youthful exuberance of Corey Blackett-Taylor joined what was passing as the fray.
Abruptly right back Jack Grimmer's untroubled afternoon became a nightmare as Blackett-Taylor twisted him pretzel-shaped. Grimmer's cover was hastily increased as the uninhibited youngster made a series of purposeful runs and hard, low crosses, none of which, needless to say, was met with any enthusiasm by his colleagues. On an afternoon of almost unremitting frustration, Blackett-Taylor provided a solitary bright spot and should have booked a place in the side which faces Gillingham on Tuesday evening. That's a bit like being named as a late addition to Custer's men at Little Big Horn. No quarter asked. None given. It's every scalp for himself!
Wycombe: Stockdale, Grimmer, Jacobson, Stewart, Tafazolli, Thompson, Vokes (Akinfemwa 76), McCleary (Kaikai 81),
Horgan (Hanlan 84), Obita, Scowen. Not used: Przybek, Gape, Wheeler, McCarthy.
Charlton: McGillivray, Gunter, Dobson, Famewo, Pearce, Lavelle, Arter (Blackett-Taylor 58), Leko (Lee 58), Souare,
Stockley (Davison 84), Washington. Booked: Gunter, Famewo, Pearce, Lee, Souare.
Referee: Peter Wright.