Shrewsbury Town 1 (Udoh 90+3) Charlton 0
Kevin Nolan reporting from New Meadow.
An old sickeningly familiar failing proved to be Charlton's downfall in bitterly cold Shropshire on Saturday. It sent them down from the Championship 18 months ago (Birmingham City), denied them a shot at last season's play-offs (Crewe) and already this time around has cost them dearly (Lincoln City and now Shrewsbury). No prizes for guessing we're talking about their chronic vulnerability to the added time goal.
Johnnie Jackson followed Lee Bowyer and Nigel Adkins as the latest manager (er, caretaker) to fall foul of what must be considered Charlton's curse. In this case, four minutes were added. They proved more than enough for the Shrews to settle a grim, colourless clash in the 93rd minute - helped, it must be said, by a sliver of luck handed them by otherwise impeccable referee Tom Nield. During the untidy sequence of defensive headers which half-cleared Luke Leahy's huge throw from the right touchline, Nield missed Sam Cosgrove's artful nudge which removed George Dobson from contention as they converged under a dropping ball on the 18-yard line. The ball eventually broke to Daniel Udoh, who chose the sensible option of drilling it past a blameless Craig McGillivray.
Udoh's opportunistic strike sent the Salop faithful home, warmed by the matchless glow of last gasp victory. For the 949 frozen wayfarers at the opposite end of the ground, the aftermath was somewhat different, Many had battled unreliable trains to reach the venue and the very least they deserved was to celebrate the better-than-nothing point on offer as the added time board made its fateful appearance. Experience is the best of teachers, of course, and an air of fatalism diluted their inevitable disappointment. They've seen it all before, so their pain was dull rather than acute.
Jackson's reaction to his first defeat since taking temporary charge was philosophical. "The nature of the goal was disappointing, a long throw into our box...I expect us to deal with those situations -we don't. But it was a foul on Dobson." The caretaker boss paid tribute to the near-thousand travellers who had left warmer Southern climes to sample what Northerners regard as soft weather. It gets much grimmer as soon as you cross the M-6 toll. Or even Watford Gap.
The figures, meanwhile, inform us that Charlton enjoyed a 62% edge in possession, one of those meaningless statistics which turn a football match into "a proposition by Wittgenstein." They certainly had the better of things and until that 93rd minute aberration, handled their hosts with ease. The few chances, though, were equally shared. And Town's late goal was the only statistic which ultimately mattered.
The first of those chances fell to tall striker Tom Bloxham, who met Rekeil Pyke's perfect cutback with a venomous drive, which McGillivray spectacularly fingertipped over the bar. Charlton's fine keeper has been doing his bit - and more - through a succession of close encounters. Apparently he should have done more to keep out Udoh's matchwinner, a crisp daisycutter from inside the penalty area. Getting down alertly and achieving the slightest of touches meant he "could have done more to keep it out." Let's clear up any doubt or confusion. McGillivray had no chance - and you may quote me.
In Town's goal was Marko Marosi who responded in kind with an outstanding save to divert the low shot from Alex Gilbey, which was creeping into his right bottom corner. The rest of the first half settled down into a miasma of dourness, during which it would have been permissible to doze off in balmier circumstances. The second stanza was only slightly livelier and, from Charlton's viewpoint, picked up as Corey Blackett-Taylor began to exploit a tiring home defence. The free-running wide man's withering injection of pace brought him to the right byline, from where he measured a dinked cross, which was met by Conor Washington's head but superbly saved by Marosi, who also blocked Washington's attempt to convert the rebound. Town's agile keeper completed a rewarding afternoon's work by expertly fielding Elliott Lee's crisp effort.
With five by now at the back and reinforced by two shielding midfielders in front of them, Steve Cotterill's stubborn side had clearly settled for a point as the fourth official brandished his game-changing minutes board. But they crowded into Charlton's penalty area for Leahy's Hail Mary throw, caused the disorder they sought and benefitted from referee Nield's tolerant view of Cosgrove's physicality as a mere "coming together" in football's newest and daftest of cliches. Charlton's latest exercise in added time futility was complete, leaving an unavoidable statistical question. Is there a team in Leagues One and Two which has conceded more 90+ goals. It's hard to think of one. So sort it out, Johnnie! It's giving us a reputation for being soft-bellied Southerners.
Shrewsbury: Marosi, Leahy, Pennington, Vela, Udoh, Bowman, Ogbeta, Pyke (Leshabela 32), Bennett. Bloxham (Cosgrove 69), Nurse. Not used: Burgoyne, Caton, Wilson, Kaninda, Craig. Booked: Udoh.
Charlton: McGillivray, Clare, Purrington. Famewo, Souare, Gilbey, Lee, Dobson, Davison (Leko 62), Blackett-Taylor (Jaiyesimi 72), Washington. Not used: Henderson, Gunter, Morgan, Kirk, Watson. Booked: Famewo, Souare, Clare.
Referee: Tom Nield. Att 6,158 (949 visiting).