Crewe Alexandra 2 (Finney 38, Mandron 45+3), Charlton 1 (Burstow 80).
Guinness at hand, Kevin Nolan sofa-surfs from a safe distance.
Let's deal with events in their order of importance. We'll put last things first; finish as we mean to go on; put the cart, as it were, before the horse. In other words, turn our attention to the liveliest incident offered up by this scruffy meeting of sub-mediocre League One sides. And it happened just eight seconds prior to its bitter end.
Charlton had halved Crewe's two-goal lead and were pressing frantically in search of an equaliser. Albie Morgan's deep cross from the left was kept alive by Mason Burstow's determination to make a chance for Elliot Lee, who shot instantly on the turn. His effort spiralled high in the air off a defensive block, evaded Dave Richards' desperate attempt to reach it, cannoned off the underside of the bar and crossed the line. Referee Robert Lewis, whose officiating had been impartially that of a buffoon, motioned upfield and off headed the jubilant Addicks to celebrate a highly unlikely escape. They were in for a nasty shock.
Unluckily for Johnnie Jackson's chaps, the nearest of Lewis's assistants was on hand to see that justice was done. This portly, grey-haired nosy parker had spotted Jonathan Leko up to no good alongside the struggling keeper on his goalline. Whether his presence affected Richards' ability to save Lee's shot is open to argument but the point is equally irrelevant. Leko was both offside and interfering and, following several minutes of heated debate, the "goal" was correctly disallowed. Not that Lewis emerged from the debacle with any credit. His performance, during which he came close to losing control, was bilaterally incompetent.
With the safety margin separating them from the division's bottom three, among them Crewe, steadily shrinking, Charlton were left to ponder the assumption that they are "too good to go down", a theory lazily trotted out by yours truly from time to time. They've invented novel ways to lose games, have dried up in front of goal, and are in danger of freefall.
This game against far from formidable underdogs Crewe was there for the taking during its opening half hour. The Addicks were in effortless control, proved unable to convert even one of several acceptable chances, then succumbed to a two-goal salvo shortly before the break. You might have recognised a recurring theme.
In the early going, Diallang Jaiyesimi's attempt to convert Ben Purrington's cross was superbly blocked by Travis Johnson, while Lee was similarly crowded out by Tom Lowery as he tried to force Leko's dipping centre past Richards. Lee also hooked a close range shot narrowly wide as the Addicks stayed on top. Gradually, however, the Railwaymen improved with Oliver Finney dragging a bobbling shot wide and Luke Offord's volley forcing a sharp save from Stephen Henderson. The tide had turned and, almost inevitably, the visitors capsized. A manageable goalless situation turned abruptly into a two-goal deficit, with both of Alex's successes attributable to errors by Henderson, who was deputising for new dad Craig McGillivray.
There was accuracy, if little bite, behind the shot delivered by Mikael Mandron seven minutes before half-time and Henderson was down early to make a fairly routine save. Unfortunately, his parry fell to Finney, who gratefully finished from six yards. Bad turned to worse for Charlton's experienced keeper as he wandered from his line, with all the vagueness of an elderly jaywalker crossing Hyde Park Corner during rush hour, to deal with Lowery's setpiece. Caught in traffic, he was a bewildered witness to the header deftly flicked into his vacated goal by Mandron.
In Crewe's goal, meanwhile, Richards distinguished himself as the Addicks sought the breakthrough they needed. His fine save thwarted Washington early in the second half, while sharp reflexes defied substitute Burstow after the lively Washington dispossessed Billy Sass-Davies on the right byline. An on-target effort from Sean Clare was also repelled by the defiant keeper.
There were ten minutes remaining when Burstow scored his first-ever league goal to set up the controversial added time drama. Staying alert as George Dobson's raking pass set up the luckless Washington to sting Richards' palms with another fierce drive, the irrepressible kid anticipated the airborne rebound, leaped high and looped a header neatly under the bar. His maiden strike in a Charlton shirt was undermined by this depressing result but young Mason is off and running. Enjoy him while you can - if you know what I mean.
Jackson's post-game reaction to both the defeat and the added time controversy was admirably restrained, if understandably frustrated. "He [Richards] saw it all the way and tried to save it and couldn't. I thought the goal should have stood. It was too little too late anyway...it's easy to come out and have a go when you've got nothing to lose. Where was that in that period I'm talking about in the first half where we lost our intensity and lost our way?" Beats me, boss but as soon as I know, you'll know, count on that. We're all in this together.
Crewe: Richards, Offord, Sass-Davies, Williams, Madron, Lowery, Finney (Griffiths 86), Robertson (Murphy 84), Johnson, Porter, Long. Not
used: Jaaskalainen, Lawton, Ainley, Tabiner.
Charlton: Henderson, Clare, Pearce, Famewo, Purrington (Burstow 58), Jaiyesimi (Blackett-Taylor 58), Gilbey (Morgan 76), Dobson, Lee
Leko, Washington. Not used: Harness, Matthews, Inniss, Watson.
Referee: Robert Lewis. Att: 3,558.