Cambridge United 0 Charlton 2 (Blackett-Taylor 73, Washington 86).
... yeah, well, that's the thing about deflected goals. You wait ages for one, then you luck into two in the same game... within thirteen minutes of each other, in fact. Just when you look like drawing a blank, you're 2-0 up and on the way home with three points. Best not to apologise... nor explain.
The first of Charlton's lucky breaks arrived with seventeen minutes remaining and will be credited to find-of-the-season Corey Blackett-Taylor. Quite right too because he provided all the spadework as well as the strike which caromed off Ben Worman and hopelessly wrongfooted Will Mannion on its way into the net. The brilliant winger had been tormenting United all evening, reaching the left byline at will but so far his crosses had gone unconverted. On this occasion, he checked back inside, decided to go it alone and let fly with his right foot. His second league goal of the season received a helpful assist from Worman but was otherwise entirely his own work.
The Addicks' victory was clinched by a second, in-off goal but not before their warhorse captain Jason Pearce's razor-sharp reactions spared the blushes of Craig McGillivray, who spilled Worman's long range effort to equalise. Sam Smith seemed favourite to reach the rebound until Pearce crucially intervened and cleared the danger. Calm and composed throughout, the skipper was in imperious form. His chest control and sensible distribution were textbook models; and where necessary, a lusty foot under the ball was never far from his agenda.
Buoyed by their excellent win at Wigan three days previously, Mark Bonner's side were hard to subdue. With veteran Wes Hoolahan (think Barry Bannan with an Irish accent) calling the midfield shots, they were still in with a chance until their visitors came up with another pinball goal which finished them off. At least this one had comical overtones, not that United saw the funny side.
Schemer Hoolahan carried part of the can by losing possession to Sean Clare inside his own half. Switching momentum instantly, Clare found substitute Chuks Aneke, who advanced a few yards before trying his luck from outside the penalty area. His left-footed shot may -or may not- have been on target but Conor Washington's intervention made discussion irrelevant. In the throes of a five-game scoring drought, the Northern Irish international was unlikely to disown the accidental header which sent Mannion the wrong way as it finished in the opposite corner. The persecuted keeper's language was no doubt colourful -and entirely forgivable.
It had been far from one-way traffic- certainly not during a first half narrowly edged by Cambridge - until fortune favoured the Addicks. Recovering from an early scare when Blackett-Taylor set up Washington for a close range effort which Lloyd Jones blocked, United more than held their own. McGillivray came close to suffering Mannion's fate with Jack Lankester's shot deflecting wickedly off Clare and leaving him helpless as it whizzed narrowly wide of his right-hand post. The opening exchanges continued when Mannion saved smartly from the irrepressible Blackett-Taylor and Pearce headed Albie Morgan's resultant corner wide at the far post. At the other end, Hoolahan and Lankester combined on a setpiece to create a chance which Worman fired wastefully over the bar. Washington closed a lively first half by shooting weakly at Mannion after Albie Morgan's beautifully judged through ball and his own feathered touch destroyed the home defence.
Showing commendable commitment to a mid-table encounter, both sides remained positive after the break. Inevitably, Blackett-Taylor buckled down immediately to lay on an inviting shooting chance which Alex Gilbey half-heartedly volleyed straight at Mannion. Jayden Stockley was also culpable when he rose unmarked to meet Washington's precise cross but headed inexplicably wide from six yards. By now, it was clear that something or someone special -or outrageously lucky - would be required to break the deadlock. And in Blackett-Taylor and Washington, Jackson had two men in tune with the job.
Saluting a victory, which he hailed as "a good, solid away performance", the unflustered manager declared himself "really pleased for everyone because the lads put a real shift in". Special mention was reserved for Blackett-Taylor, about whom he observed that "in then last weeks and months, he's been outstanding. His game has really improved and he was a menace all night. He's gone from an impact bench player with no history of completing 90 minutes and has grown into that wingback position. He's always had unbelievable pace but now knows, when teams double up on him, the right time to offload the ball." One other thing, John. He's bloody jammy when he has to be...
Cambridge: Mannion, Iredale, Jones, O'Neil, Smith (Digby 59), Hoolahan. Okedina, Tracey (Knibbs 68), Lankester (Ironside 68), Worman, Bennett. Not used: Mitov, Williams, Simper, Yearn.
Charlton: McGillivray, Clare, Pearce, Famewo, Matthews, Gilbey, Dobson, Blackett-Taylor (Jaiyesimi 88), Morgan, Stockley (Aneke 77), Washingon. Not used: Harness, Forster-Caskey, Leko, Burstow, Elerewe. Booked: Dobson.
Referee: Paul Howard. Att: 5409 (1034 visiting).