Charlton 2 ( Kermorgant 23, Ephraim 41) Huddersfield Town 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Surfing a wave of the most passionate support in South East London, Charlton shattered Huddersfield's magnificent record of 43 consecutive league games unbeaten and tightened their grip at the top of the table. In what home manager Chris Powell aptly called "an advert for League One", a national TV audience received a timely reminder that quality exists outside the Premiership. They might also have appreciated the keenly but cleanly contested nature of this vitally important clash, unmarred as it was by any Balotelli/ Tevez pouting.
The build-up had concentrated on the supposedly crucial shoot-out between hot shots Bradley Wright-Phillips and Jordan Rhodes, scorers of 27 league goals between them. Charlton's marksman shaded their personal duel but it was his strike partner, Yann Kermorgant, who did the damage. The underrated Frenchman notched his side's important first goal, contributed critically to the second, besides hitting the bar and handing the visitors a lesson in centre forward virtuosity.
The West Yorkshiremen actually made the brighter start. They had earned four early corners and were exerting mild pressure when right back Jack Hunt was panicked into tripping Hogan Ephraim as the right-footed left winger cut in from the touchline. Crossing from the opposite flank to size up an inviting free kick, Danny Green curled in a pacy inswinger, which Kermorgant met in front of his marker and headed firmly inside the left post. Not a particularly towering player, the Breton's heading is a sight for sore eyes among aficionados of a lost art made all but redundant by the brilliant, pattern-weaving likes of Barcelona.
Up front for Town, meanwhile, was debutant loanee Jon Parkin, known affectionately as "The Beast" in recognition of his massive stature and not, it must be said, for persistent foul play. Limited he might be but Parkin leaves his mark on defenders, who know they've been in a battle by full-time. Deputy skipper Matt Taylor and Michael Morrison stood up valiantly to the physical challenge as Huddersfield's tactics were adapted to the big bloke's formidable assets. It was possibly fortunate that alongside him, Rhodes froze in front of the cameras. Despite the lion's share of first half possession, the visitors rarely troubled the impressively sound Ben Hamer.
Three minutes before the interval, the Addicks doubled their lead in circumstances made "controversial" only by a catastrophic lapse in concentration among the visitors. Taking time out to dispute a throw clearly not theirs, they allowed the alert Green to quickly find Kermorgant, who flicked on cleverly for Wright-Phillips to twist past his shadow Antony Kay. Sensing the danger, Ian Bennett left his line to block the striker's toepoked effort but the rebound fell to Ephraim, who ignored several sluggish defenders and slotted neatly past the stranded goalkeeper. A jubilant Valley all but hugged itself in glee, in between ribaldly inviting the visitors to do something unseemly, not to mention illegal, with their unbeaten record.
Terriers' boss Lee Clark responded positively during the break, bringing on the attacking pace of Danny Ward and Anton Robinson. Powell was forced into change by the enforced withdrawal of experienced loan signing Darel Russell, in whose place Andy Hughes added his customary professional pragmatism to the cause. What you see is what you get from Hughes and what you get are guts and commitment.
A minute following resumption, the bar denied Charlton a third, possibly decisive goal. Green's long throw was headed over Bennett by Kermorgant but crashed against the woodwork. The burly Frenchman then forced a fine save from Bennett with a fierce free kick.
Improving steadily as their hosts flagged briefly, the Terriers came close to reducing their arrears on the hour when Ward's intended cross swerved on to the bar. They came even closer through Parkin, who seized on a chance created by Taylor's untimely slip to crash a venomous left-footed volley goalwards. At full stretch, Hamer miraculously turned the ball on to his left-hand post.
Having done their marvellously full-throated bit, the home support had seen enough. The departure of Kermorgant with an ankle injury dampened their ardour somewhat but they stayed behind to salute their heroes, each one of whom had contributed fully to a cockle-warming triumph It wouldn't do to mention any names but the little right back is one nugget of a player. There's still one helluva long way to go but the journey has been a pleasure so far. Stay on board, now, there's more to come.
Charlton (4-4-2): Hamer, Solly, Morrison, Taylor, Wiggins, Green, Russell (Hughes 46), Hollands, Ephraim (Wagstaff 82), Kermorgant (Hayes 89), Wright-Phillips. Not used: Sullivan, Cort.
Huddersfield (4-4-2): Bennett, Hunt, Arfield, Clarke, Woods, Miller (Robinson 46), Kay, Roberts (Ward 46), Johnson, Rhodes, Parkin. Not used: Colgan, Novak, Bruce.
Referee: R. East. Attendance: 18,029.