Chesterfield 0 Charlton 4 (Wright-Phillips 41, 56, Jackson 59, Trotman o.g. 67).
Kevin Nolan reports from the B2net Stadium.
Showing ruthless effficiency, Charlton kept their title bandwagon rolling with this smoothly executed demolition of relegation haunted Chesterfield. The Spireites were expertly softened up in a one-way first half, before being sunk without trace in the second period. A boxing referee might have stepped in before the end to spare the poor so-and-soes unnecessary punishment.
It was natural that Charlton's 710 travelling fans approached the city of the crooked spire cautiously. Any scenario featuring top against bottom contains within it the obvious banana skin cliche. Not in the least bit interested in old wives' tales, these so-modern Addicks simply gobbled up Chesterfield, banana, skin and all. There was never any doubt that they would.
And if, admittedly, the Derbyshire side were among the poorest opposition Charlton have faced this season, that takes nothing away from their commanding performance. From back to front, every player did his duty, none more so than the sometimes awesome Chris Solly and, even more pleasingly, Danny Green, who showed how devastating he can be. Yann Kermorgant wasn't too bad, either, while Bradley Wright-Phillips followed up Saturday's ice-breaker against Stevenage with his 16th and 17th goals of the campaign. There were even faint claims that he'd notched the first hat-trick of his career but they fell on stony ground. It was defender Neal Trotman who turned in Green's 67th minute cross.
His confidence boosted by his long-awaited breakthrough three days previously, Wright-Phillips was clearly keen to capitalise on his change of fortune. So it says much for his mental strength that he succeeded in putting behind him a disastrous early miss. Clean through as Kermorgant flicked on Ben Hamer's huge clearance, the slim sharpshooter momentarily rounded keeper Tommy Lee but stumbled over the ball in the act of shooting. It took character to recover from that embarrassment.
Kermorgant, meanwhile, was his usual menacing self. His far post header sent Johnnie Jackson's inswinging corner skidding narrowly wide. He popped up at the same post minutes later to connect with Green's delightful cross but a textbook downward header was marvellously saved at full length by Lee.
It was all Charlton, their overwhelming superiority interrupted only by a rare Chesterfield break, in which Liam Ridehalgh set up Jordan Bowery to test Hamer. When Nicky Ajose fired dangerously wide, there were signs that the Blues were on the road to recovery. That impression was rudely dispelled, four minutes before the interval, by Wright-Phillips' opener.
Sheer pugnacity from Solly won the ball in midfield and created space for Green to chip over Lee, not the biggest of League One keepers. A slight deflection turned probable cross into lethal shot but ricocheted off the underside of the bar. From two feet, Wright-Phillips was unlikely to bungle the rebound.
Completely on top but not yet out of sight, the rampant visitors nonchalantly applied the finishing touches to their record-equalling 12th away win of the season with three rapid-fire second half goals. In scoring the first, Wright-Phillips might or might not have been offside as he swivelled on to Jackson's miscued drive but the sideways-on volley he rifled past Lee from 12 yards was the instinctive work of a striker dramatically back to form.
Three minutes later, Chesterfield's misery was heightened by a third setback. A restless bundle of energy, Solly turned Ridehalgh inside out before rolling a carefully measured pass back for Jackson to find the bottom right corner with his less favoured right foot.
Doing as they pleased by now, the Addicks poured on the agony. A fine, blood-twisting run by Green was capped by a low, driven centre which was turned past Lee by Trotman, with Wright-Phillips in watchful attendance. The striker's sheepish "celebration" rather gave the game away, not that the visiting hordes behind the goal were having any of it. Once again, they insisted in song that "Bradley Wright Phillips... is better than Shaun." Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is certain. Bradley is a sung hero.
Gamely, the Spireites kept going to the end. Bowery headed against the bar, with substitute Leon Cort throwing himself heedlessly in front of Alex Mendy's follow-up. And in added time, Danny Whittaker's curling drive forced Hamer's only meaningful save. A 12th clean sheet was obviously a priority for the Addicks bang in-form keeper.
The benefits of such an easy victory could have profound implications for the title run-in. Having experienced recent difficulty in getting the better of one lowly side after another, Charlton reminded themselves - and us - that they are the best side in League One. That hardly entitles them to saunter to the finishing line but it does provide them with the confidence of knowing that there isn't a side which can live with them when they hit their stride. There may be the odd misstep on the way but the Addicks are on their way out of League One. By the right exit door, more to the point.
Chesterfield: Lee, Ford, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Westcarr (Mendy 62), Davis, Allott, Bowery, Lester (Whittaker 66), Not used: Fleming, Smith, Boden.
Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Morrison (Cort 68), Taylor, Wiggins, Green, Hollands, Stephens, Jackson (Haynes 78), Wright-Phillips, Kermorgant (Haynes 78). Not used: Sullivan, Russell.
Referee: Colin Webster. Attendance: 6,405.