Charlton 3 (N'Guessan 7, Wright-Phillips 60, Russell 90) Yeovil 0
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
At the fourth time of asking, Charlton resumed winning ways and stopped their recent blip becoming an expanding blot on their excellent record. They were never particularly convincing in beating in-form Yeovil but, as relieved boss Chris Powell was happy to remind pernickety critics, results are the be-all and end-all at this critical stage of the season.
Having rung the changes in a battleweary team, Powell was entitled to be pleased with the contributions made by the new blood. Even the happy gaffer, however, could hardly have predicted the immediate impact of loan signing Dany N'Guessan, who continued a penchant for debut goals for new clubs by
putting the Addicks ahead after just seven minutes.
The visitors seemed to have survived a fleeting scare when Bradley Wright-Phillips beat goalkeeper Sam Walker to Danny Hollands' lofted pass but saw his improvised lob cleared over the left touchline. Accepting Rhoys Wiggins' throw-in, N'Guessan cut in on his right foot before letting fly with a wickedly swerving delivery which started its journey as a cross but ended it by soaring through Walker's hands into the top right corner. All obvious puns involving the scorer's surname will, in this report, be resolutely resisted.
As a morale booster, N'Guessan's early opener could scarcely have been bettered. Oddly enough, though, the over-anxious league leaders failed to build on their lucky break. Tension riddled every pass, every clearance was laboured. The Glovers were far from impressive themselves but were allowed back into a game that might otherwise have run away from them.They lived nervously when Yann Kermorgant began a lively shift by heading Chris Solly's free kick wide and again when Scott Wagstaff charged down Dean Parrett's botched free kick, broke clear but failed to pick out Wright-Phillips with a crucial pass. Town survived, then hit back.
Their first effort on target was a dangerous 25-yarder from midfielder Edward Upson which Ben Hamer saved at his right-hand post, at the expense of a corner. Hamer was called into action again by Parrett's crisp daisycutter but coped at the second attempt. And when Jonathan Franks mugged Hollands into fouling him in perfect range for setpiece expert Gavin Williams, the free kick was sent wastefully over the bar.
An uncomfortable first half ended with Hollands heading Solly's corner too high.
News that Sheffield United were annihilating recent Valley conquerors Notts County and that next Saturday's opposition Huddersfield Town were in front at Chesterfield was balanced somewhat by the surprising problems Sheffield Wednesday were experiencing at home to lowly Walsall. They say you shouldn't be worrying about other results but that's a crock of horse manure. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
Back at The Valley, meanwhile, half-time substitute Bondz N'Gala, owner of a superb moniker, was making another name for himself. First he cleared off the line after Hollands' long throw bounced through a crowd, presumably collecting a touch on its way to the far post, then smashed what appeared to be a point-blank equaliser at the other end until Hamer bravely and brilliantly parried.
A pent-up Valley was fretting restlessly as the hour mark approached but any side with Wright-Phillips leading its forward line stands half a chance of scoring. Wright-Phillips had worked hard without great effect but patience is second nature to the born predator. His reward arrived when Franks fouled Wagstaff and Wiggins deliberately zeroed the free kick on to Kermorgant's head beyond the far post. The big Breton nodded square, the defensively outstanding Leon Cort luckily missed contact and there was Wright-Phillips, hardly likely to miss a free header from six yards. That's 21 goals for a season blighted by an eleven game scoring drought. Very impressive.
Essential daylight had appeared between the teams, though Lawson D'Ath, set up by right back Luke Ayling, almost closed the gap immediately but was unlucky that his first-time effort rebounded off the bar. The Glovers' bolt was shot but their cockahoop hosts weren't quite finished yet.
An elusive handful, capable of popping up anywhere, Kermorgant capped an important performance with a key contribution to a third goal. His skilful chest control and fine pass set Wiggins on his way down the left flank, to carefully pick out Darrel Russell's late run into the six-yard box. The left back's measured ball was stabbed home by Russell to seal a deceptively comprehensive victory. But still a victory.
And they are priceless as promotion push becomes promotion shove.
Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Morrison, Cort, Wiggins, Wagstaff, Hollands, Russell, N'Guessan (Green 74), Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips. Not used: Sullivan, Taylor, Stephens, Pritchard.
Yeovil: Walker, Ayling, Huntington, Hinds (N'Gala 46), Grounds, Gavin Williams (D'Ath 45), Franks, Blizzard, Upson, Parrett (Agard 69), Andrew Williams. Not used: Stewart, Woods.
Referee: D.Coote. Attendance: 13,715.