Charlton 3-2 Hartlepool Utd
A PACKED Valley witnessed Charlton end the season ahead of the League title presentation with an entertaining victory over Hartlepool United.
The win ensured the Addicks finished the campaign with a record breaking 101 points on an afternoon which began with a pre-match parachute arrival on the pitch from the Red Devils.
Charlton finished off last season with a 0-0 draw at home to Hartlepool and it said everything about the changes which have happened here over the last 12 months that only three players who started that game did so today.
The trio were Chris Solly, Scott Wagstaff and Bradley Wright-Phillips.and as expected, manager Chris Powell named a starting XI who have formed the backbone of his championship winning side.
Ryan Noble volleyed wildly over the bar and at the other end Wright-Phillips’ shot took a deflection before falling to Wagstaff, whose shot was off target.
Gary Liddle volleyed over from a corner which was won after Rhoys Wiggins put behind Neil Austin’s delivery.
Scott Flinders made a comfortable catch to gather Wright-Phillips’ header from a 19th minute corner and then Charlton’s leading scorer saw a snap shot go wide after being set up by Johnnie Jackson.
Ritchie Humphries’ long range shot went straight at Ben Hamer and Michael Morrison placed a header wide after rising high to meet Dale Stephens’ free-kick.
Charlton were forced into a change on the half hour when skipper Johnnie Jackson made way for Danny Haynes.
And within a minute the visitors were in front as Peter Hartley was ideally placed to convert from six yards after he met Austin’s corner.
Wright-Phillips almost had the champions back on terms straight away but his low shot sailed agonisingly wide of the post. Andy Monkhouse’s shot on the stroke of half-time almost doubled the lead as a lacklustre Addicks side went in at the break perhaps fortunate only to be one goal down.
Hartlepool were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position within three minutes of the restart after Noble was tripped just outside of the area by Morrison, but Austin’s set piece was well saved by Hamer.
It was almost all square in the 50th minute as Yann Kermorgant headed the ball into the path of Wright-Phillips, whose volley just flew over the bar.
Kermorgant’s 58th minute shot was blocked and put behind with the big French striker seeing his header from the resulting corner land straight at Flinders.
Wagstaff was replaced by Bradley Pritchard in the 65th minute but the home fans’ wait for an equaliser was over five minutes later when Wiggins’ corner was volleyed home in some style by Danny Hollands.
Flinders made an excellent one-handed save to somehow put behind Kermorgant’s shot for a corner but there was nothing he could do to prevent Haynes heading the Addicks in front on 78 minutes.
And things got even better for Charlton three minutes later as Kermorgant finished in stunning style from an acute angle at the back post, lifting his shot over Flinders to make it 3-1.
Jason Euell came on for a cameo farewell in the 83rd minute as Wright-Phillips made way.
But any hopes of a comfortable finish were dashed by the visitors when they pulled one back in the 86th minute as Liddle’s 20 yard shot took a slight deflection on its way to beating Hamer.
Four minutes of added time were signalled and Chris Solly came close to adding a fourth with a shot that went just over.
That would have capped a memorable season for the youngster ahead of tomorrow evening’s player of the year awards ceremony, where he will surely go head to head with Kermorgant for the honour.
The final whistle signalled the party and title presentation on a day to remember for Charlton Athletic.
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Charlton: Hamer, Wiggins, Morrison, Taylor, Solly, Jackson (Haynes 30), Hollands, Stephens, Wagstaff (Pritchard 65), Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips (Euell 83). Subs not used: Sullivan, Cort. Att: 26,749.