REPORT: CHARLTON 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC 1Another superb finish from Callum McManaman was not enough in the end as Charlton substitute Franck Moussa’s deflected injury time winner cruelly denied Latics at The Valley.
Uwe Rosler’s men had to come back from an early setback to level before the break and looked to be heading for at least a point at least when the striker drove a speculative effort at goal which looped over the helpless Scott Carson.
Latics enjoyed plenty of possession and looked excellent in patches but found the Charlton defence a really hard nut to crack and alas came away with nothing for all their possession.
Rosler had to shuffle his pack slightly following the withdrawal of skipper Emmerson Boyce with a slight knock, Ivan Ramis deputising at centre half, with James Perch wearing the armband for the first time. The only other player to keep his place from Tuesday’s starting eleven was Marc-Antoine Fortune, Rosler rewarding him after his good showing at the Pirelli Stadium with a starting place down the left side of the attack.
Latics began the brightest with two quick fire attacks inside the first five minutes, both involving McManaman getting behind the Charlton defence down the right hand side. The first saw Stephen Henderson dive bravely at the feet of Oriol Riera after a James McArthur flick. Then a snappy free-kick routine had Charlton scrambling to get the ball out for a corner.
But against the run of play, Charlton took the lead with their first attack. Cousins picked up the ball on the edge of the box on the left hand side from a long ball, took one touch and fired in a 20 yard piledriver into Scott Carson’s top left hand corner. A real blow after Latics had done all the early running.
Latics continued enjoying the lion’s share of possession but with the cushion of the first goal, Charlton were content to keep plenty of players behind the goal and let Latics do all the pressing, waiting for the opportunity to counter.
It needed a piece a piece of magic to unlock the door and who better to provide than McManaman? He picked up a long ball from James McArthur down the right, drove into the box, cut back brilliantly and instantly despatched a low drive inside Henderson’s far post from a tight angle. Lovely finish for the second week in succession.
Charlton enjoyed a spell toward the end of the half, but their only real opportunity of note came when Rhoys Wiggins overlapped down the left and drew a solid block from Carson from an angled effort inside the area. Latics finished the half on top but were not able to trouble the goal any further before the break.
Rosler replaced Riera with Shaun Maloney for the second half – presumably injury related - with the Scot fitting on the left side and Fortune moving to the centre in place of the Spaniard.
Johann Gudmundsson had the first opportunity after the break, firing low but Carson saved comfortably. Igor Vetokele then tried his luck but his deflected effort was touched behind by Carson after a challenge by Perch.
The game entered a cagey phase with neither side giving any quarter, before Charlton keeper Henderson had to be replaced after lengthy treatment, further interrupting the flow of the game further. Nick Pope took over between the sticks. For his part, Rosler tried to break the stalemate by replacing Fortune with Martyn Waghorn with just over 20 minutes remaining, then the tireless runner Don Cowie with Roger Espinoza.
The last few minutes were predictably tense with both teams having mini spells of pressure. Pope was forced to knock over his own defender Andre Bikey when Waghorn chased after a long ball from Perch, who then brilliantly denied Gudmundsson with a block with his feet in his own box.
With five minutes additional time shown following the injury to Henderson, both teams continued to probe. Vetokele fizzed an effort wide, then Carson denied him when he broke free. Then Espinoza got behind on the left but there was no one to meet his ball.
Then came the killer blow, as a loose ball fell to Moussa and he tried his luck from outside the box, the ball striking Kiernan on its way to goal.