Charlton 1 Middlesbrough 4

By Rob Virtue on November 3, 2012 5:01 PM |


Middlesbrough came from a goal down at The Valley to win by a canter against a Charlton side still looking for their first home win since the second game of the season.

It all started so well for the south-east Londoners. Charlton were looking dangerous on
the counter-attack and that was the key to the opening goal.

Bradley Pritchard marauded forward with the ball and as Bradley Wright-Phillips sprinted left the Boro defence parted allowing Pritchard to find Rob Hulse in space on the right.

The striker was allowed two or three touches before he fired the ball inside Jason Steele's near post with just 12 minutes on the clock.

The home side were in the ascendancy with Pritchard orchestrating play in the centre. It was a frustrating opening period for Boro forwards Scott McDonald and Emmanuel Ledesma who were struggling to deal with the Charlton offside trap.

Former Addick Nicky Bailey, playing at The Valley for the first time since his costly penalty miss in the play-off semi-final against Swindon three seasons ago, came closest for the visitors but his angled shot was saved well low by Ben Hamer.

But, as so has often been the case so far this season, a set-piece proved to be Charlton's undoing.

Midfielder Grant Leadbitter lofted in a dangerous free-kick from the half-way line and Jonathan Woodgate, unmarked, headed over Hamer and into the net from close range on 27 minutes.

The game was at a stalemate for a period, with little in the way of chances. A Johnnie Jackson shot from distance that dribbled wide was barely noteworthy, while a dangerous cross from the byline by Lawrie Wilson headed just over by Hulse more so.

Goalscorer Woodgate could count himself lucky to stay on the pitch five minutes before the break as Jackson charged through, beating the former Real Madrid defender, who then tried to grab the ball, succeeding at the third attempt.

The referee saw fit to award Woodgate just a booking and Jackson was unable to hand down his own justice, firing the free-kick inches over Steele's crossbar.

Chris Powell then had to add Wilson to a lengthy injury list after he went down unchallenged in the closing stages of the half. The midfielder was replaced by Dale Stephens at the break.

But if the first Middlesbrough goal was characteristic of Charlton's campaign, the second most certainly wasn't.

A sloppy pass from defender Michael Morrison was intercepted and Boro striker McDonald raced down the left before angling a drive past Hamer to put Boro in front seven minutes into the second half.

Charlton were under pressure to respond with Boro now looking threatening on the break.

And on 63 minutes they struck again and it was through one of those counter-attacks. A clearance sent Ledesma through and, spotting Hamer off his line, he lobbed the Charlton keeper from the edge of the area to put Boro 3-1 up.

Charlton desperately needed a goal and moments later nearly got it but Jackson's scuffed a golden opportunity 12 yards out went narrowly wide.

And it took a superb save at full stretch by Hamer from Boro striker McDonald to keep the Addicks from falling further behind.

Danny Haynes, who came on for defender Leon Cort, nearly put Charlton back in the game when his cross eluded everyone and fell just the wrong side of the upright.

At the other end Ledesma did hit the post but the ball tricked along the goal-line with nobody on hand to tap it in.

And just as it looked as if Hamer had kept the scoreline down in injury-time, saving excellently from Lukas Jutkiewicz, Boro subsititute Richard Smallwood popped up at the far post to score Boro's fourth.