Pratley's winning header gives Charlton another big lift in battle to beat the drop
Charlton 1 QPR 0
Charlton took another potentially decisive step towards Championship safety with a slender victory in their cross-London derby with mid-table Rangers.
The Addicks backed up that crucial win at Hull in their first game after the pandemic break with another vital three points to keep clear of the bottom three. For Rangers, this was a second limp 1-0 defeat to consign to the dustbin all fanciful talks of a late run to the play-offs.
Rangers looked tidier on the ball in the early passage of play and enjoyed most of the possession in the first half, but it was the Addicks who stole in front after just 12 minutes.
Darren Pratley rose highest at a Josh Cullen corner to power a downward header goalwards that Liam Kelly could only parry onto a post and over the line.
The goal had the effect of lifting Charlton into a brighter frame of mind and a renewed sense of purpose in trying to hunt down a second goal. Tomer Hemed looked particularly lively against defenders he knows from his time on loan at QPR.
A burst into space from Macauley Bonne ended with Kelly having to get down low at his near post to deny the striker, as the hosts looked purposeful.
Rangers worked Ebe Eze into space on the edge of the area a couple of times but the playmaker’s subsequent efforts floated off target and it seemed to sum up a slightly listless display from Mark Warburton’s men.
The west Londoners missed an excellent chance of getting back on level terms at the start of the second half, when Jordan Hugill ghosted in behind the Charlton defence to reach a perfectly-angled cross from the right from Angel Rangel.
The striker should have converted but had his shot blocked by keeper Dillon Phillips and for all the pressing late on, they never came closer to finding the net.
Charlton made their full quota of subs after the break and one of them, the livewire Alfie Doughty, almost fired in after wriggling through some half-hearted challenges and firing low at the near post.
Charlton: Phillips – Matthews, Pearce, Lockyer, Oshilaja (Purrington 77) – Morgan (Green 84), Pratley, Cullen, McGeady (Doughty 59) – Bonne (Field 84), Hemed (Aneke 59). Subs not used: Williams, Amos, Sarr, Davison
QPR: Kelly – Range (Kane 71), Masterson, Barbet, Manning – Ball (Bettache 77), Cameron (Amos 71) – Osayi-Samuel, Eze, Chair (Shodipo 60) – Hugill. Subs not used: Lumley, Oteh, Kakay, Gubbins, Clarke