Play-off place still possible for Addicks after 3-1 win, at home, against Lincoln City
By Alessandro Schiavone at The Valley
Charlton 3 v Lincoln City 1
Charlton Athletic woke up from their first-half slumber to overcome Lincoln City 3- 1 at the Valley as they bid to secure a place in the play-offs with one game of the season left.
An exhilarating second-half produced three goals and, more importantly, three points as Chuks Aneke’s substitution proved a stroke of tactical genius from manager Nigel Adkins with the former Arsenal academy graduate opening up spaces for his teammates thanks to his impressive movement off the ball and link-up play.
And it didn’t take long for Charlton to get off the mark after a first-half that lived down to expectations as Jayden Stockley put his side ahead with a thumping finish in the 47th minute to score his first non-headed goal for the club before Ryan Inniss increased the hosts’ lead with a composed header at the far post after 65 minutes.
Aneke then made it 3-0 a minute later when his deflected shot left goalkeeper Alex Palmer in no man’s land before Joe Walsh reduced the deficit with a late consolation goal that could prove costly should the Addicks and Oxford United finish level on points with Karl Robinson’s men boasting a four-goal superior goal difference.
In the 11th minute, Charlton got away with some static defending when James Jones played a through ball to Callum Morton but Ben Amos leapt to his left to pull off a spectacular save to ensure Charlton did not have to play catch up from the start.
As far as Charlton were concerned, they were non-existent in the final third from open play in the first half-hour with their best route to goal coming from a set-piece.
In stoppage time, Charlton finally registered their first clear-cut goalscoring opportunity when Liam Millar left his opposite number in his wake before cutting in on the right foot and undoing all of his great work, lashing his shot over the bar. It was the right idea but the wrong execution.
Such was the lack of creativity of the first-half that the most eye-catching episode came when the fourth official indicated that there would be eight additional minutes.
But it took Adkins’ men only two minutes to get their noses in front when Stockley, finally with some service to feed off after a frustrating first-half, gave Charlton the lead with a predatory finish into the top corner after Aneke had flicked on Alex Gilbey’s cross from the right. It was Stockley’s first goal with his foot after scoring all of his previous seven in a Charlton shirt with his head.
The outstanding Amos then repelled Morton's effort a minute later, in the 49th minute, as the Addicks held on to their slender lead before they continued to crate havoc at the other end.
In the 63th minute, Millar then spectacularly picked out Stockley but the 27-year old headed wide from close range at the back post.
Only two minutes later, Inniss, imperious at the back throughout the game, increased Charlton’s lead when he rose unchallenged to flick home a header at the back post to finally break his Addicks duck. The goalkeeper was not irreproachable as he parried the ball inside his own net.
Whatever Adkins’ team talk was, it bore fruit as Charlton were all over Lincoln, outfighting, outclassing and outthinking their opponents who probably approached this game as a dead rubber, with their place in the play-offs already secured.
The irrepressible Aneke then capitalised on diabolical defending, rounding off an impressive display when he opened up his right foot to fire home Charlton’s third. His shot took a deflection as it made its way into the back of the net.
With two minutes of normal time to go, substitute Walsh then pulled one back, blasting a late consolation goal beyond Amos. But it was too late to set up a grandstand finish as Charlton saw the game out to boost their odds of a top-six finish.
After enjoying a morale-boosting and convincing win, Charlton now have their sights firmly set on beating already-promoted Hull City on Sunday.
The Tigers inflicted on them a last-gasp goal last year in a 2-2 draw before joining the Addicks in going down, but with nothing left to play for Grant McCann’s men, the Londoners hope that their own win coupled with a slip-up by Oxford and Portsmouth, will be enough to get them over the finishing line.
13 Ben Amos- 3 Ben Purrington- 16 Adam Matthews- 24 Ryan Inniss- 5 Akin Famewo- 3 Ben Purrington- 11 Alex Gilbey- 26 Ben Watson- 8 Jake Forster-Caskey- 22 Ian Maatsen- 9 Jayden Stockley- 27 Liam Millar
1 Alex Palmer – 2 Reegan Poole- 4 Lewis Montsma- 22 Timothy Eyoma – 15 Cohem Bramall- 10 Jorge Grant- 7 Tayo Edun- 26 Harry Anderson-8 James Jones- 11 Anthony Scully- 19 Callum Morton