Washington’s late strike secures all three points for Addicks after going 2-0 down against the Gas
By Alessandro Schiavone at The Valley
If Charlton caretaker manager Johnnie Jackson has his eyes firmly set on landing the managerial job at on a permanent basis, tonight’s hard-fought 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers, courtesy of a late Conor Washington winner did his chances no harm.
This was a must-win game for Charlton if they wanted to reignite their hopes of a play-off finish, and this precious victory, their third in the last five league outings, puts them right in the thick of a promotion challenge. If anyone expected a shock to the system after Lee Bowyer’s impromptu resignation yesterday, all they got was quite the opposite. With their trusted manager gone and trailing 2-0 after a horrific start to the game, Charlton could have capitulated. But instead the Addicks showed grit, determination and desire to come from behind and wrap up all three points. In the end they pulled off a historic comeback against Joey Barton’s Gas, who were denied a first win at the Valley since 1958.
This scrappy slow burner burst into life when Andrew Shinnie conceded a penalty for a foul on Jonah Ayunga after 18 minutes, just moments after the former Birmingham City midfielder could have scored himself had it not been for a poor first touch allowing keeper Joe Day to come off his line and narrow the angle.
Skipper Luke Leahy stepped up to send Charlton stopper Ben Amos the wrong way before Jonah Ayunga came close to doubling his industrious side’s lead when his diagonal chip nearly caught the keeper off the line. Had the effort not missed the target by a few inches and gone in instead it would have been a serious contender for goal of the season.
Rovers squandered another chance to get the second goal their performance warranted when Sam Nicholson, through on goal, saw his effort cannon off Amos’ outstretched leg.
With Charlton failing to withstand the onslaught, Rovers were smelling blood and increased their lead in the 32nd minute.
A long-range Ed Upson effort appeared an easy save for Amos but he let the shot fly into the back of the net. Why he chose to dive left while the undeflected ball went right is anyone’s guess.
But that goal served as a wake-up call for Charlton to liven up defensively and play without fear in the final third.
And just a minute later the home side reduced the deficit when Shinnie, who gave away the penalty for Rovers’ opener, fired an immaculate shot volley past Day into the far bottom corner from outside the box.
Jayden Stockley escaped punishment for an inadvertent slap on Leahy after 36 minutes before the Preston North End loanee was brought down on the edge of the box for what was to be the defining moment in the game.
On the stroke of half-time Jake Forster-Caskey dispatched a bending free-kick into the back of the net.
Things could have gone from bad to worse for Rovers when Charlton striker Conor Washington was denied a run through on goal but for an acrobatic last-gasp clearance.
In the second-half Charlton picked up where they had left off and laid siege to the visitors’ goal.
On the hour mark Washington squandered a gilt-edged chance to put his side ahead when he directed a tame effort at the keeper. The Northern Ireland international, who hit a purple patch this month and is in a rich vein of goalscoring form, rounded off a brilliant individual performance with a late goal.
He had been excellent all game, not least the way he rattled Rovers’ backline with his smart runs in behind the defenders but the goal capped off a memorable evening.
At the right place at the right time after a defensive mix-up by Rovers, Washington only had to tap the rebounding ball into an empty net after it had had come off the post.
Despite being outclassed in the first half, the Addicks went from strength to strength, while Bristol could not weather the storm and did not manage find any incisiveness of their own.
Ten minutes from time, Diallang Jaiyesimi had the chance to put the game beyond Rovers had he not volleyed Washington’s enticing cross over the bar.
Goalkeeper Day was given the marching orders in injury-time when he brought down Aneke to deny him a clear goalscoring opportunity after rushing off his line.
Although they have played two matches more than Ipswich Town and Oxford United, their closest rivals for a play-off berth, Charlton have extended their unbeaten run to five games.
Rovers looked out of their depth in the second-half, and their inability to kill off the game meant they have now lost six of their last eight meetings with the Addicks and are without a win since 2010, while their 63-year hoodoo at The Valley goes on.
Meanwhile, Jackson boosted his credentials to take over on a permanent basis by beating Rovers, the same side that saw Bowyer drop his first points against in his fourth game in charge of Charlton after three straight wins in 2018.
Charlton: Amos, Gunter, Famewo, Pearce, Maatsen, Forster-Caskey, Morgan, Milan, Shinnie, Shockley, Washington
Subs: Oshilaja, Jailesimi, Aneke, Pratley, Watson, Schwartz, Maynard-Brewer
Bristol Rovers: Day, Williams, Kilgore, Baldwin, Leahy, McCormick, Upson, Nicolson, Westbrooke, Ayunga, Hanlan
Sibs: Van Stappershoef, Little, Elmer, Daly, Hargreaves, Walker, Martinez
Referee: Robert Madley