After Keith Southern was controversially sent off during the first-half, Town showed a dogged determination to leave the Valley with a point thanks to a late Adam Clayton penalty.
The Terriers arrived in London with the second best away record in the npower Championship, but things looked grim after Town fell to 10 men inside the first half and Rob Hulse subsequently put the hosts ahead on the hour mark. However, Grayson’s men didn’t give in and Clayton’s third of the season gave them a point.
Town – in their navy away kit – started the game brightly, with Danny Ward seeing plenty of the ball down the Town left. As early as the second minute the Terriers created a guilt-edged chance to open the scoring through a Ollie Norwood corner; Adam Clayton’s left footed volley was hacked off the line by Addicks skipper Johnnie Jackson and fell perfectly to his counterpart Peter Clarke, but from only six yards out his instinctive volley looped over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Alex Smithies’ long kicks up field were also causing the hosts a few issues and one such clearance, straight from a Charlton corner, fell to Lee Novak – but Town’s top scorer fired wide from outside the area.
Charlton had new loan signing Emmanuel Frimpong in the side and the Arsenal man announced himself with a beautiful curling cross in the 12th minute, but neither Rob Hulse nor Ricardo Fuller could apply the finishing touch as the ball arced across the face of goal.
Simon Church was looking to double his goals total for the Terriers after opening his account against Brighton last weekend and he showed clever movement to get across his man and flick Clayton’s cross towards goal barely a minute later, but ‘keeper Ben Hamer got down to his left and gathered the ball in.
Fuller looked a lively and awkward opponent for Town’s centre halves and he showed good pace to leave Clarke in his wake after the half hour, but Joel Lynch stepped into his path as he entered the penalty area and the Jamaican pulled his shot badly wide.
Simon Grayson’s men put together a nice passing move in response with Norwood, Hunt and Clayton combining well to find Novak on the edge of the area; his fist time effort was parried by Hamer, who recovered well to grab the ball as Church followed up.
Then came the game-changing sending off – making referee Mr Collins an unpopular figure with Town’s technical staff, players and fans alike. Keith Southern contested a 50-50 ball with home centre back Michael Morrison on the halfway line, sliding in to try and win the ball, and it looked like both players got a touch on the ball. However, the official felt differently – flourishing his red card to the astonished former Blackpool man. On first viewing, it looked incredibly harsh.
Simon Grayson shuffled his pack to accommodate Southern’s dismissal, with Church deployed on the right wing and Clayton moving into central midfield in a 4-4-1 shape. Unsurprisingly the hosts bossed possession in the latter stages of the half, but they couldn’t test Smithies as Town held firm; Jackson spurning their most promising attack with a dreadful right-footed cross after an incisive pass into the area from Frimpong.
At the other end Town didn’t make the most of a free-kick and corner, with set-pieces one of the most likely sources of a breakthrough with a man down.
The second half started in similar fashion, with Charlton bossing possession but Town keeping their shape well. The Terriers still created the first chance of the half though; a free-kick into the area was only half cleared to Clayton and his powerful volley was on target until Cort got a brave block in to deflect it wide. The resulting set-piece eventually fell to Danny Ward on the edge of the box, but after showing good strength he fired straight at the ‘keeper from 20 yards out.
Charlton broke on Town in the 54th minute, with the lively Frimpong leading the charge from a cleared Town corner. He played the ball left to Fuller, but as he stepped inside his shot was expertly stopped by a block from Hunt.
Grayson was frequently switching Novak and Church to give the man up front a break from running, but Town were struggling to make the ball stick up front.
Charlton made their numerical advantage count on the hour mark by opening the scoring through Rob Hulse. Peter Clarke’s clearance was a little mistimed and fell straight to Jackson, who drove infield before passing to Fuller; in turn he slid the ball right to Pritchard, who played the perfect low cross into the six yard box for the experienced striker to sweep home.
Grayson introduced Alan Lee and Scott Arfield to try and retain the ball further up field as the half progressed, but equally the Charlton fans were becoming frustrated as their team seemed happy to keep possession of the ball rather than push hard for a second goal to kill the tie. They still had chances; Fuller placed a shot wide from the edge of the box in a move that saw Clayton retrospectively pick up a fifth yellow of the season for a foul, which will see him suspended for the game at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
With a couple of minutes left the Terriers started loading the area and crossing at every opportunity, which caused some nervous moments. One such cross – firmly hit by Clayton on the right – was spilled at the back post by Hamer and fell to Peter Clarke, who headed it back into the area before almost having his head taken off by a high boot – something the ref didn’t miss, with a penalty the result!
Adam Clayton stepped up – and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to snatch a point for the Terriers!
There was still time for one final Charlton chance; a cross from the right was headed firmly towards goal by goalscorer Hulse, but Smithies brilliantly fisted the ball away to ensure a point came back to West Yorkshire.
Town’s Team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Joel Lynch, Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Adam Hammill 85), Oliver Norwood (Scott Arfield 71), Keith Southern, Adam Clayton; Lee Novak (Alan Lee 77), Simon Church
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Anthony Gerrard, Anton Robinson
Paul Dixon (25); Adam Clayton (73)
Town red card:
Keith Southern (34)
Bradley Pritchard (41)