After back-to-back clean sheets and Tuesday night’s thumping win over Reading, Town’s recent form came to an end with a resounding defeat at Charlton Athletic.
This was not the return to the Valley that Manager Chris Powell would have been plotting, with the home side well worth the win that was secured by goals from Johann Gudmundsson and a brace from the impressive Tony Watt.
Charlton started the better of the two sides, pressing the Terriers back with a high tempo opening 15 minutes. However, Town weathered the storm and got a foothold on the game thereafter, slowing the tempo with some patient passing through midfield.
The front duo of Ishmael Miller and James Vaughan – the latter returning to the team in place of the injured Nahki Wells – combined promisingly just after the 20 minute mark, but James’ low drive was blocked well by centre back Roger Johnson.
Soon after Miller was just inches away from turning Jonathan Hogg’s header into the penalty area home at full stretch.
However, the Addicks looked dangerous at the other end. Their first big chance saw winger Frederic Bulot skipped past David Edgar on the Town right, but he inexplicably delayed his pass to the unmarked Igor Vetokele and when he finally played the ball, the chance was snuffed out and Smithies claimed.
Despite that, Guy Luzon’s side did take the lead in the 33rd minute. Edgar pulled down striker Tony Watt 25 yards from goal, allowing Icelandic midfielder Johann Gudmundsson to step up and expertly curl a superb left-footed effort past the despairing Smithies’ left side.
Town responded and created the best chance of the first-half five minutes later. Robinson and Bunn combined down the left, allowing the wing-back to find Miller with a low ball into the area. After an initial touch to kill the ball, the big striker hit it goal-wards – but sent his effort a couple of feet wide of the far post.
Charlton had chances to extend their half-time lead, but first Vetokele couldn’t get a good connection on left back Morgan Fox’s low cross in order to beat Smithies before Robinson denied the same player with a last ditch clearance minutes later.
Despite that, Charlton did double their lead less than three minutes into the second period through Watt. Vetokele broke clear down the right and although Wallace was with him, the striker managed to squeeze a pass to his strike partner, who cleverly reversed his low shot into the bottom corner.
Town tried to fight back, with centre back Gomez doing brilliantly to prevent Miller turning Scannell’s low cross home, before Charlton went close to a third; Watt’s cross just out of reach of Vetokele.
Smithies then had to be agile to keep out another low drive from Watt, with a strong right hand keeping the ball out.
Butterfield soon found Miller’s run with a fantastic raking pass, but the January recruit tried to hit the ball on the volley as it dropped over his shoulder and didn’t connect, meaning the chance was gone.
Smithies then saved from sub Lawrie Wilson as the chances continued to flow.
Town started to pin the home side back with 20 minutes left, but goalkeeper Stephen Henderson came to the fore. The Charlton custodian pulled off a great save to prevent Murray Wallace after Town kept the ball alive from Butterfield’s corner; pushing the defender’s low shot around his left-hand post.
Sadly, the impressive Watt then scored an impressive third goal just minutes later. The Scottish forward collected the ball deep and skipped two challenges before entering the penalty area and firing hard past a helpless Alex Smithies.
The last meaningful action of the game saw home substitute Chris Eagles cause a few moments of panic with an over-hit cross from the right that hit the face of the Town crossbar.
Town’s team (3-4-1-2):
Alex Smithies; Murray Wallace, Mark Hudson (c), David Edgar (Tommy Smith, 64); Jack Robinson, Jacob Butterfield, Jonathan Hogg (Conor Coady, 64), Sean Scannell; Harry Bunn (Joe Lolley, 73); James Vaughan, Ishmael Miller
Joe Murphy, Jake Carroll, Oscar Gobern, Radoslaw Majewski
Jack Robinson (88)