CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 TOWN 1
Beckford goal seals progression to Fourth Round
A 16th FA Cup goal in as many starts for striker Jermaine Beckford was enough to seal Town’s progression to the Fourth Round of this season’s FA Cup – and give the Terriers their first win in 11 games.
The Terriers turned in a good performance at the Valley to knock hosts Charlton out of the competition, dealing well with their attacking ability whilst creating a few good chances of their own.
Beckford’s 11th minute goal settled the tie – his fourth in Town colours – and Simon Grayson’s side deserved its seventh clean sheet of the season and the win for the defensive steel it showed throughout the game, made slightly more comfortable by the second half dismissal of Charlton centre half Dorian Dervite.
Paul Dixon’s return at left back after a five game absence was one of five changes Simon Grayson made to his starting XI; two others came through injuries to Joel Lynch and Keith Southern, whereas the others were straight selection choices. The 4-5-1 deployed at the start of the Leicester defeat on New Year’s Day was also abandoned in favour of the more common 4-4-2, with Beckford joining Vaughan up front and Scott Arfield moving out to the right flank.
There were plenty of changes to the Charlton team too although there was still plenty of threat from the Addicks, thanks largely to a lively front two or Yann Kermogant and Bradley Wright-Phillips; the former boasting considerable aerial power, while the latter offers pace in behind.
Despite this the Terriers enjoyed a good first half and deserved their half time lead after creating some good chances. The returning Beckford set the tone in the first 30 seconds, knocking left back Evina off the ball to win the first corner of the game.
Oliver Norwood was taking the set-pieces and although the early one came to nothing, an eighth minute ploy of dinking a shot corner onto the head of James Vaughan caused Charlton problems – with ‘keeper David Button doing well to come and claim the striker’s flick.
The first goal followed three minutes later and it had an accomplished feel to it. Adam Clayton picked up the ball in midfield and saw Jermaine Beckford peeling off centre back Matt Taylor; his ball over the top was perfect and the striker made no mistake in chesting the ball down and passing the ball past the stricken ‘keeper from 15 yards out for his fourth goal in Town colours.
Scott Arfield was finding space between the Charlton lines when drifting infield and he did well to pick out Hunt as Town’s impressive start continued after the opener; the full-back’s low cross found Vaughan with his back to goal on the edge of the area and the Norwich loanee did well to improvise an overhead kick, although the shot drifted over the crossbar.
Town’s team was doing excellently to cut out the delivery from wide positions that would bring French striker Kermogant into play and Charlton boss Chris Powell would have been annoyed to see otherwise impressive central midfielder Dale Stephens waste a good opportunity to deliver from a wide free-kick on the 20 minute mark after Arfield was booked for bringing down the overlapping Evina; his delivery was too long and drifted harmlessly out of play.
Alex Smithies was also playing his part when needed – coming out on several occasions to collect balls into the area with his audible call echoing around the sparsely populated Valley.
James Vaughan’s athleticism was causing former Southend centre back Dorian Dervite a few restless moments at the other end and an aerial clash between the two presented the ball to Beckford on the edge of the box in the 26th minute, but the striker’s attempted curler was too close to Button and the ‘keeper easily claimed the ball.
Charlton’s best chance of the first half came just before the half hour mark. Wright-Phillips beat Gerrard to a long ball down the Town left before driving infield and trying to play the ball to strike partner Kermogant inside the area, but as the striker looked set to sweep the ball home Dixon did brilliantly on the cover and cleared to safety.
Normal service was resumed four minutes later when Vaughan cleverly found Arfield with an infield pass; once again the Scotsman was in space and he dribbled into the area before trying to bend a shot into the far corner, only for full back Lawrie Wilson to get a block in.
Wilson was not faring so well against the pace and strength of Sean Scannell. The winger had pressed Wilson into several mistakes in possession throughout the half and should have done better when the defender gifted possession to him inside the host’s half, but as he entered the area he tried to switch the ball onto his favoured right foot and by the time he got his shot away it struck an offside Vaughan.
Town had one final chance in the half and only a smart stop from Button prevented the Terriers from doubling their lead. Jack Hunt’s ball over the top perfectly cut out Dervite and dropped to Beckford and although he miss-controlled, the ball fell to Vaughan on the edge. His first time shot was wonderfully struck – meaning Button had to save smartly to his left.
The second half started with Norwood half-clearing a Charlton free-kick to Dervite and the Frenchman fed the ball back into the area towards Wright-Phillips, but in space the striker tried to volley the ball past Smithies and instead gently lobbed the ball wide of target.
Another Norwood to Vaughan corner had to be cleared over his own bar by big defender Taylor soon after, but the next big moment came in the 57th minute. A rather hopeful volley forward from Clayton saw Dervite miss his kick when he tried to clear – allowing Beckford to race clear. The centre back clearly pulled the striker back with his hand and the Town player went to ground, leaving referee Darren Drysdale with no option but to dismiss the Charlton man.
Down to ten men the home side were going longer and longer in search of a way back into the game, but Town were starting to assist them by giving away silly free kicks in the vicinity of their penalty area. One 62nd minute set piece – given for Clayton’s high foot on Bradley Pritchard – was perfect for the left foot of Salim Kerkar, but Smithies did well; powerfully fisting the curled effort away low to his right side.
Stephens curled another dangerous free-kick from out wide just past its intended target of Michael Morrison – who had been brought on to fill Dervite’s gap – four minutes later.
With Charlton now playing a narrow three in midfield, Town were switching the ball out wide early. One such move with 20 minutes left ended with Hunt crossing into the area - Beckford’s dummy allowed the ball to run to Vaughan, but his full-stretch header was claimed by Button above his head.
Two minutes later Dixon sent Scannell into space to launch a counter-attack for the Terriers before being upended by Pritchard, but frustratingly for the travelling fans the ref stopped play to book the Zimbabwean – bringing a good opportunity to a close.
Scannell led another pacey break in the 82nd minute, beating Wilson to the ball on the touchline before skipping inside and eventually passing to Arfield. Unfortunately for the fans behind the goal, his left-footed effort drifted wide of the far post.
Charlton right back Wilson blasted high and wide from range in the four minutes of second half added time as Powell’s men looked for an equaliser, but it was to no avail as Town halted the slide of ten games without a win.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Sean Scannell, Oliver Norwood, Adam Clayton, Scott Arfield; Jermaine Beckford (Lee Novak 83), James Vaughan
Ian Bennett, Tom Clarke, Murray Wallace, Anton Robinson, Tom Smith, Chris Atkinson
Scott Arfield (20); James Vaughan (43); Adam Clayton (70); Jack Hunt (85)
Bradley Pritchard (72)
Charlton red card:
Dorian Dervite (57)