At The Valley

Charlton stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches on the 20th anniversary of their return to The Valley after Brighton twice fought back from a goal down to secure a 2-2 draw.

As planned in advance, the club’s fans launched into a round of applause at 3.07pm to mark Colin Walsh’s winning goal that day 20 years ago when Charlton completed that remarkable return to their stadium with victory over Portsmouth.

Before that point little of note had taken place but within two minutes, as was fitting of the occasion, the home side took the lead.

Dale Stephens took possession from a short corner and delivered an inswinging cross into the box that was nodded in by Lawrie Wilson after the slightest of contact proved enough to deceive goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.

Spurred on, Charlton were quick to almost double the lead when Michael Morrison headed over from another corner from inside the box almost immediately, but thereafter Brighton’s threat also came to the fore.

That it was from captain Gordon Greer their first real chance came was a surprise – and on reflection, a potential source of frustration for manager Gus Poyet. It was the 15th minute when the ball was at his feet from just in front of Charlton’s goal, but he somehow responded by firing well over the bar.

Just two minutes later an equally inviting chance fell for Stephen Dobbie when through on goal, but on-rushing Charlton goalkeeper Ben Hamer reacted superbly to spread himself and unexpectedly save.

Then, after a period of play in which both teams consistently produced good football, Brighton’s equaliser came, with Morrison to blame. The defender was caught in possession by dangerman Craig Mackail-Smith, and the striker went straight through on goal to slot in the 27th-minute equaliser.

After the break it was again Brighton who appeared far more likely to score. Several chances came their way and though none could be described as ‘sitters’, better finishing would have given them the lead. Despite Charlton being so flat for most of the half, they soon made Brighton pay.

Against the run of play, the home side broke down the left in the 70th minute where captain Johnnie Jackson delivered a dangerous low cross into the area that the ineffective Bradley Pritchard steadily turned in to restore their lead.

If the goal lifted Charlton from their sluggish approach, Brighton, too, were quick to respond and within four minutes had equalised again. On the edge of the area, substitute Kazenga Lua Lua struck his free-kick low and hard where the ball took a deflection to go beyond Hamer and in.

Both teams stretched for a late winner, but in the absence of any real composure or flair another goal continued to elude.

Poyet revealed afterwards that peace could once more return to his household after he agreed with his son, Diego, who plays for Charlton, to not discuss football for the past week. He said: “Diego was very nervous. Last week, he was asking me ‘is [Wayne] Bridge okay?’, and I said to him, ‘you can’t ask me if he’s okay, because you want to go back to training and say if he’s playing.

“It was a difficult week for him. The only thing he asked me was to behave. He told me not to do anything silly, don’t get sent off and don’t get into any fights.

“I can go home happy today.”

Chris Powell, Charlton’s manager, added: “That was a point gained. I thought it was a terrific game of football. I felt we created chances first half, Brighton definitely did in the second half. I suppose a point each is fair. A good game for the occasion of what was a terrific day for us, 20 years ago.

“We got our tactics right, it’s just a shame we couldn’t get the three points in the end.”

Charlton 2

Wilson 10, Pritchard 70

Brighton 2

Mackail Smith 27, Lua Lua 74

Charlton: B Hamer; L Wilson, M Morrison, D Dervite, C Solly; B Pritchard, D Stephens, E Frimpong, J Jackson (S Kerkar, 80); R Hulse, D Haynes (Y Kermorgant, 73)

Subs not used: D Button, M Taylor, D Green, B Wright-Phillips, S Kerkar, L Cort

Brighton: T Kuszczak; B Saltor, G Greer (I Calderon, 74), A El-Abd, W Bridge; W Hoskins (K Lua Lua, 67), L Bridcutt, W Buckley, D Hammond; C Mackail-Smith, S Dobbie (A Barnes, 62)

Subs not used: P Brezovan, A Crofts, R Harley, D Lopez

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