BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton battled to a superb victory at Blackburn Rovers on their return to second-tier football.
The odds were stacked against the newly-promoted South Londoners before kick-off and they had to dig in at times but goals from Ben Purrington and Lyle Taylor, either side of a Dillon Phillips own-goal, saw the Addicks claim victory on the opening day.
Rovers, enjoying their second successive season back in the Championship after promotion from League One two years ago, pinned the South Londoners back into their own half from the off – but had little to show for it in a resolute first-half from the Addicks.
Former Gillingham man Bradley Dack saw a speculative effort from range drift wide, with summer signing from Middlesbrough Stewart Downing wasting the hosts’ best opening as he couldn’t convert an inviting low cross from Sam Gallagher.
Bowyer’s side, who had lost on each of their last three visits to Ewood Park, struggled to venture out of their own half for large spells of the first-period – but things stated to change as we neared the interval.
Some neat link-up play between Purrington and Jonny Williams had sent the latter on a foray forward down the Charlton left before his low-centre was hacked away. Lyle Taylor soon stung the palms of home stopper Christian Walton from range – but the visitors would have their goal just before the break.
Williams was pivotal again as he weaved away down the right, floating the perfect cross for Purrington to ghost in at the far-stick and bundle home a half-time lead for the South Londoners.
The lead wouldn’t survive for long after the restart.
Jake Forster-Caskey was forced to concede a corner after Naby Sarr gave away possession in his own half and he was made to pay. Bradley Johnson powered a header at goal from the set-piece where Anfernee Dijksteel headed it off the line but only into the back of the unlucky Phillips and in.
The home supporters sensed blood as the hosts started to launch wave upon wave of attack. Phillips held on to a curler from Dack, with Amari’I Bell whistling a shot over the bar soon after.
Bowyer needed to shake things up so introduced Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher from the bench for his debut in senior football – and the 19-year-old nearly had his maiden goal.
The midfielder latched onto a quickly-taken throw and fired at goal. His shot took a touch on the way wide and lead to the first of two quick corners that produced the winning goal for the Addicks.
Skipper Pearce peeled away to direct a header towards the far-post, where talisman Taylor flicked the ball beyond Walton with thirteen minutes remaining.
Albie Morgan and another debutant in Deji Oshilaja came on to sure things up in the closing stages and the Addicks saw off a gruelling six added minutes as they returned to the Championship with a bang.
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