BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton opened up a six-point gap above the Championship drop zone after registering their first away win in thirteen attempts.
Lyle Taylor’s first-half strike was enough to put a dent in Nottingham Forest’s automatic promotion hope and, doubled with Wigan’s draw with Middlesbrough, give the Addicks breathing space in the battle to avoid the drop.
The South Londoners defended superbly, particularly in the second-half, and registered their first win and clean sheet on the road since the 2-0 triumph at Reading at the end of August.
Forest edged the possession stats in the first-period but Charlton were looking dangerous on the break from the off – with the pace of Alfie Doughty exploiting gaps on the left. The academy graduate saw an early cross hacked behind with Tomer Hemed lurking in a useful position, before he then forced a save from Brice Samba after arrowing a shot towards the near-post.
Joe Lolley had bagged seven goals already this season before the off and he was always a threat for the hosts. The former Huddersfield man was always looking to cut in onto his left foot and forced a fine block from Sarr on the edge of the Charlton area – but more was to come from the Addicks defender minutes later.
Forest looked to start a counter attack inside their own territory, but Sarr stepped in with a superb sliding tackle before measuring the perfect cross for Taylor to arrive deep and drive the ball into the bottom corner on the volley.
It was a quite brilliant intervention from Sarr – but he nearly turned from hero to villain at the other end seconds later.
Forest whipped in a dangerous cross as they looked for an immediate reply. Sarr inadvertently sliced the ball towards his own goal, but was let off the hook as Dillon Phillips fingertipped the ball onto the crossbar.
The hosts came close as Tyler Walker’s deft touch dribbled across the face of goal just before the break but the South Londoners held on for the half-time lead – the first they’ve enjoyed on the road since the draw at Fulham back in early October.
That lead was nearly doubled within a minute of the restart. The ball broke kindly for Hemed inside the area but his effort was quickly charged down.
Forest had their eyes on a place in the top two before this evening and were committing plenty of men forward in search of a leveller – leaving themselves vulnerable on the counter.
Adam Matthews stepped in to get one such move up and running for the Addicks. They outnumbered their hosts by four to two as Taylor took over and slide the ball left to Hemed. The Israeli fired over the bar under pressure, whilst Taylor may have been better served feeding Matthews again on the right.
Aidan McGeady came on for his Charlton debut with half an hour remaining, replacing Erhun Oztumer. Ben Purrington was also thrown into the mix as Alfie Doughty made way.
Forest continued to huff and puff to no avail, with Bowyer then making his final sub 18 minutes from time as Manchester City loanee Matt Smith replaced Hemed for his debut.
Phillips was finally called into action fifteen minutes from time as he held onto Walker’s prod at goal – and the Addicks survived the closing stages, including five added minutes, comfortably to claim a vital win.
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS
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