Taylor 34, 61 pen Lapslie 87
LUTON TOWN 1
BY RICHARD CAWLEY AT THE VALLEY
When Lyle Taylor scores for Charlton, it’s usually a good sign.
The Addicks frontman moved his Championship goal haul to 11 with a double in Saturday’s crucial win over Luton Town.
When Taylor has hit the back of the net this season the Addicks have won six, drawn three and lost just once.
And the record is even better if you roll back to the start of 2019 with Charlton victorious in 10 of the 11 League One fixtures that their talismanic forward netted in.
That’s just two reverses in 21 games where Taylor has been on the scoresheet.
His goals-to-games ratio in the current campaign has been excellent, especially when you consider that he has missed 15 matches due to injury. You also have to take into account that immediately after returning to Lee Bowyer’s side he was not at full fitness or sharpness.
But Taylor was absolutely at it for the visit of the Hatters. He took on the captaincy with Jason Pearce on the bench and Chris Solly not making the matchday 18 – manager Lee Bowyer described it as his best performance in a Charlton shirt.
Taylor’s first goal was excellent. David Davis’ pass was slightly behind him but his first touch caressed the ball in the right direction before he slammed a low finish across Simon Sluga.
Taylor showed ice cool composure with his penalty too following a blatant handball by James Collins to block George Lapslie’s shot. He exchanged words with Luton midfielder Luke Berry before his trademark stroll up to the spot, stroking decisively home.
The amount of running and off the ball work he had done saw him drift into a deeper role in the closing stages to try and save his legs until the finale.
And Taylor even had a hand in Charlton’s third before Lapslie’s one-two with fellow substitute Macauley Bonne left him with a simple close-range finish.
There was controversy, with Luton seeing a perfectly valid goal struck off for offside. Replays seemed to show that Collins was onside before he slid in Harry Cornick’s effort from virtually on the goal-line. That would have made it 2-1 to the visitors.
But despite having a Premier League referee officiating – Andre Marriner – there was no VAR technology to assist.
When you consider the highly contentious nature of both Luton’s goals in their 2-1 win at Kenilworth Road in November, the old adage that these things even themselves out over the course of a 46-match campaign springs to mind.
Charlton had other big chances in the clash in SE7. Naby Sarr was unlucky with a swivel and shot which came back off the bar in the 13th minute. And Andre Green was left cursing when he failed to convert in the 48th minute – Taylor producing a superb low cross which you would have backed the on-loan Villa man to tuck away.
Bowyer opted for Erhun Oztumer at the tip of his midfield diamond and the former Dulwich Hamlet playmaker had the quality to unpick the Luton defence. It was his pass which led to Sarr’s early effort and he was creative throughout.
The victory – a third in their last five fixtures – saw Charlton climb above Middlesbrough and Huddersfield to 18th.
You can’t quite describe it as a comfortable position – a five-point advantage over Wigan – but it does turn the heat up on others.
Of Charlton’s remaining five home assignments only Millwall are in the top half of the Championship table.
The bookies offer odds of 3/1 on the Addicks still facing an instant return to League One with Luton 1/7 and Barnsley 1/3 unsurprisingly viewed as being on the brink.
A fit and firing Taylor will be huge in the weeks to come. It’s exactly why Bowyer was determined not to lose him in January.
Charlton (4-4-2): Phillips 7, Matthews 6, Lockyer 7, Sarr 7, Doughty 7, Oshilaja 4 (Lapslie 55, 7), Cullen 7, Davis 6, Oztumer 7 (Bonne 79), Taylor 8, Green 7 (Pearce 88). Not used: Amos, McGeady, Smith, Hemed.
PICTURES BY PAUL EDWARDS
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