Conor Washington’s brace helped Charlton Athletic get back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory against Northampton Town at The Valley this evening.
Neither side were able to create much of note in the final third for the first hour and though Lee Bowyer’s side were in the ascendancy they looked a little bereft of ideas before Washington put them ahead from the spot in the 65th minute.
He grabbed a second inside the last 10 minutes before Alex Jones headed in a consolation goal for the Cobblers in added time, with all of the excitement crammed into the latter parts, much like it will be in the Grand National 2021, of the League One tie.
The Cobblers came into the game on the back of two wins in the last week, the second of which – a 4-1 victory over Portsmouth – will have been cause for concern for the home side but the Addicks’ secured all three points in what could be an important month for their play-off hopes.
Chris Gunter, starting in place of the injured Adam Matthews, caused early problems for the visitors with his overlapping runs down the right as Charlton dominated a frantic opening quarter of an hour.
Even so, their recent lack of goals seemed to be playing on their minds as they snatched at opportunities in the final third, with one misjudged pass even leading to an argument between Jayden Stockley and Liam Millar.
It was the visitors that came closest in the opening half-hour, a lovely worked move saw Peter Kioso burst into the box and flash a shot across the face of goal from a tight angle.
Moments later the Addicks had a chance of their own but despite bodies in the six-yard box were unable to turn a dangerous inswinging corner goalward.
Bowyer’s side certainly weren’t afraid to play the ball long to the head of the towering Stockley but that failed to create any chances of note and their frustration was clear in the closing minutes of the half, with Northampton’s efforts to slow down the game leading to tempers flaring.
The home side were back on top after the break and nearly had their opener in the first few minutes of the half but Jake Forster-Caskey’s curling free-kick flew wide of the right-hand post.
Beyond set pieces, however, Charlton’s struggles to create opportunities continued as the half wore on – with both sides resorting to exchanging long balls forward all too often.
It was a corner that led to the Addicks opener in the 65th minute. An over-enthusiastic Jack Sowerby sent Forster-Caskey sprawling inside the box following an aerial duel and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty, which Washington calmly converted – his first real contribution of the evening.
Bowyer’s side could have had a second in the 80th minute were it not for an acrobatic clearance from Kioso, who robbed the Charlton players queueing up to connect with the deep cross at the back post.
Chuks Aneke looked lively after replacing Stockley and he was the spark for Washington’s second. The substitute created space for a shot in the box from a tight angle and the keeper could only shovel it into the path of Aneke’s strike partner, who made no mistake.
But Northampton weren’t done and we were treated to a frenzied last few minutes at The Valley with Jones heading in from a corner, though it would prove nothing more than a consolation.
Bowyer’s side have four more games against bottom-half opposition in March, putting together a winning run now could be huge for their play-off hopes.
Full Time: Charlton Athletic 2 – 1 Northampton Town