There is something deeply satisfying when, after suffering a full 90 minutes of turgid ineptitude by two teams who, if any justice was in this world, would be sharing zero points, your team fashions an entirely unlikely winner at the merciful death.
In mitigation, both clubs are suffering injury crises; of epic proportions in Charlton’s case, and one which is a crippling burden on top of their own self inflicted problems for Town.
Add in some terrible weather in south east London and the prospects for anything approaching a spectacle were vanishingly low. Even those expectations weren’t reached.
Where a semblance of cohesion emerged it came from Town, with Hogg and Bacuna encouraging periods of competent yet impotent possession.
Charlton were, frankly, almost entirely devoid of intent or ideas other than during a brief period following the entry of Kyle Taylor to proceedings which lifted the home side as they welcomed back a key player; on this showing, at least another 8 will be needed if their season, which started very brightly with a full contingent, is not to collapse before they can rid themselves of their despised owner.
In a first half largely devoid of incident, entirely lacking in quality and actually quite irritating, Town could at least feel pleased with the performances of Edmonds-Green, a late replacement for illness stricken Duhaney, and Koroma who offered sporadic threat and hard working cover.
A Mounié effort easily dealt with by Charlton’s keeper which followed a good move started by some typical Hogg tenacity in the middle briefly raised levels of interest, but attacking flair was rare to say the least. Town weren’t helped by a subdued performance by Grant who’s every touch was greeted with boos by the sparse Valley crowd, though he did force a decent save in the second half.
After the break, the visitors were comfortably the better side in a contest which elevated itself marginally above dreadful. Koroma had an effort pushed around the post as Town looked to capitalise on a very shaky home defence which found it difficult to clear their lines for most of the second half.
At the three quarter mark, the cumbersome presence of Mounié, who simply doesn’t look like fitting in to the Cowleys’ plan, was withdrawn and replaced by Daly and a forgettable evening appeared to be fizzling out to an unsatisfying goalless draw neither side would look back upon with any affection.
With injury time commenced, most thoughts had already turned to transport home and grudging acceptance of an away point earned in difficult circumstances; Addicks supporters could comfort themselves with thoughts of new ownership and brighter days.
All reckoned without one final aberration by the Charlton defence. A poor clearance fell to Hadergjonaj, who performed impressively, and his cutback to Matt Daly was perfect for the youngster to bury a winner which was as welcome as it was unlikely.
The massive positive was collecting 3 points in circumstances which are far from ideal and in advance of hoped for solutions in the New Year. While the achievement was tempered by the nature of the opposition with all of their difficulties, it remains gratifying that points can be accrued when a slump would seem more likely.
In and amongst the gloom which was entirely alleviated by a hugely satisfying late winner, certain individuals stood out; not least the elegant Stankovic whose timely interceptions and calm distribution marked a further step towards becoming the player Wagner always insisted he could become. Hogg and Bacuna held things together in the middle and always kept Town ahead of the admittedly poor game while Hadergjonaj may even be enjoying something of a renaissance. Simpson’s late appearance also augurs well.
Not a night to celebrate a great performance but the 3 points were most welcome to bring a winless run to an end and instil some confidence before another clash of strugglers on Saturday.