REPORT: Charlton Athletic 0 Blues 1

Blues made it back-to-back wins with victory at the Valley


Jude Bellingham, on his first league start, snared the winning goal for Blues at the Valley.

The 16-year-old swooped just after half-time to net the decisive strike and provide Blues with a superb - and totally deserved - victory.

Blues out-played and out-battled their hosts, and they also out-thought the in-form Addicks, getting their approach and tactics spot-on.

Having lost their last three league and cup matches all by a margin of 3-0, Blues were a different proposition from start to finish.

Every player did their bit and more to continue the team's fine start to the campaign and Bellingham provided what eventually was the coup de grace.

Charlton had not been beaten this season and were undefeated on home turf since October. But that mattered not to Blues, who have made their best start to a campaign since 2008/09.

In the third minute a chance fell Blues way, from the game's opening corner. It was a portent of things to come.

The ball came to Marc Roberts' feet and he took a touch before firing on target, from 16 yards, only for a brilliant block by Sam Field to protect Dillion Phillips goal.

By the time the 15-minute mark had come, both sides had been giving their all in the sun, but neither were exacting real control in a untidy start.

From another set-piece, on this occasion a free-kick drilled to the far post for Roberts, the ball was hooked at goal by Harlee Dean from his header but again the Addicks had bodies in the way.

By the midway point of the half Blues had contained Charlton fairly easily and looked more menacing, but it was a tight affair.

Their first opening of sorts came when Chris Solly showed determination to get across the across after snaffling a loose ball and sliding it back to Conor Gallagher, who hoisted his shot well over from 18 yards.

The 3,000-strong travelling Blues contingent lifted the seriousness on the pitch by intoning Lee Bowyer to give them a wave, which he duly did; affronted Charlton fans then asked the same of the Carling Cup hero - and he obliged again.

A nice touch, and Blues were at least not proving a soft touch away from home by this stage of the match - or at all, as it transpired.

Things opened up suddenly for Jonathan Leko, after he collected a second ball, turned and went forward but fortunately his low, well struck shot thudded into the advertising hoardings well past the post.

In the 39th minute, after Blues once more began to exert pressure and force corners and free-kicks, Phillips made a good save.

Roberts turned the ball back into the mix from the right-hand side and an instant snap shot by Lukas Jutkiewicz, a sweeping half-volley, was tipped over.

Then a great cross by Dan Crowley had Charlton in a panic, but as Kerim Mrabti and Bellingham flew it, along with Jutkiewicz, it was flicked away by Jason Pearce.

Blues ended the half on top and looked to have deployed ideal tacticis against Charlton's diamond, using the space on the sides to good effect and trying to open them up with some clever give-and-go passing.

Half-time: Charlton 0 Blues 0

Blues weathered a bright Charlton start to the second period before striking in devastating fashion.

Maxime Colin was the architect of Bellingham's goal, driving forward infield from halfway and taking out three opponents in the process.

His surge opened up a gap and Mrabti pulled away to the inside right channel and Colin slid the ball to him, in the area.

Mrabti kept his calm and drilled a low square ball towards the other side of the area and there was Bellingham, coming in from the left, to whip it into the bottom corner with his sidefoot - devastating.

'He's one of our own', sang the gleeful masses who had packed out the Jimmy Seed Stand. And some.

A couple of minutes later Blues then hit the crossbar, from a right wing corner.

Dean got up and nodded a looping header that dropped onto the top of the woodwork, bouncing over.

For a spell the game became very, very open and Blues, sensing blood, kept on pouring forward against their rocked opponents.

But as the atmosphere lifted - the home supporters finally began to match the noise of their visitors - Charlton stepped their efforts and urgency up.

In the 66th minute, though, Charlton were almost dead and buried when Blues launched a counter-attack, after Colin and Crowley played a one-two and the Frenchman dribbled forward at the heart of the defence again.

He played the ball to the left of the area and Jutkiewicz, whose fierce, rising shot was superbly finger-tipped over by Phillips.

Blues brought on Jacques Maghoma for Mrabti and he went wide left, with Bellingham moving inside from that position to support Jutkiewicz.

Bellingham, after such exertions on the day off the back off his international exploits began to cramp up, and he then made way for Alvaro Gimenez.

Lee Camp, in the 72nd minute, was called into his first real moment of action when Charlton pulled the ball back from the byline and the 'keeper sprung to his right to beat away a Solly effort.

Then moments later Gallagher worked an angle just inside the area and let rip, hard and low - Camp got down and pushed it away.

Charlton, with substitute Jonny Williams making a difference, were becoming better and better as an attacking entity.

The action swung down the other end and Gimemez did well to take a fired in cross by Crowley and immediately get a shot away, but it went high over the woodwork.

Then Jutkiewicz planted a header on target from a deep cross to the far post.

The match was on a knife-edge but Blues were showing great determination, and as much intent to try and get another.

Kristian Pedersen suffered a wound to the head, which poured with blood, after a clash with Chuks Aneke, in the 83rd minute. Such commitment was typical of his performance, and his team's.

In the final minute, David Davis was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a foul in the middle of the pitch and the referee allowed Charlton to take the free-kick immediately, from the wrong place, and the hosts attacked down the right and Tomer Hemed went agonisingly close at the near post.

Six minutes of added-time were signalled (it ended up being eight) and Head Coach Pep Clotet was then booked by referee Matthew Donahue as the finale took a strange twist.

A ball mysteriously appeared onto the pitch from the Blues dugout and, with the culprit not identified, Clotet took the hit with the yellow card.

Bowyer was not happy and walked towards the Blues bench and tossed the retrieved ball at or to kitman Jon Pearce. The fourth official spoke to the referee and Bowyer was subsequently red-carded.

It was crazy stuff and Charlton threw absolutely everything at Blues thereafter - including the  'keeper joining the attack at set-pieces - but the defensive line and Camp held firm, showing magnificent resolve.

It was a fully deserved victory for Blues, with the remarkable Bellingham again taking the headlines but to a man (and 16-year-old boy) everyone played a major part.

FT - Charlton 0 Blues 1 

Charlton (4-4-2): Phillips, Solly, Purrington, Lockyer, Pearce, Gallagher, Cullen, Field (Aneke 72), Oztumer (Williams 59), Leko (Kayal 78), Hemed. Subs not used: Amos, Pratley, Bonne, Sarr.

Booked: Pearce (35)

Sent-off: Bowyer (90+3)

Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Dean, Roberts, Davis, Crowley (Gary Gardner 87), Sunjic, Bellingham (Gimenez 72), Mrabti

(Maghoma 67), Jutkiewicz. Subs not used: Stockdale, Harding, Bailey, Clarke-Salter.

Goal: Bellingham (52)

Booked: Davis (82), Dean (90+1), Clotet (90+2), Gimenez (90+7).

Referee: M Donohue

Attendance: 18,752 (away 3,136).