HEARTBREAK for Albion at the Pirelli as Charlton snatched a late victory through skipper Jason Pearce whose thundering header from a corner secured all three points for the visitors in the first ever league meeting of the two clubs.
It had looked as if the game was going to be settled by a first half penalty for either side with Lucas Akins firing home from the spot after Liam Boyce had been bundled over in the box on 25 minutes before Karlan Grant picked himself up from being brought down by Kyle McFadzean.
Charlton though, battling in the play-offs showed plenty of resilience to dig in and frustrate Albion in the second half before hitting the Brewers with a sucker-punch two minutes from the end of normal time to condemn Nigel Clough's side to a second successive defeat ahead of an enforced ten day break from League One action.
It was an unchanged starting eleven that took to the field against the Addicks despite having suffered the disappointment of a 3-0 defeat at Blackpool at the weekend. That meant a chance for the side to try and show that the drop in performance on the Fylde coast was a temporary blip and that the form of the last home game against Coventry was the norm.
On a surface slickened up by heavy rain throughout the day it was Liam Boyce with the first effort of the game on three minutes, a low skidding shot that was wide of the target as the frontman worked his way infield from his left wing role. Charlton striker Lyle Taylor was quick to follow suit with a shot from the edge of the box that was never seriously troubling Brad Collins.
Boyce was looking threatening early on and a wickedly teasing cross on nine minutes eluded Jamie Allen in the centre but almost embarrassed Addicks defender Naby Sarr whose header forced his own keeper to grab onto the ball with relief inside his own six yard box.
Charlton looked a threat from wide positions and a fizzing cross from Karlan Grant was close to being turnewd home in the centre by Taylor who could not quite get a meaningful contact on the ball in the middle of the six-yard box.
Albion thought they had the lead on 22 minutes when Cole turned home a rebound after Jed Steer in the Charlton goal had turned Boyce's header onto the crossbar but a slightly delayed flag from the assistant ruled Cole offside when he pounced.
And there was more drama in the Charlton box on 24 minutes when referee Ross Joyce seemed to take an age to agree that Boyce had been bundled over in the box and skipper AKINS stepped up to send Steer the wrong way and hand Albion the lead.
The Brewers quickly went searching for a second with a spell of pressure on the Charlton box but the visitors were level on 32 minutes when Joyce awarded Charlton a spot-kick when McFadzean tripped GRANT in the box as he turned inside and the striker picked himself up to fire just beyond the reach of Collins to equalise.
Albion's response was to push forwards again and a series of corner almost handed them the lead back when a corner from Hesketh was only cleared as far as Quinn on the edge of the box, his piledriver of an effort angling across goal and just missing the far post.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-1 Charlton Athletic
The Addicks started the second half much more purposefully after Albion had been the dominant side in the first half racking up no fewer than eleven corners and ten attempts on goal but with only the penalty to show for it.
And it was only a block from McCrory on 54 minutes that prevented the visitors grabbing the lead when he blocked a shot from George Lapslie from around the penalty spot and the block also did enough to prevent Taylor from being able to turn home the rebound as the Londoners upped the tempo.
Albion responded well and just after the hour mark Scott Fraser found himself through on goal but a superb challenge from Naby Sarr recovering back did enough to deflect his shot away from goal.
Nigel Clough opted to change things around a little on 66 minutes with Boyce moving into the central strikers role as Will Miller replaced Cole. And it was Boyce who stung the fingertips of Steer with a raking low shot a minute later from yet another Burton corner.
Charlton responded with an attacking change that saw former Albion loan striker Jamie Ward brought on at the expense of Arsenal loan man Krystian Bielik.
Albion also sent Marcus Harness on to replace Hesketh who had been struggling after picking up a knock early in the second period.
McCrory had a chance to add to his tally of long range strikes for the club when he latched onto a loose clearance but as it bounced up on him it feel to his wrong foot and his ambitious effort failed to trouble Steer.
Miller was looking lively out on the left and switching inside onto Fraser's pass he had Steer stretching to push away a low curling shot on 76 minutes.
Charlton sprung back into life as an attacking force with Taylor testing Collins at his near post with 78 minutes gone and the striker was denied from the rebound as well as McCrory got a vital touch to allow Collins to gather the ball in.
Albion continued to press with Miller and Harness providing pace in the wide areas. Allen had a chance on 85 minutes but his low effort from the edge of the box lacked the power to trouble Steer.
But all of the pressure for Albion counted for nothing when Charlton made the most of one of their rare corners as PEARCE stole in at the back post to head home from inside the six yard box and steal the points for Lee Bowyer's side.