ALBION finished the Easter weekend with defeat at the Valley as Charlton Athletic took the points from a 3-2 win over the Brewers.
The home side twice had a two goal lead and looked in control of the game but twice let Albion back into the game and finished on the back foot with ten men after substitute Jack Payne picked up two late yellow cards to leave Dean Holden’s side hanging on at the end with Albion pushing hard for an equaliser. In a disappointing start to the game Albion were two goals down inside seventeen minutes as Jesurun Rak-Sakyi twice showed his class in front of goal but Sam Hughes third goal of the season gave the Brewers a lifeline on the stroke of half time. Frustratingly Albion found themselves two goals in arrears again just five minutes into the second half as Macauley Bonne pounced but Josh Walker’s first goal for the club since his January arrival reignited hope for the Brewers and set up a tense ending for the hosts who had looked relatively comfortable up to that point. Albion played on the home nerves but could not find the finish to punish their hosts.
After the high of picking up a Good Friday victory over promotion-chasing Barnsley, Albion hit the road for their Easter Monday encounter with Charlton. As with Friday’s selection there were three changes. Whilst Jasper Moon was available to play having missed out against the Tykes due to not being able to play against his parent club, the same fate befell Charlie Kirk, unable to play against the Addicks. Moon returned as Albion switched back to their preferred back three and that formation change also resulted in a recall for Academy graduate Thierry Latty-Fairweather in the left wing back role. Further forward, Kirk’s absence meant a recall for Jonny Smith, supporting Dale Taylor in attack. However Albion’s plans took a hit with Smith picking up a knock in the warm-up and Josh Walker stepping up from the bench to start, Bobby Kamwa returning from a period of injury to take the remaining place on the bench.
The home side included former Albion midfielder Scott Fraser in their midfield but another former Brewer, Sean Clare, missed out through injury.
Mark Helm made a good early break through midfield but was abruptly halted by the Charlton defence and the home side were quick to spring the counter attack, Tyreece Campbell using his pace down the left to force a good save from Craig MacGillivray. However success for the Addicks came down the right hand side two minutes later as RAK-SAKYI drifted across the edge of the box, evading a couple of challenges before spotting the space to drive a low shot beyond Albion’s former Charlton keeper.
Charlton’s striker on loan from Crystal Palace was close to a second on eleven minutes when a left wing cross came to him inside the six yard box but was at an awkward height for him and Albion were able to clear.
The home side, with pace in attacking areas, were happy to draw Albion in and look to hit on the counter, Albie Morgan almost capitalising on a quick ball forward and shooting straight at MacGillivray.
Albion were punished again on seventeen minutes when RAK-SAKYI moved onto a pass from Fraser inside the box and slipped the ball past MacGillivray who had no chance.
A promising opening came for Albion on 25 minutes as they were able to keep Charlton penning in their own box for a little period under some pressure. Joe Powell was able to clip the ball into the box for Sam Hughes who headed straight at Ashley Maynard-Brewer in the home goal.
Hughes had another headed opportunity for Albion when Moon launched an angled ball into the box but at full stretch he was unable to direct his effort on target.
Walker, chasing down well, managed to pinch possession from Michael Hector and drive into the box but his final touch eluded him when he needed to set himself for a shot and a decent opening was gone.
Albion won their first corner on 39 minutes and in a well rehearsed move Powell pinged the ball deep to Mark Helm on the edge of the box but the midfielder fired a first time volley over the bar, although close enough for Maynard-Brewer to momentarily be concerned.
Burton continued to enjoy a spell of pressure and Taylor had a sight of goal a couple of minutes before the break when Latty-Fairweather and Shaughnessy combined down the left to create a chance for the Northern Ireland striker who guided his shot just wide.
Crucially Albion got themselves back into the contest in first half added time. Moon’s hopeful ball into the box was spilled by Maynard-Brewer and HUGHES reacted quickest when referee Sunny Singh Gill didn’t whistle for any infringement on the keeper and hooked the ball into the empty net.
Half time: Charlton Athletic 2-1 Burton Albion
Albion found it hard to get out of their own half in the early moments of the second half and Charlton took full advantage to regain their two goal lead five minutes after the break. Campbell was able to get in down the left and when Albion were unbent o adequately clear at the near post, BONNE was on hand to prod home from close range.
Bonne then made a timely intervention at the other end, steering Powell’s left wing free kick wide of the post with Brayford looking to pounce at the back post.
Just after the hour mark Dino Maamria turned to Gassan Ahadme to add an extra attacking option with Mark Helm making way, Josh Walker moving to a wider role to allow Ahadme to go straight down the middle.
Charlton made a triple change midway through the half in an attempt to consolidate the lead and see the side through to victory, Fraser one of those to make way along with skipper George Dobson.
Rak-Sakyi found space on the right to cut inside but was closed down on the edge of the box with the ball falling into the path of Bonne who swept a shot over via the top of the crossbar.
Albion needed a goal to give themselves any hope and it duly arrived with a quarter of an hour to go. Powell’s corner headed back from beyond the far post by Hughes and WALKER managing to guide a second header on target and over the line before a Charlton defender could clear. Although the assistant didn’t flag for the goal, the referee was satisfied it had crossed the line to give the former Dagenham striker a much needed goal.
It was to be Walker’s last involvement as he made way for Mustapha Carayol moments later and the substitute was close to a long range goal on 82 minutes whipping a shot inches wide of the upright with Maynard-Brewer at full stretch as the home side started to show some late nerves.
And those nerves could have been settled had Rak-Sakyi converted a difficult chance on the volley a minute later.
Zac Ashworth and Kamwa were thrown on for the last six minutes in search of an equaliser, Brayford and Latty-Fairweather taken off for the final push.
Oshilaja won a late corner with a scuffed shot that was fortunate enough to take a deflection.
Five minutes were added and there was late drama as Charlton were reduced to ten men when substitute Jack Payne picked up a rash second yellow card for a poor challenge on Kamwa. Powell took the free kick form wide on the right but had just too much height on his whipped ball in as it landed on the roof of the net.
Powell also tested Maynard-Brewer with an awkwardly bouncing 25-yard effort as added time ebbed away and the resulting corner bounced agonisingly through the six yard box with what proved to be the final chance of the match.
ALBION: MacGillivray; Hughes, Shaughnessy, Moon; Brayford (Ashworth, 44), Oshilaja, Powell, Latty-Fairweather (Kamwa, 84); Helm (Ahadme, 63); Walker (Carayol, 77), D.Taylor.
Substitutes: Amissah, McCann, Gilligan.
GOALS: CHARLTON - Rak-Sakyi (7, 17), Bonne (50) ; ALBION - Hughes (45+2), Walker (76)
Referee: Sunny Singh Gill
Attendance: 12,788 (222 away)