Fleetwood Town 1 Charlton Athletic 2: Town are sunk by their visitors' sub at Highbury
Fleetwood Town’s unbeaten run ended with defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic as a below-par showing allowed the Addicks to claim their first win in six.
Town fell behind to Jonathan Leko’s goal shortly before the break after a toothless first-half showing.
Although the second half got off to the ideal start, Danny Andrew’s stunner dragging them level, it was substitute Jayden Stockley who ensured Town suffered their first loss since defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in mid-August.
A point would have seemed scant reward for Charlton’s dominance but Stockley leapt at the chance to fire in Leko’s pass 20 minutes from time.
Fleetwood had gone into the clash unbeaten in seven league and cup games, having hit 15 goals in five outings.
Meanwhile, their visitors had collected just two points from the last 15 and shipped six goals in two games.
Dan Batty’s late goal, that earned Town a point from their midweek trip to MK Dons, wasn’t enough to warrant a starting spot as Simon Grayson named an unchanged line-up.
For the visitors, Leko had recovered sufficiently from an injury he suffered in the midweek defeat to Bolton Wanderers to take his place alongside Josh Davison and Charlie Kirk in attack.
It was Leko who sent Charlton in at half-time a goal to the good, finding the net with 41 minutes played.
They worked the ball out well to Leko after he switched to the left flank, from where he cut inside and let fly with a fierce low drive into the far corner.
Charlton were good value for their lead, having created a couple of early half-chances, with Town keeper Alex Cairns gathering Elliot Lee’s acrobatic effort and Alex Gilbey’s shot from distance.
Fleetwood’s best chance, midway through the half, came when Harrison Biggins’ through ball sent Callum Camps in on goal but the alert Craig MacGillivray raced from his goal to narrow the angle.
A moment later, the Cod Army could – and should – have been behind.
Lee got in behind Fleetwood’s backline and slid the ball into the path of the oncoming Kirk but his finish from 12 yards was wide of the target.
The hosts had another escape when Kirk and Lee reversed their roles, the former pulling back for the latter, who lost his footing as he shaped to shoot.
Lee also found time in the opening period to set up Davison with some tidy footwork in the box.
Though Davison caught his finish sweetly it was hit straight at Cairns, who again showed good handling.
After opening the scoring, Leko almost doubled Charlton’s lead in first-half stoppage time.
On this occasion, Andrew reacted quickly to block his close-range shot before Lee’s follow-up was deflected wide.
Andrew’s delightful goal, shortly after the restart, eased some of the Highbury crowd's restlessness but, once again, Charlton created most of the chances, mainly through Lee.
When Cairns could only parry a Leko shot back into a dangerous area, it was Lee who reacted first, sending the ball across the face of the goal for the waiting Kirk.
On a day he’d perhaps rather forget, Kirk allowed the chance to tap in at point-blank range to go begging.
Davison hit the post from a tight angle just before he made way for Stockley, and it seemed as though the visitors would have to be content with a point.
However, 20 minutes from time, Leko’s ball across the box was powered home with authority by Stockley.
Fleetwood rallied as time ticked away but their through balls, key passes and crosses were failing to find their mark.
Their final shots at salvaging something saw Batty and Ged Garner each shoot into the Memorial Stand and the visitors somehow survived a desperate goalmouth scramble, condemning Grayson’s men to a first loss in eight.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Johnson, Hill, Clarke, Andrew, Rossiter, Matete (Batty 60), Lane, Biggins (Edmondson 80), Camps (J Garner 71), G Garner. Subs not used: Crellin, Clark, Conn-Clarke, Johnston.
Charlton Athletic: MacGillivray, Gunter, Lavelle, Famewo, Souare, Leko, Arter (Clare 83), Gilbey, Kirk (Blackett-Taylor 75), Lee, Davison (Stockley 62). Subs not used: Henderson, Pearce, Morgan, Washington.
Referee: Oliver Langford.
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