Report and pics of Charlton 1 Wolves 1
Wolves showed their true mettle tonight to come from behind and push Charlton all the way in breathless battle at the Valley.
After being below par at Blackpool on Saturday, head coach Kenny Jackett rang the changes to huge effect.
His players responded with a massive performance full of hunger and desire, and no little quality that put the Addicks on the back foot for much of the contest.
Make no mistake Charlton look like being one of the best sides in the Championship this season.
Wolves trailed to Andre Bikey's 25th-minute opener but both before and after that opener, they could and should have scored the goals to have made it five wins this season.
In the end, they had to settle for a draw, but there was no doubting who ended the game in the more positive frame of mind.
The introduction of Nouha Dicko for George Saville at half-time saw to it that every lost cause was chased and the effect seemed to rub off on his team-mates, who swarmed forward at a turbo-charged tempo at every opportunity.
Credit to Jackett for making the four changes last night as he sought to rid the team of any tiredness lingering from Saturday's 0-0 draw at Blackpool.
Back came Lee Evans and Bakary Sako, after failing to make the starting line-up at Bloomfield Road.
There were first Championship starts of the season for James Henry and Leon Clarke at the expense of Dave Edwards, Michael Jacobs, Rajiv van La Parra and Dicko, who all dropped to the bench.
Wolves started with a hunger, purpose and desire and were the busier side in the first half and they were slightly unfortunate to be behind at the break.
The visitors were given an early scare when livewire striker George Tucudean headed wide from Jordan Cousins's cross.
The same player drilled wide from the edge of the box after some sloppy play on the left.
But Wolves soon found their feet and Henry had goalkeeper Stephen Henderson frantically backpedalling and tipping the ball over from Henry's overhead kick.
Tal Ben Haim was forced to usher the ball into his own sidenetting under pressure from Sako, whose right-foot shot was too close to Henderson.
Evans flashed a 25-yarder inches wide as Wolves looked to make their possession count.
But somewhat against the run of play, Charlton took the lead in the 25th minute. Bikey sidefooted home on the volley from Cousins's corner for his first goal for the Addicks.
Two minutes later it was almost 2-0 as five-goal striker and Championship player of the month Igor Vetokele teed up Tucudean but he rolled his shot just wide.
Wolves settled down and in an end-to-end first period, they should have equalised.
Clarke punished the off-balance Tal Ben Haim to steal in on the left and pick out George Saville.
The former Chelsea youngster's first-time shot hit the inside of the post, rolled behind goalkeeper Henderson and bounced to safety on the opposite side of the goal.
Buoyed again, Evans again let fly from long distance only for the same outcome for Wolves.
Jackett made a half-time substitution to get his side back into the game with the arrival of Dicko for Saville.
Wolves started the second half in positive fashion and after Dicko headed from an acute angle, Sako's right-foot shot was tipped over.
But the visitors were left kicking themselves when two more openings went begging.
Both involved the unfortunate Clarke, who first fired across goal and wide from a ridiculous angle with Sako screaming for the ball to his right.
Then Clarke was presented with a much simpler chance from a central position from Dicko's cross, but he missed his kick.
But the goal Wolves had been threatening all game finally came in the 65th minute.
From their 11th corner of the night, Danny Batth rose highest to a corner to bury a downward header that seemed to go through several bodies and pairs of legs before nestling in the corner of the net.
The goal gave Wolves fresh impetus and the tireless Henry crashed a shot against the outside of the post as they pressed for the winner.
Wolves, boosted by the arrival of Edwards for Clarke and Jacobs for Henry, continued to push the harder for the winner but it wouldn't come.
Yet it was another hugely positive display from Jackett's side which should give plenty of optimism for the months ahead.
(Video courtesy of Wolves)
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