Charlton Athletic 0-1 Millwall
March 19, 1996 – 8,883 days – 24 years, 3 months and 25 days – 1,269 weeks – That’s how long it’s been since goals from Lee Bowyer and Carl Leaburn tamed the Lions in a Division One (Championship) encounter at The Valley.
Seven points from nine had aided the Addicks bid to climb clear of the dropzone. Meanwhile, Millwall’s inability to kill off both Barnsley and Swansea had seen their play-off aspirations all but read their last rites.
But despite their resilient return, Charlton was to be trumped again.
Albie Morgan was snubbed out while Tomer Hemed tested Bartosz Bialkowski in the opening minutes as Charlton displayed early intent. Meanwhile, a volley of fireworks sounding from behind the Jimmy Seed Stand suggested an outside Lions contingent during a robust but scrappy half.
Matt Smith led the response with a goalbound header clung to by Dillon Phillips, while the same player was agonisingly short of a telling contact with Jed Wallace’s troublesome centre.
Biallowski earned his corn, using his feet to thwart Macauley Bonne, and Barnes was back in the thick of it – denying Wallace after Ryan Woods had fashioned an opening. Hemed again should have done better, hooking wide from close range as the half drew to its conclusion.
It was much of a muchness after the interval – honest, but ultimately scruffy as possession was easily surrendered – the contest yearned a moment of real quality.
Hemed continued to pass up opportunities, while substitutes Chuks Aneke tested Bialkowski’s resolve at the foot of his post. And when Tom Lockyer blazed over you sensed that Charlton’s hiatus of almost a quarter of a century would continue – and so it proved.
Jake Cooper pounced after Phillips had spilt Connor Mahoney’s initial attempt – the net bulged – Charlton’s hearts sank – Millwall ahead with nine minutes remaining.
The priceless strike moved the Lions back into contention for a top-seven place – the players showed their appreciation to fans who had managed to find a vantage point in the nearby flats.. Charlton’s plight remains serious although ultimately in their own hands.
Charlton Athletic: Dillon Phillips, Adam Matthews, Jason Pearce (Capt), Tom Lockyer, Deji Oshilaja (Alfie Doughty 73’), Aiden McGeady (Jonny Williams 73’), Darren Pratley (Naby Sarr 90’), Josh Cullen, Albie Morgan, Macaulay Bonne (Chuks Aneke 64’), Tomer Hemed Subs not used: Ben Amos (GK), Ben Purrington, Jake Forster-Caskey, Andre Green, Sam Field
Booked: Deji Oshilaja (foul), Jason Pearce (foul), Tom Lockyer (foul)
Millwall: Bartosz Bialkowski, Murray Wallace, Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper, Jed Wallace (Shaun Williams 86’), Matt Smith (Tom Bradshaw 64’), Mahlon Romeo (Billy Mitchell 73’)), Alex Pearce (Capt), Jayson Molumby (Ben Thompson 46’), Ryan Leonard (Connor Mahoney 73’), Ryan Wood Subs not used: Luke Steel (GK), Shane Ferguson, Jiri Skalak, Tyler Burey
Booked: Jayson Molumby (foul), Jake Cooper (foul)
Goals: Jake Cooper 81’
Referee: Dean Whitehouse
Assistants: Robert Hyde and Adam Crysell
Fourth Official: David Rock