Report: Charlton Athletic 0 Ipswich Town 1 – Debutant Noel Hunt scores dramatic late winner
Charlton v Ipswich: Debutant Noel Hunt scored a dramatic winner deep into stoppage-time as Ipswich Town won 1-0 at Charlton, becoming the first team to win at The Valley this season and, temporarily at least, moving into the Championship automatic promotion places.
Hunt – who only arrived on loan from Leeds United on Thursday – stepped off the bench in the 84th minute and settled a close affair with a fine low finish from the edge of the box as the game entered the fourth and final minute of added time.
The late drama sparked wild celebrations on and off the pitch, more than 2,300 travelling fans enjoying the moment.
Town boss Mick McCarthy initially made two enforced changes to his starting XI following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth – Jonathan Parr and Jay Tabb replacing Christophe Berra (suspended) and Kevin Bru (ankle). Then Luke Hyam got injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Stephen Hunt at the last minute, Teddy Bishop unavailable due to a hip problem.
The match started at a frenetic pace, Daryl Murphy heading a Stephen Hunt corner just wide inside the opening seconds and Johann Gudmundsson firing over at the other end following a rapid counter.
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It set the tone for the rest of the half, the hosts a threat from open play and Town’s best chances coming from set-pieces.
Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski made three smart stops. The first came in the 16th minute, the Polish custodian keeping out Callum Harriott’s fierce effort at near post after Jordan Cousins had drifted inside Jonathan Parr far too easily in the build-up.
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Harriott – making only his third league start of the season – was proving a real handful. The 20-year-old striker fired just wide of the left-hand post in after spinning Tyrone Mings and Luke Chambers in the box.
Moments later, Chambers got away with a wild slice in his own box as the home side began to ramp up the pressure.
Little was coming off for the Blues, but they still created chances. Just before the half an hour mark, Murphy controlled a long punt upfield brilliantly, his turn and shot unconvincingly turned around the post by Pope.
Three minutes later, after Jay Tabb was fouled by Francis Coquelin, Stephen Hunt’s excellent free-kick just evaded Murphy and Cole Skuse in the six-yard box.
Bialkowski’s second important save came when he raced off his line to block at the feet of Coquelin after a fine pass into the area by Chris Solly.
Town responded with another set-piece chance. This time, after Johnnie Jackson’s rash challenge on Tabb, a training ground routine saw Hunt dummy, Skuse pass sideways to David McGoldrick and the striker fired a low shot just wide.
Bialkowski’s third intervention arrived just before the break, the Blues keeper beating away Solly’s fierce effort after a clever pass by Harriott.
And there was still time for Town to threaten from another corner, Tommy Smith’s overhead effort going well wide after Murphy had nodded down Hunt’s looping delivery.
Mings came within inches of scoring a cracking goal five minutes after the restart, the left-back dancing his way along the edge of the penalty box before unleashing a powerful shot with his weaker right foot that went just the wrong side of the post.
Moments later the youngster came to the rescue in his own box, snuffing out the danger after Chambers inadvertently headed the ball into the path of Igor Vetokele.
With Town playing far more positively after the break, the game was on a real knife’s edge. It required a strong defensive header from Chambers just after the hour mark, the Blues skipper holding off Vetokele after Solly’s dangerous cross from the right.
It became a end-to-end affair. For Town, Murphy cut inside and saw a curling effort deflected just wide of the far post. For Charlton, a rapid break by Harriott ended with Smith producing a fine block on Gudmundsson in the box.
For Ipswich, McGoldrick fired straight at Pope after Hunt’s deep free-kick fell kindly to him in the box. For Charlton, Harriott mis-kicked badly after Vetokele’s cut-back found him in a golden position.
It was the Blues who finished the stronger, Andre Bikey producing a fine last-ditch challenge on sub Conor Sammon in the box before Parr’s dangerous delivery just evaded the head of Sammon.
You sensed Town weren’t prepared to settle for a point and they duly grabbed a winner deep into four minutes of stoppage-time.
Mings’ raking ball over the top was well-controlled by McGoldrick out wide, his low cross was half-cleared and Noel Hunt – who moments earlier had received a bloodied nose, requiring a change of shirts – produced a fine low finish into the bottom corner.
– Reaction to follow.
CHARLTON ATH (4-5-1): Pope; Solly, Bikey, Ben Haim, Fox; Gudmundsson (Bulot 90), Cousins, Coquelin, Jackson (cpt) (Wilson 77), Harriott (Tucudean 85); Vetokele.
Unused subs: Etheridge, Gomez, Onyewu, Ahearne-Grant.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Parr, Chambers (cpt), Smith, Mings; Skuse, Tabb; Anderson (N.Hunt 84), McGoldrick, S.Hunt (Sammon 77); Murphy.
Unused subs: Gerken, Clarke, St Ledger, Henshall.
Referee: Darren Bond.