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Charlton 2-2 Brighton
CHARLTON extended their unbeaten run to seven matches after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Brighton on the 20th anniversary of the club’s historic return to The Valley.
The Addicks, who marked the occasion by releasing red and white balloons before the match, twice led through Lawrie Wilson and Bradley Pritchard.
But goals from Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga Lualua earned the visitors a point.
Michael Morrison returned from suspension for Charlton after missing the trip to The Den last weekend.
He replaced Leon Cort at centre-back and there were also returns to the starting line-up for loan midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong and striker Danny Haynes.
Brighton enjoyed a lot of early possession but it was the home side who opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
Dale Stephens and Johnnie Jackson worked a short corner between them before the former whipped in a teasing cross for Wilson to glance into the far corner and put the Addicks ahead.
Charlton then almost doubled their lead a minute later when Jackson floated in an inviting cross towards Rob Hulse and the striker’s header forced Tomasz Kuszczak to tip the ball over the bar as it was looping in.
Brighton had chances of their own in the early exchanges, though, and captain Gordon Greer should have drew them level in the 15th minute.
The Seagulls defender somehow smashed over from three yards before Ben Hamer denied Stephen Dobbie from close range three minutes later after a good ball through from Will Hoskins.
But the visitors didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser when the returning Morrison gave possession away to Mackail-Smith.
The Brighton striker pounced on Morrison’s loose header and produced a clinical finish from 12 yards into Hamer’s bottom corner in the 28th minute.
And Gus Poyet’s side continued to enjoy large spells of possession but they best they could muster up before the break was a long-range effort from Wayne Bridge which was off target.
In fact, the best chance to take the lead before half-time fell to Charlton in the 36th minute after good work down the right from Wilson and his cutback found Haynes who hit the side netting.
Both teams had more opportunities after the interval in an end-to-end second half.
Hulse forced Kuszczak into a smart save in the 56th minute with his powerful shot from a tight angle before Dobbie fired over at the other end from Will Buckley’s cross two minutes later.
Buckley then had a chance of his own in the 62nd minute but his effort from the edge of the box went high and wide when he really should’ve scored.
It was then Charlton’s turn to go close but Stephens’s low shot from 20 yards was straight at Kuszczak three minutes later.
But Kuszczak couldn’t deny Pritchard putting the home side back in the lead in the 70th minute when the Charlton midfielder latched onto Jackson’s cross before rolling the ball into the far corner, to the delight of the home fans.
Poyet then brought on LuaLua for the visitors and he scored Brighton’s second equaliser with 15 minutes to play.
Morrison fouled striker Ashley Barnes right on the edge of the penalty area and LuaLua’s free-kick deflected and sent Hamer to wrong way to level the score at 2-2.
Charlton might have won the game in the dying minutes but Morrison couldn’t divert his header away from Kuszczak in the Addicks’ last home match before Christmas.
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Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Solly, Pritchard, Stephens, Frimpong, Jackson (Kerkar 80), Hulse, Haynes (Kermogant 74). Subs not used: Button, Taylor, Cort, Green, Wright-Phillips. Att: 19,080.
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