CHARLTON squandered a golden opportunity to catch up with league leaders Brighton after being held to a draw by the 10-man Seagulls.

A wild opening 10 minutes saw Johnnie Jackson net his tenth of the season after the table-toppers conceded a second minute penalty, before Inigo Calderon saw red for a reckless challenge on Therry Racon.

But the Reds were far from ruthless in exploiting their advantages and not only found themselves pegged back by Glenn Murray’s fine dipping effort, but outplayed for the majority of the game.

Following a fortnight of inaction courtesy of a pair of postponements, Addicks boss Phil Parkinson made five changes to the side which crashed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties to Brentford.

Paul Benson, Anyinsah, Scott Wagstaff, Jackson and Simon Francis returned to the side in place of Pawel Abbott, Lee Martin, Kyel Reid, Alan McCormack and youngster Carl Jenkinson, all of whom comprised the bench along with Ross Worner and on-loan defender Marcel Seip.

The game wasted no time coming to life – Racon did well to dispossess Gary Dicker and strode forward before picking out Anyinsah inside the danger area.

And referee Darren Deadman gave a penalty as outrushing goalkeeper Casper Ankergren and defender Marcos Painter sandwiched the forward, despite Wagstaff putting the ball in the back of the net moments later.

Fortunately for the visitors, top scorer Jackson made it 10 for the season from the spot to give his side a priceless early lead.

However, the good news came with bad with Anyinsah unfit to continue following the foul and he was replaced by Martin, playing in the space behind Benson.

The game’s opening act grew even more eventful soon after as Albion right-back Calderon lunged at Racon with two feet and was shown an immediate red card, much to the fury of the defender and the home fans.

Despite being down a player, in-form Brighton spent much of the first half playing their usual good passing game, with the Reds seemingly happy to let their opponents run themselves into errors, which allowed Charlton further efforts through Wagstaff and Jackson.

But Gus Poyet’s men could easily have levelled on the quarter-hour mark when Chris Wood rose unmarked to head towards goal but for a good tip over at full stretch by Rob Elliot.

And on 36 minutes the disadvantaged hosts drew level courtesy of a fine looping volley from an outstretched Murray flew over Elliot and into the lower-right pocket of his goal.

Shortly before the break at the end of a fiery first period, Liam Bridcutt brought down Jose Semedo in a similar fashion to Calderon on Racon, but only received a yellow, perhaps in light of Brighton already being a man down.

And despite it being eleven against ten, the visitors found themselves under constant pressure in the early stages of the second half with Wood again coming close on a couple of occasions.

With over an hour played, however, Charlton finally tested Ankergren again with the keeper pushing a driven Jackson free-kick round the post from 20 yards after Gordon Greer had felled Martin.

Charlton, with fresh legs in the form of Reid and Abbott, gradually saw more of the ball in the latter stages, but were unable to create enough cast-iron chances at Ankergren’s goal – with Martin particularly wasteful.

And following a double sub by Albion five minutes from time, featuring the appearance of ex-Addick Radostin Kishishev, Reid’s low ball into the box was narrowly missed by a desperate Benson.

How the former Dagenham man didn’t net a late winner from Abbott’s cross in the final minute, nobody inside the Withdean could understand as Ankergren somehow emerged with the ball safely in hand.

The game’s riveting finale continued at the other end as the home side broke leaving Kishishev one-on-one with Elliot, though the keeper did superbly to block the Bulgarian’s effort.

The home fans responded to the final whistle as if they’d won by three or four, though under the circumstances, you could hardly blame them.

Charlton: Elliot, Francis, Doherty, Dailly, Fry, Wagstaff (Abbott 80), Semedo (Reid 61), Racon , Jackson, Anyinsah (Martin 6), Benson. Subs not used: Worner, Jenkinson, Seip, McCormack. Att: 8,374