Report: Charlton 2 Albion 2Albion twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at The Valley, but the result was little justice for Albion's attacking performance.
Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua scored in each half for the Seagulls after Lawrie Wilson and Bradley Pritchard twice put the home side ahead, but the Albion contingent will return to the south coast feeling they deserved more for their effort.
The day was of extra significance for the hosts who celebrated their home coming 20 years ago, and the stadium erupted into applause in the seventh minute to recognise their first goal back at The Valley in 1992.
But Charlton fans had more to celebrate two minutes later when right-back Wilson put the Addicks in front. Dale Stephens whipped a corner to the front post and Wilson got to the ball first, beating Tomasz Kuszczak with a glancing header.
The Seagulls were rocked and moments late Kuszczak was called into action again when Rob Hulse headed at goal, but the back-tracking Pole tipped the ball over his crossbar.
But Gus Poyet’s side – with fond memories at The Valley under the Uruguayan’s guidance – started to get a foothold in the game, and began to control.
Indeed, the Seagulls had a glorious chance to pull level through skipper Gordon Greer. A well-worked corner found Will Buckley; he turned the ball towards Mackail-Smith whose scuffed shot went straight to the feet of Greer, but the Scot ballooned his effort over.
Albion also had a penalty shout turned down by referee Darren Sheldrake when Buckley’s cross appeared to hit Johnnie Jackson’s arm, but on 18 minutes came the best chance for Poyet’s side.
Will Hoskins, who returned to the starting line-up, picked out Stephen Dobbie with an inspired over-head kick on the edge of the 18-yard box; Dobbie was one-on-one with Ben Hamer but the Addicks goalkeeper was quick off his line to block the shot which followed.
You could sense an qualiser was coming, but Albion hearts were in their mouths at the other end when Adam El-Abd miscued a clearance inside his own six-yard box, which was heading into his own goal, but Kuszczak made a remarkable block from point-blank range.
The Albion leveller arrived in the 28th minute courtesy of Mackail-Smith's tenth goal of the campaign. Charlton defender Michael Morrison miscued a header and the Albion striker was quickest to react. He brought the ball down brilliantly at full flow and drilled a half-volley past Hamer at his near post.
Into the second half and it was the Seagulls on the front foot with Buckley drawing a good save from Hamer, while Dobbie stabbed a great chance over the bar from close range; Buckley was the architect again from the left.
LuaLua was introduced with 22 minutes remaining and he was straight into the action when his powerful free-kick went straight to the feet of Mackail-Smith; the Albion striker swivelled and fired a ball at goal but his shot was deflected wide by Wilson.
Albion were well on top but it was the hosts who went straight up the other end and took the lead against the run of play. Poyet's men couldn’t clear their lines and the ball broke to Pritchard in a packed Albion area. Hr seemed to scuff his shot but the ball trickled past Kuszczak and into the goal.
But that goal sparked the Seagulls again; Ashley Barnes ran at goal and was chopped down on the edge of the area. LuaLua stepped up and drilled the free-kick into the back of the net, courtesy of a deflection, to score his first goal of the season and treat the Seagulls supporters to another acrobatic celebration.
Albion sensed a winner with ten minutes remaining and, like much of the game, had the home side pegged inside their own half, but despite all their pressure and endeavor they could not find the third goal.