Report: Albion 0 Charlton 0Albion maintain their unbeaten league form at the Amex in 2013 but they had to settle for a point against a stubborn Charlton rearguard.
Gus Poyet’s side were hoping to make it four straight home victories and further cement their play-off place but the Addicks dug in to earn a share of the spoils.
The point still takes sixth-placed Albion two points clear of Leicester, setting up a hotly-anticipated clash with the Foxes on Saturday, and they will hope to have more luck in front of goal than they did against the Londoners.
Albion made three changes to the side which drew at Nottingham Forest at the weekend, with Tomasz Kuszczak, Vicente and Liam Bridcutt all coming into the side.
They started with real intent and created their first opening on six minutes when Vicente released Wayne Bridge down the left flank. The full-back fired in a low cross which fell to Leo Ulloa, but the in-form striker’s close range effort was blocked by Michael Morrison.
Inigo Calderon then tried his luck from distance with his left foot, but his curling effort sailed wide of Ben Hamer’s goal.
Liam Bridcutt received a booking for a foul on Addicks striker Yann Kermorgant on 16 minutes but it failed to halt Albion’s flow, with Calderon trying his luck with a header from a Vicente corner.
Charlton’s Andy Hughes then put in a heavy challenge on Ulloa but received no caution from referee Mick Russell, much to the anger of the Albion bench.
Yet it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Bradley Pritchard dummied the ball into the path of Kermorgant, with the Frenchman’s shot on the turn narrowly flying over from 20 yards.
That sparked the hosts into life once more with Matthew Upson going close with a header before Russell booked Johnnie Jackson in the 26th minute for a lunge on Will Buckley.
Albion thought they had got back on level terms soon after when a Bridcutt ball into the box fell into the path of Calderon, but this time his right-foot his effort drifted the wrong side of the post.
Kazenga LuaLua also tried his luck with a rasping drive as the Seagulls upped the ante but despite their dominance in terms of possession, Charlton could be pleased with their rearguard action.
On a bitterly cold night, Albion took time to find their rhythm after the re-start and it was Charlton who created the half’s first opening – Callum Harriott firing over from 12 yards.
A record Amex midweek crowd of 28,043 thought Albion had taken the lead on the hour mark when Buckley met Vicente’s dinking cross, but his far-post header fell agonisingly wide of the post.
The lively Calderon again ghosted into the box to meet a David Lopez corner but typical of his luck in front of goal his effort went wide, while Ulloa met another David corner soon after and his header was cleared.
In a rare Charlton attack, Pritchard saw an effort blocked while at the other end Hamer was called into action to stop a low rasping drive by Vicente.
With the referee signalling for injury time, Albion hearts were in mouths as Dale Stephens tried his luck from distance but Kuszczak was equal to the effort, tipping over in the last attack of the game.
It was the last chance of the game, or so we thought.
In a last-gasp attempt to take the points, Vicente’s effort was somehow tipped onto the bar from Hamer and from the resulting corner, Gordon Greer’s header cannoned back off the post.
It truly was one of those nights.