REPORT: CHARLTON 1 ALBION 3
- Sam Baldock, Jiri Skalak and Tomer Hemed on target for Albion
- Johann Gudmundsson scores for Charlton
- Albion cut the gap on second-placed Middlesbrough to goal difference
- The Seagulls extend their unbeaten run to 12 games
Brighton & Hove Albion closed the gap on second-placed Middlesbrough to goal difference after a hard-fought 3-1 win over relegated Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
Goals from Sam Baldock, Jiri Skalak and Tomer Hemed’s stoppage-time penalty saw Albion extend their unbeaten run to 12 games, as Boro were held to goalless draw by Ipswich Town.
Chris Hughton made one change to the side that beat Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, as Baldock replaced James Wilson in the starting line-up.
Albion took the lead in the ninth minute when Baldock slotted home at the far post after Connor Goldson guided Skalak’s set-piece into the forward’s path.
Ademola Lookman then broke forward for Charlton and set up Morgan Fox inside the area, but he fired his shot straight at David Stockdale.
Anthony Knockaert tried his luck from distance after being played into space by Lewis Dunk, and his rasping effort forced a low save from Nick Pope.
Pope had a nervy moment in the Addicks goal after a mix-up with Rod Fanni and Baldock almost capitalised on an attempted clearance from the keeper.
The hosts carried a threat going forward and skipper Jordan Cousins saw his fierce effort blocked by Hemed inside the box, before Dunk was forced to make a clearance from an in-swinging cross to the far post.
Charlton came within inches of finding an equaliser after Johann Gudmundsson’s low driven strike hit the side-netting with Stockdale at full stretch.
The Albion defence was called into action again when Bruno made a superb interception to stop Callum Harriott’s through ball finding Igor Vetokele.
A few minutes later, Gudmundsson’s set-piece from a promising position sailed just wide of Stockdale’s left-hand post, as the hosts ended the first half strongly.
Baldock had Albion’s first chance after the restart when he was played through on the left-hand side, but fired his angled strike past the far post.
Gudmundsson then levelled the scores in the 52nd minute, with the midfielder slotting the ball into an empty net from a ball across the box.
At the other end of the pitch, Baldock showed good composure to cut inside the box but saw his subsequent shot saved by Pope.
The Addicks were level for just four minutes though as some superb play from Beram Kayal played in a ball to Skalak, who clinically dispatched his shot beyond Pope.
Skalak was involved in the thick of the action again when his perfectly-weighted cross was met by Hemed, whose glancing header was deflected behind for a corner.
The pair combined again just moments later and on this occasion the striker’s shot was blocked.
Hughton’s men were dealt a blow with 20 minutes remaining when Liam Rosenior was forced off injured and had to be replaced by Gaetan Bong.
After a relatively quiet spell, the Addicks came close to finding an equaliser in emphatic fashion after Fox met a ball into the box with a half volley that went narrowly over the bar.
There was still time for another scare for Albion when Stockdale reacted well to save Lookman’s effort, before Knockaert’s swerving shot forced a fine one-handed save from Pope.
However, the Seagulls rounded off the victory in stoppage time, after Knockaert was brought down inside the box and Hemed coolly slotted home the spot-kick in front of the jubilant Albion fans.