Charlton Athletic’s Lee Bowyer is a strong contender for top boss award

CHARLTON 2
Grant 12 , 88
PLYMOUTH 1
Carey 9BY RICHARD CAWLEY AT THE VALLEY 

If Charlton can win or even draw at Luton this weekend then there is every chance that Lee Bowyer will be collecting his first League One Manager of the Month award.

The Addicks have won all of their September matches. Only Portsmouth, Blackpool and Doncaster are unbeaten in the same period – but the first two have dropped four points while the latter drew with table-topping Peterborough United.

Karlan Grant’s close-range double chalked up a fourth straight league win on the bounce for Charlton.

The last time they did that was at the start of last season.

The victory over rock-bottom Plymouth moved the South Londoners into the top six.Kenilworth Road should provide a stringent test of their promotion credentials, with former Addicks development coach Nathan Jones’ Hatters undefeated there and collecting 10 points from a possible 12 in the process.

Argyle have not won at The Valley since October 2007 and Charlton have now scored two goals in seven of the last eight encounters between the two clubs.

It could have been a bigger total on Saturday. Charlton had 23 shots – six of them on target – along with 16 corners. Big, big numbers.

And you also have to consider that Lyle Taylor failed to convert a first-half penalty.

Grant had a mixed afternoon. At times he infuriated the home crowd with his decision-making.

A prime example was when he broke into the box in the second half with the score at 1-1 and opted for a shot from a difficult angle, rather than crossing for the better-positioned Taylor.

But it is all part of the learning process for the 21-year-old, who is making big strides in his development.

Grant has followed up nine goals in 15 games for League Two Crawley Town in the second half of last season by netting five times in his first nine league matches this time around.

That is already his best seasonal haul for the SE7 outfit and we’re not even into October.

Both were poacher’s finishes at the weekend.

He was on hand to flick in Jason Pearce’s header as Charlton quickly cancelled out Graham Carey’s ninth-minute opener.

And he finished impressively in the 88th minute to settle a pretty entertaining contest which had become more open in the second half.

Igor Vetokele’s assist was a botched one, truth be told, misjudging the flight of Ben Reeves’ cute diagonal delivery into the box – the ball came off the lower part of his body as he jumped for the header.

But Grant, with little time to overthink the opportunity, swept beyond Matt Macey.

Greenwich-born Grant is getting a run as a striker under Bowyer – not in the wider roles he has been employed in before – and it is paying off.

He made his debut at the age of 17, but it had been a slow burn after that until the fuse has well and truly been lit this season.

“Maybe I’ve finally reached that turning point,” said Grant in an interview in the match-day programme.

“I was very young when I made my debut and my head wasn’t that of an experienced player.

I didn’t always handle things right and I’ve had to bide my time.

“I always believed my time would come here.”

What Charlton need to make sure of is that Grant’s nine-year stay doesn’t come to an end this summer.

His contract is up and Bowyer has already identified the importance of securing him on new terms.

The youngster would go into negotiations in a position of real strength.

But Championship football would also be a persuasive tool as well.

And the Addicks look top-six material, even if there is still a lot of football to be played.

A fifth win in League One this season was secured despite the absences of Patrick Bauer, Krystian Bielik, Jake Forster-Caskey, Darren Pratley and Tariqe Fosu. All have been first-team regulars during their time at the club.

Fosu comes back into the equation now after serving his three-game suspension but is likely to have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Bowyer has made signings to mould the look of his squad to his own desire and Taylor and Josh Cullen have both added quality.

But he also deserves credit for the way he has significantly improved players who were overlooked or not rated by predecessor Karl Robinson – Grant, Joe Aribo, Lewis Page and Naby Sarr.

Charlton are more pugnacious and don’t sink at the first sign of trouble.

Any side that wants to have success over the marathon that is a league campaign needs to have steel to go alongside quality on the ball.

With takeover talks seeming to lack any kind of momentum, perhaps the best way for the Addicks to be rid of owner Roland Duchatelet is for them to get up.

Then they would be only one promotion away from the Premier League and make the Belgian’s asking price a touch more realistic.

Charlton (4-4-2): Steer 6, Solly 6, Pearce 7, Sarr 6, Page 6, Cullen 7, Aribo 7, Reeves 7, Ward 6 (Vetokele 81), Taylor 6, Grant 7. Not used: Phillips, Dijksteel, Marshall, Morgan, Ajose, Lapslie.

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