BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton’s winless run stretched to eight games after a lacklustre display in the northeast.
Manager Lee Bowyer was facing a former Leeds teammate as Jonathan Woodgate took charge in the Middlesbrough dugout – and it was the defender whose side earned just their second win in thirteen outings.
George Savilles’s goal after just 55 seconds would prove the difference, with Charlton never really looking like getting back into the game.
New recruit Joe Ledley came straight into the starting line-up for his debut, with striker Lyle Taylor making his long-awaited return from injury as a half-time sub, but neither were able make a real impact on a desperately disappointing afternoon at the Riverside Stadium.
Charlton have only ever tasted victory once at the Riverside Stadium, back in 2005, and their hopes of putting that stat to bed this afternoon were dealt a huge blow inside the opening minute.
Britt Assombalonga’s drive caused havoc in the Addicks’ six-yard box, with Dillon Phillips unable to hold on and former Millwall man Saville pounced to bag his first goal of the season from close range.
The goal-scorer was soon taking aim again, this time dragging wide from the edge of the area – before the South Londoners nearly gifted Woodgate’s side a second.
Some indecision between Jason Pearce and Phillips almost ended with the former prodding the ball beyond his onrushing goalkeeper. Phillips did manage to clear, with Haydon Coulson sending the rebound off-target from distance, with the goal gaping.
Bowyer’s diamond midfield were struggling to get a foothold in the game, with Coulson seeing an effort charged down by Deji Oshilaja, before Marcus Tavernier then volleying wide when well-placed.
Bowyer had to shuffle the pack at the interval and he did just that. Taylor and Albie Morgan were introduced from the break, with debutant Ledley and Ben Purrington making way.
Taylor seemed to breathe new life into the visitors, who forced a couple of early corners but they were still yet to have an effort on goal as we reached the midway point of the second-period.
Boro should have put the game to bed with just over 25 minutes left to go. Djed Spence made space to float a teasing centre into the area, with Tavernier somehow blazing over from six yards.
The Addicks finally registered their first effort after 70 minutes. Conor Gallagher, on his return from suspension, cut in from the left but sent a curling right-footer wide of Aynsley Pear’s far-post.
Charlton were leaving more and more gaps at the back, with Ashley Fletcher and Stephen Walker unable to finish the Addicks off either side of a chance that fell to Lyle Taylor being blocked.
Gallagher and Albie Morgan both forced Pears into saves as the Addicks threw caution to the wind in the dying stages but they were unable to force a leveller before they set off on the long journey home.
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS