Charlton Athletic 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1
In a season littered with disappointing performances, this will be remembered as a brave effort from the Blues, who were extremely unfortunate to take nothing from the game.
Yes, it was another hard luck story, but points make prizes and Charlton were crowned champions while Wycombe were left licking their wounds and staring relegation in the face.
Only Walsall and Orient are catchable now, and with the Saddlers boasting a vastly superior goal difference, Gary Waddock’s side are effectively four points from safety with only two games to play.
Their fate could be sealed next Saturday or it could go to the last game of the season where they would need a result at Hillsborough to stand any chance of avoiding the drop.
Should their season still be alive when they travel to Sheffield, the Blues can take confidence from the fact that they matched the Champions at the Valley in the first half and dominated the second half until they fell behind against the run of play.
Starting brightly, Stuart Beavon, Matt Bloomfield and Joel Grant had all fired shots off target before Charlton took the lead after 14 minutes when Danny Foster conceded a free kick and Yann Kermorgant found the bottom corner of Nikki Bull’s net from all of 30 yards.
Come the end end of the season when a post mortem is performed to discover why Wycombe have struggled to pick up points, set pieces will emerge as a primary cause of death.
Whether it’s their woeful defending of corners and free kicks or a pitiful failure to inflict any damage with their own, set plays have cost Wycombe dearly.
A typical scenario, seen several times yesterday, is to pile everyone in the box before executing a short-corner routine so badly that the ball never goes near the danger area and attack is very quickly turned to defence.
On top of that, the Blues won a considerable number of free kicks in dangerous positions yesterday but not one of them was delivered with precision or attacked in the box with any kind of conviction.
Following the opener, Bloomfield, Grant and Beavon had further efforts on goal, this time hitting the target but failing to get the better of Ben Hamer in the Addicks’ goal.
Bull was also busy with a couple of superb saves to thwart the home side’s top marksman Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The Blues deserved to be level at half-time and thanks to Stuart Beavon’s 24th goal of the season they were.
With 45 minutes on the clock, the ball was deflected into Beavon’s path and he darted goalwards only to see his shot parried by Hamer. Bloomfield retrieved the loose ball and played it to Marvin McCoy whose inch-perfect cross was powerfully headed home by the Blues top scorer.
Yet again it was Bloomfield, Grant and Beavon who had the best opportunities to give Wycombe the lead during a second-half in which they took the game to the champions and created a majority of the goalscoring chances.
Meanwhile, the Addicks’ most dangerous attack was thwarted by McCoy who made a superb headed clearance to prevent a certain goal from Johnnie Jackson.
But McCoy’s fortunes were to change after 74 minutes when he was dispossessed in a dangerous area and Charlton went on to score the winner against the run of play.
There were still opportunities to rescue the situation after McCoy lost the ball, but Foster couldn’t get close enough to Danny Haynes to prevent him crossing to the far post where Kermorgant nodded the ball down and Stephens fired it home.
Bull made a superb save to prevent Haynes from scoring a third for the Addicks, and at the other end Hamer thwarted a marauding run from Stuart Lewis, but there were no more goals and when the final whistle sounded, the Valley erupted in celebration of a great season.
The result was a kick in the teeth for a Wycombe side that played with no fear, and on the balance of play, deserved at least a share of the points.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (8), McCoy (7), Foster (7), Johnson (8), Basey (7) (Dunne 85 (n/a)), Bloomfield (8), Lewis (8), Eastmond (8), Strevens (7), Grant (8), Beavon (8).
Brave Blues deserved more
Charlton Athletic 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1