Charlton 2 Middlesbrough 1
If today was a glimpse into England’s future, it was hardly the most inspiring encounter for Alan Curbishley to list on his CV to become the next head coach of the national team.
The Football Association have confirmed chief executive Brian Barwick met with the Addicks boss, albeit informally, as the search to find Sven-Goran Eriksson’s successor gathers pace.
That appointment is, though, still some way off and the Charlton manager remains only one of several possible candidates.
At least his side returned to winning ways this afternoon following three goalless draws, although they made hard work of it against a much-changed Middlesbrough team, managed by current England assistant coach Steve McClaren.
In the end, two second-half goals from Darren Bent, which took his tally to 19 for the season, secured victory after Mark Viduka’s spectacular individual effort looked to have earned the visitors what would have been a deserved point.
Curbishley insists his focus is fully on the Addicks as they now look to repeat this performance in the FA Cup quarter-finals against Boro in two weeks.
By then, however, speculation linking him with the England job is unlikely to have subsided.
Having not scored in almost 300 minutes of football, it was a positive start by the home side.
England striker Bent looked a threat with his pace, while Charlton also used the flanks well.
The following a drop in tempo, Addicks midfielder Bryan Hughes received a yellow card, after eight minutes, for clattering into Tony McMahon on the nearside touchline.
The young Boro full-back was soon to need replacing, Andrew Davies coming on.
After 15 minutes, the visitors won a free-kick on the right.
The delivery from Doriva found its way through to Viduka at the far post, but - from only six yards out – the Australian forward could get no power on his effort and Thomas Myhre saved comfortably.
The Addicks keeper was called into action again moments later to acrobatically tip away Ray Parlour’s 20-yard effort.
In the 24th minute, Andrew Johnson scampered away down the left, got to the goal-line and pulled the ball back towards centre.
Massimo Maccarone got ahead of Chris Powell to fire his shot on target – only to be denied by a fantastic point-blank stop from Myhre.
As the half-hour mark passed, Boro continued to dominate midfield.
Charlton failed to give themselves any respite as they were unable to retain possession.
In the 43rd minute, Maccarone dashed clear and beat Myhre with a low strike from just inside the box.
His effort was, however, ruled out for what looked an incorrect offside decision, Charlton full-back Young appearing to be level with the Boro striker when the ball have been played through.
Curbishley introduced England Under-21 winger Jerome Thomas for the start of the second half, along with attacking midfielder Jason Euell. Bryan Hughes and Bothroyd were the men replaced.
The changes added a bit more impetus to Charlton’s play, but still not the decisive pass needed to release Bent after some promising build-up play.
Boro continued to work hard themselves, with Johnson impressing down the left side.
Skipper Ugo Ehiogu just failed to get enough power into his header after the ball had been flicked on towards the far post following a free-kick.
As the hour-mark passed, the tempo of the match then dropped again, with both sides guilty of some poor pass selection.
Parlour was cautioned for a late sliding challenge on Thomas in the centre circle.
With 27 minutes left, Ambrose flicked the ball just wide of the far post and ahead of Bent after good work down the right by Radostin Kishishev.
Davies then made a brave block to charge down Matt Holland’s 15-yard effort after Young had hooked the ball back across goal.
Charlton finally got their delivery right on 73 minutes.
Veteran full-back Chris Powell charged down the left and got to the byline before looping a teasing cross into the penalty area.
Bent got up above Emanuel Pogatetz to head in his 18th goal of the season.
Boro, though, were level with nine minutes to go through a fine effort from Viduka.
The Australian, his back to goal, held off Hermann Hreidarsson before flicking the ball over the Icelander, controlling it on his knee and looping a 25-yard strike over Myhre.
Charlton, however, snatched victory when Bent bundled in Young’s cross at the far post in the 86th minute.
But Myhre needed to make another fine one-handed stop to deny Johnson an equaliser in stoppage time.