Charlton 0 Wycombe 1
Charlton’s season went from bad to worse tonight as the Barclays Premiership strugglers crashed out of the Carling Cup against Wycombe, who booked a deserved place in the semi-finals.
Les Reed’s side were always second-best to the Coca-Cola League Two outfit, who progressed following a fine strike from Jermaine Easter 10 minutes before the break.
The Addicks and their head coach were jeered off at the final whistle, with prospects for top-flight survival in 2007 looking bleak following a bitterly cold and disappointing evening at The Valley.
Before kick-off, Highland Pipers had attempted to warm the somewhat sparse home support with their own rendition of Mull Of Kintyre, which has been adopted by the Charlton faithful as their anthem.
However, the travelling fans needed little encouragement to burst into song, all 3,500 of them clearly ready to enjoy the occasion and bring back memories of their run to the FA Cup semi-finals five seasons ago.
It was the hosts who started positively, with England striker Darren Bent causing plenty of early concern with his pace.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was soon the centre of attention when he awarded the visitors a fortunate free-kick for handball on the edge of the penalty area after Souleymane Diawara looked to have been struck in the stomach by a fierce drive and needed treatment.
Stefan Oakes lashed in a stinging drive, which Scott Carson beat away, low to his right.
Charlton then enjoyed a spell of possession, but were unable to make the most of their dominance, and the Chairboys grew in confidence.
After 22 minutes, on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Carson got down quickly to his right and turned away Easter’s low, 20-yard drive.
On the half-hour mark Easter turned Diawara inside out down the right side of the penalty area, before his shot flashed across goal.
Suddenly it was all Wycombe and skipper Tommy Mooney smashed in a close-range volley following a deep cross from the left, which was, fortunately for Charlton, straight at Carson.
The travelling fans did not have to wait long.
In the 35th minute, Diawara gave away possession and Moody was straight onto the loose ball to knock it forwards.
Easter spun away from Jonathan Fortune 25 yards out and set himself before unleashing a fierce drive low past Carson, his fifth goal in the competition.
Sections of The Valley were soon chanting: “You are not fit to wear the shirt,” and singing the name of ex-West Ham boss Alan Pardew, linked with a return to the club he played.
Charlton left the pitch to resounding jeers, which returned once Reed walked back to his dug-out for the start of the second half.
The opening exchanges were scrappy, with Charlton perhaps over-elaborating their passes in the search for an equaliser.
After 58 minutes, Darren Bent finally beat the offside trap and dashed clear down the right.
His cut-back from the goal-line, however, was poor.
When the ball eventually reached Amady Faye, who had to check his run, the midfielder dragged a snatched effort wide.
The tension of the crowd was feeding through to the Charlton players.
Time and again a hopeful chip was sent through for Bent to chase, but more often than not the England man’s touch was just too heavy.
Having already made two substitutions, Reed went for broke when he took off full-back Osei Sankofa and sent on veteran striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Bryan Hughes fired over from 20 yards, before Fortune almost connected with a near-post cross.
However, the struggling Addicks were unable to find a way back into the match as the Chairboys marched into the semi-finals, with the beleaguered Valley faithful once again voicing their angry frustrations to both players and coaching staff following the final whistle.