Charlton 1 Wigan 0
England striker Darren Bent rifled home an 85th-minute penalty to clinch three priceless points for Charlton at The Valley.
The crucial Barclays Premiership relegation clash seemed destined for a draw until Fitz Hall was penalised by referee Peter Walton for his challenge on Marcus Bent.
It appeared a harsh call from Walton but England striker Bent made no mistake from the spot as he easily beat keeper John Filan to fire his 12th goal of the season.
The dramatic late penalty was the only notable incident in an otherwise abysmal encounter.
A stirring pre-match rendition of ’Nessun Dorma’ by opera singer Martin Toal provided the greatest entertainment as the relegation rivals were in shocking form.
With the crowd fired-up by Toal’s lung-busting effort, the scene was set for the teams to deliver but instead they produced a tiresome 90 minutes from which no player emerged with any credit.
The first half passed without a single clear-cut chance from either club as squandered possession and a lack of imagination took its toll.
And the boredom continued after the interval with Lee McCulloch hitting the left post in the only genuine threat at either end until Darren Bent scored.
Charlton showed just one change to the side that beat Newcastle 2-0 with Dennis Rommedahl replacing Marcus Bent, who was brought on at the interval following a nightmare half from the misfiring Dane.
Skipper Darren Bent overcame the knee injury that forced him to miss England’s Euro 2008 qualifiers while Alexandre Song recovered from his hamstring problem in time to make the starting line-up. Leighton Baines, McCulloch and Hall all returned from suspension for Wigan while Caleb Folan overcame his ankle problem to partner Emile Heskey in attack.
Some nice touches from winger Jerome Thomas initiated a Charlton attack and although Rommedahl made a horrible mess of Darren Bent’s square-ball, he recovered quickly and tested John Filan with a lofted shot.
McCullough had a shot blocked before Heskey picked up a promising pass only to run down a blind ally.
Folan escaped Souleymane Diawara but was halted by Scott Carson, who sprinted off his line and halted the Wigan midfielder – taking a knock in the process.
Rommedahl’s overpowered cross to the far post then saw Darren Bent dive in vain as Charlton sought first blood in a finely-poised, if dull, opening 25 minutes.
Zheng Zhi threatened on the edge of the box two times in succession but was snuffed out by timely intervention from Wigan’s defence.
A Thomas cut-back presented Song with a chance but the Cameroon defender’s shot was easily blocked as Charlton began to gain the upper hand in a desperately poor match.
Zheng latched onto a failed clearance by Filan but could not get any power behind his stabbed shot and the Wigan keeper was able to recover and save.
Ryan Taylor picked out Matt Jackson at the far post with a precision cross but the veteran defender’s header looped high over the crossbar.
A long-range effort from Thomas drew gasps from restless home supporters but it was well wide.
Baines the went close to breaking the deadlock with a well-struck free-kick that just brushed the left post.
The ineffective Rommedahl was replaced by Marcus Bent for the second half but it was his namesake Darren who had the first opportunity after the break, nodding Zheng’s corner wide.
It was a difficult chance but priceless nonetheless with little happening at either end and moments later Taylor was booked by Walton for a needless block on Diawara.
Luke Young combined with Darren Bent to good effect only for the Charlton skipper to mis-read his team-mate’s intentions and send the return ball in the wrong direction.
Wigan went close with half an hour remaining, Folan firing a cross that McCulloch raced in to meet only to see his effort strike the left post.
Wigan looked the most likely team to break the deadlock as the final whistle approached but disaster struck for Paul Jewell’s men with five minutes to go.
Hall put his foot up to challenge Marcus Bent who was trying to control the ball and Walton pointed to the spot.
Darren Bent stepped up and smashed the penalty home for his 12th goal of the season, snatching a crucial late victory for the Addicks.