Wigan Athletic 3 Charlton Athletic 2: Camara clicks to bring end to Charlton improvement

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The Independent Football

The Charlton Athletic manager, Iain Dowie, will spend this week searching for what remains of momentum behind his club's mini-revival. Five Premiership and Carling Cup games without defeat, and a favourable home pairing with Wycombe Wanderers in the quarter-final of the latter, had given morale at The Valley a much-needed lift.

Quite what substance there is to the improvement is questionable, though, after the concession of three goals at Chesterfield was followed here by a defeat all the more worrying for its self-infliction.

"A vile afternoon at the JJB" was how Charlton's website described the occasion and, while the phrase may have been directed at the sweeping rain, it applied equally to the work of Dowie's back four.

Hopelessly defended long clearances by Chris Kirkland led directly to Lee McCulloch and Henri Camara expertly converting Wigan Athletic's first two goals and the marking was poor when Matt Jackson re-established clear daylight with his first top-flight goal for a decade.

"We came here thinking we had sorted things out," said Charlton's Darren Bent. "But we have to look ourselves in the eye and admit that wasn't acceptable. We have to cut out the mistakes, otherwise there's no point people talking about us being better than a bottom-of-the-table side."

Bent was on the score-sheet again with almost the last kick of a low-quality game - Marcus Bent, that is - although his namesake is still trying to wrestle back the one that has been credited as an own goal against Arjan de Zeeuw.

Charlton, now 20 Premiership away games without a victory, were always chasing after the early incision. They had much more ammunition once two more forwards had been sent on amid the abandonment of a 4-5-1 formation but Wigan did enough to justify a fourth straight win.

Their manager, Paul Jewell, was even moved to douse talk of challenging for Europe, although Camara will think all things are possible at present. His girlfriend, Orletta, presented him with a son in the early hours of Saturday and he said: "This is the best day of my life. I've always dreamed of having a son and scoring a goal to celebrate. I couldn't sleep all night but knowing that the baby and his mother were well made me fine to play."

Goals: McCulloch (13) 1-0; Camara (41) 2-0; De Zeeuw og (52) 2-1; Jackson (78) 3-1; Marcus Bent (90) 3-2.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Boyce, De Zeeuw, Webster (Jackson, 75), Baines; Cotterill (Valencia, 57), Landzaat (Wright, 60), Scharner, Kilbane; Camara, McCulloch. Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Johansson.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Carson; Young, Diawara (Kishishev, 75), El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Ambrose (M Bent, 84), Holland (Hasselbaink, 46), Faye, Reid, Thomas; D Bent. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Sankofa.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Booked: Wigan Scharner, Cotterill.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 16,572.

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