Preston North End went to the top of the Championship thanks to Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty at The Valley.
Jayden Stockley was brought down by Tom Lockyer just before the hour mark and substitute Gallagher converted from 12 yards to defeat Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic and send them to the summit for the first time since December 2006.
Manager Alex Neil had made two changes to the side that came from behind to beat local rivals Blackburn Rovers the week before, Ben Davies returning for Andrew Hughes, to make his 200th career appearance, and Stockley starting up front after impressing having come on in the previous win.
The early kick-off saw a low-key start, but a second successive Darnell Fisher free kick was the first attempt on goal, his 30-yard effort – after a foul on Sean Maguire – was on target, but well claimed by Dillon Phillips in the Addicks goal.
The hosts’ first opportunity came just after the 15-minute mark when Ben Purrington got down the left, into the left corner of the box and found the target, but was denied by former Charlton loanee Declan Rudd.
As the half went on the chances were more and more going the way of the Lilywhites. On 20 minutes a superb run down the left from his own half by Fisher got him to the byline before a left-footed ball across to back post for found Tom Barkhuizen, whose shot was superbly saved right on the line by Phillips.
And the in-form attacker had another good opportunity a minute before the break as the ball was well worked for Ben Pearson to get some space and deliver a cross to the No.29, eight yards out, but he was unable to get his header on target.
But on 57 minutes Stockley was floored in the penalty area by Tom Lockyer and referee David Webb pointed straight to the spot. With Daniel Johnson having had to be substituted in the first half through injury it was down to Gallagher – who had taken the captain’s armband – to slam the ball from 12 yards into the bottom left hand corner in front of the boisterous away following behind the goal.
And ten minutes later it was fractions away from being two. Gallagher again involved, his corner swung in from the left flicked on by Maguire at the front post and just evading the on-rushing Barkhuizen at the back post.
Stockley was denied by the cross bar with five minutes left after Gallagher’s free kick on the right, a superb run and powerful back post header, but it came off the top of the bar and into the PNE fans.
A bizarre seven minutes was added on at the end of the game. In the second minute Barkhuizen raced away and into the penalty area, going for a shot, with Pearson up in support, but Phillips made a fine stop and the ball ricocheted away from the onrushing No.4 and despite a little late pressure the visitors held firm and took the win.
Charlton Athletic line-up: Phillips, Purrington, Lockyer, Pearce (c), C Gallagher, Pratley (Aneke, 74), Bonne, Solly, Kayal (Oztumer, 89), Sarr (Leko, 46), Cullen. Subs not used: Maynard-Brewer, Oshilaja, Lapslie, Davison.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Rafferty, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Barkhuizen, Browne (c), Stockley, Johnson (Gallagher, 31), Maguire. Subs not used: Ripley, Bayliss, Storey, Hughes, Ledson, Bodin.
Attendance: 16,027 (1,128 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr D Webb