Before a smaller than average crowd of 22,029, Charlton Athletic avoided becoming Leyton Orient’s second Premiership FA Cup scalp with a narrow 2-1 win at the Valley on Saturday.
The Addicks advance to the 5th Round came courtesy of a last-minute winner from Jay Bothroyd after Lee Steele had cancelled out a 7th minute opener from Jonathan Fortune.
The ‘O’s, a full sixty one places below Charlton in the Pkv pyramid at start of play, certainly did not disgrace themselves and although never looking like they would win the game, came within seconds of forcing a replay at Brisbane Road.
In the opening minutes the contrast in styles between the divisions soon became apparent, Orient announcing their visit with some meaty challenges and quick balls over the top characteristic of England’s lower leagues.
But for all the measured build up and superior movement of their Premiership hosts, the Os looked far from overawed, Shane Tudor getting a shot on target in the first minute and forcing a corner in the second.
What they and their 6000+ travelling fans (Orient’s average home gate is 4,500) surely did not want was to concede an early goal but they fell into that trap in the 7th minute.
Darren Ambrose far out on the right curled a free kick into the box where center back Jonathan Fortune, finding unaccustomed space between two defenders, stooped to nod past Glyn Garner in the Leyton Orient goal.
If the Os had an Achilles heel for the Addicks to exploit then it certainly looked to be in dealing with crosses.
After Fortune was granted time and space for his goal, Shaun Bartlett arrived scandalously unmarked in the box from another Ambrose center in the 17th minute, the South African guiding his header inches wide of the post.
Charlton were dealing with the Orient attack quite comfortably, Herman Hreidarsson looking particularly imperious in the air, but were far from fluid and rather error-strewn in midfield, Radostin Kishishev being a particular offender.
The home side threatened to double …