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27 June 2020 16:46

Oxford United F.C. Charlton Athletic F.C. Karl Robinson

Such have been the travails faced by Charlton during the lockdown simply returning to a fight for survival in the Championship might almost feel like relief. Amid all the concerns over the long-term direction of the club matters on the pitch are at least within their control. Certainly there is one aspect to their destiny that remains firmly within the control of Lee Bowyer and his playing squad. They are not wasting their agency. A composed 1-0 win over QPR at the Valley, on the heels of the The problems at The Valley predate COVID-19 by many a year but the first half of 2020, which began with some slither of hope when the Roland Duchatelet era seemed to come to an end.

Lee Bowyer is Charlton's greatest asset as his Addicks bring a ray of light through Valley gloom

However the Belgian still owns the stadium and Sparrow's Road training ground and documents from Companies House this week revealed a near £67million debt to his company Baton 2010. The ownership alliance of Tahnoon Nimer and Matt Southall soon fell apart amid much public rancour with the club moving to a consortium led by businessman Paul Elliott with talks now taking place with former chief executive Peter Varney. A boyhood fan, he may be the man to bring an end to the turbulence in SE7 but for now it is down to Bowyer to carry on through the storm acutely aware of the sword of Damocles that hovers over Charlton. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8 Cancel Play now Speaking before Elliott's takeover Bowyer warned that relegation to League One would "kill our football club". Survival would have to be achieved without top scorer Lyle Taylor, long-time veteran Chris Solly and David Davis, who had played the full 90 in five of Charlton's seven matches before lockdown. The new management have allowed the head coach to focus on footballing matters alone, a rare indulgence for the 43-year-old. What he has achieved with that and the players at his disposal is rather impressive, though Bowyer will not let his players take their advantage in the relegation battle for granted. "Even when we came back the confidence was good," he said. "We know where we stand. We know what we have to do. Team spirit has always been high. "Last week's result helped, this one will give them another lift. It's my job to keep their feet on the ground, to let them know that we aren't safe yet." Bowyer's side moved as a unit, with a level of organisation that belied absence of three vital cogs in this machine. When Adam Matthews pushes up to track the run of Eberechi Eze Aiden McGeady drops into the space he leaves behind or Darren Pratley shuffles across. There was a rhythm to Charlton at their best in The Valley, a smooth motion that came to the fore when they passed their way through the QPR press. The visitors were not afraid to commit numbers into boxing the Addicks into corners but all too often they succeeded merely in opening up space for their opponents further forward. In perhaps the most impressive passage of play in the first half Dillon Phillips calmly flicked the ball forward to Jason Pearce, who swiftly sought out Deji Oshilaja. Three opponents closed down Charlton's utility man, a former striker repurposed as a left-back, but he had the presence of mind to move the ball back in field to Pearce. On then to the exceptional Josh Cullen, the sort of technically gifted, high work-rate midfielder West Ham are crying out for, and down the left with Albie Morgan. Charlton looked to have been hemmed in but they turned that pressure into an opportunity to advance. The simulated Charlton fans roared their approval - a deliberate decision by Bowyer to give his squad what backing they could on home turf. "I don't want the other bench hearing what instructions we're trying to put out" he said. "It's something we tampered with but I wanted to have the music from the fans. Even though they're not here they can still play a part." The beating heart of this performance was Cullen, first to every loose ball, composed enough to collect possession under pressure and turn on either foot and release Charlton forward. The Addicks were happy to counter-attack - come the hour they had had just 35% possession - not least because Cullen's eye for a pass up the field meant they could advance swiftly. For their part QPR appeared woefully short of ideas on how to break through a disciplined rearguard. Eze had numerous threatening moments, flashes to remind you why he is one of the most electrifying figures in the Championship. A feint and elegant touch with his right foot alowed him to spin two Charlton defenders before teeing himself up to shoot at the far corner. The effort marginally evaded Phillips' goal. More often than not, however, Eze found himself running into a wall of Charlton defenders. He went inside and Darren Pratley was blocking his path. On the QPR left Matthews shut down his avenues, on the right Oshilaja. With their chief creator neutered the Rs were unable to translate their possession into all that much, drawing just one save before the second half drinks break. Charlton were hardly testing Liam Kelly in the QPR goal on a regular basis but they made what chances they had count, Pratley converting Cullen's tempting corner in the 12th minute to give the hosts a lead to protect. (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images) They should have added to it. Macauley Bonne was the victim of a tight offside call when he flicked Aiden McGeady's cross home in the first half; moments later he dithered too long to reach a fine through ball by former Arsenal man Chuks Aneke. It would be too soon to talk of certainty where Charlton are concerned but their fate is in their hands. These hard won points moved them up to 17th at full-time. A four point lead over Huddersfield and Middlesbrough is nothing to take for granted before those sides have played, particularly with Championship specialist Neil Warnock now at the helm of the latter. When Charlton had made their return to The Valley this morning there were still clouds in the sky, a cruel wind and driving rain. These were ill omens. But for 90 minutes at least the gloom that lay over the Valley appeared to be clearing.