Will Aimson’s first goal for the club arrived just in the nick of time to give Wanderers another big win to keep them looking up the League One table.
Aimson headed in eight minutes from the end to give the Whites a fourth successive home success as they pulled away from a Charlton side chasing a fourth straight victory of their own to keep the top six in sight.
There’s still a big gap to bridge but Ian Evatt’s men are giving it everything they’ve got to keep their momentum going on an inspired run of five wins in six games which has kept their season alive.
For a few minutes it looked as though the brakes might be applied as Dion Charles’ fourth goal in five games was cancelled out by Charlton substitute Chuks Aneke with a quarter of an hour to go.
But Wanderers’ spirit is beyond question and, despite not hitting the heights of some of their recent home performances, they rallied and found a way to win when their late push paid off thanks to Aimson’s moment in the sun as the defender found the net for the first time since October, 2019.
Wanderers handed a full debut and first home appearance to Kyle Dempsey, as well bringing back Gethin Jones in a defence missing the ill George Johnston but including Ricardo Almeida Santos following the successful appeal against his weekend red card.
Santos was one of only five Wanderers’ players who had also started their 4-1 win at Charlton at the end of September to underline the scale of the changes in the Whites’ squad.
And it was one of the recent arrivals who again made his presence felt to give Evatt’s side an early lead.
Dion Charles – the first of Wanderers’ seven January signings – has been an inspired purchase and as the evening’s best player it was fitting that he got the goal 10 minutes in.
The striker never gives a defender a moment’s peace and his pace and persistence paid off again as he robbed Amin Famewo.
Despite having his ankles clipped, Charles still had the composure to go around goalkeeper Craig Mac Gillivray.
And even though his finish wasn’t the cleanest strike, it still had the accuracy to beat Sean Clare’s attempted clearance on the line as Wanderers did enough to reach the end of an otherwise chance-less first half in front.
Both sides – separated only by goals scored at kick-off – probably felt they had more to give and it was the Whites who went up a gear immediately after the break.
Again Charles was the instigator in chief, drilling the ball into the penalty area to force a half-chance for Marlon Fossey before being dragged to the floor by Jason Pearce, who was perhaps fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for a similar incident shortly afterwards.
Charlton wasted no time in replacing their captain, while Wanderers were grateful to theirs at the other end as Santos made a vital block to keep out Alex Gilbey’s goalbound effort.
With the game opening up, Dapo Afolayan then fired inches wide as Wanderers looked for the second goal which may have ended the contest.
But when that didn’t come the Whites’ lead remained vulnerable and with 15 minutes to go Charlton levelled.
The visitors had gradually wound up the tempo and when Wanderers didn’t relieve the pressure, Scott Fraser swung over a cross which fellow substitute Aneke headed powerfully home.
Evatt responded by sending on the fresh legs of Amadou Bakayoko and Kieran Sadlier in a double change following the earlier introduction of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
But when the winner did arrive, it came from the unlikely figure of Aimson.
Wanderers have at times been questioned over their set-pieces but when Aaron Morley delivered the perfect free-kick, Aimson got the decisive touch to glance home a header and give his side a crucial three points.
Bodvarsson almost added the ‘Iceland’ on the cake with a curling effort superbly saved by MacGillivray but two goals were enough – thanks to James Trafford’s injury-time save from Fraser – to make it four in a row and a step nearer the play-off pack.
Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Santos, Aimson; Fossey, Williams, Morley, John; Dempsey (Bakayoko 78); Charles (Sadlier 78), Afolayan (Bodvarsson 72). Substitutes: Dixon, Lee, Sadlier, Baptiste, Gordon.
Booked: Jones, John, Bakayoko
Charlton Athletic: MacGillivray; Clare, Pearce (Lavelle 61), Famewo; Dobson; Matthews, Gilbey (Fraser 68), Morgan, Jaiyesimi; Burstow (Aneke 61), Washington. Substitutes: Henderson, Purrington, Lee, Leko.
Booked: Washington, Gilbey, Pearce, Dobson
Attendance: 13,523 (Charlton 328)