Notts County were made to pay for missed chances this afternoon in a 1-0 defeat against Charlton Athletic at the Valley.
Manager Craig Short stuck with the same starting line-up for the first time this term, following the 4-0 demolition of Yeovil Town last weekend. Away from home and against a team that were playing in the top-flight only three years ago, the Addicks, on paper at least, looked to pose a bigger challenge.
In the opening 10 minutes, this looked the case, as they carved out numerous goal-scoring opportunities. Paul Benson headed over from former Magpie Johnnie Jackson's back-post corner and Stuart Nelson had to react sharply to get down to a Pawel Abbott drive.
Another scare came from a breakaway attack that had the Notts' defence retreating desperately. However, Krystian Pearce used his pace to catch up with Simon Francis, as he carried the ball into the area, hooking the ball away from him before he could get a shot away.
County were by no means being dominated, only the hosts were making more of their possession. Kevin Smith was first to threaten, firing wide of the bottom corner from the edge of the box, and then Ben Davies bent over with a free kick from 25 yards out.
The away support leapt to their feet on 33 minutes, following a cross-field passing move involving Smith, Davies, Craig Westcarr and Lee Hughes. Eventually, Davies chipped to towards the back-post, where Smith's header was flicked over by Gary Doherty, rescuing his goalkeeper, Rob Elliot.
From the resulting corner, Harley put in a crunching tackle on the edge of the area after a clearance. Taking the ball in his stride, he arrowed towards the top-corner but was denied by the fingertips of Elliot.
Notts were well on top as the game edged towards half time but they just couldn't get the ball in the back of the net. Hughes, in particular, should have put his team ahead.
From a Davies set-piece, Lee headed across the face of goal and from two yards out, Hughes failed to tuck the ball into an open goal, as he stretched to toe the ball wide of the target. He then raced through when the home backline failed to deal with a bouncing long ball, though his chip over the outrushing Elliot ended up on the roof of the net.
And in second half stoppage time, Notts nearly paid the price for these misses. Jackson's lofted delivery from the left saw Lee Martin head into the side-netting.
Athletic looked brighter after the break and came back into the game. Benson headed wide and Nelson had to make his presence felt with a brave punch early on.
The home stopper remained busy and fisted away a Davies free kick, narrowly beating Hughes to the ball. He looked less certain when gathering the striker's grounded punt moments later but did enough to keep the scores level.
Smith might have done better with another header at the back-post, opting to direct at goal instead of into the path of Neal Bishop, who waited in yards of space. At the other end, Notts' rearguard stood tall to shut out the Addicks with a string of fine blocks - notably from Graeme Lee, Ricky Ravenhill, Davies and Pearce.
The best chance to break the deadlock came on 75 minutes when Davies was brought down in the box and Notts were awarded a penalty. Hughes shouldered the responsibility in front of the vocal away fans, only his spot kick was deflected over by the trailing legs of Elliot.
Despite all the pressure, it was the hosts that finally nudged in front with only five minutes left on the clock. Notts were caught napping and a pass inside from the wing found unmarked substitute Joe Anyinsah, who fired powerfully through Nelson's legs to make it 1-0.
It was a sickening blow but there was still time to level the tie. Ben Burgess was introduced as the fixture entered four minutes of added time but Charlton soaked up the late bombardment to take all three points.
Magpie Player Man of the Match: Jon Harley