Date: 9th December 2012 at 11:52am
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Kazenga LuaLua came off the bench to clinch a deserved point for the Seagulls as they twice pegged back Charlton during an entertaining affair at the Valley.

A clinical finish from Craig Mackail-Smith cancelled out Lawrie Wilson’s early opener, whilst the Addicks’ second half lead courtesy of Bradley Pitchard was also short-lived as LuaLua restored parity moments after his introduction thanks to a deflected free-kick.

Poyet’s men looked to quieten the party atmosphere amongst the home support as Charlton celebrated 20 years since their return to the Valley – by looking to dominate possession early on. But the hosts looked the more threatening going forward, and indeed opened the scoring with the first real chance of the game.

Dale Stephens curled an in-swinging corner, and with the aid of some slack marking from the Seagulls, full-back Wilson stole in ahead of Tomasz Kuszczak to glance the ball home with remarkable ease. Albion’s usually sound defensive shape looked rocky with every Charlton cross that was sent box-wards, as the hosts searched for a quick double.

Rob Hulse was next to display his aeriel prowess, however his looping header was superbly tipped over by a back-peddling Kuszczak. But after a couple of shaky minutes the Seagulls brushed themselves down and started to gain control of the contest. And the chance were soon presenting themselves.

First Gordon Greer spooned an effort over from close range after Mackail-Smith’s skewed shot had fallen to kindly to him at the back-post. And then a nice piece of link-up play between Will Hoskins and Stephen Dobbie saw the former play a delightful improvised over-head to play the latter in on goal, but Charlton stopper Ben Hamer was out quick to foil Dobbie’s effort.

After a slight scare at the other end, with Adam El-Abd clearing the ball onto Kuszczak’s face, narrowly avoiding an own-goal, Albion levelled matters through top-scorer Mackail-Smith. Charlton centre-back Michael Morrison got his angles all wrong as he attempted to head a long-ball back to his keeper, allowing the Scottish international to nip in, take a touch and bury the ball beyond Hamer into the right-hand corner.

The visitors continued to hold the upper hand going into the second 45, as Will Buckley was at the centre of two great opportunities. He was played in on the right hand side by a clever Bruno through-ball, and after sizing up his options, drove a powerful effort at Hamer, who did well to parry it away to safety. Moments later Buckley laid it on for Dobbie, who skied his effort over the bar.

LuaLua, on his return to the squad, came on for Hoskins with 20 minutes remaining, and he caused instant havoc in the Charlton box with a trademark free-kick – Mackail-Smith reacting to steer a shot towards goal that was diverted wide by Wilson. However, despite the visitors’ pressure, it was Charlton who dashed up the other end to once again find themselves in-front.

After Albion were unable to clear the ball, it eventually found its way to Pritchard on the left of the area – his angled shot seemed to catch Kuszczak off-guard as it rolled into the far corner. The Seagulls’ heads didn’t drop, however, as they were straight back on the attack, with Ashley Barnes winning a free-kick right on the edge of the Charlton box.

No surprises as to who stepped up to take it, only this time LuaLua’s powerful drive took a fortunate deflection off the Charlton wall as it trickled past a wrong-footed Hamer and into the right-hand corner – with the Congolese winger treating the packed Jimmy Seed stand to a somersault celebration, the first in a while.

Both sides looked for the winner, but it was to remain 2-2 as this high-energy affair came to an end.