FINAL SCORE: Wanderers 1 Charlton Athletic 1
KEVIN McNaughton produced a rare goal to earn a point for Wanderers but there was something altogether too familiar about their inability to kill off struggling opponents at home.
Charlton became the latest opponent to take something away from the Reebok – but cannot be accused of simply coming to protect the lead they took early on through Yann Kermorgant.
Wanderers huffed and puffed, breaking through on the stroke of half time when McNaughton scored his first goal since May 2008.
But yet again Dougie Freedman’s side failed to really drive home the momentum they had gained and it was to more muted jeers that the players left the pitch in the last game before Christmas.
Wanderers were slow out of the traps and had already allowed Charlton two good looks at goal by the time they broke the deadlock.
Lawrie Wilson blasted a volley wide and Andy Lonergan had to get down smartly to push away a low effort from Yann Kermorgant.
The Whites looking defensively vulnerable early on, highlighted by the ease in which Rhyos Wiggins got behind them to pull a cross back for Kermorgant to finish in the 11th minute.
It was the Frenchman’s first goal since September – and just reward for an enterprising opening from the visitors.
Wilson could have heaped more misery on Freedman’s men when he poked weakly at a Cameron Stewart cross at the far post.
By the midway point Wanderers had finally started to move the ball around with some purpose.
Chris Eagles, in for Darren Pratley, started to see more possession and wriggled free of a few Charlton challenges to bring a good save out of Ben Alnwick.
Chung-Yong Lee then had a header hooked from right in front of goal by Richard Wood, then came within inches of getting a decisive touch on Andre Moritz’s clever chipped pass over the top.
Three minutes before the interval Wanderers produced their best bit of football of the whole game as Eagles and Chung-Yong combined to send a low cross in for Joe Mason, whose brilliant improvised effort would have signalled an equaliser had it not been aimed squarely at Alnwick.
Boos at half time beckoned – but a saviour was to emerge from a very unlikely source.
After a prolonged spell of pressure, Eagles hooked the ball back into the box and Kevin McNaughton, the on loan Cardiff full-back whose last goal came more than five years ago, produced a calm side-footed effort into the top corner.
That seemed to have teed up a better second half for the Whites but save for a flicked header from Mason, turned away well by Alnwick, things went flat even after the arrival of Mark Davies off the bench with 20 minutes remaining.
Charlton may have grabbed the lead had Lonergan not been on his toes to claw away a shot from Kermorgant, or had Chris Solly not been narrowly off target with a blast from the edge of the box.
Wanderers wasted a free-kick in an excellent position after Eagles was felled right on the edge of the box – Moritz hitting the wall with his right-footed blast.
Jermaine Beckford then came off the bench and so nearly grabbed a winner, failing to make contact with a cross from fellow sub Rob Hall.
In the dying seconds, Jay Spearing took a pot shot from 20 yards that whistled just over the Charlton bar, with referee Phil Gibbs calling for full time a matter of seconds later.