Charlton Athletic 2-4 Leeds United

Leeds boss Brian McDermott

Leeds boss Brian McDermott

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Ross McCormack was the four-goal hero as Leeds United finally put an end to their woeful run of away form.

The striker - omitted from Scotland’s international squad this week - scored twice in the first half and twice in the second half to take his tally for the season to 11 and draw a line under Leeds’ run of four straight league defeats on the road.

His string of efforts were enough to see off Charlton Athletic, who twice fought back from a goal down to level in tough conditions at The Valley.

The match went ahead after two pitch inspections as heavy rain peppered south London.

Referee Keith Stroud gave the green light at 2.15pm and kick-off was delayed by half-an-hour, leaving both teams to prepare for a dogged contest on an appalling surface.

Leeds were without Alex Mowatt, Stephen Warnock and Sam Byram due to injury and Michael Brown and Danny Pugh made their first league starts of the season.

Dexter Blackstock was handed a full league debut, partnering Ross McCormack up front, but Charlton made the early inroads with Callum Harriott twice shooting wide of Paddy Kenny’s goal in the first 10 minutes.

Leeds reacted quickly and broke the deadlock with their first opportunity of note as Blackstock’s flicked header ran nicely to McCormack who flicked a cool finish over the advancing Ben Hamer.

The lead was a huge advantage on a heavy surface but Charlton tried to chase the game and Stroud ignored a strong penalty appeal when Simon Church claimed to have been tripped by Brown.

Church then hit the post from a tight angle as United’s defence claimed for offside without success and Kenny pulled off a fine save to deny the striker shortly before half-time, beating away his point-blank effort.

But Cameron Stewart levelled the match with a blistering effort, smashing home a dropping ball on the volley from 20 yards, and United were fortunate to go in level at the break following late efforts from Harriott and Lawrie Wilson.

United were back in front two minutes into the second half when Harriott tripped Pugh and McCormack smashed a clinical penalty into the roof of Hamer’s net.

Another outstanding stop from Kenny prevent Harriott from snatching a second equaliser and Dorian Dervite hacked a great chance into the crowd after a corner ran right through Leeds’ area but Johnnie Jackson looked to have secured a share of the points on 70 minutes when he tapped home Church’s low cross.

McCormack answered back instantly, though, with a close-range volley during United’s next attack, killing Charlton off, and his brilliant free-kick in injury-time put icing on the cake.

Charlton Athletic: Hamer, Wilson, Wiggins, Morrison, Dervite, Harriott (Kermorgant 66), Stephens, Jackson, Cousins, Stewart; Church. Subs (not used): Alnwick, Hughes, Evina, Lennon, Pritchard, Sordell.

Leeds United: Kenny, Lees, Wootton (Zaliukas 46), Pearce, Peltier, Murphy, Brown, Pugh, Austin, McCormack, Blackstock (Smith 76). Subs (not used): Cairns, Tonge, Green, Thompson, Poleon.

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