A goal on his debut from Demetri Mitchell was unable to mount the comeback that was needed after two early goals from Charlton in the first half downed the Grecians at St James Park.
After goals early on from Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Corey Blackett-Taylor, City were unable to get the equaliser they very much needed after a wonderful home debut goal for Mitchell.
Following on from City’s 2-0 win over MK Dons in the previous fixture, Gary made three changes to the starting line-up. Returning from his injury was Jamal Blackman taking up his usual spot in between the sticks for City, followed by a debut for Will Aimson and a first start in three for Jay Stansfield. Making the bench for the first time for City were the three deadline day captures, Gary Woods, Kevin McDonald and James Scott.
There were early shouts for a penalty from the City faithful inside a minute as Jack Sparkes and Stansfield combined to play in Joe White, but as the Newcastle loanee was aiming to dribble through the box he was seemingly upended but the referee saw nothing, and Charlton were able to clear it away.
Seemingly out of nowhere, The Addicks took the lead, a ball into the box found youngster Rak-Sakyi who had all the time in the world to volley it into the top corner from close range, leaving Blackman no chance.
Only ten minutes later and Charlton doubled their lead, this time it was Corey Blackett-Taylor getting himself on the scoresheet. A mistake at the back from City allowed Blackett-Taylor all the time in the world to slot the ball under Blackman.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Stansfield found space in behind Sean Clare on the left-hand side, but his effort on goal was rather tame and Ashley Maynard-Brewer was able to gather and clear the ball for Charlton.
An early change for City, with 27 minutes played, Gary made the decision to take off Sparkes and have him replaced with the newly signed Mitchell for his home debut for the club.
Immediately Mitchell made an impact, linking up with Hartridge and Stansfield down the left flank, the marauding wing back took one touched and curled a cross into the box, but Sam Nombe slightly mistimed his jump and sent the ball behind for a goal kick.
There was impact after impact for Mitchell as his next run down the left-hand side ended in a goal for the home debutant. On the opposite side Caprice found space in behind the Charlton defence and his looping cross into to the box found Mitchell lurking and he did what was needed and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Seconds later and there was a huge change of pace from the Grecians, as Nombe almost equalised. A drilled effort from the edge of the almost made it 12 for the season, but Maynard-Brewer matched the effort with an almost as impressive save.
With the half drawing to a close, City were very much the team on top. Mitchell and Hartridge were combining well on the left-hand side with the ball eventually falling to Stansfield but his cross into the box seemed to pass every player in red and white, with it ending up at the back post. Running in was Caprice who leathered it with all his might, but the ball was smothered by a combination of Charlton defenders and keeper and that was the last action of the first half.
The second half started very much the same as the first ended with City the team on top, the opening 15 of the second 45 saw City keeping Charlton penned into their own defensive third, but none of that pressure amounted to any shots on goal, just corner after corner for the Grecians.
With almost 70 minutes played, Gary made two changes with Collins and Harper replaced by Harry Kite and Kevin McDonald, with the latter coming on to make his debut in red and white.
In the space of two minutes a world class save from Blackman and an excellent block from Aimson on his debut kept the score at 2-1. From point blank range Blackman used his cat like reflexes to stop an almost guaranteed goal for the Addicks. Moments later and Gary made his final change of the game, another debut, this time it was James Scott called upon to replace fellow new signing Joe White.
Into added time and SJP almost exploded, a City free kick fell to the feet of Stansfield, but his half-volleyed effort flew just wide of the post, the pressure was all City in the final five. Another almost for City, this time it was Kite, but an out of this world save from Charlton’s keeper stopped one of those trademark screamers from Kite.
And that was that for City, a few big chances at the end but a 2-1 loss at home to the Addicks.
The next game for City is an away trip to Burton Albion on Saturday 11th February, hope to see as many of you Grecians as possible at the Pirelli Stadium.
City: Blackman, Caprice, Sweeney ©, Aimson, Hartridge, Sparkes (Mitchell, 27), Collins (Kite, 70), Harper (McDonald, 70), White (Scott, 80) , Stansfield, Nombe
Subs not used: Woods, Diabate, Chauke
Charlton Athletic: Maynard-Brewer, Dobson ©, Bonne (Leaburn), Kilkenny, Rak-Sakyi (Thomas), Fraser, Blackett-Taylor (Campbell), Inniss, Penney, Clare, Ness
Subs not used: Harness, Morgan, Payne, Henry
Referee: Declan Bourne
Attendance: 7,685 (1057 Away)