Preston North End went top of the Championship as substitute Paul Gallagher’s second-half penalty proved the only goal of the game against Charlton.
Playing for the first time since North End responded forcibly to reports of boss Alex Neil being a target for fellow Championship side Stoke City, the Lancashire side also did their talking on the pitch.
Especially in the second half, Preston always looked the more likely side to score against a Charlton side who have had fewer shots this season than any other in the Championship.
But it took a disputed penalty to earn the three points when home defender Jason Pearce’s grapples with Jayden Stockley proved sufficient to make the North End striker stumble to the floor.
Gallagher – only on as a first-half sub for the injured Daniel Johnson – converted his trademark penalty, facing the wrong way back down the pitch over the ball, then walking back to his mark before turning smartly to run in and slam home a right-foot power drive into home keeper Dillon Phillips’ bottom right corner.
Preston could have won by more, but Phillips made a string of fine saves, notably two late on to deny Stockley and Tom Barkhuizen.
North End started the day fourth in the Championship, only three points ahead of 10th-placed Charlton, following last weekend’s stunning 3-2 comeback derby win over Blackburn.
But their second away win of the season has taken them top of the second tier for the first time in 13 years as a result of having a one-goal better goal difference than Leeds United.
Going into the weekend, West Brom led and the Baggies will be back on top on Monday night if they win at Neil’s reported suitors Stoke.