In his first managerial duel with friend and former colleague Chris Powell, Nigel Pearson’s visitors threw everything at their newly-promoted hosts, as they attempted to erase a two-goal lead the Addicks established during the first period.
But those strikes from Bradley Wright-Phillips and former Fox Yann Kermorgant ultimately settled an absorbing contest, despite substitute Andy King giving City a route back into the game soon after half-time.
The result will of course be a disappointing one for the 1,628 City fans that made the trip to south-east London and those keeping track of the game from further afield.
But they can take encouragement from the creativity their side showed in fashioning enough chances to win the game twice over. Nobody will need to remind the players that those chances need to be taken, but on another night they would have cantered to the points.
If any side looked the more likely in the opening exchanges, it was Pearson’s visitors, who pieced together the better attacking sequences and went close twice in the opening quarter-hour.
Some excellent hold-up play from Jermaine Beckford freed a breaking Lloyd Dyer on seven minutes, but having side-stepped the recovering Chris Solly, the Foxes winger miscued his shot from 16 yards.
Beckford continued to bring others into play eight minutes later, feeding Danny Drinkwater, whose clever little pass was just too heavy for the chasing Jamie Vardy.
Charlton, showing a direct approach that made use of Kermorgant’s strength in the air and Wright-Phillips’ pace in behind, had seen winger Bradley Pritchard force a routine save from Kasper Schmeichel on nine minutes.
But when Wright-Phillips found some room on the edge of the box to squeeze a shot past Liam Moore on 19, Schmeichel couldn’t stretch far enough to keep it out.
Against the run of play it may have been, but Powell’s players were visibly lifted by the goal and began to wrestle back control, with both Dale Stephens and Danny Hollands working hard to win the midfield battle.
Defender Leon Cort might have added to his weekend goal at Birmingham, but headed straight at Schmeichel from Stephens’ corner on 25 minutes.
But the hosts did double their lead soon after the half-hour as Kermorgant pounced to smash home from 12 yards after Johnnie Jackson’s long throw had been allowed to bounce in the box.
The Frenchman’s delight was obvious. Booed throughout by City fans that have not forgotten his notorious night in Cardiff, Kermorgant turned to the away supporters at the opposite end of the ground and raised his finger to his lips.
City rallied before the break as Beckford curled a couple of feet over after some good approach work from Vardy, who was agonisingly close to getting on the end of a brilliant Paul Konchesky centre seconds later.
But Pearson still opted for changes at the break, with King and David Nugent brought in to provide some freshness to the side.
Both players were involved in the move that brought City back into the game on 53 minutes. Nugent chased gainfully down the right flank before feeding the overlapping Ben Marshall, whose low cross was expertly dispatched by King at the near post.
Charlton could have responded immediately when a determined Kermorgant bundled a bouncing ball through to Wright-Phillips, but the Addicks striker dragged wide when well-placed.
City were beginning to exert some authority and were within a whisker of levelling on 63 minutes, but Nugent flashed fractionally wide after Vardy’s cushioned header had bounced up invitingly.
Looking at their most fluent all night, City were by now the game’s primary aggressors – Drinkwater starting to see more of the ball in areas he could dictate and King wandering dangerously into advanced positions.
Anthony Knockaert’s introduction brought a different dimension to their play, but the Frenchman was unable to unduly stretch Hamer after a fluid link-up between Nugent and Dyer.
Powell rallied his troops, demanding more from his players – Cort and former Fox Michael Morrison rising to the challenge from central defence particularly well in the face of growing City pressure.
But the rising tension was always likely to bring the Foxes a chance. Knockaert created it, slipping past his man in the centre circle before releasing Dyer through from the right, but Hamer was equal to his low shot as the travelling support waited for the net to bulge.
If they thought the drama was over, they were wrong. Morgan was thrown up top to provide some late muscle, but it was his deft feet that produced a chance from the right flank. The big centre-back chipped invitingly into the box, but Vardy sent a free header straight at Hamer.
Charlton (4-4-2): Hamer; Solly, Cort, Morrison, Wiggins; Pritchard, Stephens (Wilson 81), Hollands, Jackson (c) (Kerker 87); Wright-Phillips (Cook 90), Kermorgant.
Unused subs: Sullivan, Taylor, Green, Smith.
Goals: Wright-Phillips 19, Kermorgant 32
City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (c), Moore, Konchesky; Marshall (Knockaert 64), Drinkwater, James (King 46), Dyer; Beckford (Nugent 46), Vardy.
Unused subs: Danns, Logan, Waghorn, Schlupp.
Goals: King 52
Attendance: 16,658 (1,628 away)
Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)