HARTLEPOOL United slumped to a fourth home defeat in a row as league leaders Charlton Athletic ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at Victoria Park.
The loss sees Mick Wadsworth’s men slip to 14th in League One having been as high as third just last month.
It took just nine minutes for the visitors to find the breakthrough, Bradley Wright-Phillips sweeping into the bottom corner from 12 yards after Rhoys Wiggins’ cross had been allowed to run through the area.
Yann Kermorgrant should have made it two soon after but failed to find the target when afforded space to head on goal from Chris Solly’s centre.
Pools did fashion an opening for Adam Boyd on 28 minutes after a clever interchange between Andy Monkhouse and Evan Horwood down the left flank, but the striker’s delicate 20-yard chip was plucked from the top corner by an airborne Ben Hamer.
But one became two for Wright-Phillips and Charlton on 37 minutes, the striker hooking home from close range after Johnnie Jackson had landed an expert centre on his left boot.
Charlton’s third arrived 10 minutes after the break and the nature of its concession would have angered Wadsworth.
Jackson’s free-kick was floated into the danger zone from the right and Danny Hollands was left with the simplest of tasks in stooping to head home from barely two yards out with no Pools shirt in sight.
Wadsworth reacted by bringing on both Nathan Luscombe and James Brown and the latter soon went close with a dipping, 25-yard drive which dropped narrowly wide.
But that was as close as Pools came to a response and it was left to Scott Wagstaff to compound their misery when he tucked a fourth into the bottom corner from close range on 84 minutes.