Michael Appleton feels Charlton are showing they are no longer a “soft touch” after responding to adversity in their 4-1 victory over Exeter.

The Addicks have taken 11 points from a possible 15 to move within striking distance of the League One play-offs and are unbeaten under their head coach, who was appointed last month.

Charlton had to fight back from going a goal down in the 23rd minute. The hosts were opened up by Reece Cole’s pass, with Exeter striker James Scott slipping his finish past Ashley Maynard-Brewer.

Charlton levelled just before half-time through the in-form Corey Blackett-Taylor, his third goal in the last four fixtures.

Alfie May’s poacher instincts bailed out Chuks Aneke after his 65th-minute penalty was pushed onto the base of the post by Exeter keeper Viljami Sinisalo, racing into the box to hammer in from close range.

Exeter’s cause was not helped by captain Will Aimson’s dismissal for a challenge on May. Substitute Miles Leaburn then emphatically drove home Charlton’s third before May took his goal tally for the campaign to five after Blackett-Taylor once again caused City huge problems.

Appleton said: “There was a little bit of a lapse in concentration for their goal. But we keep responding, which is really, really pleasing.

“I said it in my programme notes – there was a question mark over them as a group, maybe being a bit of a soft touch. It was something I wanted to eradicate and make sure it doesn’t happen.

“When we have been asked questions over the first four games they have responded really, really well.

“We were good second half. The worry when the opposition go down to 10 men is that they are going to take an extra touch and slow it down a bit but we did the opposite and that was great to see.

“We camped for long, long periods in their last third. We can still be a bit more patient but it is very difficult for me to be critical of the team tonight because they gave me everything they had.”

Grecians boss Gary Caldwell was critical of referee David Rock over both Aimson’s dismissal and the penalty decision.

He said: “If you get the ball, how is it a red card? It’s clear he wins the ball.

“Alfie May does what clever players do – he buys the foul and rolls around to buy the red card. That’s football – I’m not having a go at him – but the ref has been conned.

“I got a reaction from my players all night – I don’t think the players got any help in the game. The gameplan was working to a tee in the first half and we had opportunities to go 2-0 up, that was frustrating.

“If the penalty for Charlton is a penalty then we have a penalty in the first half. They are identical actions and we don’t get it.

“We are not getting any big moments and tonight we didn’t get anything from decisions – it went strongly against us when you need it to go in your favour for big games.”