Charlton U23s are off the mark after recording a draw against Sheffield Wednesday in their first match of the season thanks to a cool finish from Abraham Odoh.
Heavy rain had dampened the pitch in Dartford but for the most part, the clouds had parted by the time Wednesday’s Preslan Buaker got the game underway.
A great chance was spurned by the Addicks in the opening seconds when Ben Dempsey was laid off by Josh Davison but he blasted his effort over the bar.
The early scare seemed to have rattled the Owls and Charlton created a number of half-chances, but Wednesday’s defence stood firm.
Another big chance fell the way of Charlton on eight minutes when Charles Claydon made a surging run down the left wing before drilling in a low cross, a number of bodies from both sides lunged in but ultimately the referee relived the pressure when he spotted a foul in the resulting melee.
Wednesday had the opportunity to test harness on the quarter-hour mark when the ball dropped nicely for Alex Hunt on the edge of the area. His effort, however, was well over.
Joe West was next up to have a pop for the Owls five minutes later, but he was unable to get a good connection on the drive and dragged his effort wide of Harness’ post.
As the game approached the half-hour mark, Sheffield Wednesday grew into the contest, keeping Charlton at arm’s length and forcing mistakes with a high press.
And it was Wednesday who drew first blood, Bauker taking advantage of a what seemed to be a foul on James Vennings that went unnoticed before breaking in on goal and slotting home via Harness’ far post.
Charlton looked to respond immediately with Davison forcing a good save from ‘keeper Josh Render immediately after the restart.
Sheffield looked to have the bit between their teeth and a turn of pace by Conor Grant was only halted by some sturdy defending from Kenneth Yao.
With 35 minutes gone, Claydon looked to use his pace to create space and carve out a cross. The ball in was good but it was just a shade beyond Davison’s reach and the chance went begging.
As the game approached the break, Charlton looked as though they were beginning to build momentum forming some good moves but ultimately failing to produce the final ball and finish.
Charlton likely felt frustrated at half-time, having seemingly created more chances but failing to convert them.
With the second half up and running the weather took a turn for the worse, rain returning to dampen the pitch further.
Sheffield Wednesday came out flying and forced a good double save from Harness. The Charlton keeper receiving applause from all those not from Sheffield in the ground.
The Addicks settled after the early chance and began to frustrate Wednesday again; this was especially evident when Bauker went into the book on 52 minutes for pulling Jay Mingi’s shirt.
Yao did well just before the hour mark when he weaved into the box and flashed a ball across the face of goal which was turned behind by a Wednesday body. Charlton were beginning to claw their way back into the game…
And that pressure paid off two minutes later when Odoh blitzed past a number of blue and white shirts and played a neat ‘one, two’ with Kareem Isiaka before slotting the ball past Render to level the tie.
Isiaka could have got the Addicks in front with 70 minutes gone when he was played in by Ben Dempsey, he shaped and curled an effort destined for the bottom right, but Render was able to grasp and keep hold.
Harness then pulled off an early contender for save of the season tipping over a well-struck effort from Connor Grant. At full stretch, he poked the ball over the bar with his fingertips to deny a fine effort.
It was then Luca Vega’s turn to keep the score level, producing a heroic block to stop what would have been a certain goal.
With the game heading into the final 10 minutes, it was anyone’s game to win. Odoh missed a chance before Harness was on hand to save his side once again.
With 3 minutes to play Sheffield Wednesday hurled themselves forward, hunting for a chance to nick a goal. Despite a late free-kick which could have seen the travelling side snatch all three points, Charlton held on for the draw and will look to improve when they make the trip to the Midlands to play Birmingham City on Friday.
Charlton U23s: Harness, Yao, Vega, Odoh, Keefe, Mingi, Vennings, Dempsey (Powell 76), Davison, Isiaka (Afrane-Kesey 90+1), Claydon
Subs (not used): Osaghae, Allsopp, Albon
Bookings: Mingi 62, Claydon 83
Goals: Odoh 62
Sheffield Wednesday U23s: Render, Hughes, West, Waldock, Urlagide, Rice, Shaw, Hunt, Bauker (Damba 74), Grant, Preston
Goals: Bauker 30
Subs (not used): O’Brien, Bremar
Referee: Isaac Searle
Photo: Tom West