Charlton’s involvement in the FA Youth Cup for another year came to a frustrating end at the hands of Blackburn Rovers after a narrow 1-0 defeat at Ewood Park.
The U18s made the long trip up to a chilly Blackburn on Monday evening having only tasted defeat a handful of times this season and were eyeing up a shot in the next stage of the competition.
Having already beaten Category One opposition in West Ham United, the young Addicks were hoping to once again use the underdog label to their advantage.
Charlton started brightly and kept the hosts penned into the corner looking to force an error from which to capitalise.
Despite some early pressure, the visitors were having to be wary of Rovers’ prowess on the wing with a number of fine runs down the left-hand side resulting in corners which the Addicks were able to eventually deal with.
With 14 minutes played Blackburn were really starting to find their footing in the game forcing Charlie Barker to use all of his pace to halt a three-on-two attack before the ball found its way to Sam Burns who smashed his effort high and wide.
Just six minutes later the Addicks could have scrambled into the lead. A low drilled in corner was misjudged by the Rovers’ defence and saw the ball ping around the goal but no one in a Charlton shirt was there to pounce and the hosts eventually cleared their lines.
With just under half an hour played, Charlton began to turn the screw again. A number of sloppy passes from Blackburn were pounced on by the Addicks culminating in Euan Williams trying an effort from distance which just whipped shy of Jordan Eastham’s far post.
But despite their effort and desire Charlton would go a goal behind. Following a good spell of possession the Addicks found themselves caught short on the counter attack allowing Burns to barrel through and slot low beyond Nathan Harvey with a cool finish at speed.
Blackburn got things back underway in the second half with Charlton needing the same guile they displayed against West Ham to give them a sniff of the next stage.
But in contrast to the opening of the first half, it was the hosts who started off the stronger of the two forcing Nathan Harvey into a fine save to keep the deficit at one.
Aaron Henry then went close to finding the equaliser, his free kick was well struck but only managed to find the side netting.
The game was threatening to become an end-to-end contest with Charlton almost scoring directly from a corner before Rovers also went close with a cross-come-shot of their own.
Dylan Gavin was then introduced for Richard Afrane-Kesey as Charlton looked to force an equaliser with the clock running down.
With 18 minutes left to play, Charlton were pushing hard and once again forcing Blackburn to remain focused and aware, Luca Albon proving a real thorn in the hosts side but just failing to get the rub of the green in the final third.
The introduction of Tyreece Campbell for Kasim Aidoo looked to be a fruitful one with the youngster displaying his pace and skill to trouble the Rovers’ defence.
Anthony Hayes’ side were battling well but still without their reward. With little time left Joseph Ladapo came on and looked to break as Charlton hunted for the elusive equaliser.
There was one final moment of magic from Charlton when Harvey did brilliantly to deny Blackburn a second after the ball was won on the edge of the box. His save fell kindly for another Rovers player but the follow up was smashed over.
But the heroics went unrewarded as Charlton were edged out of the competition by a resilient Blackburn side 1-0.
Blackburn U18s: Eastham, Pike, Cirino, Saadi, Boyomo, Whitehall, Burns, Harlock (Weston 51), Lonsdale (Zimba 74’), Gilsenan (Leonard 80’), Brennan
Subs (Not Used): Wyatt, Dowling, Gent, Cunningham
Goal: Burns 41’
Charlton U18s: Harvey, Barton, Aidoo (Campbell 82’), Henry, Barker, French, Albon, Agyemang, Santos, Williams (Ladapo 88’), Afrane-Kesey (Gavin 69’)
Subs (Not Used): Buhari, Watkins, Garande, Reilly
Booked: Barton 81’
Photo: Blackburn Rovers