Charlton’s U18 contingent turned on the style above their age group to help the U23s to an impressive point over title-chasing Coventry City at The Valley on Monday afternoon.
No fewer than nine U18 players were involved, with seven starting from the off as the young Addicks came from a goal behind to race into a two-goal lead after the break. But two late Coventry strikes at the death denied what would have been a deserved victory, leading to a frustrating end to proceedings in SE7.
The visitors made the better start to the game, testing U16 stopper Henry Molyneux early on with a stinging drive, before taking a seventh-minute lead through Aaron Evans-Harriott. After Anderson was dispossessed in his own half, the ball was squared to Evans-Harriott in the box to place home a finish from 12 yards.
Molyneux, who was making his U23 debut, was forced into action again on 12 minutes when he reacted well to Abel Alabi’s header to tip it on to the bar.
After the initial spell of pressure from the visitors, the Addicks began to grow into the half and began to threaten at the other end.
The first real chance came the way of Ryan Viggars after 21 minutes, when he was played into the box, before firing narrowly wide.
And just prior to the break, Coventry stopper Tom Billson made a smart stop from Jeremy Santos’ stinging drive from 22 yards.
The Addicks’ efforts in the latter part of the first period were deserving of a leveller and they got it soon after the restart after an excellent start to the second half.
A fine move down the left saw Oliver Hobden slip Miles Leaburn into the box. The striker’s pull-back was met by a brilliant first-time finish from Karoy Anderson who dispatched an emphatic effort into the roof of the net to bag a fully-deserved equaliser.
Charlton were turning on the style and went ahead in the 69th minute in stunning fashion courtesy of Jeremy Santos. The midfielder picked up the ball outside the left-hand corner of the box and arrowed an unstoppable shot straight into the top right-hand corner.
Moments later, the hosts would stretch their lead further through the prolific Daniel Kanu.
Good work from Euan Williams down the left resulted in him laying it off for the substitute on the edge of the six-yard box. Taking a touch under pressure from a Coventry defender, he steadied his feet before firing in a third from close range.
Coventry did pull a goal back from the penalty spot late on after Charlie Barker was adjudged to have committed a foul in the box, leading Jonny Ngandu to net from 12 yards.
And the young Addicks’ hearts were broken deep into injury time when Bapaga struck an equaliser to deny the hosts what would have been a deserved three points.
The share of the spoils did not, however, detract from what was an excellent overall showing from the Addicks’ youngsters.
Charlton U23s: Molyneux, Hobden (Barker 70), Bakrin, O’Connor, Bower, Mitchell, Anderson (Agyemang 80), Santos, Williams, Viggars (Kanu 46), Leaburn.
Subs (not used): Whitling, Ladapo.
Goal: Anderson 52, Santos 69, Kanu 72