Wednesday 17 January 2018

Charlton U18 3 v Reading U18 4 (aet)

I saw my first competitive Charlton match of the season last night as our under-18's took on Reading's Grade 1 Academy side in the F A Youth Cup at Welling United's Park View Road.

It was a bitterly cold night but that didn't stop a fast, feisty and, at times, physical encounter between two well-matched sides. I have been to a number of these bigger youth games over the years and normally the latter stages of cup competitions. From memory we have always run our more illustrious opponents very close but been pipped at the post and last night we were certainly pipped at the post and have done more than run them close.

Reading were a big, upright side who tried to control the match from the outset but Charlton wouldn't let them settle and they were rewarded with the opening goal. Attacking the Park View Road end, Sarong-Wiredu (my stand-out player) picked up a loose ball on the half-way line and raced forward towing Reading players in his wake, he played a superb pass into the path of Jordan Zemura who was brought down in the box for a very predictable penalty - Albie Morgan smashing the spot-kick in. Charlton could have gone two-up but the Reading keeper did brilliantly well to keep the busy Jeremy Sarmiento out following good wide play from Alfie Doughty.

Reading looked dangerous when they got forward but Charlton kept them largely at bay until added time at the end of the first-half when another quick break sent their man through and he beat Ed Harvey with a powerful, low shot.

After the break I was expecting Reading to take more control and that we would see the bigger lad's strength begin to tell. However, Charlton kept up their running and pressing and they forced a couple of corners in quick succession. The first was well placed for the in rushing Willis whose thumping header was superbly clawed out by the Reading stopper for another corner. The Addicks capitalised when another excellent delivery was met by Nwosu and this time the Reading keeper couldn't stop the Addicks from going 2-1 up. 

Charlton were rampant now and the Reading keeper saved again minutes later from another effort but he couldn't stop Willis from notching his 500th (five hundred) Charlton goal (over 11 years) after another delivery was knocked down in the box into his path. 3-1 and the Charlton celebrations looked fate-tempting and a tad premature. Sure enough we conceded within a matter of minutes as Reading headed home a deep cross and at 3-2 we were suddenly looking over our shoulders. Some last-ditch defending got us to the four minutes of added time and with that running out a Royals player was forced out wide by three covering red shirts. However, when he turned back inside, he caught all three out and was able to evade another challenge before slamming in the equaliser. This time it was Reading over-celebrating and it turned the result.

There had been a number of heavy tackles and bookings during the match but tempers were lost in the last seconds as a Reading player was chopped down by Birch and things boiled over. The on-field melee was mirrored in the main stand by what looked like squad players squaring up to one another. Birch was red-carded and my travelling companions reminded me at this stage that they had an early tee-off time the following morning so we decided to pack it in. I, of course, was very disappointed to be leaving the frost-bite behind as we raced for the warmth of my panzer.

Once back in SE7 we got confirmation that Reading did indeed get an extra-time winner and that both sides finished with nine men as the tackles continued to stick, although even then we had chances to have squared things. 

All-in-all another sparkling youth performance which reflects so well on our set-up and bodes well for a post-Duchatelet era.


  1. You just can't keep away from the place, can you.

  2. Nearly shouted "c'mon you Wings" at one point.


Go on, you know you want to....