Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton marked the start of a new era at The Valley with a slick Capital One Cup performance against Colchester United on Tuesday evening.
It was a comfortable showing from start to finish in what was Bob Peeters’ first game in charge with a number of new arrivals on show under the lights of the newly-refurbished stadium.
But it was an old hand who stole the show as Lawrie Wilson banged in a brace to steer his side through to the second round with a 4-0 victory.
The Addicks’ cause was helped when U’s skipper Magnus Okuonghae was shown a straight red card for handball in the 23rd minute which led to Yoni Buyens putting the home side in front from the spot.
And it was all but game over by the time Wilson struck twice in four second-half minutes to put Charlton in complete control before Simon Church added the cherry with a fourth late on.
Peeters fielded a strong starting XI from the off with six players making their Valley debuts - the most notable, perhaps, being Joe Gomez.
The 17-year-old saw his impressive pre-season awarded with the right-back berth for his Addicks senior bow while André Bikey took up his position in the centre of defence.
There were also full home debuts for Stephen Henderson between the sticks, Buyens in the centre of the park and George Tucudean up top.
Playing off the Romanian was another summer recruit Franck Moussa, making his first start in Charlton red.
The new-look Addicks' defence was the first to be tested when U’s striker Freddie Sears received a pull-back just inside the box in acres of space.
The former West Ham United man really should have punished the hosts, or at least hit the target, but he could only snatch at his effort as it soared over the bar.
Six minutes later and Charlton had claims for a penalty waved away as Buyens and Moussa combined well to play in Tucedean who took a heavy first touch before tumbling to the ground under pressure.
But the hopeful shouts remained just that and, in truth, a penalty would have been a harsh decision.
Sears knocked another right-wing cross over the bar for the visitors shortly after but they would soon find themselves behind when referee Charles Breakspear did opt to point the spot after 23 minutes.
Any award for the first incident would, indeed, have been harsh. But Colchester could have no complaints when it came to the second.
Good work from Tucudean saw the forward turn his marker before drilling a dangerous ball across goal where Callum Harriott lay in wait. The winger mishit his shot but it was just enough to send U’s skipper Magnus Okuonghae sliding in to make the block with his arms up.
Such a technique will always carry the risk of the ball striking the arm and it did just that.
With Breakspear brandishing the red card, Okuonghae headed down the tunnel as Buyens stepped up to the spot, eyeing his first goal for his new club.
And the Belgian made no mistake, finishing smartly to the left of Colchester stopper Chris Lewington to make it 1-0 – the first Valley goal of the new season and the first of the Peeters era.
Charlton looked comfortable as they searched to make their extra man count.
Nine minutes before the break the Addicks came close to a second with a routine taken straight from the training ground.
Jordan Cousins’ corner delivery was sent low to the edge of the box where Tucudean met it to send a low effort goalbound.
His shot bounced back off a defender to arrive at the feet of Buyens who drilled in a second shot which took an almighty deflection before resting in the arms of Lewington.
Wilson saw plenty of the ball in the first 45 and he was in the thick of the action again to provide one more chance before the two sides retreated for half-time, crossing for Harriott who did not quite get the desired connection as it ran through to Lewington.
It was a comfortable first-half for Peeters’ side but the second started with the reds under pressure thanks to a fizzing effort from range courtesy of Sears.
His shot was arrowed towards the bottom corner, forcing Henderson to get down low and make a good sprawling save before The Addicks responded with their own speculative effort.
Wilson was the man to stride forward to unleash a good-looking shot from 25 yards which flew just wide, but it would not be long before he would have his moment.
When Moussa sent a neat ball into the box between two defenders the wide man ran onto the end of it to finish expertly across Lewington from an acute angle.
Wilson had lit tit the blue touch paper – he was only just getting started.
Just four minutes had passed before the wide man was at it again.
Superb build-up play saw Harriott dance across the edge of the box before laying off Moussa, who in turn teed up Wilson to fire an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner to make it three and put daylight between the sides.
As the Valley faithful sung his praises, it was clear – those finishes were more than just ‘alright’.
The three-goal cushion saw the hosts start playing with some swagger and there was a good chance for a fourth just after the hour when Jordan Cousins rounded-up a good passing move to send a deft pass into Tucudean.
The striker remained patient, taking his time before rounding the keeper and rolling an effort goalwards from a tight angle, only to watch as a Colchester shirt cleared off the line.
Wilson even threatened to secure his hat-trick after being played into a similar position to that of his earlier strikes, but on this occasion his shot, although on target, was hacked away.
Substitute Simon Church was denied by a last-ditch challenge when clean through with 15 minutes remaining before fellow sub Johann Berg Gudmundsson stung the palms of Lewington from range while Harriott screwed a difficult shot just over the bar moments later.
The last word, however, would go to Church who pounced on another Gudmundsson effort spilled by Lewington to fire in the rebound and round up the Addicks’ 4-0 victory.
It had been one of the most convincing cup performances seen at The Valley in recent years and while it was clear that the visitors were hit hard by the loss of their captain, the class of 2014 showed that there was plenty to be excited about for the next nine months ahead.
Charlton: Henderson; Gomez, Fox, Bikey, Morrison; Wilson, Buyens (Gudmundsson 63), Cousins, Harriott; Moussa (Vetokele 60), Tucudean (Church 72).
Subs (not used): Pope, Ben Haim, Nego, Pigott.
Goals: Buyens 23 (pen), Wilson 55, 59, Church 89
Colchester United: Lewington, Clohessy, Okuonghae, Eastman; Gordon, Gilbey, Moncur, Vose (Bean 29); Sears (Szmodics 63), Massey (Holman 46), Ibehre.
Subs (not used): Curtis, Walker, Thompson, Kent.
Sent off: Okuonghae 23 (denying a goalscoring opportunity)
Referee: C Breakspear
Att: 5,752 (472 from Colchester)