Olly Groome reports from The Valley
Charlton claimed a penalty shootout victory after a goalless draw with Southampton U23s as the Addicks earned their first two points in Group E of the Checkatrade Trophy.
A game of very few chances ended with the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes which meant that both sides would enjoy at least a point from the encounter. And with the newly-formatted tournament dictating that drawn games would go straight to penalties for an extra point, it was the Londoners who came out on top with a 5-4 success from 12 yards.
According to the rules of the competition, Russell Slade was forced to name at least five of Saturday’s starting XI against Bolton Wanderers, with Kevin Foley, Andrew Crofts, Nicky Ajose, Ezri Konsa, Chris Solly and Morgan Fox making up six qualifying players to take on the Saints.
Elsewhere, there was a first-team debut for academy graduate Dillon Phillips between the sticks, while new arrival Adam Chicksen took his place amongst the substitutes after completing his move to the club on Tuesday afternoon.
The first shot on goal came courtesy of the Addicks in the third minute when Fox surged forward from the left before firing a low effort towards the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards, only for keeper Alex McCarthy to tip it around the post for the corner.
But in the 21st minute, it was the visitors who had a golden chance to take the lead from the spot after Crofts was adjudged to have tripped Jake Hesketh in a crowded 18-yard box.
Harrison Reed stepped up to take the honours from 12 yards, but fluffed his lines, putting his low effort wide of the left upright to give Charlton a real let off.
Southampton stared to get their foot on the ball more as the half wore on and had another opportunity to test Phillips when Sam McQueen won a free-kick on the edge of the box. The midfielder stood over the set-piece himself and send a stinging drive towards goal which Phillips did well to keep at bay and the stopper kept another McQueen free-kick out on 38 minutes as the Saints looked to get on top.
The debutant stopper was in fine form during the first period and made his best save yet just before the break when he got down brilliantly to tip Olufel Olmola’s low shot, which was destined for the back of the net, past the post and out for the safety of a corner.
At the other end, Charlton had failed to really get going in the final third, although Brandon Hanlan did do well to hold the ball up with his chest before turning and seeing a shot well blocked as the sides headed for the dressing rooms with the score goalless.
Early in the second half, the Addicks enjoyed a pair of half chances. First, Solly tried his luck with a shot from distance which spun wide, before Karlan Ahearne-Grant got into the left side of the box and fired a shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Just after the hour mark, the Saints forced Phillips into action yet again when Olmola powered his way up to meet a header which the young keeper kept out well from close range.
Joshua Umerah was introduced in place of Ajose, while Chicksen emerged from the bench in the 66th minute to make his Charlton debut, and it was Umerah who nearly made an impact when he made a powerful run into the box before firing straight at McCarthy, while an unmarked Brandon Hanlan to his left may have been the better option.
The battle between McQueen and Phillips continued into the 78th minute when the Saints player drilled a good-looking effort towards goal. With the ball skimming off the surface, it was a difficult one for the goalkeeper to get right, but he did just that to keep the score at 0-0.
With five minutes left on the clock, Roger Johnson came close with a header from a corner, while Brandon Hanlan just couldn’t sweep the ball home as a goalmouth scramble ensued.
With the score remaining at 0-0 come the full-time whistle, both teams claimed their point for the draw and the game went to penalties to see who would come away with an extra point.
Charlton were up first through Solly who sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 1-0.
Jack Stephens stepped up for the Saints and struck it to the left, only for Phillips to dive and make a superb save to keep it out to preserve the Addicks’ advantage.
Umerah took the hosts’ second, expertly slotting into the bottom right-hand corner for 2-0, before Jake Hesketh dispatched the visitors’ second penalty for 2-1.
Foley took Charlton’s third, but hit the crossbar, allowing McQueen to level up for Southampton at 2-2.
Hanlan made it 3-2, while Alfie Jones made it 3-3 and Ahearne-Grant coolly put away the Addicks’ fifth penalty for 4-3.
Thomas O’Connor scored for the Saints to make it 4-4 and put the game into sudden death before Konsa made it 5-4.
And with Southampton stopper McCarthy cracking his spot-kick against the bar, it meant Charlton claimed the victory and came away from their first Group E game with two points in tow.
For fact-finders out there, the result meant that it was the first time that Charlton had earned two points for a competitive fixture since 1981, when three points for a win was introduced to the Football League.
Slade’s men will take on Crawley Town at The Valley in the next Group E fixture on October 4th, before rounding up the group stage with a trip to Colchester United on November 8th.
Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Johnson, Lennon, Fox (Chicksen 66), Solly, Crofts (Charles-Cook 84), Foley, Hanlan, Ajose, Ahearne-Grant.
Subs (not used): Rudd, Bauer, Pearce, Muldoon.
Penalties: Solly (scored), Umerah (scored), Foley (missed), Hanlan (scored), Ahearne-Grant (scored), Konsa (scored).
Southampton: McCarthy, Reed, Stephens, Olmola (N’Lundulu 86), Jones, McQueen, Sims, Hesketh, Sims, Valery, Gape (O’Connor 88), Johnson.
Subs (not used): Parkes, Wood, Cook, Rowthorne, Molalose.
Booked: Stephens 57 (foul on Hanlan)
Penalties:Stephens (saved), Hesketh (scored), McQueen (scored), Jones (scored), O’Connor (scored), McCarthy (missed).
Referee: A Haines
Att: 1,336 (260 from Southampton)