Olly Groome reports from the Weston Homes Community Stadium
Charlton’s involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy came to an end on Tuesday evening, losing out 4-3 to Colchester United in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw.
The Addicks took a first-half lead courtesy of Nicky Ajose’s fourth goal of the season, but were pegged back by Macauley Bonne’s header before the break.
And after a quiet second half yielded no further goals, a penalty shootout saw Ezri Konsa miss the visitors’ fifth and final penalty meaning Russell Slade’s men finish the group stage with three points on the board.
Joe Aribo made his full Charlton debut, lining up in a midfield trio, alongside the experienced Kevin Foley and Andrew Crofts, with fellow youngster Brandon Hanlan and Ajose operating in front of them.
At the other end of the pitch, Dillon Phillips came into the side to keep post. He was afforded protection by a new-look, defensive three of Harry Lennon, Roger Johnson and Jorge Teixeira – the latter making his first senior appearance of the season – while Konsa and Adam Chicksen will occupy wing-back berths.
In total, it was seven changes for Slade’s Addicks, who were without the injured Ricky Holmes, as well as Josh Magennis, Ademola Lookman and Jordan Botaka, who are all away on international duty.
On the substitutes bench, U23s midfielder George Lapslie, whose brother Tom captained Colchester on the night, earned a spot, as did fellow youngsters Regan Charles-Cook, Joshua Umerah, and Karlan Ahearne-Grant. Lee Novak, Declan Rudd and Fredrik Ulvestad made up the rest in reserve.
The Addicks saw plenty of the ball in the early exchanges and enjoyed the first attempt of the contest after nine minutes when Ajose tried his luck from 25 yards, only to fire over the bar.
Eight minutes later, the forward found space again from a similar distance, but it was the same result, with his effort dipping over.
24 minutes had passed before Colchester registered their first shot on goal with full-back Kane Vincent-Young bursting forward to sting the palms of Phillips with a low drive.
But it was the Addicks who were in control of the first half, taking a deserved lead after 32 minutes with Ajose getting on the scoresheet. Aribo claimed the assist, crossing low from the left for the striker to poke home.
Moments before the break, however, the U’s hit back through Bonnie, who sent a powerful header past Phillips from a right-wing cross to level matters going into half-time.
Slade shuffled his pack at the break with one eye on Saturday’s trip to Swindon Town, bringing on Ulvestad and Novak in place of Crofts and Ajose.
Ulvestad fired over during a cagey opening to the second period, while Colchester’s Frankie Kent could not take advantage of a good opportunity at the far post, heading straight at Phillips while unmarked.
A defensive lapse by Lennon in the 65th minute almost allowed Kurtis Guthrie to put the hosts into the lead, but Phillips kept out his low effort after the forward had marched his way into the box.
10 minutes later, the home side came close again with Craig Slater forcing Phillips into a good save down to his right.
In truth, there was very little to warm the 548 supporters from either side on a bitterly cold night in Essex, with the goalmouth action few and far between.
With two minutes remaining, Hanlan came inches away from heading the Addicks into the lead, but he could only nod inches wide of the left-hand upright before the U’s went down the other end and drew another good save from Phillips to deny Guthrie.
The goalless second 45 meant that it would all come down to penalties and it was Colchester who stepped up first.
Guthrie chipped past Phillips to get things under way, while Hanlan dispatched Charlton’s first penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
Bonne then scored, also going left, before Ulvestad stuck away his spot-kick and Phillips dove to his left to keep out Louis Dunne to give the visitors the advantage.
Ahearne-Grant was up next to put Slade’s men in front, but Dillon Barnes made a good stop to keep him out, while Drey White scored to put Colchester 3-2 ahead.
Teixeira made no mistake, levelling up with a calm finish from 12 yards as did Craig Slater, leaving Konsa under pressure to keep his side in the game.
Unfortunately, the youngster saw his shot well saved by Barnes, leaving Colchester to celebrate with the extra point as both sides bow out of the competition with Crawley Town and Southampton U23s advancing to the second round.
Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Teixeira, Johnson, Lennon, Chicksen, Foley (Ahearne-Grant 75), Crofts (Ulvestad 46), Aribo, Hanlan, Ajose (Novak 46).
Subs (not used): Rudd, Charles-Cook, G Lapslie, Umerah.
Booked: Konsa 25 (foul on T Lapslie)
Goal: Ajose 32
Penalties: Hanlan (scored), Ulvestad (scored), Ahearne-Grant (saved), Teixeira (scored), Konsa (saved)
Colchester United: Barnes, Vincent-Young (Brindley 46), Kent, Eastman, Wynter, Kamara, T Lapslie (Slater 60), Wright, Guthrie, Dickenson (Dunne 46), Bonne.
Subs (not used): Bransgrove, Prosser, Szmodics, Johnstone.
Goal: Bonne 42
Booked: Bonne 68 (foul on Novak)
Penalties: Guthrie (scored), Bonne (scored), Dunne (saved), Wright (scored), Slater (scored)
Referee: J Brooks
Att: 548 (147 from Charlton)