Gary Haines reports from Ram Meadow
Joe Pigott’s late penalty earned a Charlton XI a 2-1 victory against plucky Bury Town on Tuesday night.
The young frontman converted from 12 yards three minutes from time after substitute Tobi Sho-Silva was fouled in the box.
The hosts looked set to see a lively display rewarded with a draw after substitute John Sands had cancelled out Adebayo Azeez’s early opener.
But Pigott, ever ice-cool from the spot when it mattered, had other ideas.
This was a decent work out for a largely youthful Addicks XI under the stewardship of Nathan Jones.
And the coach and his players would have learned plenty in a game that ebbed and flowed at a damp Ram Meadow.
The match had been arranged as part of the transfer deal that saw former Bury man Nick Pope head to Charlton last summer, and although the keeper was injured he was watching – and very well received – at a place he once called home.
The Addicks played some terrific stuff in the opening period and were ahead on 19 minutes as Azeez latched onto a superb pass from Paul Hayes and rounded the keeper before coolly slotting home.
In a second-half perforated by substitutions from both sides, Bury enjoyed plenty of positive moments with a visiting side decreasing with age as the half continued, answering most of the questions.
Dillon Phillips, who thankfully escaped a red card after what would in the regular season have been a professional foul, was beaten 20 minutes from time as Sands headed home bravely.
The sub might have struck again in the closing stages, but it was Charlton who won the day as a superb through pass from sub Henry Muggeridge – formerly on the books of Bristol City – picked out Sho-Silva who was tripped by sub Ashley Sloots.
Pigott made no mistake from 12 yards to wrap up the win, and send the small pocket of Addicks supporters home happy.
In terms of team news the two senior players on show at Ram Meadow were Hayes and Ruben Bover-Izquierdo, as Nathan Jones fielded a predominantly youthful XI.
Second year scholar Phillips was between the posts for the visitors with Jordan Cousins and Morgan Fox flanking Semi Ajayi and Harry Osborne at the back.
In a diamond midfield Diego Poyet was at the base and Hayes at the tip with Bover and Jordan either side. Pigott and Azeez were up front.
Sam Reed dragged a short well wide for the hosts two minutes in while a fine cross from Fox seven minutes later was headed straight at Marcus Garnham by an unmarked Pigott.
It was the clearest chance by a margin of the early stages, and before the dust settled, up at the other end, after everyone in and around the Addicks box had stopped, Billy Clark was in space but lacked composure as he sliced well wide.
Azeez chased a long ball down the left channel but shot across goal and wide from a narrow angle as the clock reached 12 and the striker could not connect cleanly after good work from Pigott moments later.
The heavens had opened by that stage with the lively Azeez wriggling inside and shooting wide.
The Addicks carved out another chance on 17 minutes as Pigott found Hayes who slipped a delightful pass through to Bover.
The Spaniard had timed his run to perfection to move clean through on goal, but lacked accuracy as he clipped the ball over the keeper but wide of the mark.
Keeper Garnham produced a diving save to foil Pigott’s effort from 20 yards, but the hosts were carved open again on 19 minutes as Azeez opened the scoring.
Hayes was again the architect, threading a glorious defence-splitting pass, and Azeez sped on to the ball, rounded Garnham and converted into the back of the net from a narrow angle.
Bury’s response saw Sam Nunn, up for a corner, just fail to connect with a low cross from Sam Reed, which fizzed through a sea of players in the box.
Ajayi stretched out a long leg to cut out a cross with a Bury man lurking behind him and with the hosts asking questions, Sam Reed collected a loose pass from Bover and shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Just past the half hour mark Phillips did well to tip a curling shot from Clark away from danger, his first serious action of the night.
The hosts were winning the midfield battle at this particular juncture with Nathan Jones urging patience from the sidelines. “Let’s keep the ball for a little bit,” boomed the Welshman’s voice.
Bover jinked inside and saw his shot deflected over before Azeez headed over the subsequent corner
Pigott’s deflected shot flew wide while Connor Hall might have done better with a close-range header towards the end of the half.
There was a change at the break as Dean Florence replaced Poyet and Callum Kearns saw his shot saved after a loose Addicks pass
Hayes and Bover were replaced by Sho-Silva and Fabio Sairava with Henry Muggeridge and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis also entering the fray amid a spate of substitutions.
Holmes-Dennis spooned high over the bar from close range before a dipping effort from Pigott flew narrowly over.
The striker’s free-kick curled inches after soon afterwards before U16 Joe Gomez came on for Ajayi at the back.
Azeez headed a Pigott cross off target after determined play from his strike partner, but the hosts were level 20 minutes from time.
Mark Coulson whipped in a fine cross from the left and substitute Sands darted in to bravely head home from close range.
As Bury sensed an upset, a corner almost yielded a second goal as Pigott’s clearance clattered against Sands but flew straight into the arms of Phillips.
The keeper was in the thick of the action in the closing quarter hour, with the lively Sands causing him no end of problems.
On 76 minutes the sub chased a long ball down the left and was taken out right on the edge of the box by the advancing keeper.
In normal circumstances he may well have walked, but referee Sanerude produced just a yellow card, with Phillips then rubbing salt in Bury wounds by plunging to save the free-kick from Clark.
As the hosts continued to press Sands saw his snap-shot fly behind off Osborne before another spate of substitutions from the hosts.
After Azeez rolled a shot across the face of goal and wide, one of the newcomers, Ashley Sloots, would concede the match-settling penalty three minutes from time.
The opening owed much to a superb pass from impressive substitute Muggeridge to Sho-Silva and when he was upended Sannerude pointed straight to the spot.
Pigott kept his cool from 12 yards, sending sub keeper Will Viner the wrong way to reclaim the lead.
There was time for an important late interception from youngster Gomez as the Addicks held firm to cap a good work-out with a win.
Charlton: Phillips; Cousins, Fox (Holmes-Dennis 55), Osborne, Ajayi (Gomez 66); Poyet (Florence 46), Bover-Izquierdo (Sairava 57), Jordan (Muggeridge 59), Hayes (Sho-Silva 57); Pigott, Azeez.
Subs (not used): O’Hanlon.
Goals: Azeez 19, Pigott pen 87
Booked: Phillips 76 (foul on Sands)
Bury Town: Garnham (Viner 64); Short, Bullard, Nunn (Hitching 64), Hall (Weavers 82), Coulson (Sloots 82); Kennedy (Key 67), Kearns (Souza 82), L Reed (Sands 57); Clark (Werdley 77), S Reed (Ingram 77).
Goal: Sands 70
Ref: A Sannerude