Charlton’s U23s fell to a narrow defeat against Millwall at the Lions’ Calmont Road training ground on Monday afternoon, despite being the better side for most of the encounter.
The Addicks missed a number of gilt-edged chances which proved costly as a hugely-deflected free-kick against the run of play proved the difference.
Millwall registered the first effort on target with 10 minutes on the clock when Mason Saunders-Henry headed a pin-point right-wing cross straight at Ashley Maynard-Brewer and the Addicks responded by going down the other end and coming close themselves.
Toby Stevenson did well down the left and set the ball to Wilberforce Ocran, who turned well and got his shot away from 10 yards, only to see it well blocked by Lazar Stojsavljevic’s last-ditch tackle.
The first half was an extremely cagey affair with very little in the way of other chances, but Charlton started the second 45 brightly, coming close twice in the first two minutes.
Ocran had an early opportunity when the ball fell to him in the six-yard box after a half-cleared corner had been returned into the mixer. Having sprung the offside trap, he only had Lions first-teamer Jordan Archer to beat, but he swung and could not make his desired connection as the chance passed him by.
Moments later, Jordan Zemura bent in a superb cross from the right which found Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, who could only divert wide from close range at the far post.
The young Addicks were extremely unlucky not to find themselves in front. Indeed, they were even more unlucky to find themselves behind just minutes later when the hosts took the lead in fortunate circumstances on 56 minutes.
Lewis White stood over a central free-kick 25 yards from goal and struck his effort against the wall. But the striker took a wicked deflection which wrong-footed the helpless Maynard-Brewer and looped into the net.
The goal had come against the run of play and Charlton continued to be on top thereafter. Ryan Blumberg saw a header cleared off the line from a corner, while Zemura should have been awarded a penalty when he was shoved to the floor in the box, only to see the appeals waved away.
Mark Marshall, who gained valuable minutes as he captained the side, did superbly well to jink his way into the box and lay the ball on a plate for Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, who slid in, but put his effort over from close range. Although a goal-kick was awarded, it looked as if the final touch came from a goal-saving defender’s boot.
Substitute Terrique Anderson was next to cause problems when he skinned Stojsavljevic down the right to get into the box, but dragged his shot wide.
The Addicks dominated the second half from start to finish and piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, but just could not make the all-important breakthrough as the Lions claimed the points.
Charlton U23s: Maynard-Brewer, Zemura , (Anderson 66), Cummings, Blumberg, Stevenson, Rich, Dempsey, Maloney, Marshall, Sarpong-Wiredu, Ocran (Carey 88).
Subs (not used): Osaghae, Barton, French.
(Image: Tom West)