Charlton’s U18s rescued a point at the death from an eight-goal thriller in a topsy-turvy encounter at Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The top-of-the-table clash saw the two sides take turns in taking the lead until the Tractor Boys looked to have won it five minutes from time, but Tolu Ladapo’s 93rd-minute strike ensured the Addicks would keep their lead over their opponents at the top of the table intact.
The hosts took a one-goal lead into the break with their number 10 slotting home a 40th-minute opener, but the game would really come alive after the restart with seven goals to follow.
Daniel Kanu levelled matters six minutes into the second half when he finished from close range from Mack Reilly’s low cross.
Seven minutes later, Reilly got on the scoresheet himself to put the visitors in front. Karoy Anderson’s sumptuous, dipping cross from the left was met by the forward at the back post where he headed in off the crossbar.
That lead would last just four minutes, however, as Ipswich took advantage of an under-hit Oliver Hobden back-pass to get into the box and finish off a simple one-on-one.
The goals kept coming and the Addicks were back ahead in the 68th minute. When Harvey Kedwell was felled in the box, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, allowing Toby Bower to step up and send the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.
There would be plenty more twists to come and just three more minutes elapsed before the home side restored parity again with a volleyed finish from close range.
With five minutes remaining, Ipswich went ahead again. A defence-splitting pass allowed the blues’ number 15 to round Harry Whitling in the Charlton goal and finish into an empty net.
But just as it looked like Charlton would be heading for a first league defeat in nine, substitute Ladapo popped up with an equaliser in the third minute of added time.
Nathan Asiimwe delivered the cross for Ladapo who beat the home side’s goalkeeper to the punch to head home the leveller to earn a deserved point.
The share of the spoils mean that the young Addicks maintain their one-point lead at the top of Professional Development League 2 – South, with two games in hand on Ipswich in second.
Charlton U18s: Whitling, Hobden (Laqueretabua 72), Mitchell, Asiimwe, Bower, Kedwell (Kamara 90+1), Adigun, Anderson, Reilly, Kanu, Leaburn (Ladapo 81).
Subs (not used): Molyneux.
Goals: Kanu 51, Reilly 58, Bower 68, Ladapo 90+3