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Match Reports

U18S IN PLAY-OFF HEARTBREAK

18 May 2024

Match Reports

U18S IN PLAY-OFF HEARTBREAK

18 May 2024

Our U18s’ Professional Development League play-off dreams were ended by a ruthless Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon.

The young Reds suffered a 5-3 defeat in London as their hosts edged a thrilling encounter that demonstrated quality in abundance from both sides.

There were also moments of inconsistency, as can be the case with academy football, and that showed in a nervy opening couple of minutes as the Addicks hit the front when Micah Mbick capitalised on a bouncing ball inside the area to break the deadlock.

Looking for an immediate response, Barnsley came close through Luke Alker and then Fabio Jalo in quick succession before Jonathan Bland forced Lennon MacLorg into a good save as we grew in confidence.

That pressure would eventually be rewarded when the ball fell to Jalo in the box, and the Portuguese forward was calm and composed to finish neatly into the bottom corner.

Moments later, Vimal Yoganathan powered a header towards goal from a corner, but it struck Jalo on the line and a Charlton defender managed to hack clear.

It proved to be a crucial moment of the first half as the Addicks regained their advantage in the blink of an eye when Manu Wales drove up field and arrowed a low drive into the bottom corner.

But our U18s rallied once more and Alker was the beneficiary of a devastating counter-attack, calmly slotting home at the near post after superb work from first Emmaisa Nzondo and then Fabio Jalo.

On the stroke of half-time, however, Charlton netted their third of the game as Patrick Casey cut in from the left flank and crashed a magnificent strike into the far top corner, leaving Rogan Ravenhill stranded.

HALF-TIME: Charlton Athletic 3-2 Barnsley 

We made the perfect start to the second half and levelled through Trialist B, who was on hand to slam home from close range after being picked out by Jalo’s low cross.

Hoping to seize the initiative, the young Reds continued to press forward and Alker came close to doubling his own personal tally with a fine curling effort that fizzed narrowly over the crossbar.

But Charlton are the division’s top scorers for a reason, and they showed their clinical touch once more as Casey bagged his second of the afternoon with an unerring shot into the bottom corner.

That seemed to take the wind out of our sails as the Addicks began to dominate possession, with Will Thompson and Bayley McCann defending well at the heart of the Barnsley defence.

Bland, captaining our U18s for the final time, attempted to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, and his 20-yard effort took a slight deflection before bobbling inches wide of the post.

The hosts eventually killed the contest off with 15 minutes remaining as Mason Hunter headed in from a corner.

It was cruel on the young Reds, who had battled hard all afternoon, but slumped to the ground as the full-time whistle blew.

When the dust settles, though, they can hold their heads high on what has been another productive and positive campaign at this level, with plenty of optimism for the future.

FULL-TIME: Charlton Athletic 5-3 Barnsley

 

REDS XI: Ravenhill, Reid, Thompson, McCann, Trialist A (Lundoloki), Yoganathan, Bland (C), Jalo, Trialist B (Graham), Alker, Nzondo (Trialist C).

Not used: Tommy-Mbogba, Warburton.


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