Charlton Athletic 0-0 Southampton - It's an opportunity for players' to start or to come on and make an impression, says Charlton Athletic boss Russell Slade

Tuesday 30th August 2016
Charlton Athletic 0 – 0 Southampton
Location The Valley, Floyd Road, Charlton, London SE7 8BL
Kickoff 30/08/2016 19:45

(Charlton Athletic win 5-4 on penalties)
Checkatrade EFL Trophy Southern Section Group E
Tuesday 30th August 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from The Valley

CHARLTON ATHLETIC manager Russell Slade says he will give promising youngsters a chance to impress him during the Checkatrade English Football League Trophy.

Charlton Athletic held a classy Martin Hunter’s Southampton Under 23’s side in their opening Group E game to a goal-less draw after 90 minutes, before Charlton Athletic won the penalty shoot-out 5-4.

Goalkeeper Dillon Phillips, 21, was their man-of-the-match by pulling off a string of fine saves during the game and saving one spot-kick during the shoot-out.

Crawley Town top the group after beating Colchester United 1-0, while Charlton Athletic are second on two points (teams that win the penalty shoot-out after drawn games claim two points), followed by Southampton on one point, while Colchester United sit at the foot of the group.

Only 1,336 fans (260 of them from Southampton) turned up at a very sparse stadium – as fans up and down the country voted with their feet by staying away from stadiums as a silent protest over B Team proposals.

“Very small step (to Wembley), I’m afraid, but two points is better than one,” Slade said during the post-match press-conference held pitch side at The Valley.

“It used to be two points for a win, a long time ago!

“But no, look it was a really interesting game, obviously for both teams and probably pretty much their under 21 side for most of the season give or take one or two.”

According to the rules of the competition, Slade was forced to name at least five of Saturday’s starting XI against Bolton Wanderers, with Kevin Foley, Andrew Crofts, Nicky Ajose, Ezri Knosa, Chris Solly and Morgan Fox all featured tonight against Premier League club Southampton.

“But we’ve made a few changes as well,” added Slade. “I wanted some of our under 21s, we started with four and we finished with, I think, about eight so it was interesting.

“Sometimes a bit frustrating for me on the side in terms of where we go and what we should do and what our duties are.”

Charlton Athletic were outplayed by a Southampton side that kept the ball on the deck during the first half, but the hosts almost took the lead inside the opening two and a half minutes.

Left-back Morgan Fox cut inside and unleashed a low left-footed drive, which was tipped around the post by Southampton’s 26-year-old goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Southampton midfielder Harrison Reed, 21, showed exactly why he’s made 14 Premier League appearances for the club by pulling the strings in the middle of the park and was Saints most impressive player on the night.

Slade said: “I thought we were much better in the second half once we pushed up a little bit more and got hold of Reed, their sitting midfielder. He collects the ball in very deep areas to try to build up play for them.”

Captain Reed was given a chance to score inside the opening six minutes, sweeping his right-footed free-kick from just outside the corner of the box, harmlessly around the far post.

Southampton’s passing was of a quality standard, but they had to wait until the 22nd minute to create their best chance but Reed fluffed his lines from the penalty spot.

Referee Andy Haines pointed to the spot after Jake Hesketh went over Andrew Crofts outstretched leg as he cut in – but Reed placed his right-footed spot-kick wide of the left-hand post to give the outplayed hosts a massive reprieve.

“I haven’t seen it for a second time yet, whether he gets a little clip or not, the players were uncertain as to how much he did,” said Slade.

“I think he went down very easily but if he did catch him then clearly it was a penalty because what I did see that it was inside the box.”

Charlton Athletic gave away their second free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Sam McQueen’s left-footed free-kick deflected off the wall and stung Phillips’ fingers, the keeper grabbing hold of the ball at the second attempt.

Charlton Athletic should have done better with a well-worked move in the 34th minute.

Striker Ajose swept the ball out wide to winger Solly, who floated in a cross from the right towards the edge of the penalty area where Karlan Ahearne-Grant’s free header sailed over the bar.

Phillips - who played a key role in Cheltenham Town winning the Vanarama National League title last season after losing their Football League status 12 months earlier - then pulled off two fine saves to keep Charlton Athletic level going into the interval.

Southampton were awarded a free-kick on the right corner some 25-yards from goal and McQueen drilled his left-footed free-kick towards the far corner, which forced Phillips to dive full-length to his right to palm the ball towards safety.

And within three minutes the keeper was busy again, diving to his left to push a left-footed drive from 25-yards from Southampton’s lone striker Olufela Olmola around the post.

Slade was full of praise for his goalkeeper, adding: “I picked him out. A great penalty save. He made some good saves in the game as well, probably two or three really good saves.  He put in a really good debut.”

The score remained level at the break, all thanks to Phillips’ excellent goalkeeping, but his team-mates put in a much-better performance in the second half, cutting out the threat from the highly-talented Reed.

When asked about Southampton’s Barcelona-esque passing game during the first half, Slade replied: “You’d expect that wouldn’t you, from a very, very progressive Premier League football club. They play together regularly and they were good. I thought they had some good individual players.”

Chartlon Athletic skipper Solly sliced his 30-yard drive harmlessly wide of the right-hand post after a move involving Fox and Foley after 125 seconds into the second half.

Charlton Athletic got in behind the Saints defence in the 52nd minute during a good spell from the home side.

Solly fed Foley, who played Ahearne-Grant in behind Saints right-back Yan Valery, but the angle was too tight for the left-winger and all he could do was steer his low shot into the base of the side netting.

Phillips was relieved to see Reed’s curler sail around the post from 15-yards after a lay-off from striker Olmola down the right channel after Hesketh’s ball into the penalty area on the other side of the pitch.

Southampton’s left-winger Tyrek Johnson, who was wearing the number 51 shirt, floated in a cross for Olmola to glance his header straight at Phillips, who made a comfortable catch at his near post, before the keeper gathered Josh Sims’ angled drive from the other side of the pitch.

Slade handed former Brighton & Hove Albion full-back Adam Chicksen,24, his debut as a 66th minute substitute.

Speaking about his tenth signing for the club, Slade said: “Tareiq Holmes-Dennis went later on in the window (to Huddersfield Town) so we signed Adam in an effort to cover that area a little bit.”

Ahearne-Grant should have done better when a chance was presented to him inside the Southampton penalty area.

Crofts chipped the ball into Southampton’s box, the ball was headed away by central defender Stephens, but Ahearne-Grant’s produced a poor touch and the chance went begging.

But Charlton Athletic’s best chance of the entire game arrived in the 75th minute.

Catford-born striker Joshua Umerah, 19, who has been with the club since he was 11, robbed the ball off last man Valery on the right and he cut into the box and decided against sweeping the ball to an unmarked Brandon Hanlan at the far post and went alone and hit a poor shot straight at McCarthy, who made a comfortable save at his near post.

Slade added: “I thought we had a couple of chances, even at the death there, Kevin Foley was sliding in to try to get the winner, but it wasn’t to be but they had chances also so from that point of view there was opportunities at both ends.”

Southampton almost made Charlton Athletic pay for that glaring miss when Sims played the ball out to McQueen and his left-footed drive from 25-yards was saved by Phillips, low to his left.

The game opened up towards the end as both sides didn’t want their opening game to be settled by penalty shoot-out drama.

Midfielder Hesketh cut in towards the edge of the penalty area and was about to pull the trigger but for a great well-timed tackle from Roger Johnson, who partnered Harry Lennon at the heart of defence.

Foley’s deflected drive from 25-yards was saved comfortably by McCarthy in the Saints goal.

Hesketh crossed the ball into the Charlton penalty area, the ball was laid-off by Olmola and Sims’ shot on the turn from 18-yards was saved by Phillips.

Charlton Athletic pressed to grab a late winner.

Foley swung in their fourth and final corner from the left, Johnson’s driven shot was blocked and McCarthy pounced on the loose ball to frustrate Umerah.

And they almost grabbed the victory with the last kick of the game as Foley couldn’t turn in a lovely low ball in from the right from the pacy Umerah so the game was settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Charlton Athletic skipper Solly stepped up and led by example to send McCarthy the wrong way with a right-footed penalty, before Stephens right-footed penalty was superbly saved by man-of-the-match Phillips, diving to his right to pull off yet another fine save.

Umerah placed his right-footed penalty into the right-hand corner, sending McCarthy the wrong way, before Hesketh rifled his right-footed attempt into the roof of the net.

Charlton Athletic missed their third penalty as Foley’s right-footed spot-kick crashed against the angle of right-hand post and crossbar, and Southampton levelled the score at 2-2 through McQueen’s penalty, which the left-back slammed into the roof of the net.

Hanlan capped off a fine game by giving Charlton Athletic a 3-2 lead, his right-footed kick going into the left-corner and Southampton kept the excitement going through Alfie Jones’ driven penalty down the middle.

Ahearne-Grant held his nerve to send the keeper the wrong way and it was 4-4 when two minute cameo sub Thomas O’Connor got his left-footed penalty over the diving Phillips, who had dived the same way, to his left.

Charlton Athletic had one hand on their two point haul when Ezri Konsa stepped up and rifled his right-footed penalty into the roof of the net.

Southampton keeper McCarthy then stepped up and powered his right-footed penalty against the crossbar, which sealed the win for Charlton Athletic.

Slade said he was delighted with Phillips’ heroics, saying, “I was delighted for him, that might’ve given him a big lift to save a penalty in a competitive competition like this.

“The last time he was in that situation was pre-season when we played the Dutch team, so he’s learnt from that because we’ve gone and won this one.”

While this competition hasn’t been a hit from fans all over the country, it does give managers like Slade the chance to blood younger players in and Premier League clubs to give their youngsters a chance to get vital first team experience against some senior pros from League One and Two clubs.

Slade said: “In terms of protecting your senior players, that’s majorly important and as you saw I withdrew the senior players as it went on as well because we had a big game on Saturday anyway against league leaders Bolton.

“But it’s an opportunity, players need to see that as an opportunity to start or to come on and make an impression.  I don’t want to be accused of not giving people an opportunity to perform and show what they can do.  Since I’ve been here I’ve proved I’m happy if their capable, of throwing a younger player in with potential.”

Charlton Athletic host Crawley Town in this competition on 4 October, before ending their group campaign at Colchester on 8 November.

But Slade revealed he has some transfer business to do before the summer transfer window slams shut at 23:00 on Wednesday night.

“We’re still looking to do some more business with one day to go before the window shuts to conclude everything that we need to do to push on really and to move forward. We’re hopeful that we can do that with possibly two (coming in) but we’ll have to see.

“It’s been quite unusual this window, I think, with no emergency loans I think many clubs have left it up until the last minute and one or two clubs have probably been slightly over protective in terms of not letting players out knowing that once you do, you can’t get them back so it’s been interesting from that point of view.

“It’s been quite demanding from that point of view as well so we’ll wait and see. I would hope we’ve done some kind of business by close of play.”

When asked about any departures tomorrow, Slade replied: “You never know do you, you really don’t know.  It’s ok being targeted but at this stage of the window as well unless you made steps and you’ve targeted for a while and the club are aware of your interest it’s very difficult at this stage to find replacements if somebody comes in randomly for somebody that you’re not expecting so we’ll be very, very reluctant to let anybody go in that kind of situation.”

Charlton Athletic: Dillon Phillips, Ezri Konsa, Morgan Fox (Adam Chicksen 66), Kevin Foley, Harry Lennon, Roger Johnson, Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Andrew Crofts (Regan Charles-Cook 84), Brandon Hanlan, Nicky Ajose (Joshua Umerah 55), Chris Solly.
Subs: Declan Rudd, Patrick Bauer, Jason Pearce, Oliver Muldoon

Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Yan Valery, Sam McQueen, Jake Hesketh, Alfie Jones, Jack Stephens, Tyreke Johnson, Harrison Reed, Olufela Olmola (Dan N’Lundulu 87), Dominic Gape (Thomas O’Connor 88), Josh Simms.
Subs: Will Wood, Ollie Cook, Ben Rowthorne, Siph Molalose, Adam Parkes

Booked: Jack Stephens 57

Attendance: 1,336 (260 away)
Referee: Mr Andy Haines
Assistants: Mr Gavin Muge & Mr Rob Smith
Fourth Official: Mr Marc Wilson

Coverage Sponsored by: