A proud night for the young Cards

Brian Caffarey
11:10pm, Wed 18th Nov 2009
Charlton Athletic Youth 3 Woking Youth 1
FA Youth Cup 2nd Round
18 November 2009

This young Cards side, and Matt Howard and his management team, can be hugely proud of this performance. The Youth side pushed their hosts all the way after being unfortunate to go 2-0 down very early on in the game. They pulled a goal back soon after the break and, even after the Addicks restored their two-goal margin, the result looked in doubt right till the end as Woking’s forwards increasingly rattled the home defence, which was saved twice by the woodwork.

The young Cards did not seem at all over-awed by the impressive setting of The Valley as they tore into Charlton from the kick-off. A lovely move in the second minute saw Ollie Palmer play in Rob Carr on the left of the area but his shot flashed wide. Then Ola Sogbanmu showed superb skill as he took the ball on his knee, and volleyed over his shoulder, with the ball again going wide, unfortunately.

Woking’s spirit all evening was typified by seeing Rob Carr back in his own area, a minute later, doing some excellent defensive work to thwart a Charlton attack.

Charlton took the lead in the 8th minute out of the blue and in rather fortunate circumstances. The lanky Jordan Anderson tried a long-range shot but miscued. The ball went into the path of Tamer Tuna, who finished clinically from the edge of the area.

Almost immediately the Cards found themselves 2-0 down. The otherwise immaculate Aaron Gough got under a long ball and only succeeded in heading it into the path of the advancing Tamer, who thrashed the ball past Matt Pegler.

Conceding early goals was precisely what Matt Howard would have wanted to avoid but he needn’t have worried that his young charges would fold. Far from it. They proceeded to give as good as they got for the rest of the game. Although Charlton played the slicker football, as they moved the ball around sweetly in well-rehearsed patterns of play, the Cards hustled successfully and, when they did break, always carried a threat – even more so in the second half when Ola Sogbanmu and Ollie Palmer in particular gave the Addicks defence a hard time.

As the first half progressed, all that was missing was the killer final ball from the Cards. Ollie Palmer showed impressive skill again as a clever turn won a corner and Ola Sogbanmu robbed a defender, only to follow up with a weak shot. Callum Eagle went closer with a header from a free-kick before Woking had to re-shuffle as Rob Carr limped off, to be replaced by George Frith, with Anson Cousins moving out to the left flank.

Almost inevitably Jordan Anderson’s height advantage enabled him to get his head to one of several corners won by the Addicks but it flew just over the bar. But, as half-time approached, the Cards mounted some sustained attacks to finish strongly. An excellent cross from Chris Aldridge down the bye-line seemed certain to produce a goal as Ollie Palmer pulled the trigger but a tremendous defensive block sent the ball for the first of two corners, followed by a free-kick, which was unfortunately wasted. On the very stroke of half-time, though, Matt Pegler had to pull off a fine save with his feet as Charlton’s Harry Pell attempted to finish off a driving run from midfield. Ollie Palmer had the final say as he burst through several tackles in powerful run.

Half-time: Charlton Athletic Youth 2 Woking Youth 0

The impetus which the Cards had developed continued after the break and they pulled a goal back almost immediately, to the delight of the sizeable band of Woking supporters. It looked as though Ola Sogbanmu had missed his chance as he failed to connect with a long ball from Tom Topham into the area but his strength enabled him to fashion a second opportunity as he bundled the ball past the Charlton keeper from a few yards out.

For a few minutes the hosts were rocked back on their heels, although Liam Bellamy should have done better with a free header at the far post. Ola Sogbanmu threatened in the area again from an Anson Cousins interception but Charlton suddenly broke quickly in a lovely, sweeping move down the right flank, with Tamer Tuna bagging his hat-trick with a fine strike into the far corner to make the score 3-1.

Chances ensued at both ends as Charlton’s Lewis Perkins’ shot hit the side-netting and Ollie Palmer saw another effort blocked, while Anson Cousins had to react quickly with a snap header as the ball was blasted towards him.

Woking continued to look threatening going forward, with substitute Will Hammond making good inroads down the right flank in support of the two front players. In the 68th minute the second goal nearly arrived as Aaron Gough powered a header, from a corner, against the foot of the post, with the ball scrambled clear before Ollie Palmer could finish off the rebound.

Charlton introduced the pacy Callum Harriott and Matt Pegler was forced to palm away the substitute’s dangerous cross. Will Hammond responded with a fine run down the right and into the area but his pull-back failed to reach a team mate.

As Woking pushed forward, Matt Pegler was forced to make two fine saves, tipping another Tamer Tuna effort over the bar, whilst in the meantime Tom Topham’s left-footed shot went narrowly wide.

Moving into the final ten minutes, Woking survived a potentially dangerous free-kick as Harry Pell skied his effort into the stand, but the Cards, perhaps as tiredness took its toll, failed to make the most of several corners. Nevertheless, a nice move involving Ollie Palmer and Ola Sogbanmu saw the latter’s shot blocked and then, best of all, a fantastic strike from Will Hammond cannoned off the bar, with Callum Eagle heading the rebound over. That was the Cards’ last chance of producing a scoreline which would have more accurately reflected the balance of the game, certainly in chances created. All that remained was for Matt Pegler to dive low to hold a rasping shot before the final whistle drew a thoroughly-deserved ovation for the young Cards side.

So, their FA Youth Cup run has ended for another year. But they can look back on some tremendous performances, not least tonight’s against a very capable Charlton Athletic side. If they represent the future of the Club, there is every reason to be hopeful.

Charlton: Binks; Jenkinson, Carter, Cousins, Mambo; Warren, Anderson (Harriott 63), Pell, Bellamy (Camacho 80); Tuna, Perkins (Popo 83).
Unused subs: Howard, Morris.
Goals: Tuna 8, 10, 52

Woking: Matt Pegler, Chris Richards (Jack Blatchford, 60), Josh Watkins, Tom Topham, Aaron Gough, Callum Eagle, Chris Aldridge (Will Hammond, 59), Anson Cousins, Ola Sogbanmu, Ollie Palmer, Rob Carr (George Frith, 35)

Unused subs: Ali Turpie, Conor Close

Goal: Ola Sogbanmu 47

Attendance: 553

My MOTM: Ollie Palmer (pictured)

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