Chris Powell’s men moved safely into the second round of the Capital One Cup with a routine 4-0 victory against League Two opposition.
Oxford United offered very little in the way of threat against a side that had made ten changes from the Championship opener at Bournemouth. With Ben Hamer the only Addick to keep his place in the starting XI, there were chances for players to impress all over the pitch. Most notably, academy forward Joe Pigott made his first competitive start in senior football alongside Simon Church.
And it was Church who got the ball rolling after 18 minutes. A scrappy piece of play just outside the 18 yard box saw a CAFC shot deflected, luckily, straight into the Welshmen’s path and with the coolness that an international forward should possess; he tucked the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Ryan Clarke in the Oxford United goal with no chance.
In the first half there were very few clear openings for either side. The majority of the play came down Charlton’s left flank, where Evina looked the most dangerous player after leaving the Oxford right back for dead numerous times.
The right midfielder, Ryan Williams on loan from Fulham, gave a lively cameo and came closest to making a breakthrough for the Yellows but he was thwarted by a strong Addicks defence once inside the penalty area.
James Constable took a wild snapshot for the visitors which sailed wide off Ben Hamer’s right hand post, while Danny Green’s effort from the free kick wasn't far from doubling the Addicks’ lead just before half time.
Green was on the scoresheet just four minutes into the second half. A 30 yard free kick on the right hand side of the pitch was struck sweetly. The ball weaved it’s way through a sea of Oxford bodies (taking a deflection on the way through) and nestled into the bottom corner, Clarke had no chance.
With the safety of a 2-0 lead, Charlton began to exert their dominance over an increasingly frustrated Oxford side. Slick pass and move saw Joe Pigott with the ball at his feet just the right of the penalty area. His cross was perfect for the onrushing Church to double his tally for the evening but this time he failed to convert. Addicks fans remained positive however and continued to cheer on their team.
It didn't take long for Church to grab his second goal, he did so on the hour. Playing off the last defender’s shoulder, he took a well weighted ball from midfield into his stride and struck a left footed snapshot across the helpless Oxford goalkeeper. Clinical and classy play from the Addicks had left the Yellows stunned.
A period of niggly play ensued. Both sides received two yellow cards each over the course of the next twenty minutes, Oxford’s cards were for dissent while Charlton’s were for late trips. Chris Wilder looked to make positive changes to his sides line-up, bringing on the fresh legs of Deane Smalley and Alfie Potter who received a rapturous welcome from the 771 travelling fans.
And it was almost a dream opening for Potter as he troubled the Addicks defence for the first time with his direct running and close control. He almost got himself past big Leon Cort on a couple of occasions, including one where it seemed he had found himself one-on-one with Hamer. However Cort was having none of it and his last ditch tackle, at the expense of a minor injury, ensured Charlton would keep a clean sheet.
The scoring was completed in injury time when the bright Addicks’ sub Jordan Cousins started a move in the opposition half with give-and-go play, the England U19 international found himself in the box and invited contact from Oxford captain Jake Wright. Wright duly obliged and a penalty was awarded. After a small quarrel between Pigott, Green and Sordell over who should take the penalty, it was left to Pigott to take his first senior goal in competitive football for the Addicks. He was coolness personified as he struck the ball low to the goalkeeper’s right hand side. A well taken and well deserved reward for the academy forward.
Onto the next round we go. With 14 clubs (plus Reading) entering the fold, there is a chance we could see a Premier League side at the Valley for the next round. Unfortunately, Swansea City and their hugely successful trust will enter in round three as defending champions. I guess we’ll just have to win our round two match and hope for the best. COYR