Charlton 5 (Taylor 11, 58, 85), Marshall 82, Ajose 90) Mansfield Town 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Those hardy few who "turned their collars to the cold and damp" and waded over to The Valley on Tuesday evening were warmed by a rare experience. They were soggy witnesses as Charlton ruthlessly put lower league Mansfield Town in their place in this eventful replay to secure their place in the second round at home to Doncaster on December 1st.
While acknowledging the harshness of the scoreline on the spirited visitors, it's a bit of a stretch to blame a 5-0 drubbing on referee Kevin Johnson. But that's where Town boss David Flitcroft, still incandescent at Charlton's "blatantly offside goal" in the first tie, dumped the responsibility. There you go, though, all the crucial calls go in favour of the big teams. It's the same the whole world over... it's the rich wot gets the pleasure.
To be fair, there was considerable controversy surrounding the Addicks' third goal and wishy-washy Johnson hardly emerged with credit from his part in creating it. A free kick which he at first appeared to award in the visitors' favour was arbitrarily ruled the other way. As confusion reigned and with several Stags caught upfield, the quickly taken setpiece was swept crossfield to Toby Stevenson on the left touchline. Darting through, the youngster's low cross was turned in by Mark Marshall and, at 3-0, the tie was resolved. With only eight minutes left, of course, it was already firmly under local control because by the time wholehearted substitute Marshall sealed the issue, Mansfield had twice fallen victims to the predatory instincts of Lyle Taylor. Rested from the Field Mill game, Taylor reacted sharply to the low ball in from Nicky Ajose, following a smart exchange with Tarique Fosu, to open the scoring from six yards after 11 minutes. At a similar stage of the second half, Billy Clarke and Stevenson combined to send Ajose to the left byline, from which his half-cleared centre was sidefooted firmly past Bobby Olejnik by the cool striker.
For impressive Town, who stuck faithfully to their footballing principles in adversity, the most clearcut chances fell to CJ Hamilton, who had added to his spectacular goal in the first leg with an equally eye-catching matchwinner against Port Vale last Saturday. Sent through the middle to confront Dillon Phillips by Ryan Sweeney's precise pass, Hamilton was tracked by Patrick Bauer, whose patient pursuit and perfectly judged recovery tackle, at the expense of a corner, provided a masterclass in defending. Solid and sensible, the big centre back's return from injury is a massive boost for Lee Bowyer's depleted squad.
The enforced 22nd minute replacement of Jacob Mellis by Hayden White, meanwhile, proved to be a blessing in disguise for the visitors. White was a constant menace along the right touchline, his pace and trickery an education for the inexperienced Stevenson, who responded admirably. Shortly after his introduction, White steamed past Stevenson before crossing superbly on the run. Sliding in at the far post, Hamilton looked certain to equalise but could only divert the ball against the foot of the woodwork. His two chances, along with the fine save made by Phillips from Danny Rose's curler in the earlier going, were the best Mansfield had to offer.
After Marshall lowered the boom, the Stags were finally at bay. First Taylor completed his hat-trick with an outrageously impudent chip from inside the penalty area which teased the frantically backpedalling Olejnik on its way over his head into the net. Then Ajose claimed a last minute reward for his excellent contribution by beating Olejnik to George Lapslie's ball over the top, rounding the beleaguered keeper and ignoring a defender on the goalline to finish clinically. The 5-0 scoreline might have "flattered" the Addicks (or "flattened" them, as optimistically misprinted on the visitors' official website) but they were comfortable enough winners.
Apart from a place in the second round, there were other positives to warm Bowyer's cockles. In Lapslie, Charlton have unearthed a midfield gem whose workrate and will-to-win are insatiable; Billy Clarke's combative return to the colours picks up the slack created by the loss of Josh Cullen and, more temporarily, Ben Reeves; Bauer's reassuring presence rubbed off on big Naby Sarr, who didn't put a foot wrong and, equally to the point, has improved his heading.
Charlton might well have benefitted long term from this unwanted replay, Nothing beats winning; nothing depresses like losing. Sometimes you have to draw a cup-tie to achieve the first and avoid the second. It's been going on for 156 years and it's known as the magic of the Cup. You just gotta love it!
Charlton: Phillips, Dijksteel, Bauer (Sarpong-Wiredu 61), Sarr, Stevenson, Clarke (Morgan 74), Pratley (Marshall 66), Lapslie, Fosu, Ajose, Taylor. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Grant, Hackett-Fairchild. Booked: Taylor.
Mansfield: Olejnik, Benning, Preston, Pearce, Mellis (White 22), Atkinson, Butcher, Sweeney, Elsnik, Hamilton (Graham 61) Rose (Walker 61). Not used: Logan, Law. Gibbens, Blake. Booked: Pearce, Atkinson, White.
Referee: Kevin Johnson. Att: 1,910 (291 visiting)