Charlton 6 (Davison 5,90, Blackett-Taylor 18, Lee 22, Francombe o.g.49, Burstow 82), Crawley Town 1 (Appiah 75,pen).
A high octane blend of blistering pace, power and precision tore Crawley Town to pieces as a strong Charlton side made a freescoring start to their Papa John's Trophy campaign on Tuesday evening. The visitors were rabbits in the headlights as these buccaneering Addicks played in a spirit which might fairly be described as "joie de football." There wasn't an inhibition in sight by the time Josh Davison's second goal of the evening brought Crawley's suffering to a merciful end.
As a viable contest, the tie was settled by a quickfire salvo of three goals within 22 minutes of the start. The first was claimed by Davison, who finished confidently into the bottom left corner after bright approach play involving Charles Clayden and Corey Blackett-Taylor; the latter doubled the lead by dribbling into Town's penalty area, where he briefly lost, then regained, possession before planting a precise shot into the same corner favoured by Davison; watched by proud papa Robert, Elliot Lee made it three when he skilfully controlled George Dobson's crisp pass with his right foot, nutmegged a defender and stroked a low left-footed drive into that part of Blondy Nna Noukeu's net already identified as vulnerable by Davison and Blackett-Taylor.
Following a forgivable lull, Nigel Adkins' strong second stringers were back at Crawley's throats before the interval. A bundle of energy on the left wing, Clayden's precise cross laid on an inviting chance which Sean Clare headed inexplicably wide. The knock which necessitated Clare's second half withdrawal was the only blot on Nigel Adkins' evening, one which presented him with several selection dilemmas prior to Cheltenham Town's arrival at The Valley on September 11th. But with the Addicks insatiable, meanwhile, Clayden arrived on the end of Blackett-Taylor's right wing centre but, from six yards, smashed his shot against the bar.
The second half brought scant relief to John Yems' men. Just four minutes of the session had elapsed when Davison made ground on the right and fired a hard, low ball into the danger area, leaving Town skipper George Francomb helpless as the ball rocketed into the net off his knee.
Bewildered and outclassed, Crawley improved as the storm abated. Jack Powell's free kick rebounded off the bar following Jason Pearce's foul on substitute Kwesi Appiah before the veteran defender offended again by tripping Sam Ashford, this time inside the penalty area. Appiah's capable spotkick gave first team debutant Mathan Harness no chance.
If the visitors expected Appiah's goal to prove a turning point, they were to be cruelly disabused. Adkins' hungry team, each of them keen to impress him, promptly turned up the heat again. Their passing was positive and invariably received on the half-turn, its clear intent to go forward and hurt the opposition. Sporadic attempts to play out from the back were half-hearted, almost sheepish and thankfully abandoned The ball was moved quickly and crisply, with attack the clear watchword. It's accepted that Tuesday's opponents were of League Two standard but, then again, Charlton are themselves are only one division above them. You deal with what's in front of you.
Such a pleasing performance deserved its final flourish and Charlton duly delivered with two late strikes. Having replaced the outstanding Lee with eight minutes remaining, Mason Burstow marked his first team debut by cleverly adjusting his position to head home Clayden's measured cross. The talented kid's delight was shared by the entire squad, which he promptly repaid by laying on Davison's coup-de-grace in added time. His surge into Town's penalty area spreadeagled their rearguard and Davison's ruthless finish bookended Charlton's exhilarating exhibition.
Now it's over to Nigel to whittle down to eleven the side which will face Cheltenham next week. His task is unenviable and best left to him. Just one question, boss. Among a number of deserving cases, how do you leave out Elliott Lee?
Charlton: Harness, Barker, Elewere, Pearce, Roddy. Blackett-Taylor (Kirk 64), Dobson, Clare (Dempsey 64), Lee (Burstow 80), Clayden, Davison. Not used: McGillivray, Famewo, Morgan. Booked: Pearce.
Referee: Neil Hair. Att: 1404 (167 visiting).