Charlton 2 (Burstow 15, Stockley 42,pen) Aston Villa u-21s 1 (Thorndike 40).
There's none so zealous as a convert and, as a new disciple, I won't hear a word against the Papa John Trophy. I've never tried their pizza but the competition bearing their name has been nothing but fun since Charlton put six past Crawley Town back in August. OK, there was that unpleasant blip at Orient last month but they were qualified for the knockout stages by then and can be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball. Could have happened to anyone.
On a chilly Tuesday evening, Aston Villa's young guns breezed into The Valley with three League One scalps already hanging from their belts and clearly expecting to make the Addicks their latest victims. The entire club is on the crest of a wave following the arrival of Steven Gerrard as first team manager; the trickledown effect could hardly fail to permeate through the junior ranks. This was the perfect opportunity for the u-21 Villans to impress the great man.
Rising to the challenge, Johnnie Jackson chose a strong team, backed it with a useful bench and met Villa head on. Charlton's attacking intent was made clear in the early going when Mason Burstow pounced on Oliwier Zych's errant pass but screwed his shot woefully wide. The teenager made almost immediate amends but not before Harry Arter's slip presented Lamare Bogarde with a similar chance which he dragged wide of Nathan Harness' right hand post.
After 15 minutes of exhilarating but error-strewn football, Burstow fired Charlton in front with a sumptuous strike. Assessing Albie Morgan's cleverly floated ball as it sailed over his right shoulder, he unleashed a ferocious left-footed volley which reduced Zych to mere bystander as it exploded into the net behind him. Notice had been served on the confident Midlanders that beating their latest League One opponents was to be no formality.
Rattled they might have been but Mark Delaney's youthful side had bite as well as skill in their make-up. Cameron Archer's shot slid dangerously close to a post while Arter's sliding interception of Caleb Chukwuemeka's hard-driven low cross was critical. The visitors were menacing every time they crossed into home territory and it was no surprise when they equalised five minutes before the break. There was pure quality to the pass threaded through Charlton's rearguard by Chukwuemeka and cool precision to the finish applied by Finley Thorndike. It was a terrific goal scored by a kid bearing a name which wouldn't have looked out of place on the West End stage before the war. An outstanding moniker, matched only by a defender called Jaden Philogene-Bidace, not to mention a substitute answering to Tristan Abideen-Goodridge, who replaced Caleb Chukwuemeka. Great names - report filling names!
Villa were on par for only two minutes before Jayden Stockley's sharp turn proved too much for Tim Iroegbunam (!) whose clumsy tackle cut his legs from under him. Applying the ideal punishment to the crime, Stockley patiently waited until the visitors' pointless protests had abated before dispatching a no-nonsense penalty past Oliwier(?) Zych. Difficult to know what No. 50 Sil Swinkels made of it; that's Sil Swinkels, a generational riposte to Ben Watson.
Tuesday's second half was an altogether quieter affair, reasonably well managed by Jackson's mixture of youth and experience. Morgan came close to putting useful distance between the sides with a 25-yard free kick which rebounded harmlessly off a post before Harness came into his own to protect the lead. His reaction save from Thorndike, sprung clear by his one-two with Iroegbunam, was made with an outstretched foot and was followed by bravery at Archer's feet as they disputed a loose ball. A first half replacement for unlucky Charles Clayden, meanwhile, Corey Blackett-Taylor's pace and elusiveness was a handful for the visitors and provided the Addicks with a helpful attacking outlet. Charlton even handled four added minutes with elegant ease, an art in itself and one not altogether mastered at senior level.
Treating his cup commitments with a gravity unfamiliar to Charlton fans, Jackson's attention will now switch to the FA Cup second round trip to Gateshead on Friday. Their ruthless 4-0 dismissal of Havant & Waterlooville in the first round signalled new intent so expect a strong selection and unremitting effort. After all, winning beats any alternative they've come up with yet...
Charlton: Harness, Gunter, Elewere, Bakrin, Arter (Henry 74), Morgan, Clayden (Blackett-Taylor 38), Kirk, Watson, Stockley
(Leko 64), Burstow (Davison 64). Not used: Harvey, Chin, Ness.
Villa u-21: Zych, Philogene-Bidace, Archer, Bogarde, Chrisene (Barber 61), Chukwuemeka (Abideen-Goodridge 77), Iroegbunam,
Swinkels, Feeney, Ealing, Thorndike. Not used: Marshall, Reedin, Sewell, Hart, Afoka.
Referee: Christopher Pollard. Att: 1,283 (356 visiting).