Charlton made it four wins in five games to start 2023 with a 2-1 win at Exeter City.
The Addicks scored two outstanding goals in the first half and despite the home side pulling a goal back before half-time, Dean Holden’s team were able to see the game out to secure a second away win in as many games.
Jes Rak-Sakyi’s opener, his eighth of the campaign, was a Charlton goal of the season contender, while Corey Blackett-Taylor notched his fifth in calm fashion. Demetri Mitchell got a goal back for Exeter who pressed well at the end of the first half. Charlton controlled the tempo in the second half and gave up few chances but Ashley Maynard-Brewer made an excellent sprawling save at the death to ensure the Addicks’ victory.
Charlton began the game in a 4-3-3 formation with deadline-day signing, Gavin Kilkenny, coming in for his debut, replacing Albie Morgan as the only change Holden made to his team.
Exeter started brightly but it was the Addicks who took the lead with an outstanding goal. After a spell of possession, George Dobson’s chipped through ball was pinpoint for Rak-Sakyi. The winger’s controlled volley, across his body, with his stronger left foot, was outstanding, giving Jamal Blackman in the Exeter goal no chance to keep out the best goal of the youngster's career to date.
Following the goal Rak-Sakyi was booked after he and his teammates ran to the dug out and held up a shirt reading: “FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS BEN JAY X” on the anniversary of the passing of Charlton supporter, Ben Jay.
Charlton’s second goal, 10 minutes later, wasn’t quite as good but again came following a spell of possession. This time is was an exquisite pass from Lucas Ness that released Blackett-Taylor on the inside-left channel. The winger got away from defender Jake Caprice and slotted a low shot into the goal.
The Addicks continued to control the game, with Exeter Manager, Gary Caldwell, bringing on Demetri Mitchell in the 26th minute in place of Jack Sparkes.
The change made a difference as Exeter’s play improved and it was Mitchell, at the back post, who got Exeter back into the game with a calm finish from Caprice’s deep cross from Exeter’s right.
The home side finished the half the stronger of the two team and Ryan Inniss and Matt Penney both made blocks to help the Addicks keep their lead while Maynard-Brewer made himself big to deny Pierce Sweeney.
After an open first half, the second half began in more cagey fashion. The Addicks were still able to create openings with Macauley Bonne collecting from Fraser and turning well before shooting just over the crossbar.
Charlton’s best chance of the second half came when Penney won the ball back and fed Rak-Sakyi on the left wing. The 19-year-old broke forward and found Blackett-Taylor in the box but his effort was smothered well by Blackman.
Maynard-Brewer’s late save saw him dive low to his left to keep out a wonderful 30-yard half volley from Harry Kite as the Addicks secured a deserved three points.
Exeter City: Blackman, Caprice, Sparkes (Mitchell 26), Hartridge, Harper (McDonald 71), Collins (Kite 71), Stansfield, Nombe, White (Scott 80), Aimson, Sweeney (c)
Subs (not used): Woods, Chauke, Diabate
Goal: Mitchell 31
Assist: Caprice 31
Booked: Stansfield 45+2 (foul on Rak-Sakyi), Kite 73 (foul on Rak-Sakyi)
Charlton: Maynard-Brewer; Clare, Inniss, Ness, Penney; Kilkenny, Dobson (c), Fraser; Rak-Sakyi (Thomas 90+3), Bonne (Leaburn 74), Blackett-Taylor (Campbell 90)
Subs (not used): Harness, Henry, Morgan, Payne
Goals: Rak-Sakyi 8, Blackett-Taylor 18
Assists: Dobson 8, Ness 18
Booked: Rak-Sakyi 8 (celebration), Ness 32 (foul on Nombe)
Referee: D Bourne
Attendance: 7,685 (1,057 from Charlton)