U18s duo Karoy Anderson and Toby Bower are relishing the opportunity to play at The Valley this Friday, when they take on Sheffield United in the Professional Development League 2 play-off semi-finals (KO 5pm).
Jason Pearce’s side booked their place in the national play-offs after securing the PDL2-South title last month with a 4-1 win over Coventry City. The young Addicks head into the tie seeking revenge following last year's defeat to Sheffield United in the play-off final.
Upon securing the title, captain Toby Bower, said: “It feels really good. That's what we want to do - we want to win every single week. We work hard in training and in games we always work for each other so to get the job done and win the league is always a good thing."
Midfielder Anderson, who enjoyed a loan spell with Aldershot Town this season, added: “It’s something that we expect to do. We set out for that at the beginning of the season. Wherever I went out on loan or whatever age group I play at, I always wanted to make sure we secured this title as well as any others that were able to be won."
“It’s an unreal feeling to captain the boys all the way throughout the season, winning games pretty much every week,” said Bower. “It’s been a really good experience. We are all thinking about what they did to us at their place. Coming to The Valley is going to be a big occasion and we are hoping to win the game."
The pair both featured in last year’s play-off final - a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Blades. Anderson claims he now has a lot more experience under his belt and knows what must be done in preparation for Friday.
“I feel like I have had the experience of making sure we win games. I think the team also knows that this is a game that is not to be taken lightly, we need to get the win. We look back at what they did to us and feel that we should have done better. Now we are going to make it right.
“I got an opportunity in November and I felt it was a great experience. The other day I travelled up with the [first team] squad [to Cheltenham] and I enjoyed being around it. You see what can be. Hopefully next season and in the seasons to come I can get some more chances to prove myself."
Bower highlighted the successful and consistent pathway there is at Charlton as a source of inspiration for the club's youngsters.
“Seeing all the boys from my age group and a couple years above going into the first team, it's promising. Hopefully I can make that step up in the future."
Supporters can attend the last-four tie in SE7 to get behind Jason Pearce's side, with tickets priced at £3 for adults and £2 for concessions. Click here to purchase your tickets.
Season-ticket holders and Valley Gold members can gain free admission.
Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club’s academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.
(Article by Alex Forrest; photography by Sam Wheatland)