Charlton’s U18s were cruelly beaten on penalties by Barnsley in the Professional Development League 2 national play-off final at Oakwell on Saturday.
Jason Pearce’s Addicks had fought back from one-goal down to force extra time in Yorkshire – with Henry Rylah netting the deserved leveller – and Ollie Hobden then headed Charlton in front in extra time.
Three minutes from time, Barnsley equalised from a set-piece and they would go on to win on penalties. The defeat was so harsh on the young Addicks who had enjoyed a fantastic season but it is no doubt an afternoon that they will learn valuable lessons from.
In terms of team news, Pearce made one change to the side that thrashed Sheffield United in the semi-final.
Centre-back Josh Laqeretabua boarded a plane to the U20s World Cup 24 hours after that victory against the Blades so he was replaced in the XI by Hobden.
The first chance of the game was the Addicks’. Ryan Huke put Daniel Kanu in on the left and he opened his body up before curling an effort at goal that beat Tykes keeper Rogan Ravenhill but was blocked on the line by a defender.
At the other end, Fabio Jalo dragged a shot wide on 14 minutes, connecting with a Vimal Yoganthan cut-back, in what was the hosts’ first opportunity of the game.
The start to the final had been far tighter than the Addicks’ semi-final but it began to open up after the 15-minute mark. Barnsley went close on 16 minutes. Central striker Josiah Dyer got his head on a driven cross but could only divert his header over the bar.
Jalo dragged an effort wide for the Tykes as the tie approached the half-hour mark and on 38 minutes Kanu had the ball in the net for Charlton, only for the flag to be up for offside.
A minute later, Barnsley were awarded a penalty for handball. Theo Chapman dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner of the net to hand them the lead.
They almost doubled their advantaged before the break but after Kone had made a fantastic save from a Hayden Pickard shot, Dyer tucked home the rebound for an offside position.
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After the break, the Addicks forced a corner inside 90 seconds of the second half when leading scorer Patrick Casey saw an angled drive be turned behind.
By 49 minutes, the Addicks were level. Kanu broke clear and rounded goalkeeper Ravenhill and, although he was forced wide, he showed enough composure to pick out Rylah in the middle and he headed home.
With momentum behind them, the Addicks came close to completing the turnaround a couple of minutes later when Kanu dragged an effort wide while, at the other end, stopper Ahmed Kone had to be alert to push a Jalo strike behind.
A huge opportunity fell the way of Charlton 15 minutes from time. Anderson sent Casey through on goal in a central position but he was denied by Ravenhill.
Five minutes from time, Kone dived at the feet of Reds substitute Emmaisa Nzondo with the loose ball dropping for danger-man Jalo, who saw his first-time effort blocked by Zach Mitchell.
In the dying seconds, Casey came so close to winning it for the Addicks but his effort was hacked off the line at point-blank range.
Charlton started extra time on the front foot but despite forcing a flurry of corners they were unable to create any chances on goal and it looked as if the teams would head into the extra-time break on level terms.
However, one minute before the drinks break, Nathan Asiimwe sent in a teasing cross that Hobden, who had earlier been penalised for the Barnsley penalty, rose highest to meet and divert the ball into the net with a brilliant header.
It was a deserved goal for the Addicks, who had dominated the extra period, and in the second 15-minute period they came so close to holding out for victory. Three minutes from time, though, Matty Doyle nodded home from a corner to send the final to a penalty shootout.
The leveller proved decisive as Barnsley would go on to win the shootout 6-5.
Barnsley U18s: Ravenhill, McKay, Pickard, Trialist, Bland (c), Murchison, Yogathan (Monteiro 80), Makiessi, Dyer (Nzondo 74), Chapman, Jalo.
Subs (not used): Carter-Rogers, Farrell, Doyle.
Goal: Chapman 40, Doyle 117
Booked: Jalo 69 (altercation with Kedwell)
Charlton U18s: Kone; Asiimwe (Okwumo 119), Hobden, Mitchell, Bower, Kedwell, Anderson (c), Huke, Rylah (Enslin 112), Casey, Kanu
Subs (not used): Sadler, Safa, Enslin, Mbick
Goal: Rylah 49, Hobden 104
Booked: Kedwell 69 (altercation with Jalo), Mitchell 90+1 (foul on Jalo), Kone 111 (timewasting)