Olly Groome reports from Stadium MK
Karl Robinson was delighted with the character shown by his young players for 90 minutes despite exiting the FA Cup with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Milton Keynes Dons after extra time.
The Addicks had six academy graduates on display during the second-round replay as Charlton gave a good account of themselves in normal time, but the extra period proved a stretch too far with fatigue setting into the youngsters' legs.
And speaking to the press following the clash at Stadium MK, the Valley boss was quick to heap praise on the impact made by those young players who were handed their chance to impress.
Question: Karl, in the end it ended in a 3-1 defeat, but you must have thought you should have won it in normal time?
Karl Robinson: “For 90 minutes we were by far the better team, but extra time was just a bit too much for our young players.
“That’s down to age. Ademola was at the pinnacle of his performances today and I tell you, Ezri Konsa is going to play at the highest level.
“Joe Aribo, I was so happy with his mistake. I turned to my staff and I said ‘this kid now crumbles and we know his mentality, or he steps forward and we take this kid to the top’. People will look at the result, but we were the better team.
“We had a one-on-one with Ademola Lookman, we had another in the 91st minute, at 2-1 we missed a sitter again and they went down the other end and scored. If I’m talking development and this club being promoted, I’ve seen why we can do it tonight.
“I’m disappointed, but we looked, for 90 minutes, a very aggressive, expansive, solid team and I’m so, so proud of the young players today. That will live with them forever and we have to make it our priority to make these kids look a team.
“Foxy, Dillon, Ezri, Ademola, Joe, Brandon – six homegrown players against a team that are tipped to go and do things in this league, against their strongest team.
“We’ve played better today than we did when we got a draw at The Valley the other week. We were far better and we should’ve won. I signed their keeper, and he’s cost me tonight!”
Q: It was noticeable that you were always encouraging the players. You kick every ball in the technical area!
KR: “I love my job and I love being part of this club. I now love this club even more because of what I’ve just seen.
“I’ve seen young, South-East London boys roll their sleeves up, make mistakes and step up and be counted. That’s what it takes to play for Charlton.
“We take the rough with the smooth, but we stand up and be counted, and I’m proud of them, I really am.
“I’m gutted because we lost, but I know why we lost. We were disjointed and the young players ran out of gas, but don’t forget all the players we had missing today. Josh will come back in, Crofty will be back, Decland is back next week, Frederik will be back.
“Over 90 minutes we were excellent and they only scored their goal through a mistake. I don’t think Dillon had to make a save.”
Q: The only worry really was Lee Novak’s injury in the first half. How did that affect things?
KR: “I’ve had three games now where I’ve lost a player to injury within 15 minutes. Our treatment room is like Euston Station, it’s very busy there of a morning!
“But we had to cope with it. We put Foxy on because he’s been ill so it was good for him to get some minutes. Adam Chicksen as a left winger looked outstanding and scored against his former club. I don’t know where his right foot came from because I never coached him that!
“I like the three behind the striker and we’ve all seen today, that’s how we want to play. If I had a criticism, when we got in the final third I thought we came back too much, rather than asking questions beyond the line.”
Read Time: 4 mins