Olly Groome reports
Charlton’s U18s remain eight points clear at the top of Professional Development League 2 – South following a 1-0 victory at Watford on Saturday.
Despite missing a first-half penalty, the young Addicks claimed all three points thanks to Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu’s winner on the stroke of half-time to cement top place and put a 19-point gap between themselves and Crystal Palace in third position.
The visitors had a chance to take the lead from the spot early on when Albie Morgan was tripped as he entered the box. The midfielder stepped up himself to try his luck from 12 yards, but his low effort was kept out by the Hornets’ stopper.
Charlton enjoyed the better of the action throughout. Sarpong-Wiredu saw a shot roll inches past the left upright and the midfielder came close again when he narrowly missed the target with his downwards header from a corner.
The Addicks were proving to be a real handful from set-pieces and Alex Willis nodded over from another corner as they looked to break down the home side’s stern defence.
The lock was very nearly unpicked thanks to a wonderful one-touch move which worked Willis into the box, but although the striker beat the keeper with his well-struck effort, he could only watch as it crashed back off the crossbar.
Sergei Baltacha’s and Hamza Serrar’s side did finally get the lead that their play had deserved in first-half injury time and it came from another set-piece.
Morgan sent in the corner delivery form the left and Sarpong-Wiredu rose highest to power home a header from the edge of the six-yard box.
After the break, Timmy Abraham had an opportunity to double the lead one-on-one, only to be kept out by the keeper and the striker came close again later when he very nearly took advantage of a defensive mix-up to get in behind the keeper, but was denied by a covering defender’s block.
Just the one goal would be enough, however, as the youngsters’ rich vein of form continues, with a visit of local rivals Millwall to Sparrows Lane providing the next test on Saturday morning.
Charlton: Maynard-Brewer; Bangura-Williams, Pollard, Simpson, Zemura; Maloney, Sarpong-Wiredu, Morgan (Dempsey 84); Doughty (Gody 77), Willis (Keefe 87), Abraham.
Subs (not used): Harvey, Isiaka.
Goal: Sarpong-Wiredu 45+2
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