Steve Avory relishing U18s play-off final

Academy Manager Steve Avory is relishing Friday evening’s U18s play-off final at The Valley and is hoping to see a good turnout of supporters to back the young Addicks against Crystal Palace (7pm).

The match against the Eagles will decide who will be crowned Professional Development League 2 national champions and the local rivalry adds spice to an already-inviting cup final in SE7.

Charlton saw off northern league champions Leeds United last weekend to book their place in the final, while Palace beat Bolton Wanderers in the other semi-final to set up the derby-day final.

And the Addicks will be hoping to secure a third national title in four seasons under the lights on Friday evening.

“Playing in cup finals is what we’re all in it for,” explained Avory.

“Days like Leeds United in the semi-final last Saturday are to be relished and I think our young players certainly did. Likewise, tonight’s game will mean a lot to them. Regardless of the opposition, it’s a cup final.

“We know that Crystal Palace have got some good players. They’re a good team and they won the southern league, but we’ve beaten them once this season and they’ve beaten us and we’ve had some really good games against them, not just this year, but in previous years. The boys at Palace and Charlton know each other so well, but that’s got to be set aside.”

The U18s were crowned national champions in 2015 after beating Brentford in the final at Griffin Park with a side that included both Ademola Lookman and Ezri Konsa. A year later, Karlan Ahearne-Grant helped the Addicks to a penalty shootout victory over Sheffield United in SE7 to seal a second consecutive title.

Last season ended in disappointment with a semi-final defeat against the Blades at Bramall Lane, but Avory is hoping his youngsters will be cheered on by a healthy Valley crowd to help Charlton regain their crown.

“I hope we can get a big crowd,” he said.

“I remember two years ago when we played Sheffield United and three years ago when we played Brentford away, those two games were well attended on the night by Charlton fans and I like to think this is a fixture that will attract a great atmosphere.

“The fans can make a great difference. The boys feel that and if we can start the game strong to get the fans on your side and, hopefully, it will be a night that the boys will all remember.”

Season ticket holders and Valley Gold members are welcome to attend Friday’s match for FREE, while admission is otherwise priced at £3 adults, £2 concessions and £1 juniors. All tickets will be available from The Valley on the night of the match. Season ticket holders and Valley Gold members will need to produce their cards at the turnstiles to obtain their free admission.

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