Charlton’s U23s shared a six-goal thriller with league-leaders Watford at St Albans City on Monday as Chuks Aneke and George Lapslie gained vital minutes towards their returns to full fitness.
Five of the six goals were netted in a scintillating first-half which saw the young Addicks take the lead twice, despite falling behind to an early Hornets strike.
10 minutes were on the clock when Sam Dalby put the hosts in front, tapping home from close range after being teed up by a low cross from the left.
But Jason Euell’s side would draw themselves level through Aneke, who has shown fine form for the U23s in recent weeks as he gains more fitness.
Picking the ball up on the left following a fantastic sliding tackle from Toby Stevenson, the forward headed straight for goal, brushing aside the attentions of the Watford defence before curling a superb finish past the keeper and inside the right-hand upright for his fifth goal in three U23 games.
10 minutes later, the visitors took the lead. After exchanging passes with Lapslie on the right-hand side of the box, Albie Morgan’s initial poke towards goal was blocked and played straight back to him and the quick-thinking midfielder replied with a first-time effort into the top corner from eight yards.
However, it took Watford a little over a minute to hit back to make it 2-2 as Cameron Green rounded off a slick passing move to slot into the bottom corner.
Charlton were determined to regain their advantage before the break and they did just that from the penalty spot. Lapslie was brought down in the box, leaving James Vennings to step up and dispatch his penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, out of reach of the stopper.
After the first-half goal-fest, things quietened down somewhat after the break. Aneke came close to securing a brace when he forced a good save from Abraham Odoh’s cutback, before coming even closer when he ghosted in at the back post from a deep corner, only to see his side-footed effort come back off the post.
At the other end, the Hornets threatened a leveller late on when a shot from outside the box bounced off the post and, in the 89th minute, the hosts broke through to score a last-gasp equaliser.
A cross from the right was met at the near post Ryan Cassidy, who beat Nathan Harness to the ball to prod home, leaving the Addicks frustrated.
Charlton U23s: Harness, Yao, Trialist, Stevenson, Powell, Vennings, Lapslie (Odoh 46), Morgan, Wiredu (Dempsey 83), Davison, Aneke (Ghandour 73).
Subs (not used): Osaghae, Keefe.
Goals: Aneke 25, Morgan 35, Vennings 40 (pen)