Charlton’s U18s were crowned Professional Development League 2 – South champions as they secured an 11th straight victory on Saturday.
Zach Mitchell’s second-half strike was the difference as the young Addicks claimed a 1-0 win over Coventry City at Sparrows Lane, securing their finish at the top of the table.
Goalkeeper James Beadle was the hero in the first half as he kept out the Sky Blues from 12 yards. After a Coventry forward went down in the box, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, but Beadle dived to his right to keep out the spot-kick to preserve his clean sheet.
In truth, that was the best opportunity either side had to breaking the deadlock in the first 45, but Tyreece Campbell had a glorious chance to open the scoring on the hour mark.
A quick counter-attack saw Mason Burstow square for the winger six yards out, but his effort was saved by the Coventry stopper.
It mattered not, however, as from the resulting corner, the ball eventually fell to Mitchell, also six yards from goal, and although it at first looked like his effort was hacked away on the line, the linesman flagged to signal that the ball had crossed the line and Charlton had taken the lead.
The hosts came close to a second when substitute Mack Reilly saw a close-range header well saved and the striker came close again when he turned well in the box, only to be thwarted by the Sky Blues’ custodian for a second time.
Indeed, Reilly was so unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet with another of his efforts cleared off the line late on.
Ultimately, one goal would be enough for the champions, who now have home advantage in the Professional Development League 2 play-off semi-finals where they will take on either Birmingham City or Sheffield United who are fighting it out for second place in the north division.
The winners of the semi-final will then take on the winners of Wigan Athletic against Ipswich Town in the final for the right to be crowned national champions.
Charlton U18s: Beadle, Asiimwe, Trialist, Elerewe, Bakrin (Reilly 75), Mitchell, Chin (Dench 50), Adigun, Santos, Campbell (Leaburn 88), Burstow.
Subs (not used): Bower, Ladapo.
Goal: Mitchell 60
(Photo: Tom West)