Charlton’s U23s kicked off 2022 in style by staging a stunning late comeback to seal a 3-2 win over Millwall at The Den on Monday afternoon.
After finding themselves two goals down at the break, the Addicks left it until the final 15 minutes to get themselves back into it with Aaron Henry bagging a brace from a penalty and a peach of a free-kick, before the prolific Daniel Kanu completed the impressive turnaround with four minutes left on the clock.
The starting lineup brought the positive news of Sam Lavelle’s return to action as he gained his first 45 minutes of action since undergoing groin surgery in October, but Millwall took an early lead after seven minutes, capitalising on a mistake as Addicks stopper Nathan Harvey fumbled and dropped Zak Lovelace’s tame initial shot which saw the ball fall to the feet of Seb Drozd for an easy finish.
Charlton were made to withstand some more early pressure with Lovelace firing over from close range, before Dylan Gavin came close to a leveller at the other end, only to be denied by a brilliant save from Lions goalkeeper Joe Wright who kept his goalbound header out of the top corner.
Ryan Viggars fired an effort wide shortly after, but just moments later, the home side would double their lead, again taking advantage of an error at the back.
With Nazir Bakrin trying to shield the ball on the edge of his box, he was dispossessed by Lovelace who was then able to fire in his side’s second goal.
The Addicks started the second half brightly with Euan Williams drawing another good save from Wright who got down well to tip away a low effort after the forward showed good feet to beat a defender on the edge of the box.
With 25 minutes remaining, Wright again denied Williams who managed to get the ball out from under his feet before firing towards goal from 12 yards.
The visitors did finally make the breakthrough their second-half showing deserved with 15 minutes remaining.
Tyreece Campbell’s drive into the box resulted in the wide man being taken down by a blue shirt, leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Henry stepped up and made no mistake, confidently putting his spot-kick away to give his side a lifeline.
Just three minutes later, skipper Henry would plunder his second, drawing Charlton level.
A free-kick 22 yards from goal gave the midfielder a sight at goal and the dead-ball specialist struck his effort low into the bottom right-hand corner, single-handedly cancelling out the Lions’ two-goal advantage.
And it would get better still for the red side of south London who would complete a stunning late comeback by bagging a third goal in the space of 11 minutes with substitute Kanu netting an 86th-minute winner.
Williams’ weighted ball over the top caught out a Lions defender, allowing Kanu to sneak in and calmly slot home, sparking wild scenes of deserved celebrations from the Addicks who make the short journey back to The Valley with all three points in tow.
Charlton U23s: Harvey, Lavelle (O’Connor 46), Elerewe, Bakrin, Campbell, Chin, Anderson, Henry, Williams, Gavin Kanu 72), Viggars (Santos 46).
Subs (not used): Whitling, Agyemang.
Goals: Henry 75 (pen), 78, Kanu 86
(Photos: Tom West)