A young Charlton side played some excellent football as they cruised to a 3-0 home win against Gillingham at The Valley in the Addicks’ opening game of the Papa John’s Trophy.
Academy starlets Aaron Henry and Miles Leaburn both scored second-half goals after a first-half own goal had put Charlton in the lead.
The Addicks began the game in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, with full debuts handed to Harris O’Connor and Daniel Kanu, as Ben Garner made 11 changes from the side that secured an away point at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.
Charlton started at a tempo and created an early chance for Kanu, who headed just wide from a Diallang Jaiyesimi cross.
The Addicks took a 15th minute lead with a cleverly worked corner. The set-piece was directed in to Jaiyesimi running off the near post. The winger turned and drove in a low, powerful cross which bounced off Gillingham’s Lewis Walker and into his own net.
Charlton really took control of the game from that point, playing some nice passing football. Jack Payne’s shot from range in the 17th minute was comfortably saved by Jake Turner but the Gills’ stopper was called into more action 60 seconds later, doing well to deny Leaburn from range and then moving quickly to smother Kanu on the follow-up.
The Addicks had a lot of success down both wings with full-backs O’Connor and Richard Chin putting in dangerous crosses, while Payne had a wonderful moment when he skipped by his defender in the box but was again denied by Turner as Gills escaped to half-time just 1-0 down.
Neil Harris made a triple substitution at half-time to freshen up his side - including bringing on former Addick Ben Reeves.
Despite the changes, Charlton started the second half just as well as they finished the first. After some early pressure, birthday boy Henry curled a low shot into the bottom corner of the goal from 24 yards out to put the Addicks 2-0 up, with Payne getting the assist with a well-weighted pass into the path of the 19-year-old.
Payne had a second assist just before the hour mark, setting up Leaburn who cut inside from the left before drilling into the bottom corner to make it a deserved 3-0.
Nathan Harness, relatively untested throughout the game, stayed focused and was called into action to make a good save to keep out a Mandron effort with 15 minutes remaining in the game.
There was also an opportunity for Matt Dench and Tolu Ladapo to make their debuts as Charlton secured a comfortable home victory.
Charlton: Harness; O’Connor (Dench 67), Barker, Ness, Chin (Bakrin 81); Payne (c), Henry (Williams 81), Forster-Caskey, Jaiyesimi; Leaburn (Ladapo 85), Kanu (Campbell 67)
Subs (not used): Kone, Anderson
Goals: Walker (og) 15, Henry 52, Leaburn 59
Booked: Henry 54 (foul on Law), Dench 75 (foul on Baggott)
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Wright, Williams (c) (Jefferies 46), MacDonald, Lee (Tutonda 63), Law, Walker, Adelakun (Reeves 46), Baggott, Kashket (Mandron 46)
Subs (not used): Morris, Ehmer, Green
Referee: Sunny Gill
Attendance: 1,888 (154 from Gillingham)