U's go out of the Capital One Cup. Full time report
United bowed out of this season's Capital One Cup as Championship side Charlton Athletic proved just too strong for them at The Valley tonight. Two goals from Simon Church, a Danny Green free-kick and a last-minute penalty from Joe Pigott sent the Addicks through despite a typically committed United performance against a side two divisions higher.
After the euphoria of an opening day win at Portsmouth there were changes to combine the solid base of that first game with the youth of Callum O’Dowda and Ryan Williams, who were both handed full debuts on the wings to sample life against a Championship side of undoubted quality. With that in mind there was also a slight change of shape, with James Constable playing as a sole striker and Asa Hall asked to support him from a deeper role.
Initially at least The U’s were happy to sit and let Charlton pass the ball around in their own half, looking to move the visitors out of position. It made for a slow-paced, tactical game a million miles from the hustle and bustle of League 2.
United almost created a couple of openings with a more direct approach but Charlton’s patience was exemplary and on 18 minutes they were a goal up, albeit thanks to a slice of good fortune. Joe Pigott tried to dribble through the massed defence on the edge of the United area but nudged it a little too far in front of him. Danny Rose got a foot in but the ball bounced back off of Pigott and perfectly into the path of Church. He had Clarke at his mercy and made no mistake with a well-placed shot to make it 1-0.
United came back and an O’Dowda free kick found Johnny Mullins at the far post on 21. His header was cleared and sparked a swift counter by the Addicks which was only ended when Jake Wright threw himself into the path of a goalbound shot to bravely block with his face. The United skipper used the back of his head to keep a Dale Stephens effort out after 29 and there was no denying that Charlton were on top.
United do have a strength of character that will be a massive help this season and being a goal down again just spurred them on to dig in and fight back. Constable fired a couple of shots wide, while also harrying any defender who dallied on the ball, Mullins tackled anything that moved, Whing and Rose threw themselves into challenges all across the middle of the park and through sheer tenacity they stayed in the game.
Their best moment of the first half came on 32 when Mullins surged forward from one box to the other and slipped a nice ball for Rose whose run was only ended at the last second by a recovering defender. Williams fired over when well placed on 37 and despite being a goal down United were far from out of the game at half time.
Unfortunately, four minutes into the second half they were 2-0 down and up against it. Danny Green was a long way out on the right flank when he lined up a free kick but he cleverly hit it hard and low towards the far post, allowing his teammates to run across it. Clarke was beaten, no further touch was required and the ball was in the bottom left corner of the net in a flash to double the home side’s advantage.
On 56 minutes United, past winners of the competition of course, were heading for the exit as Church made it 3-0. Again there was a touch of good fortune as a scuffed shot came his way but with one decisive turn and a low shot across Clrake the ball was in the net and Charlton were heading for Thursday’s second round draw.
The Yellows had their moments - Williams pinged in a good effort well held by home keeper Ben Hamer and subs Alfie Potter and Deane Smalley carved through on 71 before Leon Cort bravely denied Potter as he prepared to shoot. Three appeals for handball in the Charlton box were waved away by referee Mr Davies, perhaps showing that United were still trying to get something out of the game, but only a superb tackle by Tom Newey in the last minute denied Marvin Sordell a fourth for the home side.
It was a temporary reprieve and that fourth goal came moments later in the 95th minute and was a little harsh on United as Wright brought down Sordell and Pigott fired the penalty underneath the despairing Clarke.
No upset then and no doubting that the better side won on the night. United will look back on encouraging debuts from O'Dowda and Williams, some typical grit from the back line and Whing and then they will put this game to bed and move on to the next. On Saturday they welcome Bury in the first home game of the league season.
Report by Chris Williams
Images by Darrell Fisher
Stats by OPTA
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