U23s Defeated By Charlton and Still Looking for First Point
Monday, 23rd Sep 2019 21:03 by James Ager
Despite Jordan Roberts netting inside the first minute, Town's U23 side were beaten 3-1 by Charlton at Portman Road on Monday evening, their sixth straight league defeat at the start of the Professional Development League Two South season.
The Blues lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Toto Nsiala alongside Corrie Ndaba at the heart of defence. Widemen Anthony Georgiou and Luke Garbutt were on the right and left side of midfield respectively, with youngsters Idris El Mizouni and Armando Dobra occupying central roles in behind number nine Jordan Roberts.
Charlton included former Town scholar Luca Vega, who left Playford Road and signed a professional contract with the Addicks in the summer, at left-back.
Town made a blistering start and took the lead after just 44 seconds. Georgiou picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove forward before playing a neat pass into the path of Roberts, who hit a low right-foot shot which Charlton keeper Ben Amos got a hand to, however, the ball bounced up and spun over the line and into the net.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the next quarter of an hour but without troubling Harry Wright in the Town goal, and the closest either side came to scoring was when Garbutt fired well over from 25 yards out.
On 22 Ryley Scott made a good block in the area, only to see the ball fall kindly for Ben Dempsey who struck a fierce drive from 12 yards out, which Wright got down well to block.
Minutes later, Armando Quitirna Junior cut in from the left but shot straight at the Town keeper from the edge of the box, before Jake Forster-Caskey's right-sided corner kick hit the foot of Wright's near post before being cleared.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Nsiala picked up a yellow card after tripping Quitirna Junior on the left side of the Town box. The resultant freekick wasn't cleared and Dempsey nodded the ball towards goal, only for Ndaba to head it up and into the roof of the net in his attempt to clear the danger.
Nsiala threw himself in the way of Quitirna Junior's effort after the diminutive winger had got the better of young right-back Connor O'Reilly but on 43 the visitors did take the lead when Adam Matthews's cut-back to the edge of the box was stroked into the bottom corner by Dempsey.
There was still time for the visitors to increase their lead before the interval when, in the second minute of stoppage time, a good ball from right-back Matthews floated over Ndaba and released Josh Davison. The striker took a good first touch before confidently beating Wright with virtually the last kick of the half.
Four minutes after the restart, the lively Dobra cut in from the left and hit a right-foot strike that cannoned off the bar and down, but not across the line.
Within a minute, the Albanian U19 international dispossessed centre-back Sam Keefe and advanced through on goal before attempting to chip Amos, but the keeper got his fingertips to the ball to divert it inches wide of the far post.
On 54 Roberts headed Garbutt's left-wing cross down but straight at Amos from close range, with the Everton loanee then withdrawn shortly after the hour mark in what looked to be a pre-planned change, with Australian Ben Folami making the third appearance of his comeback following a lengthy injury lay-off.
With 20 minutes remaining, the visitors had a golden chance to score a fourth when Forster-Caskey, stepson of former Blues striker Nicky Forster, threaded a fine ball through the middle of the Town defence which Albie Morgan latched onto, but he could only lift the ball over the bar under pressure from O'Reilly.
Gerard Nash's side huffed and puffed but failed to break down a stubborn Charlton defence for a second time. The closest they came was when Folami teed up Georgiou late on but his shot was blocked, before Dobra tamely hit an effort straight at Amos.
Nsiala won most of his aerial battles and will have been pleased to get through 90 minutes. Georgiou and Garbutt were both fairly quiet and the former's set pieces rarely got past the first man, which was disappointing.
Aside from early on, Roberts didn't see too much of the ball but Dobra was a bright spark for Town; regularly driving at the visitors' defence and trying to create chances for himself and his team-mates.
U23s: Wright, O'Reilly (Cotter 75), Clements, Scott (McGavin 62), Nsiala, Ndaba, Georgiou, El Mizouni, Roberts, Dobra, Garbutt (Folami 62). Unused: Egan, Simpson.
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