The Addicks didn’t need the owner’s gimmicks to put five past the Pilgrims last night. KEVIN NOLAN was watching at The Valley…
On an evening when everything they touched turned to gold, irresistible Charlton showed a disappointing midweek crowd that while they have the ability to infuriate, they can also put decent sides like Plymouth Argyle to the sword.
Five different players got on the scoresheet, two of them (Charlie Kirk and debutant Jes Rak-Sakyi) for the first time in club colours. There might have been many more, with ten-man Argyle let off the hook in a second half, during which Morgan Whittaker’s fine solo goal encouraged the visitors to believe that the unlikeliest of recoveries was on the cards.
Already one down due to Rak Sakyi’s two-yard tap-in after Jayden Stockley saw his powerful header saved brilliantly by Michael Cooper, the Pilgrims faced an embarrassing drubbing when centre-back James Wilson saw red for keeping out Kirk’s far-post shot with an involuntarily outflung hand.
Wilson’s inevitable punishment was made even worse when Stockley converted the stonewall penalty. A clear case of double jeopardy, of course, but, though often an ass, the law is still the law.
During first-half added time, Charlton lowered the boom on the depleted visitors with a goal which will be hard to top as their goal of the season. It was thundered home from 30 yards by the increasingly indispensable Sean Clare, who was still in recovery after being unceremoniously deposited in the front row of seats by Macaulay Gillesphey’s cheap shot.
Clare’s perfect riposte gathered pace as it hit the top left corner of Cooper’s net. Pick that out, as they used to say.
Charlton’s devastating first-half blitz was galvanised by slim loanee Rak Sakyi, who proved unplayable as he marauded down the right flank. Having sauntered through Argyle’s mesmerised defence almost at will, his reluctance to shoot spared his victims on at least two occasions.
But having followed up alertly as Stockley’s parried effort reached him at the far post, he was not about to miss the 11th-minute ricochet which broke kindly in his favour. Rak Sakyi’s debut was sensational but there was much to savour elsewhere in Ben Garner’s hungry side, who perhaps had a point to make after slumping to late defeat three days previously at Hillsborough.
Clare’s spectacular goal crowned 45 flawless minutes both up and down the right flank. Among other effervescent Addicks were Albie Morgan, who slotted in unselfishly at right back after Clare was withdrawn near the hour mark and Kirk, who demonstrated indelibly that a supremely talented footballer has been concealed by a series of diffident performances last season.
Behind Kirk, 21 year-old Charles Clayden justified Garner’s faith in him with a sound, responsible contribution but it was, not for the first time either this season or last, the often unsung George Dobson who was the catalyst behind Charlton’s outstanding display.
Hunch-shouldered, slickly-coiffured and with an insatiable appetite for work, Dobson – no veteran himself at 24 – often goes unnoticed as he gets through more than his fair share of unstinting effort in his team’s cause.
Always available to help out a struggling colleague, he regularly breaks up opponents’ play with urgent pressing and snappy challenges before setting the Addicks up to counter-attack with pace and aggression.
An old-school midfielder, George’s name must surely be the first on Garner’s teamsheet. And Dobson must quickly follow it. Blessed with a power-packed engine, he won’t thank the manager for rotating him. He still plays football like a besotted kid in a public park. You know the type – they hate half-time and final whistles.
Facing ten men, meanwhile, it was possibly to be expected – but no less blameworthy – that Charlton relaxed their pressure on the second half accelerator. Half of the session had slipped away when their complacency was disturbed by Whittaker’s unassisted response.
🗣 'I'm absolutely delighted'
The gaffer offers his thoughts on tonight's emphatic victory over Plymouth.
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) August 16, 2022
Breaking towards Joe Wollacott’s distant goal after being gifted possession by substitute Jack Payne, the tall forward picked his time to beat Wollacott with a crisp low drive into the surprised keeper’s bottom-right corner. Having replaced the stylish Scott Fraser midway through the second half, it was the only flaw in Payne’s sturdy performance.
The Janners’ gutsy attitude brought instant reprisal. They came under intense pressure which resulted in Kirk blasting an angled shot off the lunging Jordan Houghton to make it 4-1 before the most popular goal of the evening was scored in the 84th minute by Miles, son of Carl, Leaburn, already as big a cult figure at The Valley as his legendary dad.
Given a second bite at a fleeting chance by a fortuitous rebound, young Miles planted a superb drive into the top left corner to crown Charlton’s near-perfect evening. It even made the interval Crossbeer Challenge (geddit? it’s a play on Crossbar) almost bearable.
Yeah, no it really doesn’t, because this latest embarrassment seals Charlton’s bid to be named League One’s naffest club. Their crowd is already harangued by unnecessary but frequently repeated warnings against smoking, flare lighting or sexism in any form. We get the point. Now leave off, please.
But let’s not be churlish on such an electrifying evening. Except to point out it will mean little if Cambridge United don’t receive the same treatment next Saturday. You don’t have to be quite so brilliant, chaps. Just win. You just can’t beat winning!
Charlton: Wollacott, Clare (McGrandles 58), Lavelle, O’Connell (Inniss 77), Clayden, Dobson, Morgan, Kirk, Rak-Sakyi (Leaburn 64), Fraser (Payne 64), Stockley. Not used: McGillivray, Sessegnon, Blackett-Taylor.
Plymouth: Cooper, Gillesphey, Houghton, Wilson, Scarr, Edwards (Lonwijk 84), Hardie (Enis 46), Mumba (Galloway 46), Azaz (Jephcott 55), Whittaker, Randell (Butcher 46). Not used: Burton, Mayor.
Referee: Sam Purkiss. Att: 12,392 (1,160 visiting).
LIKE KEVIN’S REPORTS? SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION
– We publish Charlton Athletic match reports from home games. You can help us by becoming a supporter at presspatron.com/charltonchampion
– You can also support us via Patreon
– Can your company sponsor these match reports? Get in touch