CHARLTON TURN ON THE STYLE AS THEY ROMP TO VICTORY AT STONEBRIDGE ROAD…
Report by Ed Miller
The Fleet found themselves at sixes and sevens in more ways than one this afternoon at Stonebridge Road following a six-goal victory by a strong Charlton side that will give Liam Daish plenty to think about on the training ground in the weeks ahead.
That said, the scoreline will not unduly worry the Fleet boss who will have used the outing more as a learning exercise about several triallists who today filled positions ahead of more regular squad members. In the starting line-up this afternoon were Waltham Forest defender Cedric Ngakam and former Leyton Orient striker Efe Echanomi, while on the bench were ex-Stevenage pair Tyrone Berry and Isaiah Rankin, once of Arsenal, Bradford and Brentford, as well as Mario Noto who previously played for Canvey Island and Chelmsford.
The home side, playing in front of an impressive 1,859 for the first time since the Wembley victory over Torquay, got off to the worst possible start as the Addicks took the lead with one of the quickest goals ever seen at Stonebridge Road. A long-ball straight from the kick-off saw Darius Charles head past the advancing Lance Cronin into the back of his own net, and it got even worse for the Fleet defender on 12 minutes when Jonjo Shelvey sent in a low cross and, under pressure from Andy Gray, Charles seemed to get the final touch and slid the ball past Cronin once again.
The visitors grew in confidence and the Fleet forwards weren’t getting much change out of the strong Jose Semedo and Jonathan Fortune. Echanomi looked bright, however, and comfortable on the ball, Barrett provided the steel in midfield with some robust tackles, while new signing Ricky Shakes was doing his best to make inroads down the wing.
Triallist Ngakam limped off after 35 minutes and former Chelmsford midfielder Mario Noto – who certainly looked worth another runout – slotted into the right back position as Peter Hawkins moved to the centre to cover.
It was all to no avail as Charlton made it 3-0 on 36 minutes, Scott Wagstaff turning in Kelly Youga’s cross, though many Fleet fans suspected a third own goal as Opinel seemed to get a foot in before the ball crossed the line. Luke Varney also hit the bar just before half-time while Fleet’s only real effort of note was a Stacy Long shot that forced goalkeeper Elliott into a save.
Cronin, who seemed to be struggling with a groin complaint, was replaced by Sam Mott in the second half while Charlton introduced the familiar figure of Stuart Fleetwood who appeared in bright red boots that wouldn’t have looked out of place in The Wizard Of Oz. But Mott was only 11 minutes into his pre-season when Andy Gray looped the ball over his head after racing clear to make it 4-0 to Alan Pardew’s men.
It was 5-0 on the hour mark when Shelvey lashed a free-kick through the Fleet wall and Thierry Racon netted a superb sixth with a curling drive from the edge of the box that drew applause from all around the ground. Fleet looked better coming forward in the second half but created little of note, although the exciting Tyrone Berry’s introduction provided some impetus down the wing.
Daish will of course fine tune his squad in the coming weeks, and will doubtless have gained some knowledge – if not satisfaction – from this first pre-season game.
TEAM: Lance Cronin (Sam Mott 46), Peter Hawkins, Sacha Opinel, Cedric Ngakam (Mario Noto 35),
Darius Charles; Ricky Shakes (Isaiah Rankin 60), Craig Stone, Neil Barrett (Lee Mags 74), Stacy Long; Efe Echanomi
(Sam Callender 87), George Purcell (Tyrone Berry 60).
Subs (not used): Sam Tucknott, Kwesi Appiah, Chris Kinnear.