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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Charlton's late show earns Michael Appleton a victorious home debut

Charlton Athletic (1) 3 Leaburn 27, Tedic 82, Blackett-Taylor 90+4

Wycombe Wanderers (0) 1 Potts 54

Michael Appleton enjoyed quite the home debut at the Valley as his youthful Charlton side overcame Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 to earn the new boss his first win.

An afternoon that was going so well that a supporter even won £12,000 during the half-time crossbar challenge after Miles Leaburn had struck, survived a second-half onslaught from the visitors, before substitute Slobodan Tedic and Corey Blackett-Taylor struck decisively.

It was by no means a perfect performance, and a stunning Wycombe equaliser from West Ham loanee Freddie Potts was merited, but the Addicks showed more than enough wide-eyed exuberance in this one to improve a record of one win in eight matches and offer plenty of hope for the future.

Appleton has promised a team that will be more aggressive and organised but Charlton were comfortable in possession in the opening exchanges, and a mix of youth and experience in attack seemed destined to make all the difference.

The new head coach has suggested there might even be too many talented youngsters in his first team squad, such is the quality of the Charlton development conveyor belt over the past few years, yet he surely had no complaints when 20-year-old Tyreece Campbell showed skill and vision beyond his years to play in the timeless Alfie May and force the first save from Max Stryjek.

James Abankwah was an adventurous presence at right-back throughout, and it was down that flank that the home side fashioned the move that opened the scoring. The excellent Campbell danced beyond Luke Leahy after collecting a throw-in and found the perfect pass to allow Leaburn to take a touch before slotting beyond Stryjek.

As fun as Charlton’s first-half performance was, it was not simply a case of letting an excitable crew of talented youths run amok. The experienced Michael Hector made more than one crucial intervention at the heart of the defence and captain George Dobson acted as both enforcer and passing metronome in the middle of the park.

But with youth comes inexperience. Abankwah had conceded a cheap free-kick in his own half before Leaburn struck, and Wycombe’s David Wheeler came within inches of heading his side in front. Sam Vokes hit the crossbar from a similar situation on the stroke of half-time.

Wycombe took control after the break, and although it was only a stunning drive from West Ham loanee Freddie Potts that proved accurate enough to beat Harry Isted, there could be no doubt that momentum had shifted away from Appleton and his side.

Charlton relied on counterattacking to relieve the pressure, yet the enthusiasm built by their fast start had dissipated. The new head coach will at least take heart from the committed way in Hector and defensive partners Lloyd Jones and Terell Thomas continued to defend their box.

But then Appleton turned to his bench, a triple substitution with a little over ten minutes to play included an unusual pair of changes in defence, but it re-energised a frustrated Valley crowd and proved to be decisive. It was the third of those substitutes, Manchester City loanee Slobodan Tedic, who re-established Charlton's lead, unconvincingly bundling the ball home from a Tennai Watson cross.

With all of the change that Charlton seem to experience on a never-ending basis, it was fitting that a familiar face wrapped up the scoring. Corey Blackett-Taylor, who is now in his third season at the club, had regularly threatened on the left wing in the first half, and he found his grove once more in injury-time to dance beyond several defenders before finding the bottom corner.

Appleton will know this home debut was far from perfect, but in both trusting in Charlton’s youth from the start and changing the game from the bench when it was needed, he showed that better is surely to come in the next few weeks and months.

Charlton: (4-2-3-1) Isted – Abankwah (T Watson 79), Hector (Ness 79), Jones, Thomas – Dobson, L Watson (Anderson 62) – Leaburn (Aneke 69), T Campbell (Tedic 79), Blackett-Taylor – May. Subs not used: Maynard-Brewer, C Campbell

Wycombe: (3-4-1-2) Stryjek – Forino, Low, Leahy – Wheeler, Scowen, Potts, Boyes (Taylor 90) – McCleary – Hanlan (Sadlier 90), Vokes (Phillips 79). Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Keogh, De Barr, Pattenden


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