BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton fell at the first hurdle as they were dumped out of the League Cup on penalties by Forest Green Rovers.
Lee Bowyer made wholesale changes from the side who saw Stoke City off in the Championship on Saturday afternoon but his unfamiliar line-up never really got into their stride over the ninety minutes.
They did spurn a golden opportunity to win the tie as Jake Forster-Caskey was denied from the penalty spot midway through the second-half, but eventually succumbed 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out.
The game failed to live up to its billing in the first-half – despite nobody ever expecting a blockbuster in the first round of the League Cup anyway.
Deji Oshilaja, one of five players making his first competitive start for the South Londoners this evening, was alert to the danger as he turned a low-ball that was fizzed across the face of the Addicks’ goal behind – a rare moment of attacking intent from either side in the opening twenty minutes.
Forest Green skipper Joseph Mills drove a free-kick straight into the Charlton wall before the Addicks finally had their first sight of goal midway through the period.
Alfie Doughty, Charlton’s bright spark in the first-period, was causing the visitors problems on the left-hand side and managed to tease a low-cross into the area. Albie Morgan touched it wide on the stretch.
Bowyer’s side did continue to grow into the game as the interval approached and Naby Sarr nearly celebrated his 26thbirthday in perfect fashion.
The defender latched onto a loose ball in the Rovers area but was denied by a point-blank save by Wollacott, with West Brom loanee Sam Field’s follow-up also charged down.
Macauley Bonne curled an effort into the arms of the Rovers stopper ten minutes before the break as the sides went in goalless.
The Addicks forced an early corner shortly after the restart, which was headed over by Oshilaja – before they spurned a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
Sarr was tripped in the Forest Green penalty area, with referee John Busby not hesitating to point to the spot. Forster-Caskey stepped up but Wollacott guessed the right way to keep the tie scoreless.
The League Two outfit then wasted their clearest chance of the evening. Junior Mondal was played in on goal but Addicks custodian Ben Amos stood tall before beating away a low effort with his right glove.
A winning goal was not conjured up by either side and so according to the rules of the competition, the tie went straight to the penalty shoot-out at the end of ninety minutes.
Albie Morgan missed what proved to be the decisive penalty, his effort rebounded wide off the post with Shawn McCoulsky burying the winning spot-kick to send the League Two outfit into the second round.