WELLING UNITED 0
CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2
Sarpong-Wiredu 16 Odoh 35
BY RICHARD CAWLEY AT PARK VIEW ROAD
It’s just 18 days until the Championship season starts, but who’s counting?
Lee Bowyer will be. And so will Steve Gallen. And so will Charlton Athletic fans.
Because the clock is ticking for transfer deals, and there is still plenty of work to get done.
The fact that is the case is no blame on head of recruitment Gallen, whose work during last season was widely lauded. And there is also no fault attached to Bowyer, who moulded such a good squad last season which ended in May’s League One play-off final win at Wembley.
If you’re looking for reasons why business has not been more brisk, then just take a look at the Addicks’ budget.
Exact figures have not been aired but Charlton will have the lowest financial outlay of any club in the Championship.
The kind of money being spent on wages doesn’t seem to have shifted up to any great degree from when they were in the division below.
And when you’re in that scenario, it changes the dynamics. The Addicks can’t move aggressively in the market. It has to be patient, sometimes chipping away at targets who might seem out of reach.
And those cash restraints also mean that loan signings will be absolutely crucial – as they were last season.
Josh Cullen, Krystian Bielik and Ben Purrington were integral to Charlton getting out of League One.
Getting in top-class loans – their wages heavily subsidised by more loaded Premier League clubs – is a way of adding quality at a discount.
But that scenario means waiting.
The earliest of the loan signings in the 2018-19 campaign was August 10 – Jed Steer. Bielik followed on August 16 with Cullen arriving on August 30.
The arrivals will be earlier this time – but only because they have to be. The deadline for EFL clubs is August 8.
Premier League clubs will look after themselves first – and letting young players out on loan is not their primary concern. Take Cullen, for example, who has travelled with West Ham United on their tour of China. They are not back until July 23.
Charlton are sorted in terms of goalkeepers after Ben Amos’ arrival yesterday. But they need three central midfielders and a couple more forwards.
Bowyer admitted after Saturday’s pre-season victory at Welling that he could not pair Lyle Taylor and Macauley Bonne together because of a lack of numbers – each playing 45 minutes at Park View Road.
He went with a three-man defence in both halves, with a mix of youngsters and more established pros. Only Junior Quitirna played more than 45 minutes.
Charlton took the lead through Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu after 16 minutes.
Naby Sarr produced a lush diagonal ball which just cleared the Welling defence and the young right-wingback raced into the box to beat Dan Wilks.
The National League South hosts struggled with the movement and crisp passing by the Addicks. But the second goal was more to do with a defensive error, Abraham Odoh pickpocketing possession to go through one on one against Wilks – the former Tooting attacker sliding home via the base of the right upright.
The margin of victory should have been greater with Taylor hitting the crossbar with a fierce strike.
He then turned provider for Jake Forster-Caskey, the midfielder took a touch to control the cross but saw his shot parried by Wilks.
Welling’s best chance came in the closing stages but young keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer knew exactly what Jack Jebb was attempting – his free-kick curling over the Addicks’ defensive wall but into the young Australian’s hands.
It was a first chance for Charlton fans to see their side in action since their Wembley heroics. And it was a first outing of the club’s third kit – described as scuba and marine colour.
I’m not even going to try and form a judgement on the new signings on show, because this was purely an exercise in putting them back into a match situation.
Bonne did head a chance over, Purrington played as the left-sided defender in the second-half back three while Chuks Aneke tucked in behind Taylor as a number 10.
Tom Lockyer was unruffled, but then you’d expect that to be the case against non-league opposition.
There are five more first-team fixtures before that Championship opener at Blackburn on August 3.
Bowyer’s plan is to operate a 60-30 split for his squad in the next two friendlies – Ebbsfleet United tonight and Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday – so that each player gets a total of 90 minutes under their belt.
Charlton first-half team (3-5-2): Phillips, Lockyer, Pratley, Sarr, Page, Sarpong-Wiredu, Morgan, Dempsey, Quitirna, Odoh, Bonne.
Charlton second-half team (3-5-2): Maynard-Brewer, Dijksteel, Pearce, Purrington, Solly, Maloney, Lapslie, Doughty, Quitirna (Forster-Caskey 57), Aneke, Taylor.
Welling: Wilks (Beeney 79), Ming (Barnes 46), Anderson, Dymond (Agyemang 78), Swaine (Platt 82), Rich-Baghelou (Okuonghae 66), Cook, Rooney (Jebb 69), Coombes (Cosgrove 12), Goldberg (Prestedge 74), Green (Arnau 66).