Charlton Athletic booked a place in the 124th Senior Cup final, but were pushed all the way by a determined Thamesmead Town in a fiercely contested derby, which included 3 penalties, 2 strikes of the woodwork and a coach sent to the stands as well as the 5 goals in an action packed 2 hours of football. Thamesmead Town had gone 2-0 down early on in the second half but showed great resilience to fight back, scoring in the last minute of normal time to force extra time, but Charlton, composed of mainly their development and under 21’s, found another goal 6 minutes from the end of extra time to send them to the final. Charlton will find out their opponents on Thursday night, when Ebbsfleet United and Tonbridge Angels do battle to earn the right to play the Addicks.
Thamesmead started the brighter, pressing Charlton early while they were getting to grips with the pitch and forged themselves a couple of half chances early on but couldn’t trouble the keeper. Charlton possessed some technically gifted players and around 15 minutes in it nearly produced the opening goal, a flowing move resulting in a curling effort from Harry Gerrard from the edge of the box which hit the far post with the keeper beaten. A few minutes later Thamesmead had a big opportunity to take the lead after they were awarded a penalty, however Stuart Zanone struck past the far post although the keeper guessed the right way.
Just before the half hour Thamesmead were almost undone by a smart free kick. While they thought a cross was coming in, it was short for a low cross from the byline which was eventually scrambled clear by the hosts. Thamesmead’s last chance of the half was a header about 10 yards out which went over the bar and while they would have been content with going in level at the break, would have rued their missed chances and the penalty miss as they were equal to their football league opponents.
After the break Charlton stepped up a gear and showed a sign of intent with a free kick, this time more conventional, Bradley Jordan forcing a good save from the keeper. They then missed an absolute sitter a few minutes later when a ball squared along the 6 yard box presented a tap in which was skied over. They did however take the lead midway through the half when they were awarded a penalty for handball, which was calmly converted by Joe Pigott (pictured) to break the deadlock. 5 minutes later the advantage was doubled after an excellent counter attack from the visitors. The Thamesmead move broke down at the corner of the box and a cross field ball and a overlap from the full back Jordan Cousins which afforded a simple finish for Gerrard from 6 yards.
Thamesmead reacted well to the setback and gave themselves a lifeline 10 minutes from time when a cross from the right was excellently volleyed Zanone into the corner 6 yards out. From that goal the crowd really got behind the home team and Charlton’s slick passing had deserted them as passes were going astray and the hosts were applying real pressure. Just as it seemed that they going to run out of time, in the final minute of allotted time a low cross was blocked by a Charlton arm and a second penalty was awarded to Thamesmead, to the fury of the visitors. This penalty produced a different outcome from the first, this time Chris Edwards sent the keeper the wrong way and the game went to extra time.
Thamesmead started extra time as they started the game, on the front foot, and the Charlton keeper was forced to produced a world class save as a rasping free kick from Edwards was tipped onto the inside of the post. 5 minutes later the Thamesmead keeper pulled off a worldy of his own as an effort from the edge of the box from Azeez, destined for the top corner was tipped over the bar. With that effort the momentum swung back in the visitors favour and had a shot cleared off the line by James Donovan before the extra time break. They picked up where they left off after the turnaround and after squandering several chances Charlton regained the lead with 6 minutes to go. From a Thamesmead goal kick, Charlton won the header and the back four were caught high up the pitch and Piggott calmly slotted home what was to be winner. Predictably the hosts threw everything at Charlton for the last 5 minutes but this time they couldn’t force an equaliser and it was Charlton who were celebrating being cup finalists.
Thamesmead Town 2 (Stuart Zanone 84, Chris Edwards 90+5)
Charlton Athletic 3 (Joe Pigott 69, 114, Harry Gerrard 73)
(AET, 2-2 normal time) Attendance 212
Charlton Athletic: Phillips, Cousins, Fox, Ajayi, Lennon (Feely 46); Harris, Poyet (Sho-Silva 60), Jordan, Gerard (Muldoon 85); Azeez, Pigott Subs (not used): Holmes-Dennis, Adeloye