By Martin Atherton
A flat MK Dons performance allowed Lee Bowyer’s Addicks to walk away with all three points from Stadium MK.
Liverpool loanee Liam Millar came in with the only goal, firing home past Fisher after being left completely unmarked in the MK Dons box.
On the positive side, both of the Dons’ debutants – Harry Darling and Matt O’Riley – looked sharp among a very young home XI.
Fisher was the first of the two ‘keepers forced into action, a rasping Jayden Stockley effort – the reported former Dons target making his debut for Charlton – being pushed just wide by the man who renewed his MK contract over the weekend.
Jerome then came close up the other end, being found by O’Hora, though the ball was just a yard in front of the striker and comfortably ran into Amos’ hands.
But it was Lee Bowyer’s side that would find that first – and, ultimately, deciding – goal, Liam Millar being left completely unmarked by Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird to fire home past a hopeless Fisher. 0-1.
From there, the Dons’ first half became flat and, In some respects, lifeless. Charlton began to dominate proceedings, comfortably passing the ball around on the rugged Stadium MKsurface – though they did struggle to create any chances of real note. HT 0-1.
The Dons came out in the second half far better, keen to make a difference and find their way back into the tie.
Laird continued to press down the right-hand side, constantly working hard – despite it clearly not being his evening with the final product.
Gladwin went closest, seeing his teed-up free-kick fly just wide of the post and out for a goal kick.
Former Dons forward Chuks Aneke was brought on late as Bowyer’s side looked to see the game out, though he was able to make little impact despite his recent productive form.
Martin’s men continued to press and were rewarded with one final opportunity – Charlie Brown put through to square the ball to Ben Gladwin – but the ball was just behind the midfielder and the Addicks saw the dying moments out. FT 0-1.
A disappointing evening, yes, but one to put into perspective – that was an experienced side up against one of the best in the division, and one that is only going to develop massively over the coming months ahead of the 2021/22 season. Plenty to be positive about, taking the wider picture into account.
Personally, I think Charlton did an excellent job in nullifying our key men. Jerome and Mason were both kept quiet; Laird struggled down the right-hand side; Fraser, though still influential, had nowhere near the impact he did at the Valley back last month.
They then also comfortably took their best chance of the game, completely gifted to them by Ethan Laird. He’ll learn, though, and I have full belief he’ll become an excellent player.
Charlie Brown looked sharp, given his circumstances of recovering from recent illness whilst also making his first real appearances in adult football. Certainly one to watch for the future, though, rather than judge on his current outings.
Harry Darling was, well, outstanding. A few lost ventures forward, yes, but I love the confidence and he was very composed on the ball. A few great tackles as well and a last-ditch ball recovery.
Onto Saturday, a far more important game against an opposition side.
Come on You Dons!