Ajose 7 Taylor 76
BY RICHARD CAWLEY AT PARK VIEW ROAD
The Australians were on show at Welling United on Saturday. But – without meaning any offence – not the ones that matter to the vast majority of Charlton Athletic fans.
With takeover talks going on for what seems to be an absolute eternity, the preparations for the 2018-19 season have started with Roland Duchatelet still in control of the League One club.
That didn’t seem likely when the dust settled on the play-off semi-final defeat at Shrewsbury in early May.
A long summer stretched ahead, with what appeared to be plenty of time for Andrew Muir and his other wealthy backers to complete their purchase of the SE7 outfit.
But this is a process which has seemed to have more twists and turns than a Tariqe Fosu highlights reel.
The takeover is still on, but the fact it has not been completed means investment from Duchatelet has been even more restricted than usual.
The only addition for the pre-season opener at Park View Road was Lyle Taylor. It looks a very good incoming deal – the former AFC Wimbledon man is a proven goalscorer in English football’s third tier and was on hand to force home a winner against the Wings.
But the overriding feeling at Montgomery Waters Meadow, when the Shrews ended promotion hopes, was that Charlton needed more depth and more quality to make them stronger promotion candidates.
The idea that can happen under Duchatelet, based on his timeline in charge, looks fanciful.
While Muir was in the crowd at The Valley for the first-leg against Shrewsbury, the only representatives from Down Under at Welling were second-choice goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer and left-back Ryan Blumberg.
Anyone who claims to have a timeline on negotiations would need to have the inside track on the machinations at work. Deadlines have been mooted and missed, mooted and missed.
In the meantime, Charlton Athletic fans are set to be the ones who suffer. And the indications are that even more will stay away until Duchatelet has finally sold up.
Only 1,020 came to the club’s traditional friendly curtain-raiser. As the gentleman who gave the figure to the press put it: “The lowest crowd we have had in years – and that is with a lot of freebies in there.”
Was the fixture a victim of the nation gorging itself on World Cup football? Did the red-hot weather keep people away? Or was this an early indicator that crowds will be even more heavily hit at SE7?
It’s rash to make any bold statements over a team’s fortunes when they have only just played their first public friendly, but the rebuilding job at Charlton needs those new investors in place so that it can really push forward with genuine momentum.
The lack of depth in Charlton’s playing ranks was definitely a factor when they were relegated from the Championship. And there were also missing pieces of the jigsaw for the last couple of seasons in League One.
In terms of established first-teamers on show at Welling – when you take out the youngsters and trialist duo Simon Dawkins and Elliott Ward – you are left with 14 players. You can make that 17, when Anfernee Dijksteel, Ben Reeves and Billy Clarke are fit.
Is that enough? It seems hard to make a credible case it will be. Even if youngsters like Albie Morgan and Taylor Maloney made positive impressions at the weekend.
Welling United showed signs they will be a National League South handful under Steve King.
Adam Coombes punished Naby Sarr’s poor control of the ball in the early exchanges to slam a finish across Maynard-Brewer and the Wings were unlucky not to add to their tally during an encouraging opening 45 minutes in which Nassim L’Ghoul caught the eye.
Charlton quickly levelled through Nicky Ajose but lacked cohesiveness to their forward play in the final third until the second half.
It was always going to be a struggle for the hosts as they faced a completely changed Addicks’ 11 and Welling keeper Dan Wilks kept his side in the contest.
Taylor’s hold-up play was an encouraging plus for Charlton and Wilks made a strong one-handed save from the frontman, who also pulled what looked to be a relatively straightforward chance wide.
But he was in the right spot to finish from close range after Jake Forster-Caskey’s free-kick came down off the crossbar.
Taylor is a summer signing who will improve the Addicks. But they need far more than just one to make promotion a realistic target.
Charlton (first-half team): Maynard-Brewer, Marshall, Bauer, Sarr, Page, Dawkins, Aribo, Maloney, Grant, Magennis, Ajose.
Charlton (second-half team): Phillips, Solly, Ward, Pearce, Blumberg, Morgan, Lapslie, Forster-Caskey, Taylor, Vetokele, Fosu.
Welling United: Wilks (Trialist), Gibbons (Johnson), Braham-Barrett, Ijaha (Trialist), Orlu (Acheampong), Audal (Mendy), L’Ghoul, Kissock (Dymond), Goldberg, Coombes (Newton), McCallum (Trialist).
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