BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Naby Sarr’s 82nd-minute goal ensured that Charlton Athletic are still unbeaten in pre-season as they claimed a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion at The Valley.
The Addicks were trailing to a close-range Pascal Gross finish early in the second half.
But centre-back Sarr – one of the high wage earners who Charlton owner Roland Duchatelet would love to get off the books – levelled matters with a finish that was more in keeping with a seasoned striker.
Charlton handed a first start to summer signing Darren Pratley and there were also further outings for trialists Simon Dawkins and Elliott Ward.
The first half was low key and Brighton had the better of the few chances created.
Dillon Phillips blocked Ritchie Towell’s strike but it was a save expected of the Charlton stopper as it came straight at him.
Former Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray had a good chance when the hosts’ defence crumpled during another attack, he had time to take at least another couple of touches inside the box but instead dragged a shot wide of the left post.
Ward had a 10th-minute header which Brighton’s new keeper David Button claimed. Young Addicks winger Albie Morgan drove an ambitious long-range striker over the bar as well.
Charlton made five changes at the interval – including bringing on trialist Rohan Ince – but were soon behind. Gross converted from close range after Phillips initially kept out Murray’s effort.
And soon after a slick Albion move just needed a better finish from James Tilley.
Button stood strong in the 52nd minute when Josh Magennis broke through, blocking three successive shots from the Northern Ireland international.
Addicks substitute George Lapslie made an excellent run forward down the right and his cross was dummied by Magennis but Nicky Ajose wanted more time and space than was available and the shooting chance fizzled out.
Magennis struck a comfortable effort into the arms of Button midway through the half and then his header from a fizzed Jamie Mascoll cross deflected out for a corner.
Victor Gyokeres flashed in a cross which was just begging for a Brighton touch which never came.
The equaliser came from an unlikely source. Ajose found Sarr in the box and he took a touch before stroking a left-footed strike into the bottom left corner of the net past replacement keeper Hugo Keto.
Phillips made late stops from Gyokeres and Arrun Connelly – with the goalkeeper putting in a solid shift.
IMAGES BY PAUL EDWARDS
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