Charlton caretaker boss Lee Bowyer was proud with his side’s performance after they fell to a heart-breaking late defeat at promotion hopefuls Sunderland.
Debutant Lyle Taylor had given the South Londoners a ninth minute lead from the penalty spot, after Karlan Grant was fouled by Chris Maguire.
But second-half goals from Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch, the winner coming in injury-time, secured the three points for the hosts on opening day.
“I know they can do that,” said Bowyer after his side’s impressive display.
“They’re all good players, they’re all good at different things. That why you have a squad. I think everybody did well and gave me 100 percent. I said give me 100 percent and enjoy the game. This is what it’s about, football and playing at stadiums like this. They did that but unfortunately football is a cruel game at times. They didn’t deserve to lose today.”
Bowyer was rocked by the news that midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey suffered a season-ending injury during the training this week, and had to adjust his side accordingly – operating with three at the back and rushing Darren Pratley in when the veteran wasn’t expected to be match fit today.
“We had no choice,” Bowyer said of Pratley’s inclusion.
“There’s no way we could have started with Taylor Maloney and George Lapslie in the same starting eleven when they’ve never started a first team game themselves, especially coming here. I thought George was excellent today. He did everything we asked. In and out of possession he did himself proud.
“To play the formation we did, we changed it yesterday morning. We prepared all week to play a different formation and we had to change it after losing Jake. We’ve never played three at the back under myself so I thought they did very well to adapt that quickly. We dominated the first-half I thought, we were the better side anyway.
“They matched us up in the second-half. It shows you that we were doing the right things. They just got a little bit of momentum, we dropped a little bit deep. That was it. Once they got the first goal and the crowd going here -the second goal was a great cross and the fella came around the back, it was a good finish. Sometimes you just have to say fair enough that was a good goal. But the first one should never have happened.”
There seemed to be further bad news on the injury-front as captain Jason Pearce limped off in the closing stages, though Bowyer seemed unconcerned about the severity of the knock.
“I’m not sure,” he added.
“I’ve not spoken to the physio about it but I’m sure he’ll be fine. We’ve got a week’s recovery now and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
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