By Alex Stedman
Yann Kermogant produced two sublime free kicks on Thursday night to help Charlton on their way to a convincing 4-1 victory over Barnet.
Charlton almost took the lead inside the first minute, but Wright-Phillips and Jackson were both denied by Barnet keeper Liam O’Brien. Minutes later and Charlton were ahead, a Kermogant flick on fell nicely into the path of Wright-Phillips who coolly slotted home to put the South-Londoners in front, perhaps owing slightly to some poor positioning by the Bees stopper.
Barnet then created two chances of their own. First, Mauro Vilhete saw his shot go just wide, and then minutes later Anthony Edgar troubled Ben Hamer with a fierce strike that the keeper had to parry before being able to bring the ball into his grasp.
Salim Kerkhar was looking dangerous down the left, and his cross was nearly turned in by Kermogant who latched onto a Wright-Phillips flick on, but the Frenchman fired wide. Moments later Kerkhar caused problems for the home side’s defence again, and was tripped, leading to a free kick being awarded on the edge of the area.
Both Johnnie Jackson and Kermogant stood over the ball, but it was the latter who stepped up to dispatch a wonderful curling effort into the top left hand corner of the goal for 2-0.
Charlton were in the ascendency, and extended their lead ten minutes before half time. The ever-reliable workhorse Bradley Pritchard delivered an inviting ball in for his skipper to nod home his second headed goal of pre season, his first sinking Europa League giants Sporting Lisbon last week.
As half time drew nearer Barnet managed to grab themselves a lifeline in somewhat fortuitous fashion, the ball bounced back off a Charlton defender before falling kindly for ex-Dagenham striker Jon Nurse, who made no mistake with the finish.
The second half started a little more quietly than the first, but it was 4-1 shortly after the hour when Kermogant grabbed his second of the game. Kerkhar caused the Bees defence problems again, and was brought down in similar fashion to the first half. What followed was an equally sublime effort that was just as good as his earlier free-kick, this time Kermogant opted for a lower drive, and the ball narrowly evaded keeper O’Brien to put the game beyond any doubt.
Once the game was won Chris Powell chose to ring the changes, and Taylor,Wiggins, Solly, Cook and Haynes replaced Wright-Phillips, Evina, Stephens and Morrison.
Jordan Cook was straight into the action and watched his fizzing effort sail wide, before Powell made three more changes, replacing the skipper Jackson, Pritchard and match-winner Kermogant with Wagstaff, Smith and Green. There was still enough time for young keeper Dillon Phillips to be handed a run out as he replaced Ben Hamer with five minutes to go.
The last of the action saw Danny Green and Scott Wagstaff link up nicely, but Green was unable to hit the target, and spurned another chance moments later after being put through by Cook.
The game came to a close, and the performance was another one that will be encouraging to both Powell and fans alike. Although much sterner opposition await over the course of the season, there is a sense that the players have momentum and belief that they can hold their own in what is sure to be a challenging campaign next year.