Jason Farndon's U18 side celebrated being league champions with a game to spare on Saturday...
The club’s U18s side were crowned Professional Development League South champions last weekend, with a 2-0 victory over Barnsley at the Alan Higgs Centre.
Knowing three points would seal the title, should Charlton fail to beat Sheffield United, Jordan Ponticelli and captain Tom Bayliss led the Sky Blues to victory, despite being forced to play much of the game with ten men.
Ending the season with 14 wins from 15 games, City’s youngsters charged towards the league title, rounding the campaign off in style with victory over Crystal Palace.
U18s coach Jason Farndon commented: “It is the first time the 18s have won the youth league which is an amazing achievement. It was a target we set ourselves at the beginning of the season.
“The lads decided the aim was to be the best age group at the club, and of course that meant qualifying for the play-offs, which they have done, so we’ve achieved nearly all of the targets we initially set.
“We had to change formation early in the Barnsley game after Jak Hickman was dismissed, but the lads never gave up. They worked incredibly hard. There is always questions over application in youth football, but I really believe our work ethic has won us the league this year.”
After securing the league title, focus now turns to the play-offs, where City will host Sheffield Wednesday (date, time and venue TBC).
Victory would set up a tie with the winners of the corresponding play-off fixture, between by Sheffield United and Charlton Athletic, and finally a shot at being crowned national champions.
Farndon added: “It shows the mentality of the players, because only a day before our final fixture against Crystal Palace, seven U18s lads have featured for the U23s, and then wanted to finish our regular season.
“There is a chance to be national champions, and that would be another fantastic achievement for us as an academy. At this stage it becomes tough because we are playing against the best teams at this age level, but we’ll head into it confident.”
Academy Manager, Richard Stevens said: “It’s a long season for the boys and all the staff, and to come out on top of your division is a fantastic achievement.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re out on the grass coaching, the physios putting the players back together, the sports scientists, analysts providing data, the education officer or the kit man, everyone has played their part.”
The Under-18s and Under-16s are sponsored by Andrew Whiting Health Consultancy, details can be found HERE!