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Leighton leveller secures derby draw for young Lions

4 September 2016

Striker Noel on target as Millwall U18s draw 1-1 with Charlton U18s

Millwall U18s striker Noel Leighton grabbed his third goal in four games to secure a 1-1 Professional Development League draw with rivals Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

Chris Perry and Larry McAvoy's young charges had gone behind to an eighth minute opener from Charlton's Romarno Simpson, but hit back 10 minutes into the second-half with a superb solo effort from Leighton.

The visitors took the lead after their first meaningful attack saw Brendan Sarpong's low drive pushed away for a corner by Lions keeper Sam Jackson. From the resulting delivery, however, Simpson was on hand to head home and put Charlton 1-0 ahead.

Millwall created a really good chance to equalise on the quarter hour mark, but Leighton was unable to make a clean contact after a penetrative run and cross by Kris Queeley.

A clever run by Isaac Olaofe so nearly resulted in a goal for The Lions, who showed real spirit and tenacity to recover from the shock of going behind so early on, but Olaofe was unable to produce a finish to match his excellent approach play.

At the other end a vital clearance by Rob Strachan denied Charlton the opportunity to double their tally as the visitors gave a timely reminder that they still posed a real threat on the counter attack.

However it was Perry and McAvoy's side who continued to push on and the lively Olaofe again tested the opposition's resolve just before the break when he tricked his way into the penalty area only to see his shot graze the outside of the upright.

The Lions deservedly got back on level terms following another spell of concerted pressure early in the second-half. Leighton showed great persistence to resist a couple of challenges, broke through the heart of the Charlton rearguard and fored home a super strike from the edge of the penalty area.

It was all Millwall thereafter as they really took a firm grip on proceedings. Junior Tiensia and Matt Campbell-Mhlope combined well before the latter's low cross was cleared and then a brilliant save by keeper Ashley Maynard-Brener kept out Matt Day's bullet header to prevent The Lions taking the lead.

Maynard-Brener was on hand again, this time to keep out Tiensia's long-range drive before Tiensia was thwarted once more with a shot blocked as it headed towards goal.

Olaofe headed over and sub Jesse Debrah prodded the ball narrowly over as Millwall finished on the front foot, but just could not find that second killer goal to crown a dominant display.

Team: Jackson, Queeley, Tiensia, Hanson, Green, Strachan, Olaofe, Wicks, Day (Debrah, 75mins), Leighton, Campbell-Mhlope (Ikhatalor, 80mins). Subs not used: Taylor, Wright, Mitchell.  

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