F.A. Cup romance was still shown to be alive and well as Cray Valley (PM) held Charlton Athletic at the Valley on Guy Fawkes night.

Charlton are in the third level of English football while the Millers are five levels lower so, on paper, the hosts would have expected a straight-forward route to the second round. However, the South London derby did not follow the script.

Addicks manager Michael Appleton chose to select a team made of some of his squad players, giving them an opportunity to push for a regular start but few did themselves justice and will hope that the manager gives them a second chance in the replay.

After Chem Campbell had a shot saved by Millers’ goalkeeper Sam Freeman, and James Abankwah had headed over from a Charlie Kirk corner, Charlton went ahead with still less than ten minutes on the board. Karoy Anderson, probably Charlton’s most impressive player on the night, sent a defence splitting pass for Scott Fraser to round Freeman and slot home.

Any thoughts that Cray might fall apart were proved to be ill founded and they created a chance of their own when some slick passing found Matthew Vigor. He squared to Kyrell Lisbie but he was closed down quickly and his shot was deflected wide.

Abankwah had another attempt when he flicked it up and hit a volley that struck a defender and went wide. Campbell then had a shot that was turned over by a flying and twisting Freeman before Terell Thomas headed over Fraser’s corner.

Slobodon Tedic had the last chance of the first half when firing over from Kirk’s cross.

Failing to score the second, which might have put the tie to bed, proved costly when Cray levelled within three minutes of the start of the second half. Hassan Ibrahiym was too strong for his man and threaded Lisbie through to the bye-line. He pulled it back and when Charlton defender Lucas Ness tried to cut it out he could only turn it into his own net.

Kirk might have restored Charlton’s lead but fired over from close range before he had an even greater chance when sent clear through with just Freeman to beat. He chose to shoot early but the Millers’ custodian stuck out his left leg to keep it out.

Tedic’s looping header hit the top of the bar before he fired well over when the next chance arrived.

Appleton then introduced some of his first team players and while they adjusted to the pace of the game the Millers had a chance to go ahead. A substitute of their own, Denzel Gayle, crossed and found Sonny Black unmarked but it came to him at an awkward height and he was unable to get a shot on goal.

Two more Cray replacements, Adam Coombes and Julien Anau, combined but the latter thrashed his effort wide before Charlton had another opening. Freeman parried Miles Leaburn’s shot and Cem Tumkaya was first to it to complete the clearance.

Coombes was given a late opportunity with a twenty-five yard free kick and he got it past the wall but Sam Walker got behind it and beat it out.

In stoppage time, Charlton had one last chance when Louie Watson found Leaburn who shot low. However, Freeman was not to be beaten and he held on well.

When the final whistle blew, the roar from the 1,998 away team supporters drowned out the sounds of the fireworks and they will look forward to doing it all over again when details of the replay are known.

Charlton Athletic: Walker, Abankwah (Asiimwe 61), Edun (T. Watson 61) McGrandles (L. Watson 71), Ness, Thomas, Campbell (Leaburn 71), Kirk (May 61), Tedic Fraser, Anderson. Subs not used: Maynard-Brewer, Dobson, Hector, Blackett-Taylor.

Cray Valley (PM): Freeman, Williams, Asiedu, Lee, Tumkaya, Ibrahiym, Ademiluyi, Black, Parker (Coombes 71), Vigor (Anau 71), Lisbie (Gayle 62). Unused subs: Ovenden, Wicks, Chambers, Ekpiteta, Gilchrist, Turner.