By Mo Khan
Theo Walcott scored on his home debut while Sol Campbell continued his comeback from injury as Arsenal Reserves beat Charlton 2-0 on Monday night.
The former Southampton winger had scored on his opening second-string game at Portsmouth last month. After 52 minutes, he repeated the feat at Barnet FC with a fine finish from Robin van Persie's clip through.
Sixteen minutes from time, Nicklas Bendtner secured all three points when he fired home from Alex Song's pass. In addition, Campbell came through a full 90 minutes seemingly unscathed.
The result leaves Neil Banfield's men nine points adrift of league leaders Tottenham Hotspur at the top of Reserve League South.
The Gunners manager made no fewer than six changes to his starting line-up from 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace last time out; Johan Djourou partnered Campbell in central defence as Matthew Connolly switched to right full back and Alex Song returned to partner Abou Diaby in midfield.
Elsewhere, Walcott and Sebastian Larsson occupied the flanks and Bendtner partnered Van Persie up front to complete a strong line-up.
Both sides struggled to keep possession in the early stages on what was a cold, windy evening in north London.
Former Copenhagen striker Bendtner had a penalty appeal waved away in the first minute before Diaby's slip five minutes later allowed Lloyd Sam to fire at Mart Poom's goal, only for the Estonian international to pull off a fine fingertip save.
Van Persie then saw a shot saved by Darren Randolph in the visitors' goal as the Gunners began to take charge.
After 23 minutes, Campbell found Walcott who got to the byline and forced a corner. Larsson delivered from the right and Bendtner saw his header sail marginally over the crossbar.
Diaby then had the best chance of the half when he volleyed wide when well-placed in the Charlton area following a knockdown from a Van Persie free-kick.
The score remained goalless at the interval but Walcott broke the deadlock soon afterwards.
Van Persie rewarded the 17-year-old's lightning run through the middle of the Addicks' rearguard with a clever through ball. Once Walcott's pace had taken him one-on-one with the goalkeeper he made no mistake, crashing the ball into the net without breaking stride.
Arsenal then fashioned a move that would have made the seniors proud - Song, Diaby and Van Persie exchanged short passes between them to take Song clear on goal but the Cameroonian delayed his finish and allowed Randolph to narrow the angle and smother the effort.
Bendtner then had a 'goal' ruled out for offside against Walcott before the same player did score four minutes later. This time Song was the provider as the tall Dane slid the ball under the advancing keeper.
Charlton hardly offered anything in response with Nathan Ashton, Alistair John and Lloyd Sam all looking lively but not creating much in the way of clear-cut chances.
In the end, Banfield's men may have extended their lead in the dying seconds through Van Persie and then substitute Ryan Smith but it finished 2-0 as Arsenal completed their fifth London derby in succession.
Sol Campbell takes a breather
Alex Song in action
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- Traore 63
- Walcott Goal!
- Song 79
- Bendtner 79 Goal!
- van Persie
- Smith 63
- Muamba 79
- Stokes 79