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Charlton Athletic (0) 2
Coventry City (1) 2

City failed to take the three points after a lapse in concentration let Charlton equalise in the final minutes.


11 min Eustace shoots wide
27 min Bellamy beats Kiely to the ball but is forced wide
30 min Chippo’s shot is tipped round the post by Kiely
41 min Aloisi stabs in from close rang
44 min Bellamy misses a great chance by shooting straight at Kiely
47 min Hunt heads home after Johannson hits the bar
65 min Hedman saves Rufus’ header
71 min Rufus handles for the penalty
80 min Eustace shoots straight at Kiely after Roussel’s flick on
83 min Hedman tips over in goalmouth melee
87 min Johansson scores after City fail to clear

Chris SampsonFAN'S REPORT by Chris Sampson

Two points lost rather than a point gained as a late equaliser robbed City of the win they deserved.

It was a fine autumn day and a sell-out crowd at the Valley.

Magnus Hedman had recovered from the knock he picked up on Wednesday, but Hadji was a surprising absentee, presumably injured as he wasn't on the bench.

Eustace continued in midfield, Telfer came in for Hadji, Aloisi and Bellamy were up front. Roussel was back from injury and on the bench.

City settled the better of the two teams, with the likes of Chippo and Eustace quickly gaining superiority in midfield. We had the best of the possession early on, winning a few corners, but without creating any chances.

Tenacious midfield tackling (we are apparently the #1 in the OPTA tackling ratings), with Chippo at his absolute best, blunted Charlton's attacks before they even got going and after 20 minutes the Charlton fans were silent while the Sky Blues fans were noisily belting out the Sky Blue song.

In possession, as we settled and gained confidence, we were trying to play through the midfield and full backs rather than relying on hopeful punts forward, and looked better for it.

Our first significant attack came after about 20 minutes when a beautiful ball got Bellamy in behind the Charlton defence. He went past the keeper, who did just enough to push Bellamy wide and the cross was cleared for a corner.

Chippo then nearly gave us the lead, bursting in from the left flank and hitting a screamer from 30 yards that was heading for the top corner until the Charlton keeper, at full stretch, tipped it over for a corner.

The referee, who had an appalling first half, then started upsetting our rhythm by giving Charlton a series of dubious free kicks and letting the Charlton defence get away with pushes and mis-timed tackles.

Still it was City on top and we took the lead 5 minutes before half time.

It was a scrappy goal, City built on the left, worked the ball in towards Aloisi who, with defenders sprawling on the ground, got a toe to the ball and just about nudged it into the net. A strikers' goal - five yards out, not pretty, but this is what City have been lacking.

Bellamy almost added a second straight after but hit a weak shot straight at the keeper.

Half time, 1 up and City well on top.

Charlton, who were in the top 5 at the start of play, hadn't threatened and City looked capable of getting in behind their defence and extending the lead.

Early in the second half, Hedman made a fine save with his feet to prevent an equaliser - his first real save of the game.

It was difficult to see where an equaliser would come from, but on the hour City were hit by a sucker punch.

Bellamy had a fierce shot saved. The keeper quickly threw out to the right full back, a through ball was met by Johansson who was in on goal.

Hedman and Williams were charging towards the danger but got there too late.

Johansson chipped the ball over Hedman, hit the bar and the rebound came out to Hunt who had the easy task of nodding the ball into the empty net, with Hedman's despairing lunge coming just too late.

To our credit, City gathered themselves and continued to run the game.

Excellent work on the right by Telfer won a corner, which he floated towards the box. There was a clear handball from Richard Rufus, who was booked for his trouble, and the ref - thankfully having a better second half - pointed to the spot.

Craig Bellamy took the kick and smashed it past the keeper and into the net to huge roars of approval from the City fans. 2-1.

The game opened up in the last 20 minutes. Aloisi was tiring, and was replaced by Roussel. Charlton brought on former City player John Salako, of all people, who caused no problems whatsoever.

City had a number of chances to add a third - an excellent Chippo cross from the left was met by a thunderous volley by Eustace from 3 yards which looked a certain goal until the keeper made a stunning block.

Carlton Palmer had a strong drive from a tight angle fly past the far post. Willaims, charging in at top speed, did well to get on the end of a dipping, curling cross, but the shot flew over the bar when it could have gone anywhere.

Eustace was dominant in the middle of the park - in one super move a neat turn left two Charlton payers for dead.

At the other end Hedman did well to tip over a header, but with the clock ticking down, the three points looked in the bag.

The equaliser came on 87 minutes.

The defence only half-cleared the ball. A cross came in from the right, but it looked harmless until a shot came in from Johansson and beat Hedman's dive to his left.

A real sickener - it had looked like we had the game under control with Charlton unable to put us under continuous pressure. But twice we conceded goals when there shouldn't have been any real danger.

Four minutes of injury time passed without further incident, and the teams went off at the end to applause from both sets of fans, for it had been an entertaining game.

This was the best I've seen us play this season, we looked confident and capable of scoring goals. We bossed the midfield, with Chippo - particularly in the first half - outstanding.

Up front Aloisi's eye for goal looks a useful addition, and Bellamy's pace was put to good use, though he needs to improve his finishing.

The defence is the worry, and I'm at a loss to say who or what is wrong there - perhaps Breen in for Shaw?

Calls for Strachan's head are way off the mark. It's not his fault we lost Keane and MacAllister in the summer. It's not his fault that our two first choice full-backs copped long term injuries and our best remaining player - Hadji - has been struggling with a groin strain.

I also think the man is poorly served by his advisors. Today the side had a good feel to it. Eustace is the key to replacing McAllister, we look much better with him in there.

Despite the disappointment, an improved and promising performance.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

Dean Kiely; Paul Konchesky (Greg Shields 78), Chris Powell, Mark Kinsella, Richard Rufus, Steve Brown, Graham Stuart, Claus Jensen, Andy Hunt (Kevin Lisbey 61), Jonatan Johansson, John Robinson (John Salako 48)
Subs not used:
Sasa Ilic, Andy Todd

Magnus Hedman; Marc Edworthy, Marcus Hall, Carlton Palmer, Paul Williams, Richard Shaw, Paul Telfer, John Eustace, John Aloisi (Cedric Roussel 76), Craig Bellamy, Youssef Chippo
Subs not used:
Morten Hyldgaard, Gary Breen, Barry Quinn, Stephen McPhee

Charlton - Hunt (60), Johansson (88)
Coventry -
Aloisi (41), Bellamy (71 pen)

REFEREE: R Styles (Hampshire)

Charlton - Rufus (70, handball)
Coventry -
Chippo (39, foul on Stuart), Bellamy (74, late tackle)


Charlton - 7th
Coventry - 16th

City have not lost at Charlton in six visits since 1966.


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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 30 Sep 00
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