Atkins saves Taylor from extra suffering

Football
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The Independent Online
MIKE ROWBOTTOM

Charlton Athletic 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 (aet; score at 90min 1-1)

Wolves, and their beleaguered manager Graham Taylor, gained the win they desperately needed last night as an extra-time goal from Mark Atkins earned them a home derby against Coventry in the Coca-Cola Cup fourth round. He flicked home Gordan Cowans' free-kick after 98 minutes to settle a replay that fluctutated right to the end.

Thus Wolves reached the fourth round for the first time since 1980, when a goal from Andy Gray won them the trophy, and the pressure bearing down upon the former England manager eased momentarily.

"We had to get a bit of self-respect back today and we did," he said. "But until we start to climb the table, people will not be happy and I will be one of them.

"I didn't join Wolves to be in the bottom half of the First Division, I joined to take them into the Premiership. If I don't succeed, there will be a new manager." He added wryly: "If I succeed there may still be another manager, because that's the way the game goes."

The Wolves team coach - supplied by Happy Days travel - arrived at the ground broadcasting a warning message: "Attention. This vehicle is reversing." Despite a rebuilt ground and pounds 7m-worth of new players, it seemed a pretty accurate description of the team's direction since the season got under way.

But after Taylor had taken the bold decision to drop the terrace icon, Steve Bull, for the first time in the striker's Wolves career, he was rewarded with an opening goal from Neil Emblen, who drove home Mark Williams' cross after 23 minutes.

Charlton responded urgently, however, and Paul Jones, standing in for the injured Mike Stowell, made several important saves before and after Robinson had turned in an equaliser during a 54th-minute scramble.

Don Goodman might have made life simpler for Wolves had he directed his shot towards goal four minutes from the end of normal time. Instead, exhausted by an extended dribble, he screwed it wide. Understandable, perhaps, but not good for the boss's blood pressure.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Amman; Humphreys, Rufus, Chapple, Stuart; Newton (Grant, 48), Walsh (K Jones, 67), Bowyer, Robinson; Leaburn, Nelson. Substitutes not used: Petterson (gk).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): P Jones; Rankine, Young, De Wolf, (Birch, 105) Thompson; Atkins, Emblen, Cowans; Williams (Bull, 90), Goodman, Daley. Substitutes not used: De Bont (gk).

Referee: I Hemley (Bedfordshire).

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