Football: Charlton refuse to fall prey to Foxes

Charlton Athletic 0 Leicester City 0
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The Independent Online
LEICESTER CITY are known as the Foxes, so when Charlton ran out onto the pitch to the strains of "The Red, Red Robin", the sell-out crowd may have had pause for thought. While robins are not a fox's usual prey, Martin O'Neill's team have been devouring all sorts this season, especially those of a red plumage as an impressive victory over Liverpool last week demonstrated. On this occasion, however, the flashing of teeth and flurry of feathers failed to materialise.

The first goalless draw between the two sides was an outcome both managers seemed happy with. Alan Curbishley's main post-match beef concerned the Football Association's reluctance to reschedule Charlton's next match against Middlesbrough to accommodate the international between the Republic of Ireland and Yugoslavia, originally postponed due to the threat of UN bombing raids.

Charlton are doubtless unhappy with the prospect of losing their captain, Mark Kinsella, and goalkeeper Sasa Ilic, but an ill-judged statement from the managing director, Peter Varney, brought into disrepute the Bill Shankly wisecrack about football vis-a-vis life and death. "We are suffering because of Yugoslavia's domestic situation, which is clearly unfair." Unfairness, of course, is a relative term as the people of Kosovo would testify.

On the pitch Steve Walsh returned after 11 matches to form a gladiatorial attacking line with Emile Heskey, a muscular alliance which would have terrorised defenders with less nerve than the assured Eddie Youds. The Charlton defender showed he was up to the challenge, flattening the England centre-forward-in-waiting after 10 minutes with a robust tackle from behind.

Heskey responded well to the physical challenge, but was let down by his finishing - on another afternoon he could have scored a hat-trick.

"We've kept the run going, if nothing else," O'Neill remarked afterwards as his side's unbeaten streak extended to eight matches. The Foxes ended the afternoon bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a place in the top six, while Alan Curbishley's men keep bob, bob, bobbing along.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2) Ilic; Mills, Tiler, Youds, Powell; Robinson, Mortimer (S Jones, 30), Kinsella, K Jones; Hunt, Mendonca. Substitutes not used: Brown, Barness, Parker, Petterson (gk).

Leicester City (4-4-2) Keller; Sinclair, Ullathorne, Elliot, Savage; Lennon, Izzet, Zagorakis (Wilson, 64), Guppy; Heskey, Walsh. Substitutes not used: Campbell, Parker, Fenton, Arphexad (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).

Bookings: Charlton: Robinson. Leicester: Izzet, Lennon, Heskey.

Man of the match: Youds.

Attendance: 20,021.