Football: Charlton robbed by opportunism of Roberts: Leicester ride their luck back to summit

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The Independent Online
Leicester City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Charlton Athletic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

IWAN ROBERTS, Leicester's pounds 300,000 signing from Huddersfield in November, delivered his seventh goal in 10 matches with little more than a minute remaining to enable his new side to regain pole position in the First Division yesterday.

Leicester, who have the advantage on goals in a three-way points tie, last led the section in early November, and it says something about the dog-eat-dog nature of the promotion race that they have been able to scramble back despite winning only four times in 12 attempts since.

Charlton, who could have gone top themselves, can count themselves unfortunate - and not just in the timing of the winning goal. They adapted much more effectively than the home side to a pudding of a pitch, defended soundly and frequently menaced the home goal.

Fortune shone generously on Leicester during Charlton's strongest first-half spell. Mark Robson looked to have given his side the lead after 26 minutes when Kevin Poole pushed his chip on to a post, but the ball ran along the goal-line and was cleared.

Two minutes later, from a free- kick contentiously awarded a foot outside the penalty area, Steve Brown thundered a shot against the crossbar, and when Peter Garland drove the rebound into the Leicester net a linesman's flag signalled offside.

Eight minutes into the second half, to rub salt in the wound, Leicester went ahead when Steve Thompson's free-kick from the left was hooked in at the far post by Simon Grayson after Mike Salmon, perhaps put off by the jump of his team-mate, Carl Leaburn, had dropped the ball.

Deservedly, with nine minutes remaining, Charlton equalised, the centre back, Stuart Balmer, lifting the ball over a cluster of defenders after Robson's left-wing corner found its way to the far post.

Leaburn then, a yard from goal, squandered the chance to put his side in front and Charlton paid the price when Roberts stretched his 6ft 3in frame to head Gary Mills's cross beyond Salmon's leap.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Poole; Mills, Grayson, Hill, Whitlow; Oldfield, Thompson, Agnew, Gibson (Lowe, 83); Speedie (Carey, 90), Roberts. Substitute not used: Ward (gk).

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Salmon; Brown, McLeary, Balmer, Minto; Robson, Garland, Pardew, Robinson (Nelson, 68); Grant, Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Newton, Vaughan (gk).

Referee: E Lomas (Manchester).