Football: Cole's fire runs amok

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The Independent Online
Bristol City. . . . . . . .2

Charlton Athletic. . . . . 1

IN ANY season apart from one in which Newcastle are attempting to break all known records, Charlton would be top of the First Division. Yesterday, though, they came up against a Cole and a Pole, and thought they had remained unbeaten until Gerald Harrison, who had hardly been noticed in the preceeding 89 minutes, secured victory for Bristol City in the 90th with a long-range effort of unstoppable force.

The prime movers of Bristol City's attack could not be more dissimilar - Andrew Cole is all buzz and running, while Dariusz Dziekanowski is a study in languorous cunning - but they both look as if they should be plying their trade at a more high-profile address, and together they threatened to make a mockery of Charlton's unmatched defensive record.

But it was Charlton who opened the proceedings, thanks to a gift from the City right-back, Brian Mitchell, who could do no more with an Alex Dyer cross that had already cleared the head of Carl Leaburn than tap it back into Leaburn's path.

If Leaburn accepted this early chance with gratitude, Charlton were soon showing that unintentional generosity can cut both ways. From Garry Nelson's free- kick Kim Grant mis-hit a sitter at one end and City broke swiftly uphill. Cole crossed for Dziekanowski on the far post to give Grant an object lesson in calm finishing.

Fifteen seconds earlier it could have been 2-0, instead it was 1-1. Before yesterday City had conceded more goals than anyone in the First Division apart from Bristol Rovers, and they were buoyed by this sudden success, as Charlton had not previously been breached away from home.

The ball started to run for Cole and Dziekanowski. Cole came closest in the inside-right channel, when his snap shot struck the woodwork. Another chance beckoned when Dziekanowski on the left gathered genuine speed for the first time in the match, and delivered the kind of cross from which he himself had scored: Cole was on the near post but could not provide the finish.

In an even second half Charlton had their say, but City were unyielding. Leroy Rosenior won a corner from which David Thompson's header shaved the post, Cole made a couple of half chances for himself but it was only with Harrison's last-minute blunderbuss that their match was finally settled.

Bristol City: K Welch; B Mitchell (W Allison, 89 min), M Scott, D Thompson, R Osman, R Edwards, G Harrison, D Dziekanowski, L Rosenior, A Cole, G Shelton (N Reid, 82 min). Manager: D Smith.

Charlton Athletic: B Bolder; S Balmer, S Minto, A Pardew (D Warden, 37 min), S Webster, D Pitcher, C Leaburn, J Bumstead, A Dyer, G Nelson, K Grant. Sub not used: L Primus. Coaches: S Gritt and A Curbishley.

Referee: J Rushton (Stoke on Trent).

Goals: Leaburn (0-1, 8 min); Dziekanowski (1-1, 16 min); Harrison (2-1, 90 min).