Football: Crossley comeback thwarts Charlton

Charlton Athletic 0 Nottingham Forest 0 Attendance: 20,007
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The Independent Online
AFTER THREE successive victories, for Charlton this was very much the one that got away. A penalty missed by Neil Redfearn midway through the second half and a string of other fine saves by Mark Crossley meant that Alan Curbishley's team went unrewarded for their labours in a largely one-sided contest that gave visiting supporters little reason to believe in another Ron Atkinson miracle.

Forest's cause is beginning to look lost with 11 games to go. They may have stopped leaking goals at last, thanks to a resilient defence, but in attack they look toothless and the sight of Pierre van Hooijdonk trying to orchestrate moves from midfield instead of finishing them off was indicative of their plight.

Curbishley was predictably disappointed with the outcome, reflecting not only on the unsettled Redfearn's failure from the spot but also on Martin Pringle's third-minute opportunity, which he blazed over the bar. "If we'd scored then I don't think they would have got back in it," Curbishley said. Atkinson was not in the mood to talk.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, given the fraught nature of the occasion, Pringle's first chance resulted from a defensive error, Forest's Matthieu Louis-Jean getting in a tangle with team mate Christian Edwards on the edge of his own area, allowing Pringle to steal in unopposed.

Crossley, replacing Dave Beasant for his first Premiership game in almost two years, was thankful not to be called into action but he was not idle for long as Charlton grew in confidence. He turned a header by Carl Tiler over the bar and then, with an even better save, denied Mark Kinsella with his fingertips after a fine left-footed drive by the Charlton captain.

Forest were relying chiefly on the pace of Frenchman Jean-Claude Darcheville in the search for goals and he came up with the only worthwhile attempt shortly before the break, shooting fiercely from a tight angle, but Simon Royce was not to be beaten at his near post.

The second half opened with a snap-shot by Redfearn, turned expertly aside by Crossley again. It seemed Forest, with Atkinson prowling the touchline constantly, would be up against it.

Pringle, whose three goals in five games since coming into the side kept Clive Mendonca on the bench at the start, was again frustrated by Crossley following a powerful left-footed strike, although he might have done better soon afterwards than to shoot straight at Forest's keeper.

With the pressure mounting, Forest conceded a penalty. John Robinson, driving into the area, was tripped on the 18-yard line by Steve Chettle and Stephen Lodge instantly pointed to the spot. But Crossley still had an ace up his sleeve, stopping Redfearn's admittedly poor kick.

Charlton, desperate to win, threw on Mendonca but after Stale Stensaas blocked Tiler's effort heroically in a crowded area, Crossley had the final word, tipping over a speculative lob from Keith Jones to secure a draw that, in the long term, may prove more harmful to Charlton than do good for Forest.