Football: FA Cup Fifth Round: Robson's level head

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The Independent Online
Bristol City. . . . 1

Tinnion 12

Charlton Athletic. .1

Robson 59

Attendance: 20,416

HAVING demolished the FA Cup hopes of Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers respectively in the fourth round, Bristol City and Charlton Athletic were unable to find the decisive edge in a highly combative but ultimately sprawling game.

While Charlton's nine-point lead in the division gave Bristol the underdog's momentum in the first half - when Liverpool's tormentor Brian Tinnion scored with a superb free-kick - Charlton rediscovered their promotion-style football in the second period, and thoroughly deserved both their equaliser and a replay, on Wednesday week.

Those seeking confirmation of the rising status of First Division football could only have found encouragement in the few passages of coherent play. On a dead, wintry pitch neither side could produce sustained periods of possession and too much of the football was tinged with the tension of the occasion. Indeed the game ended with some pantomime villainy as the City manager, Russell Osman, was lectured by the referee, Keith Hackett, after demonstrating his dissent, first at a decision, and then at Charlton's time-wasting.

Osman's frustration was understandable. His team had battled themselves into a significant advantage in the first half, partly through the acute passing and shooting of Tinnion, and partly through the destructive tackling of Dave Martin. Neat triangles of play on the Bristol left began to unstitch Charlton's defence, and when Darren Pitcher pulled down Liam Robinson in the 12th minute, he was setting up Bristol's goal. The free-kick was perhaps 23 yards out, but Tinnion's left foot found the angle to swerve the ball inside Mike Salmon's right-hand post. Bristol should have had more, Tinnion forcing two further saves from Salmon.

In the second half Charlton at last summoned the will to come back. Their play acquired a space and coherence previously lacking, particularly as the Ryan Giggs lookalike Scott Minto began to move threateningly down the left.

Fourteen minutes into the period, Minto latched on to a quick throw, weaved his way into the box and fired in a low cross which was missed by both Mark Shail and the goalkeeper Keith Welch, but not by Mark Robson - the little winger calmly putting his shot inside the far post to level the tie.

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