Football / FA Cup: Mind game goes to Charlton

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The Independent Online
Bristol City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

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

AFTER winning away (at Liverpool and Stockport), Bristol City must do so again, at The Valley on Wednesday week, if their Cup run is to continue. Yet, mentally at least, the battle may already be lost. They went to Anfield in good heart, having dominated Liverpool at Ashton Gate, but by the final whistle on Saturday, and after leading Charlton at half-time, City were clinging gratefully to a draw.

They had only themselves to blame. They dominated the first half through a careful mixture of aggression and discipline, as Charlton struggled to advance through a series of tough tackles in midfield. The visitors' task became harder still after 12 minutes, when Brian Tinnion steered a free- kick from 20 yards around the wall and beyond Mike Salmon's right hand.

It was not the only example of Tinnion's skill, merely the most obvious. The midfielder originated many of Bristol's best moves, and twice tested Salmon himself as City threatened to be gone beyond recall by half-time.

Kim Grant and Mark Robson began to find some space for Charlton, but Bristol still appeared in control until a sudden lapse in concentration (their first) was swiftly punished. After 59 minutes, Scott Minto picked up a quick throw on the left and scurried into the box. His cross flashed past both Keith Welch and Mark Shail before arriving at the feet of Robson, whose careful shot from a narrow angle went in off the post.

Calm and well-organised moments earlier, Bristol began to fall apart as Grant and Robson, and to a lesser extent Garry Nelson and Alan Pardew, picked at the seams of their teamwork. Junior Bent, introduced as an antidote on Bristol's wing with 20 minutes left, caught the collective mood and could make no impression. Grant and Leaburn, meanwhile, had half-chances to win it for Charlton.

Though the two sides finished level, Charlton's persistence more than explained the 10-place gap between them in the League. If they can pick up where they left off in nine days' time, Bristol's season will effectively be over.

Goals: Tinnion (12) 1-0; Robson (59) 1-1.

Bristol City (4-4-2): Welch; Scott, Shail, Munro, Bryant; Tinnion, Martin, Pennyfather (Bent, 70), Robinson; Allison, Edwards. Substitutes not used: Llewellyn, Leaning (gk).

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

Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).

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