Football: Hunt to rescue

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The Independent Online
Charlton Athletic 1

Hunt 74

Coventry City 1

Whelan 69

Attendance: 20,043

THE VALLEY'S first full house since 1982 should have had a victory to celebrate - and on pressure and chances it was there for the taking - but they had to settle for a point as the Coventry defence, which leaked five goals to Newcastle only a week ago, had been transformed into a very mean machine.

It is not difficult to see why envious eyes are cast on Dion Dublin. His command in the air was often deployed at the back when the going got rough, yet he was the fulcrum of the game's sweetest moves when the Sky Blues came out of the trenches after taking an unexpected lead in the 70th minute.

Coventry had to reshuffle their formation when an ankle injury deprived them of David Burrows after only 15 minutes and Marc Edworthy replaced him in the visitors' back four.

Charlton had a very early opportunity when Paul Mortimer wriggled to the by-line to square an enticing ball across the face of goal in the first minute, but Andy Hunt was vital inches short of connecting.

That was the best chance of the half, although Shaun Newton and Neil Redfearn were not too far away with long-range efforts, as was Hunt when he did connect with Eddie Youds's speculative throughball.

Coventry had been unable to put together a coherent threat and the goalkeeper Sasa Ilic's only moment of real activity was to pluck a Dion Dublin header from under his crossbar.

Gary Breen was shown a yellow yard for a push on Clive Mendonca and the half ended with two Redfearn volleys, each one forcing Magnus Hedman to scramble across his goal-line to push the ball clear.

Charlton started the second half still at a gallop and Redfearn's header was deflected clear off the visitors' line by Roland Nilsson. But a sign that Coventry might also sting came when Dublin sent Paul Hall in on Ilic with the sweetest of flicks, but the substitute got entangled with an over-eager Paul Telfer and the keeper cleared the danger.

Five minutes later, Ilic could do nothing when Breen's cross to the far post found Noel Whelan, who turned it back into the Charlton net before crashing into the advertising hoarders.

The Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was beckoning Hunt to come off in the 75th minute when Edworthy slipped and lost possession to the striker, who swept his first goal of the season beyond Hedman.

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