Football: Jones' double denies City in frantic finale

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Dave Hadfield

Manchester City 2

Charlton Athletic 2

The Charlton substitute Steve Jones, became the latest to hammer home the fact that while watching Manchester City might be many things, it is rarely dull.

Jones, only on the field because the visitors had lost their goalkeeper to a first-half injury, struck twice in the last 16 minutes of a match that had a little of everything.

His first equaliser, an inspired right-footed shot hooked unerringly into the roof of City's net, wiped out Paul Dickov's early penalty, but that was only the start of the fun.

Two minutes from the end, City seemed to have salvaged a vital victory when Kit Symons rose to meet Georgi Kinkladze's free-kick and head past Charlton's stand-in goalkeeper Steve Brown.

That still left time for Jones to repeat the damage, this time meeting Mark Bright's right-wing cross to glance a close-range header past Tommy Wright.

If City do sink into the uncharted regions of the Second Division after this season, they will be haunted by Jones's contribution, but they only had themselves to blame.

For a start, they were given a gift penalty when Uwe Rosler turned over Shaun Newton's leg after only five minutes. Rosler, whose penalty miss in the Cup defeat by West Ham on Sunday proved expensive, was never in contention to take this one. Paul Dickov obliged instead with a low shot and City were, it seemed, on their way.

They surely thought it was their night when Mike Salmon, who twisted his knee in a goalmouth scramble after a corner, did not reappear after the interval.

That obliged promotion-chasing Charlton to reorganise completely, with the full-back Brown moved back into a position where he has served his side well previously and Jones completing a three-man attack that made them far more threatening than they had been during a lame first half.

The real condemnation of City's efforts was that they failed to put Brown under any serious pressure. In fact, they had just managed their first shot on goal of the second half when the player responsible, Murtaz Shelia, was sent off for a tackle adjudged his second bookable offence.

From then on, it was a roller coaster. City actually moved up a place on the strength of this draw, but if they cannot win at home when they are presented with so many advantages the general trend is down.

``We got a dream start,'' said their manager, Frank Clark. "I would have hoped we would go on to play with some conviction and pride. If we had done that, we would have won the game comfortably.''

Manchester City (3-4-1-2) Wright; Brightwell, Symons, Shelia; Edghill, Whitley, M Brown, Russell (Van Blerk, 65); Rosler (Bradbury, 75); Dickov (Crooks, 75), Kinkladze

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Salmon (S Jones, h-t); S Brown, Rufus, Chapple, Bowen; Newton (Barness, 41), Kinsella, K Jones, Holmes; Allen, Bright, Substitute not used: Balmer.

Referee: P Richards (Preston).