Football: Millwall's ambitions resurrected by Rae: Blows for Charlton and Birmingham

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The Independent Online
Millwall. . . . . . 2

Charlton Athletic. .1

SOUTH LONDON pride went Millwall's way last night when Alex Rae embellished his status as his team's leading scorer to claim a dramatic winner in injury time and fourth place in the Endsleigh League First Division at Charlton's expense.

Their advantage might be only a single point but Millwall know they would have trailed their local rivals by five this morning if the Scottish midfielder, who signed a new four-year contract recently, had not been up for the occasion. It was his equaliser that spurred Millwall's ambitions and his outstretched leg that took a cross-shot from Jamie Moralee past John Vaughan and his goals total for the season to 13.

Charlton had returned from their Old Trafford experience in the FA Cup determined to redouble their efforts in the First Division and so become acquainted with such hallowed parts on a regular basis in the Premiership next season.

Without their regular front pairing of Carl Leaburn and Kim Grant at the start, they were second best for most of the contest and waited a long time for a genuine chance. From their first clear opportunity, seven minutes after half-time, Garry Nelson put them in front.

Alan Pardew's measured pass took him beyond Andy Roberts and, stumbling as the young defender tried to bring him down, he did well to retain his balance. That fooled Kasey Keller into a premature dive and made Nelson's execution a formality.

Only the reflexes of Vaughan had carried Charlton to a position from which they could go in front. Twice he thwarted Ian Dawes, each time after the full- back had advanced to deliver testing shots on the volley from outside the penalty area.

Yet Vaughan was left with no chance when, after 65 minutes, Terry Hurlock rolled a free-kick into Rae's stride and he hit an emphatic shot that ripped into the net.

There were successive penalty appeals from the Millwall crowd late on as Rae felt both Alan McLeary and Stuart Balmer come in strongly. But, compared to the corresponding fixture at The Valley when two were sent off, this was a relatively tame affair. Rae was one of those dismissed: this time his memories will be more pleasant.

Millwall (4-4-2): Keller; Cunningham, Stevens, Roberts, Dawes; Rae, Verveer, Hurlock, Barber (Kerr, 62); Mitchell, Moralee. Substitutes not used: Beard, Carter (gk).

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Vaughan; Brown, McLeary, Balmer, Sturgess; Robson, Pitcher, Pardew, Walsh; Small, Nelson (Grant, 58). Substitutes not used: Chapple, Bolder (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Berkshire).

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