Charlton Athletic 1 Bristol City 1: McCombe steps up to provide City's cure for altitude sickness

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The Independent Football

Bristol City have found a new weapon in their attempt to reach the Premier League for the first time. In the unlikely shape of Jamie McCombe, their tall centre-half, they have a player who has scored three goals in four games, having not scored all season. The club captain scored the winner at the weekend with an overhead kick and headed the equaliser here, although there were no thanks in the direction of one City fan, who threw a lit flare on to the pitch in the wake of McCombe's goal after 62 minutes.

The West Country side might have entered into this game with some trepidation, especially with Charlton eyeing promotion themselves. Those fears increased when the hosts scored early on, although McCombe's goal, and Watford's draw, meant City actually extended their lead at the top of the table to three points.

City were flummoxed by the Addicks' use of only one forward, in Chris Iwelumo, but they would have been even more surprised by the role of Kelly Youga. The left-back had stealthily assumed a more advanced position on the edge of the area and, turning on Zheng Zhi's pass, he moved the ball on to Darren Ambrose.

The winger swiftly turned and shot from 10 yards, low to Adriano Basso's left after only eight minutes.

The goal possibly made up for the fact that the Addicks' application to redevelop the East Stand at The Valley has been rejected by Greenwich council. It is a decision which the club plans to contest as they seek to enlarge their ground. Handy, should they return to the Premier League, although they will have to improve on their second-half performance if they are to reach the top two.

A goal from Gary Johnson's side had not appeared on the cards but Charlton had been retreating and conceded a corner. Lee Johnson floated in the ball for his team-mate, although the flare dampened down the celebrations, before Michael McIndoe hit the crossbar with a free-kick 18 minutes from time.

Johnson refused to get carried away with his team's advantage at the top. "We're just going to focus on the next game," he said. "We showed we've got mental toughness by turning it around in the second half."

Charlton Athletic (4-4-1-1): Weaver; Halford, McCarthy, Sodje, Youga; Varney, Holland, Zheng, Thomas (Sinclair, 76); Ambrose (Cook, 88); Iwelumo (Gray, 62). Substitutes not used: Elliot (gk), Thatcher.

Bristol City (4-5-1): Basso; Brian Wilson, McCombe, Fontaine, McAllister (Vasko, 62); Sproule (Byfield, h-t), Johnson, Elliott, Carle (Noble, 88), McIndoe; Adebola. Substitutes not used: Weale (gk), Trundle.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

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