Leicester City 1 Charlton Athletic 1: McCarthy steals in to deny his old club

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The Independent Football

Charlton denied Leicester a second home win in four days when Patrick McCarthy secured an equaliser against his former club with just over a minute remaining.

The Dubliner's first league goal for the London side cancelled out Leicester captain's Stephen Clemence 79th-minute header to leave Ian Holloway still searching for the run of form he needs if his new club's relegation worries are to be seen off.

Yet for all his disappointment at conceding a goal so late, the Leicester manager felt a point against promotion-chasing opponents was a praiseworthy achievement given that a team already missing key players, particularly in midfield, was hit by injuries to two more in the first 22 minutes.

"We had a striker and two centre halves in midfield," he said. "I've never put out such a patched-up side. We did not defend a free-kick properly at the end but I was proud of them for competing against one of the so-called bigger clubs, just down from the Premier League."

The absence of Andy Reid, Darren Ambrose and Svetoslav Todorov all injured left Charlton short on creative influence, and it showed.

When Clemence, on the end of a Richard Stearman cross, steered his header just beyond the reach of goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, it looked as if Leicester would record their first back-to-back home wins since August 2006 following the Boxing Day defeat of Ipswich. But for a shot by Matt Holland that flashed narrowly wide, Alan Pardew's team had not looked like scoring, even though for the first half they dominated possession.

Leicester, who had lost Joe Mattock after a clash of heads with team-mate Patrick Kisnorbo and then saw striker Collins John limp off with a hamstring injury, did not find fluency before half-time. But they moved up a gear in the second half, forcing Weaver to make good saves to keep out Alan Sheehan's free-kick and a decent strike by Matty Fryatt, Leicester's liveliest attacker, before the Clemence goal they hoped would prove the match-winner.

Their hopes of celebrating a second Christmas success were wrecked when Clemence conceded a free-kick, Chris Powell delivered a testing ball into the box and McCarthy, a summer signing at the Valley, hooked the ball home at the second attempt.

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