Charlton Athletic 0 Middlesbrough 0: Ehiogu's bravery earns Boro replay

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The Independent Online

Well, at least both sides will be in today's FA Cup semi-final draw. A replay was not what they would have wanted, especially for Middlesbrough given their European commitments, but the inevitability of one was apparent from early on. The drums on the North Stand beat throughout but the only message was that Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham will hardly be quaking come lunchtime. Instead, they will all know that ball No 1 is the one they want to be paired with.

"Not many of us have been in a semi-final draw. I know that we are not through but we are looking forward to it," was the positive spin of the Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, who has fallen three times previously in the last eight. He even brushed aside the "dismal" away form of his players saying he was a "firm believer" that it will soon change and that that change could come in time for the Riverside on 12 April.

It was bright and breezy stuff which contrasted sharply with the bogged-down events that had proceeded it although few would argue with Curbishley's conviction that "both of us went for it but it wasn't to be".

Middlesbrough's Steve McClaren certainly concurred. "It was a quarter-final and sometimes you don't always get a great spectacle," he admitted, paying tribute to the "blood and thunder" nature of the contest before adding the caveat that there had also been a bit of thud and blunder about the finishing, especially from Charlton.

His expectations proved right even if McClaren was also indebted to a strong display by his two central defenders - a reminder of years gone by, he said, with Ugo Ehiogu spilling blood for the cause and having six stitches in a head wound - after his side faded following a smooth start in which Yakubu should have put them ahead with a free header inside three minutes.

Gradually it was Charlton, victorious twice in the Premiership this season against Middlesbrough, who seized control. Matt Holland volleyed wide before Hermann Hreidarsson won a header, directing it to Radostin Kishishev who panicked and crashed a shot over. He should have scored. Hreidarsson himself then went close, forcing a fine save by Mark Schwarzer after he stretched to meet a cross at the back post and then Darren Bent guided a mis-hit effort from Bryan Hughes just over from inside the six-yard area.

"We could have been a goal down, maybe two," said McClaren, who then engineered a rally from his team with Stewart Downing prominent. Chris Powell had to be alert to block from Gaizka Mendieta before Lee Cattermole ballooned over and the substitute James Morrison, in the 84th minute, forced Thomas Myhre into his first save. The goalkeeper comfortably turned away his low shot. "I didn't really want a draw," said McClaren. "But I will take it if it means we are still in the Cup." Again Curbishley agreed.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Myhre; Young, Hreidarsson, Perry, Powell; Kishishev (Rommedahl, 62), Hughes, Holland, Thomas; Bartlett (Bothroyd, 76) Bent. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Euell, Spector.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Mendieta (Morrison, 64), Cattermole, Boateng, Downing; Hasselbaink, Yakubu (Viduka 68). Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Rochemback, Pogatetz.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

FA Cup semi-finalists

Chelsea

Liverpool

West Ham

Charlton or Boro

(Semi-final draw today, BBC1 12.55pm)

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