Ten-man Charlton steal point

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The Independent Online

Premature as it may be to talk of "six-pointers", there was desperation in the air at The Valley as two sides with survival next May on their mind went hammer and tongs at each other. In the end Charlton were pleased with a draw after handicapping themselves for the second time in four matches by having a defender sent off. Carl Tiler had been dismissed at Everton in the second match of the season and last night Steve Brown, standing in for him, received a second yellow card with more than half an hour to play.

Premature as it may be to talk of "six-pointers", there was desperation in the air at The Valley as two sides with survival next May on their mind went hammer and tongs at each other. In the end Charlton were pleased with a draw after handicapping themselves for the second time in four matches by having a defender sent off. Carl Tiler had been dismissed at Everton in the second match of the season and last night Steve Brown, standing in for him, received a second yellow card with more than half an hour to play.

During that period Hassan Kachloul gave Southampton the lead before another substitute, Jonatan Johansson, pinched an equaliser.

Each club knew the game was of considerable psychological importance. Southampton, who were once more without the injured Matt Le Tissier, did not want to be stranded in the bottom three even at this early stage, with another away game to come (at Leicester) on Saturday. Charlton's players have had it drummed into them, almost since promotion was confirmed, that matches like these against fellow relegation candidates are the ones they must win. Had they taken three points at The Dell instead of being beaten there two seasons ago, they would have stayed up and sent Southampton down.

One of the most memorable matches at The Valley during that campaign was the opening home game, in which last night's visitors were drubbed 5-0, Clive Mendonca scoring a hat-trick in 25 minutes. Having missed the second half of last season, the injury-prone striker was still not match fit and Kevin Lisbie kept the Finnish international Johansson among the substitutes.

With the young striker losing out in height and power to Southampton's three central defenders, Charlton took half an hour to make inroads. They were foiled three times in quick succession by sterling work from Dean Richards. He denied first Graham Stuart and then Lisbie with superb saving tackles when they were briefly clear, before blocking Claus Jensen's low free-kick from 20 yards on the line.

The visitors were dangerous when they broke in between the frequent stoppages for fouls and treatment. Uwe Rösler, having returned to England in the summer from Germany, had a shot blocked early on and set up his partner Pahars, who might have done better from close in.

Charlton's defensive pair Brown and Richard Rufus put themselves under pressure by collecting a yellow card each in a niggly first half, which proved costly just before the hour. Brown clipped Rösler again and was dismissed. Not surprisingly the home side lost some of the momentum they had been building up and their captain, Mark Kinsella, had to stop Rösler's shot creeping inside a post. They brought on Andy Todd to play alongside Rufus, while Southampton's Glenn Hoddle, with the sniff of a possible victory in his nostrils, put on Hassan Kachloul and James Beattie.

It had become a difficult position for Alan Curbishley's team, knowing they must not lose yet needing to take every chance of winning. They were caught out in the 78th minute as Kachloul drove a cross-shot beyond the far post, where the unmarked Pahars squeezed the ball past Dean Kiely.

Only three minutes later Johansson latched on to Hunt's flick and beat Neil Moss with a well-placed drive.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Kishishev, Rufus, Brown, Powell; Stuart, Kinsella, Jensen (Newton 71), Robinson (Todd, 61); Hunt, Lisbie (Johansson, 71). Substitutes not used: Ilic (gk), Konchesky.

Southampton (3-5-2): Moss; Richards, Lundekvam, Marsden (Kachloul, 68); El-Khalej, Tessem, Draper, Oakley, Bridge; Pahars, Rösler (Beattie, 68). Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Dodd, Ripley.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

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