Huddersfield waste two-goal lead again

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The Independent Online
Huddersfield Town 2 Charlton Athletic 2

The gap between these two unlikely candidates for promotion to the Premiership remains at five points after Charlton Athletic clawed back a two-goal deficit at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium last night.

A draw was enough to keep Huddersfield in fourth place in the First Division table, two places behind their visitors, but just as in the FA Cup on Saturday, they allowed the initiative to be wrenched from them.

Once Huddersfield had run off their disappointment from failing to hold Wimbledon in injury time on Saturday, they showed why they are capable of embarrassing sides.

Their first goal owed something to a couple of strands of good fortune, but it was put away with alacrity by their leading scorer, Andy Booth, after Lee Makel had skewed the ball to the right, Ronnie Jepson had returned it to the middle and Rodney Rowe had let it run past him.

Less than five minutes later, Huddersfield were two up, Rowe hitting a crisp shot from the edge of the penalty area after Stuart Balmer's defensive header had found him there.

Charlton have not put together a run of five successive away victories without possessing plenty of resilience. Their young side, with no obvious stars apart from the much sought after Lee Bowyer, do not know when they are beaten.

Just after the half hour, the substitute, Mark Robson put over a deep cross from the right and the gangling Carl Leaburn won the ball on the far post and his nod-down was forced over the line by Bowyer's header.

Charlton increased their momentum after that and they equalised in the second half from a penalty, conceded by Paul Reid's tackle on Keith Jones and converted by Robson.

Charlton always looked far more likely to fashion a winner, with that best-selling author, Garry Nelson, almost writing his name on the scoresheet with a shot that made Steve Francis leap to turn it over his bar.

"They murdered us. They're a very good side and we need a new face to give us a lift," Brian Horton, the Huddersfield manager, said. He added that he had been quoted pounds 750,000 for a player but refused to reveal his identity.

Huddersfield Town (4-3-3): Francis; Jenkins, Sinnott, Gray, Cowan; Reid (Dunn, 64), Bullock, Makel; Rowe (Collins, 77), Booth, Jepson. Substitute not used: Lawson.

Charlton Athletic(4-4-2): Salmon; Humphrey (Brown, h-t), Rufus, Balmer, Stuart; Newton (Robson, 20), Bowyer, Jones, Robinson; Leaburn, Nelson. Substitute not used: Whyte.

Referee: G Cain (Bootle).

More football, results, page 26

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