Sunderland held at bay in the Valley

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The Independent Online
LIZ SEARL

Charlton Athletic 1 Sunderland 1

A draw between two teams with near identical records in the First Division would imply a match that held few surprises. However, although the goals were nothing to shout about, 90 minutes of end-to-end play was enough to take the chill off an ice-cold Valley yesterday.

The visitors set a cracking pace at the outset but just when they began to stack the odds against Charlton, the home side took the lead after 11 minutes. Mark Robson fed Lee Bowyer on the wing and his cross was converted by Shaun Newton.

Then, with possession alternating from one side to the other, Sunderland's Phil Gray set off from midfield and progressed to the edge of the box. In the scrum that ensued, Michael Gray picked his way through to equalise on 18 minutes.

Charlton were much improved in the second half but were grateful for Sunderland's profligacy in front of goal. A relieved Alan Curbishley described it as "a nice Sunday afternoon match to watch with a few pints".

"We got a bit of a chasing in the first half but we battled away," the Charlton manager said. Peter Reid, his Sunderland counterpart, was happy with his team's performance but disappointed with the result.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Salmon (Ammann, 26); Humphrey, Stuart, Walsh, Chapple; Rufus, Newton, Nelson, Robson (Grant, 70); Leaburn, Bowyer (Jones, 70).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Kubicki, Scott, Bracewell, Ball; Melville, Michael Gray, Ord, Kelly; P Gray, Russell (Aiston, 76). Substitutes not used: Howey, Agnew.

Referee: K Leach (Wolverhampton).

n Lee Mills scored his second goal of the match in injury time to earn Port Vale a 2-2 draw with Oldham at Boundary Park. Paul Wilkinson, on loan from Middlesbrough, opened the scoring but Mills equalised 11 minutes later. Andy Porter missed a penalty for Vale after 32 minutes, but Lee Richardson did not waste his spot kick, putting Oldham ahead eight minutes from time. Vale's Steve Guppy was sent off for disputing that decision but Mills then lifted the Potteries side off the bottom of the First Division.

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