Taylor under threat after stalemate

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The Independent Online
PHIL SHAW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Charlton Athletic 0

The pressure on Graham Taylor intensified last night after Wolves, who faced 10 men for 50 minutes following the dismissal of Carl Leaburn, had laboured to a second goalless draw with Charlton at Molineux in less than three weeks.

A repeat of their Coca-Cola Cup stalemate left the pre-season promotion favourites 18th in the First Division - which they led a year ago - and provoked a demonstration by several hundred supporters. After calling for the former England manager's dismissal, they chanted ``Taylor for Albion'', ``Taylor for England'' and even ``Bring back the Fifties''.

Quite how anyone mustered a sense of humour having witnessed this dire spectacle was a mystery. Even after Leaburn's departure, for swinging an elbow in John de Wolf's face as they jostled while awaiting a Charlton free-kick, it was the visitors who played as if they had the extra player.

Later, when Taylor was pressed about his position, he replied: ``If the Hayward family [the club's owners] want me to go, they'll come and tell me to my face. But they're strange people in the football world - they've got integrity. They've asked me to do this job, so it would be wrong of me to walk away from it.''

In theory Wolves tails ought to have been up after a midweek replay victory over the same opponents. Instead, Charlton passed the ball better, albeit without penetration, and the hosts still struggled to mount significant pressure after the arrival of Steve Bull as substitute.

By then, they might easily have been behind. Paul Jones, well off his goal-line, directed a clearance straight to Kim Grant. With a modicum of composure, Grant would have chipped the keeper as he back-peddled but he elected to drive the ball, which past hopelessly wide.

The crowd's reaction to Bull's introduction highlighted the no-win situation Taylor finds himself in. Cheers for the local hero turned into a storm of booing as it became clear that Mark Rankine, arguably Wolves' most effective performer, was the man to make way.

A header by De Wolf was saved by Mike Ammann, who then allowed an innocuous effort by Bull to squirm under his body before it trickled wide.

Seconds earlier, Jones had been forced to parry John Robinson's header at point blank range after a run and cross by John Humphrey.

In stoppage time Don Goodman's downward header from a Gordon Cowans' centre reared up and hit the bar. A goal then would have been a travesty for Charlton. Wolves, for all the protestations of boardroom support, may find it hard to stand by Taylor if there are many more afternoons like this.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): P Jones; Rankine (Bull, 62), Young, De Wolf, Thompson; Atkins, Emblen, Cowans; Williams (Wright, h-t), Goodman, Daley. Substitute not used: De Bont (gk).

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Ammann; Humphrey, Rufus, Chapple, Sturgess; Newton (Nelson, 80), Bowyer, K Jones, Robson; Leaburn, Grant. Substitutes not used: Walsh, Chandler.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).

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