Charlton 1 (Magennis 24) Bradford City 1 (Robinson 80).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Still smarting from the calamitous surrender of five points from their two previous games, Charlton squared off with close rivals Bradford in a make-or-break clash for a place among the play-offs contenders. Even with a third of the season remaining, there's a distinct, psychological advantage to being among the top six teams.
By beating City, the Addicks would have leapfrogged the sixth-placed Bantams to lead them by a point with two useful games in hand. Throw in a superior goal difference and the prize for victory was huge. Simple arithmetic shows that defeat, on the other hand, would have represented a devastating body blow. So Charlton took the third option and, in painfully familiar circumstances, not to mention their patented 1-1 scoreline, marked time and continued to press their noses against the window to the holy grail.
Pegged back yet again by a late equaliser, this latest setback heaped more disappointment on Karl Robinson's men. Setting out with their usual elan, they were denied an early breakthrough when Colin Doyle brilliantly tipped Mark Marshall's bottom-corner bound shot against a post to safety. The keeper then kept out Sullay KaiKai's venomous volley with his legs before doing his resourceful best to prevent Josh Magennis from giving Charlton the lead midway through the first half.
The spadework was provided by Marshall, whose jinking run made space on the right to deliver a cleverly dinked cross aimed for Magennis. Climbing above two defenders, the back in-form striker generated just enough power in his downward header to squeeze the ball inside the left post, despite Doyle's frantic efforts to scrape it back in play. Referee Nicholas Kinseley, whose laissez-faire attitude to City's uncompromising physicality hardly endeared him to an openly mutinous Robinson, was ideally positioned to rule in Charlton's favour.
And this was where we came in. For having played the visitors off the park with a beguiling but all-too-brief blend of pace, power and skill, the Addicks began to falter as usual. While contributing little beyond the searing drive from Adam Chicksen which skimmed the bar shortly before the break, City retired with a toehold in a game which had threatened to run away from them. And as they improved, so their opponents' self-belief evaporated.
With only a single goal to protect, Charlton began the second half in frankly unconvincing quest of a second. Tariqe Fosu went close with a right-footed drive narrowly too high, then briefly troubled the Yorkshiremen with a corner which was awkwardly cleared at the near post.
But the pendulum had swung and it required a fine save from Ben Amos to keep out the volley with which Chicksen met Tony McMahon's inswinging corner from the right. Interval substitute Paul Taylor beat Amos on the rebound but Magennis, a tower of strength to his side in both penalty areas, cleared his effort off the goalline.
On 67 minutes, the Addicks survived a scare which suggested that sheer luck might, on this occasion, come to their rescue. Setpiece specialist McMahon stepped up to a free kick, awarded for Fosu's earnest attempt to decapitate Chicksen 20 yards out, and left Amos helpless as he sent it crashing against the bar.
Shortly after the escape, Fosu made a final effort to finish off the resurgent Bantams. A regular target, along with Kaikai, for City's cynical litany of fouls (Charlton were no angels themselves), he hauled himself up after being decked by McMahon to curl the free kick towards the far top corner. Backpedalling urgently, Doyle pawed the fast-dropping ball to safety, his vital save setting the stage for an increasingly inevitable equaliser.
Banished to the stands as the exchanges grew tetchier, Simon Grayson probably masterminded the 76th minute replacement of the embattled Chicksen by Tyrell Robinson from his new vantage point. If so, City's new boss was handsomely vindicated by the newcomer's first significant contribution. Stealing a yard on Chris Solly as he moved to meet Charlie Wyke's faintly deflected centre, Robinson firmly headed City's point-saver inside the right post. And there it was again - a delirious Jimmy Seed stand celebrating late salvation while the home tribunes looked on in sullen resentment. So is there a solution to the problem? Well, we could try kicking the other bloody way for a change. If it's broke, fix it!
Charlton: Amos, Solly, Konsa, Bauer, DaSilva (Lennon 90), Kashi, Marshall (Zyro 84), Forster-Caskey, Kaikai (Ajose 87), Fosu, Magennis. Not used: Phillips, Jackson, Reeves, Aribo. Booked: Fosu, Solly, Forster-Caskey.
Bradford: Doyle, McGowan, Knight-Percival, Vincelot, Chicksen (Robinson 76), Dieng (Taylor 46), Warnock, Gillead, McMahon, Guy, Wyke. Not used: Raeder, Law, Poleon, McCartan, Lund. Booked: McGowan, Guy, McMahon.
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley. Att: 10,650 (830 visiting).