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Saturday, May 8, 1999 Published at 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK


Charlton boost hopes in thriller

Paul Merson holds off a determined Neil Redfearn

Aston Villa 3-4 Charlton

Charlton gave themselves a glimpse of Premiership safety with a last minute winner in a match which saw two sendings off as well as the rush of goals.

The visitors were ahead four times, but on three occasions Villa came back to equalise until Danny Mills applied the final touch with just injury time to survive.

Up to that point Charlton were heading for the Nationwide League. Now they have a chance to escape on the last day of the season.

John Robinson and Clive Mendonca got the Addicks' goals in the second half after Villa defender Gareth Barry had given them a third minute lead with an own goal.

Barry and Julian Joachim twice gave Villa hope until the final dramatic move condemned them to defeat.


[ image: Charlton scorer Clive Mendonca was back from injury]
Charlton scorer Clive Mendonca was back from injury
Charlton's keeper Andy Petterson and Steve Watson of Villa were the players to get their marching orders as most of the drama - and five of the goals - came after half time.

But there was enough material for an own goals and mishaps video in the first seven minutes.

Villa, who went behind with an own goal at Old Trafford a week ago, waited just three before putting the ball in their own net this week.

And Charlton, who had themselves handed Villa an own goal within two minutes of the fixture at The Valley last December, gifted their hosts an equaliser four minutes later.

The last touch on both occasions fell to Villa's Gareth Barry, playing on the left side of midfield as Paul Merson was pushed forward to cover for Dion Dublin's failure to win a fitness battle.

Barry scored his own from John Robinson's right wing cross, which was met with a hesitant response from keeper Michael Oakes as Graham Stuart charged in.


[ image: Gareth Barry celebrates equalising his own goal]
Gareth Barry celebrates equalising his own goal
But the England under-21 international did not have long to worry as Richard Rufus, who scored Charlton's own goal at The Valley in December, then handed the Midlanders - and Barry in particular - another gift.

Merson's attempted through ball was causing no problems, but as keeper Petterson came out for the ball, Rufus played it across the edge of the penalty area and straight into the path of Barry.

With Petterson stranded he simply had to get the shot on target and it was all square again.

The rest of the opening half saw both sides allowing each other possession in midfield although each team was packing their defence to restrict the number of chances created.

The few opportunities that did appear were down to counter-attacks from both sides, but Stuart's effort went wide and Barry saw Petterson correctly positioned to save another attempt.

The visitors began the second half with a series of attacks although they could not fashion a clear cut chance until Jones beat Colin Calderwood to a Petterson clearance on 56 minutes.

His flick on found Clive Mendonca, the striker who had returned from injury and a resrve hat trick in midweek.


[ image: Mendonca beat Southgate to score his goal]
Mendonca beat Southgate to score his goal
He delayed his shot until Gareth Southgate desperately dived across to try to block the shot.

With the England defender on the ground Mendonca smashed the ball past Oakes at the near post.

Conceding the goal prompted Villa boss John Gregory into changes with Ugo Ehiogu and young forward Darius Vassell replacing Draper and Calderwood.

And the teenage striker, who made an under-21 debut in England's recent friendly in Hungary, had a hand in Villa's second equaliser.

In a similar manner to Jones a few minutes earlier, he got his head to Stone's long ball and headed into Joachim's path for the quick striker to run and finish.

But Villa were only level for two minutes, as Southgate was muscled out of it by Jones on the byline.

He crossed for Mendonca to turn and shoot straight at Oakes, but the rebound fell to Robinson who nodded the rebound towards the line.

Despite Southgate desperate hook away from goal, the linesman decided the ball had crossed the line and it was 3-2.

Potential disaster in two minutes

Villa powered back into the game with a potentially disastrous two minute period for the side near the bottom of the table.

Joachim got the equaliser when Ehiogu was allowed what seemed like hours to turn in the box and feed the striker at a corner.

Then the Villa top-scorer was played in behind the Charlton defence and Petterson came out, missed the ball and took the man.

Referee Mike Riley's inevitable verdict was a free kick and a red card for the goalkeeper.

With no keeper among the visitors' substitutes, he was replaced by outfield player Steve Brown whose first act was to brilliantly save Steve Stone's free kick.

But 3-3 was not to be the end of it, thanks to substitute Martin Pringle's run, which was stupidly hauled back by Steve Watson.

The Swede was running in on goal so the Villa defender had to follow Petterson down the tunnel.

The resulting free kick was tapped across the edge of the box to Mills, who thrashed it home with the aid of a deflection to send the Charlton fans behind the goal into delirium.

Aston Villa: Oakes, Watson, Calderwood, Southgate, Wright, Stone, Draper, Taylor, Barry, Merson, Joachim. Subs: Ehiogu, Thompson, Vassell, Samuel, Enckelman.

Charlton: Petterson, Mills, Rufus, Tiler, Powell, Stuart, Redfearn, Kinsella, Robinson, Jones, Mendonca. Subs: Brown, Bowen, Parker, Barnes, Pringle.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)



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