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THE Match Report: Manchester City 0 - 0 Charlton

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Due to me working ridiculous hours, I have taken this report from I will be back to write after Reading!

James - Staff Writer

Charlton Athletic clambered out of the Barclays Premiership relegation zone for the first time since September after an action-packed draw at Manchester City.

Down and virtually out when Alan Pardew became the Addicks’ third manager of the season 13 games ago, Charlton have transformed themselves into a dogged, fighting force.

And the seven-point chasm to safety Pardew had to bridge has now been closed completely by a five-match unbeaten run, with the Londoners now above Sheffield United on goals scored.

The advantage may be slender but if the battling qualities on display at Eastlands are any guide, Charlton will collect enough points from their final six games to secure top-flight status by the middle of May.

Successive wins at Middlesbrough and Newcastle United may have virtually ended any fears City had of falling into the Coca-Cola Championship themselves - but this was the 10th time in the Barclays Premiership this season Pearce’s men had failed to score on home soil.

It is five games since Georgios Samaras scored their last home goal - against Everton on New Year’s Day - with five goalless draws among the home Barclays Premiership results as well.

Nedum Onuoha wasted the Blues’ best chance to pick up maximum points, nodding wide from seven yards when completely unmarked just after the hour mark.

Although 10 points from four games was confirmation of Charlton’s current momentum, Pardew must have expected City to make a fast start.

So it proved. Emile Mpenza may only be six games into his City career, but already he is proving of far greater value to the Blues than fellow strikers Samaras and Bernardo Corradi.

The burly Belgian gave Charlton’s defence plenty of early headaches and his ability to retain possession - a trait which eludes both Samaras and Corradi - allows City to build some momentum.

Mpenza had already seen one effort saved by Scott Carson before he rose to meet a Joey Barton corner, forcing Amady Faye to clear off the line.

Talal El Karkouri then threw himself in the way of another Mpenza effort as the hosts’ pressure continued to mount.

After Mpenza’s flurry came one for Barton. The first and last of his four shots belied Barton’s new status as an England international.

But the middle two efforts did have Charlton worried. Carson plucked the first out of the air but the second, an instinctive curling strike after Barton had been set up by Mpenza, brought a good low save from the prospective England 'keeper.

Charlton were a sporadic threat, their efforts summed up by the knowledge it was City skipper Richard Dunne who came closest to scoring for them as he headed Jerome Thomas’ cross just wide of his own goal.

After an impressive first-half, Carson was almost embarrassed at the start of the second when he failed to control Hermann Hreidarsson’s back pass.

In the end, it took a bit of quick footwork and an agricultural clearance into touch to prevent Mpenza taking advantage.

Pardew would have been asking major questions about where his defenders had disappeared to if Onuoha had kept his header on target when teenage midfielder Michael Johnson picked him out with a right-wing cross.

Totally unmarked, Onuoha, an England Under-21 international still coveted by Nigeria at senior level, miserably failed to get a firm connection on his header, which looped wide.

After dominating for so long, City were almost caught by a Charlton sucker punch 18 minutes from time when Marcus Bent forced a pass through to Darren Bent, who in turn crossed low to Zheng.

The Chinese forward just had to check his run in order to control, otherwise he would have been clean through, and the delay allowed Onuoha to slide in and make a tackle.

After so many dreadful experiences on home soil already this season, the City fans had largely kept any criticisms to themselves.

However, Samaras’ arrival shortly afterwards did not meet with the wholehearted approval of the Blues support and it was the Greek who wasted City’s last chance with a diving header which flashed wide.

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