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Match Report – Charlton Athletic 2, Cardiff City 2

Match Report – Charlton Athletic 2, Cardiff City 2

Cardiff City players welcomed new manager Neil Harris with a team performance full of character, desire and spirit, while 1,700-plus Bluebirds fans roared their approval at The Valley.

The supporters loved Neil Warnock, but now they have a new hero and are willing Neil number two to be successful.

They sang his name throughout and Harris said: “The fanbase! How good were they? The noise they made for the players and the reception they gave me. First class.

“If that’s the support we get home and away all season, I’ll be a delighted man, and it’s up to the players to respond to that.”

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Cardiff fought back from 2-0 down to earn their SkyBet Championship point and even missed a penalty along the way.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Lee Tomlin, who made another superb cameo appearance from the subs bench, scored their goals and Harris was delighted, saying: “A huge step forward, with the mentality of the group and togetherness that we showed.

“We take that momentum into the next game and try and win on Tuesday night (home v Stoke City). On the whole, this was a real positive.

“When we were 2-0 down at half-time, the group were a little bit deflated. We were done twice on the counter-attack, so the mentality has to be better within the group to defend when we have got the ball.

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“I asked for a reaction in the second half and I got it. We changed the shape and asked them to adjust the mentality to that as well. I am really pleased with the boys for that.”

Harris had a big say in the recovery, making good substitutions at the right time and tweaking the playing system to help spark the comeback.

He made two changes from the starting line-up that played against Bristol City before the international break, with Callum Paterson and Gary Madine coming in to the starting XI.

City were caught twice on the counter, leaving themselves open and Charlton punished them each time.

Conor Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, fired Charlton ahead after 13 minutes, and then three minutes before half-time another loanee made it two.

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Erhun Oztumer picked out Jonathan Leko, who has joined the London club from West Brom temporarily, finished clinically.

Referee Darren Bond waved away Cardiff appeals for a penalty when Paterson, running clear inside the penalty area, was clipped by Deji Oshilaja and went down.

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Bond did point to the spot when Paterson was held back soon after half-time, but Junior Hoilett’s weak effort was comfortably saved.

City kept battling and were rewarded when Mendez-Laing scored from close range.

There were 23 minutes left when Harris opted for changes and altered the course of the match. Omar Bogle and Tomlin were sent on for Hoilett and the underwhelming Madine.

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The result was an equaliser when Joe Bennett attacked down the left and Mendez-Laing picked him out with an accurate pass.

Bennett shaped to cross before picking out Tomlin, who took a touch before passing the ball into goal with Dillon Phillips helpless after 73 minutes.

The game might have ended on a winning note, but Bogle’s effort was saved after he raced clear.

Charlton fielded a much weakened team because of injuries, but Harris and his players can take plenty of positives from the performance. He will also have learned a lot about his players.

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