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Fowler foxes Charlton

by Ken Gaunt of "Press Association"

Robbie Fowler maintained his recent impressive scoring record as Liverpool comfortably secured a place in the fourth round of the Coca-Cola Cup tonight at the expense of first division Charlton.

The England striker took his tally to eight goals in his last six games since recovering from a nagging back injury by forcing the ball home three minutes after half-time and adding a second in the 72nd minute.

Manager Roy Evans had brought in Jamie Redknapp and Neil Ruddock for Patrik Berger and Phil Babb, who were both on the bench for the third-round replay.

And Liverpool were soon on the attack, forcing Charlton keeper Mike Salmon into two marvellous saves.

First Salmon beat away a close-range shot from Steve McManaman after he turned quickly in the box following a fine move also involving Redknapp and Jason McAteer.

Then, in the 13th minute, Salmon somehow managed to push away Fowler's effort in front of the posts after Dominic Metteo had swung in the cross.

A minute later Liverpool's pressure paid off, Mark Wright powering home his first goal of the season.

Stig Bjornebye swung in the corner and Wright towered above everyone else in the penalty area to head home, the ball seeming to take a deflection off a Charlton defender.

Redknapp then marked his first start for Liverpool this season by adding the second goal after 17 minutes when the first division side failed to clear.

Fowler had the initial effort, but both Stuart Balmar and Richard Rufus got in a tangle and Redknapp was able to score easily.

Charlton were reeling from the double blow, but they managed to pull a goal back out of the blue in the 21st minute.

Matteo headed out cross from Ricky Otto, but only as far as Shaun Newton, lurking on the edge of the penalty area. He volleyed the ball back fiercely, giving keeper David James no chance.

Liverpool soon returned to the attack, though, Fowler scorning two good chances of putting Liverpool further ahead before half-time.

He headed wide following another cross from Bjornebye and managed to steer a shot wide after Michael Thomas had delivered the ball from the right.

However, it took Liverpool only three minute of the second half to extend their lead and put the game out of Charlton's reach.

McManaman got away down the right and released McAteer. He played the ball quickly into the box and Fowler's finish was precise, leaving keeper Salmon stranded.

Charlton suffered a further blow in the 56th minute, when Jamie Stuart was carried off after a challenge by Thomas and Kevin Nicholls came on.

The visiting side carved out only one further opportunity, when Carl Leaburn sent Bradley Allen racing clear. Ruddock was able to make a timely challenge and avert the danger.

Fowler put Liverpool 4-1 ahead 18 minutes from time when Bjornebye delivered another deep, dangerous cross. Fowler got there first to power a header beyond Salmon.

Fowler had two further chances to claim a hat-trick, but squandered both of them, seeing a shot beaten away by the keeper and then heading over the bar following a rebound from McManaman's shot.

Liverpool, who have already clinched a place in the quarter-finals of the European Cup-Winners' Cup, will now face Arsenal at Anfield in a fortnight in the hope of securing a place in the last eight of the Coca-Cola Cup.

England Under-21 defender Jamie Stuart was taken to hospital tonight with a suspected broken leg as Charlton crashed out of the Coca-Cola Cup.

Stuart was badly hurt in the 56th minute following a challenge by Michael Thomas.

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley shrugged of the 4-1 defeat to extend his sympathy to the young player.

He said: "It's put a dampener on the evening. It was a challenge on the edge of the box and you can tell it was a serious injury because of the pain he's in."

"He has been taken to hospital and we are waiting to hear whether he will have to remain there over night."

Two goals from Robbie Fowler ensured Liverpool of a fourth round meeting with Arsenal at Anfield in two weeks.

Charlton had forced a replay at the Valley and Curbishley said: "We had our chance there and should of taken it. when you are playing a team of the quality of Liverpool you have got to take that chance."

"I thought we have weathered the storm but their third goal virtually killed the game off and I'm a bit disappointed."

"But Liverpool are a good side and they will take some beating. That much is clear."

Jamie Redknapp, making his first start of the season, and Mark Wright scored Liverpool's two other goals to give them a comfortable victory.

Manager Roy Evans said: "We have to patient and we are now facing a big cup tie with Arsenal. But we have got to put that out of our minds for the moment as we have got a few games before then."

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