Charlton 1 City 1

"CHANGE starts here," read one of the perimeter advertising boards at the Valley last night. It was a fitting sign for City after the struggles of 2018.

Simon Grayson kept up his record of never having lost his first game in charge of six clubs – and more importantly his new charges maintained their two-point lead on Charlton in the League One play-off pursuit.

He can also lay claim to a managerial masterstroke with substitute Tyrell Robinson, who scored the leveller within four minutes of coming on.

The prospect of dropping out of the top six for the first time since August had loomed large after a first half that the home side bossed.

Trailing by that stage, it will now be three months since their last clean sheet by the time City play again at Plymouth a week on Saturday.

But an attacking tinker at the break transformed the evening and played on Charlton's nerves.

The Bantams looked a completely different outfit from that point and were good value for their draw – even if a Robinson header will surely go down as a collector's item.

Owners Edin Rahic, who was not there because he was not feeling well, and Stefan Rupp believe Grayson's appointment is a clear signal both to the fans and the competition that they mean business. It certainly had an immediate impact in south east London.

The absence of any public indication so far on the length of his contract suggests it could be on a short-term "suck it and see" basis until the end of the season.

Either way, there is no time to lose – and the "new manager bounce" was clearly on show as his first game wore on.

With an impressive points ratio of 1.79 per game over 264 matches in charge at League One level, Grayson's pedigree is not in doubt.

But he has to work quickly to turn round the fortunes of a club on the slide since the turn of the year. This was a pretty good start.

Grayson made three changes from the team pegged back at the death by Bury, switching to a 4-5-1. The onus appeared to be on breaking a clean-sheet duck stretching back to November 25 at Shrewsbury.

Nathaniel Knight-Percival replaced the suspended Matt Kilgallon and Callum Guy and Stephen Warnock were recalled. Warnock's return meant Adam Chicksen was pushed into a midfield role against his former side.

Charlton had won only three of their previous nine home games but came flying out the traps.

Mark Marshall, inevitably, was hungry to make an impression against his previous employers – and so nearly did in the fourth minute.

City's player of the year from last season let fly from the corner of the box and Colin Doyle had to stretch to tip against the far post.

The Bantams barely had a sniff in the opening period before Ryan McGowan's header from their first corner drew a low save from Ben Amos.

But opposite number Doyle immediately maintained his busy start with another solid save, denying Sullay Kaikai's 20-yarder with his legs.

The City keeper was beaten, though, after 23 minutes as Charlton's quick break prised the visitors open.

Kaikai started it before Tariqe Fosu drove forward, feeding Marshall, who stood up a cross for Josh Magennis to attack.

It looked like Doyle would keep it out at his far post but the well-placed header beat his scrambling efforts to stop it crossing the line.

The problem of setting up not to concede is when you concede – and falling behind meant a change of strategy for the new boss. His team had seen little possession in the first quarter.

But having scored the goal, Charlton's earlier zip and attacking intent began to desert them. City won a couple of attacking free-kicks – looking their most likely route to come back – but still looked toothless in the final third.

Callum Guy, back in the side in midfield, was wearing a shirt with no number because of a wardrobe malfunction. But there was no claiming mistaken identity when he cut down Fosu for the night's first booking.

Timothee Dieng quickly followed for a late lunge on Jake Forster-Caskey, who was also yellow-carded for his spiky reaction.

City broke on Charlton at the end of stoppage time after McGowan cut out Fosu's cross. Guy led the counter and laid off to Chicksen, who was not too far off a goal on his Valley return with a fizzing drive over the bar.

But it meant that City had once again failed to score from open play in the first half in 2018 – their only goal before half-time this year being Charlie Wyke's penalty at Bristol Rovers.

Wyke had cut a forlorn isolated figure for 45 minutes but he was joined up top by Paul Taylor for the second half.

Again, though, it was Charlton who were straight out the blocks, Fosu teasing his way inside Tony McMahon before lashing over the bar.

But City hit back with determination to go close twice in as many minutes.

Chicksen's volley from Alex Gilliead's cross was parried by Amos and then, from the resulting corner, Taylor's snap-shot was blocked on the line by Magennis.

That brought the 830-travelling army behind that goal into the game as they sensed City could get something from the night.

McMahon and Fosu swapped bookings for fouls on each other as the contest grew in intensity before referee Nick Kinseley sent Greg Abbott to the stands, presumably for something he said after their altercation.

It has been an eventful time for City's chief scout, who three days earlier had been taking the team in a caretaker role.

City had a lot more about them on the field than earlier and were cursing the woodwork when McMahon's free-kick pinged off the bar after Chicksen had been caught by a high boot.

Having blown leads in their last two games, the edginess was growing in the Charlton crowd.

There were shades of last season's encounter when one team were well on top in the first half, the other the second.

But Doyle had to be on his toes to tip behind a wickedly-curling free-kick from Fosu that was heading for the top corner.

Grayson threw on Robinson's extra pace after 76 minutes – and four minutes later he was the toast of the Bantams with an equaliser.

It was role reversal as Wyke turned provider with the cross and the City sub, one of the smallest players on the pitch, beat his man to power a header past Amos.

As the Valley moaned and groaned, it could have got even better for Grayson but Wyke lashed at a loose ball and cleared the bar from 15 yards.

But most would have taken a come-from-behind draw after the recent struggles – it's a good place for Grayson to build on.