Dowie relieved after scraping past Chesterfield
Charlton boss Iain Dowie admitted he felt a 'huge sense of relief' after his side scraped past Chesterfield to reach the Carling Cup quarter-finals for the first time in the club's history.
Last night's game at Saltergate finished 3-3 after extra time but the Addicks won 4-3 on penalties after goalkeeper Scott Carson, on loan from Liverpool, denied Derek Niven and Mark Allott from the spot.
Roy McFarland's feisty Coca-Cola League One strugglers had dumped Wolves, Manchester City and West Ham out in the three previous rounds.
And with Charlton currently propping up the Barclays Premiership, Dowie could ill afford to suffer the same humiliating fate.
'You look at what happened to Man City and West Ham, so yes, there is a massive sense of relief,' said Dowie.
'It was hard and I know I would have taken some flak if we had lost.
'But you don't become a Premiership manager unless you're prepared to take flak.
'It goes with the territory and is not something I've ever shied away from.
'Roy has got Chesterfield very well organised and they've been a real cup team this season.
'They gave us a hell of game, so absolutely, there is a sense of huge relief.'
Dowie has endured an inauspicious start to life at The Valley since being appointed as Alan Curbishley's successor in the summer.
However, his team are steadily improving and last night's win extended their unbeaten run to five matches.
Chesterfield twice led in normal time through Colin Larkin and Caleb Folan goals, which sandwiched Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's 40th-minute equaliser, and put them on course for another stunning success.
However, second-half substitute Darren Bent claimed a 73rd-minute leveller for Charlton before Hasselbaink netted again in the 93rd minute.
But the drama continued when 38-year-old substitute Wayne Allison headed home an 120th-minute equaliser to tie the scores at 3-3 in an incredible finale.
That ensured a penalty shoot-out in which Charlton emerged victorious as Carson saved from Niven and Allott before Herman Hreidarsson converted the winning penalty.
Dowie added: 'I've been here a few times as a manager and you've got to pay a huge amount of respect to Chesterfield.
'They were magnificent from number one to 11 and pushed us every inch of the way.'
Chesterfield boss McFarland could at least reflect on his side's fairytale run in the competition this season with immense pride.
The former England defender said: 'I'm really proud of my team because we came so close.
'That's three Premiership teams now who have not been able to beat us in normal time and Charlton couldn't even beat us without penalties.
'Derek Niven's penalty miss was one we couldn't really afford to miss in the shoot-out but I've nothing but praise for the lads.'