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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 09 Feb 13 at 17:00 PM

Charlton 1 Birmingham 1

Gary Haines reports from The Valley

Charlton were left singing the Blues again on Saturday after yet another opposing late show. 

The on-key Addicks had looked set for a much-craved win against Birmingham when Yann Kermorgant headed home his sixth goal of the season with just three minutes remaining. 

But there would be a Brum note at the death for the second time this season the Midlanders grabbed an injury-time leveller as Wade Elliott pounced from close range in the third added minute. 

The Blues had bagged an undeserved point at St Andrews as Nikola Zigic scored four minutes into stoppage point on the opening day of the season. 

That had cancelled out an 82nd minute header from Leon Cort on a bright sunny August afternoon, and at a murky mudbath in SE7 almost six months later they struck a late sucker-punch once more as again the goals came late. 

Impressive England keeper Jack Butland had finally been beaten by Kermorgant in the 87th minute after he buried a cross from Chris Solly, but the Addicks dropped deep at the death and Elliott had the last say as he diverted a Chris Burke centre in from close range. 

Make no mistake, that would have been hard to take for the average Addicks fan in solitude but given Birmingham had stolen a point in the previous match made it even more galling for all but a vocal pocked of supporters in the Jimmy Seed Stand. 

Late goals have been a theme of the club’s recent winless streak too, started with two late efforts from Sheffield Wednesday here at The Valley a fortnight earlier. 

Then, a winning position was converted into a defeat by Owls goals on 84 and 89 minutes and last week at Crystal Palace Charlton were ahead going into the closing 16 minutes but were breached twice in quick succession again. 

On this occasion at least Powell’s men had a point to show for their efforts – even though it probably felt like a defeat in the raw moments afterwards - and on a sapping surface they were by far the more productive team over the 90 minutes. 

But in this game of fine margins they were again left to reflect what might have been after yet another sickening late hit. 

The Addicks were by far the better side in the opening period with Butland and his backline extended far more than Hamer and co. 

A great sliding block from Callum Reilly foiled Dale Stephens after a well-worked free-kick routine, while Butland made one fine fingertip save to deny Fuller after the Jamaican striker wriggled into a shooting position. 

Lawrie Wilson was also narrowly off target with a near post header at a corner while Hamer was scarcely tested in the opening 45. 

Both side had half chances in the early stages of the second half with Kermorgant and Wagstaff going close in quick succession while Hamer saved low from West Ham loanee Robert Hall. 

The ever-elusive Fuller veered in from the right and his cross was almost put through his own net by Curtis Davies before Wagstaff was denied by Butland after an almighty scramble in the box. 

The hosts were still knocking at the door and the breakthrough finally arrived three minutes from time as Kermorgant found space to bullet home a header. 

Surely the visitors would not hit back again on this occasion? Surely…. 

Sadly, as the clock ticked into a third minute of added time, they did as Elliott was perfectly-placed to turn home a drive into the box from Burke. 

As far as gut-wrenching finishes go, this was hard to take, given it was the third time in as many games that an opposing team had nabbed a result late on. 

It must have felt like a defeat at the final whistle for Powell and his troops having played so well for so long. For the visitors, they could not believe their luck. 

In terms of team news Powell made two changes for the visit of the Blues as Stephens and Kermorgant returned to the starting line-up. 

The midfield schemer got the nod over Bradley Pritchard in the engine-room and the French frontman was also back in in one of two changes from last weekend’s derby defeat at Crystal Palace. 

Dorian Dervite also dropped to the bench as Powell opted for a 4-4-2 formation in the rematch of the opening day fixture at St Andrews. 

Hamer was again between the posts with an unchanged backline consisting of full-backs Chris Solly and Cedric Evina and central duo Cort, who netted in the Midlands on Day One, and Michael Morrision. 

Skipper Johnnie Jackson and Stephens were in central midfield with Wagstaff and Wilson wide. Kermorgant joined Fuller up front. 

Dervite and Pritchard were joined on the bench by David Button, Matt Taylor, Rhoys Wiggins, Danny Green and Bradley Wright-Phillips. 

The visitors arrived in good form with successive wins and two draws before that to ease their plight in the lower reaches of the table. 

Marlon King was their sole striker with Scotland international Burke and Hall supporting from out wide. 

England keeper Butland, signed on deadline day by Stoke City before being loaned straight back to the Blues, was between the posts while towering striker Zigic, who snatched a last-gasp leveller when the sides met in August, was on the bench. 

On a murky afternoon in SE7, the visitors won an early free-kick with King’s drive clattering against Solly before Burke blasted the loose ball over. 

A clutch of corners followed after that for the home side with Elliott hoisting over soon after – but the best chance of the afternoon came on 10 minutes for the Addicks. 

After Fuller was upended on the right a cleverly-worked free-kick from Jackson saw him pick out Stephens, unmarked on the edge of the box, and the midfielder’s shot was destined for the back of the net until Reilly intervened with a superb sliding block. 

A curling corner from Jackson was tipped over his own bar by a scrambling Butland, by far the busier keeper as the hosts started in positive fashion. 

As the clock reached 13 Fuller fashioned an opening, gathering a pass from Stephens and weaving into space before his shot was tipped round the post by the agile Butland. 

It was a smart stop from the highly-rated keeper and from the corner Fuller got in a cute flick at the near post with the ball spinning across the face of goal and wide. 

Butland smothered at the feet of Fuller after the Jamaican had hustled Davies after a purposeful header through from Kermorgant. 

King’s low effort posed no problems to Hamer on a rare Blues raid, but the opening quarter of the game pretty much belonged to the hosts. 

On 29 minutes Solly picked up possession in space on the right and his cross was volleyed back by Wagstaff and Kermorgant’s shot was deflected behind, again after some good defending. 

Wilson met the corner from Stephens at the near post but his header came off the stanchion behind the goal as the visitors breathed again. 

Fuller functioned another opening as only he could, spinning sharply after collecting a Solly throw and flashing a drive across the face of goal and just wide. 

After Hamer collected a King cross, the keeper launched a quick raid with a fine clearance out of his hands, and Wilson got behind his man and in on goal. 

The winger took the ball on but his low angled drive was saved, diving to his right by Butland. 

There were faint shouts for a penalty from Hall after a perfectly-timed challenge from Solly but the half ended with the Addicks, as they had been for much of the game, on top. 

After an early corner from the hosts, two chances followed in quick succession as Kermorgant was foiled before Wagstaff’s follow-up was deflected behind. 

The whipped in corner was smuggled off the line with a clutch of players in the mix, and Hamer saved low from Hall at his near post. 

Hall flashed another low effort across goal and just wide, and after a quick break from the improved visitors Burke filtered the ball across for King to blaze over under heavy pressure from Evina. 

Back at the other end Fuller collected a nudged pass from Wagstaff and curled just wide from the left edge of the box and there was a big chance for the hosts on 58 minutes – with the unlikely Evina centre stage inside the box. 

He collected a pass from Jackson inside the box and had space but could only shank off target as he stumbled. 

Then, four minutes later, Fuller muscled his way in from the right and drove the ball across goal with Davies just about blocking the danger on the line, when it looked like me might net an own goal. 

As the natives bemoaned their misfortune there was a chance for the visitors as King got into space and shot wide from the edge of the box. 

The ever-willing Hall was off target for Brum but all the good openings were coming for the hosts and Cedric Evina, the only outfield member of the home starting line-up without a goal, shooting over from a great position on the stretch. 

The Addicks then just missed out after an old-school scramble. Fuller again was at the midst of it, bludgeoning through into the box and when he was crowded out, Wagstaff took over and his shot was saved by Butland. 

Blues brought on Wesley Thomas for Morgaro Gomis and Burke teed up Reilly to blast over before Powell made his first change as Green replaced Wilson. 

Nathan Redmond also entered the fray for the visitors as the clock ticked down and there was a let-off for Charlton 10 minutes from time as Steven Caldwell met a Burke corner with a free header – but could only find the arms of Hamer. 

The Addicks responded and Butland then stretched out an arm to snare a well-struck drive from the hard-working Wagstaff. 

After Stephens caught Reilly there was a presentable-looking free-kick for King, just left of centre, but his shot was fielded well by Hamer as the natives breathed their own sigh of relief. 

Reilly picked up the game’s first booking after sliding in on Stephens six minutes from time and Butland dashed off his line to just about beat Green after an edgy back-pass from Caldwell. 

In the next phase of play Kermorgant headed a Fuller cross wide and a deflected effort from King, looking suspiciously offside, was held by Hamer. 

The deadlock was eventually broken three minutes from time with Kermorgant struck. 

The big Frenchman manoeuvred into space in the box and planted a header past the previously unbeatable Butland after a peach of a cross from Solly. 

It was a deserved goal on the balance of play, and there was a double change at the death as Fuller and Wagstaff made way for Wright-Phillips and Dervite with Zigic also coming on for Brum. 

Wright-Phillips scored with his first touch, from an offside position, an act he was somewhat harshly booked for. 

And there was a late sting in the tale as the Blues snatched a late leveller deep into added time. 

Having defended solidly and vigilantly throughout the game, the Addicks left Elliott in space inside the box and he was expertly-placed to turn a dangerous ball into the box from Burke into the back of the net. 

There was nothing Hamer could do as the players sunk to the turf in despair, but there was still a point to preserve. 

And that itself looked precarious as the Blues launched another late raid. That was dealt with but there was little time for the hosts to mount any kind of response as the final whistle ended another frustrating afternoon. 

Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Evina, Cort, Morrison; Wilson (Green 71), Stephens, Jackson, Wagstaff (Dervite 90); Fuller (Wright-Phillips 90), Kermorgant. 

Subs (not used): Button, Taylor, Wiggins, Pritchard. 

Goal: Kermorgant 87 

Booked: Wright-Phillips 90 

Birmingham: Butland; Caddis, Robinson, Davies, Caldwell; Elliott, Gomis (Thomas 68), Reilly (Zigic 90), Burke, Hall (Redmond 73); King. 

Subs (not used): Doyle, Hancox, Mullins, Lovenkrands. 

Booked: Reilly 84 (foul on Stephens) 

Goal: Elliott 90 

Referee: A D’urso 

Att: 17,269 

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