Big Zig saves the day for Blues
Leon Cort’s 82nd-minute header amid a goalmouth scramble looked
to have handed the Addicks all three points at St Andrew’s in what
was their first game back in the Championship after a three-year
But last season’s play-off semi-finalists rescued a point with
almost the last kick of the game, coming after Zigic – linked with
a summer move away from the club – had only been brought on in the
aftermath of Cort’s header.
The encounter appeared to have been heading for a goalless draw,
with England goalkeeper Jack Butland, making his long-awaited
competitive bow for Blues, and Charlton counterpart Ben Hamer never
seriously threatened during an encounter dominated by a lack of
quality in the final third.
But, on reflection, both sides will be happy with a point, with
Charlton proving they can certainly mix it with the division’s
leading promotion contenders.
Butland’s inclusion came after a summer in which the 19-year-old
was part of England’s Euro 2012 squad, selected as number one for
Team GB at the Olympics and then made his debut for the Three Lions
against Italy in midweek.
Butland’s absence for City’s 5-1 Capital One Cup mauling of
Barnet on Tuesday meant boss Lee Clark made just the one change in
what was his first league game since taking over from Chris Hughton
in the summer.
Opposite number Chris Powell recalled his strongest XI for the
league opener, making eight changes from the side knocked out of
the League Cup on penalties by Leyton Orient.
After a lively and balanced opening 15 minutes, it was Charlton
who created the first real opening as the recalled Yann Kermorgant
somehow headed over Johnnie Jackson’s cross from just a couple of
Peter Lovenkrands fired wide for Blues at the other end before
Darren Ambrose, booed with every touch against one of his former
employers, drilled a free-kick straight at Hamer.
Both sides were looking threatening albeit without really
testing either ‘keeper, Jackson heading over for the Addicks from
Rhoys Wiggins’ cross.
Ravel Morrison fired narrowly off target for the home side while
Kermorgant forced Butland into his first save, a routine one at
that, in the 43rd minute.
It was only the sixth attempt on target in an opening 45 minutes
which provided 13 shots on goal.
And Chris Burke continued where the game left off as his shot
flew just over following the restart.
Jackson met Bradley Pritchard’s cross but again the Charlton
skipper headed over from a promising position.
Marlon King’s effort failed to trouble Hamer while hot prospect
Nathan Redmond, brought on to add fresh impetus to Birmingham’s
attack, blazed wide from six yards in 77th minute.
But Cort finally found the net five minutes later after the
hosts had failed to clear Pritchard’s cross.
The strike looked to have won it for Charlton until Zigic, fresh
off the bench, kept his cool to fire home from 12 yards deep into