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

hiatus.

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

yards out.

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

injury time.