An unchanged Charlton side matched Birmingham in an opening forty-five minutes which was short on goal chances at either end. Cameron Jerome carried all Birmingham's goal threat but he was superbly marshalled by Darren Ward who had his best game since joining us. Lee Bowyer has a fine game in midfield for the Blues and I can't remember him needing to make a trademark Bowyer challenge. He disrupted the Charlton midfield and prevented them from gaining a stanglehold on this game which I believe would have swung it our way.
Things hotted up in the second half as the game got stretched and we were entertained by some end-to-end football. Lloyd Sam saw plenty second-half ball and he ran at Birmingham whenever he got the chance. He was unfortunate to see a shot cannon off the post having skated into the box and minutes later Darren Ward smashed a loose ball home but the linesman had already flagged for offside.
Rob Elliot made a good save from Fahey and Charlton coped well with three early Birmingham changes in the second half. First, Phillips came on for Larsson and then the ineffective Jerome was replaced by Marcus Bent, much to the amusement of the home crowd. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Hameur Bouazza who was subbed for McFadden on 65 minutes, after a game entirely in keeping with his loan performances for the Addicks.
Nicky Bailey and Jonjo Shelvey were carrying the game to the Blues by 70th minute and we were only short in the final third. Tresor Kandol wasn't leading the line and he struggled in possession behind the Birmingham back-line. Shelvey came close with a shot which Taylor had to bundle away and Zheng Zhi was unfortunate to see his quick lob blocked by Stephen Carr after Racon had lifted the ball passed the stranded Taylor.
Kevin Phillips was holding the ball up well and bringing other City players into play and McFadden saw a shot well saved by Elliot. Chris Dickson came on for Therry Racon with ten minutes to go as Charlton went for the win and within minutes we had the best chance of the game. Dickson broke down the left and as he cut in the ball fell for Shelvey whose shot was deflected across Taylor who had to change direction to make a last ditch one handed save to prevent the Addicks from scoring what would probably have been the winner.
For a change, the vast majority of the crowd, including yet another disappointing Birmingham turn-out, were there at the finish and both sides were applauded off the field of play. All-in-all, not a bad day at the Valley which was enhanced by a pre-match drink with Chicago Addick, Kings Hill Addick and company. I suspect Blackpool will be a much lower-key affair...