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Birmingham City 0-1 Charlton
DALE Stephens’ second half goal ensured Charlton recorded an invaluable 1-0 away victory over Birmingham City on a blustery Saturday afternoon at St Andrews.
In a scrappy match low on clear cut chances, Stephens’ 61st minute tap in secured the Addicks victory over their fellow strugglers and meant Chris Powell’s men have now gone five games unbeaten.
The SE7 manager made two changes from his side’s frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Wigan, with Yann Kermorgant and Richard Wood both missing out due to injuries and being replaced by Dorian Dervite and Johnnie Jackson in a 4-5-1 line-up.
City manager Lee Clark fielded a radically different staring XI to his side’s 4-4 draw at home to Stoke City in the Capital One Cup, naming a 4-2-3-1 formation with former-Addick Darren Randolph featuring in goal.
The hosts played a long ball game throughout, with 6ft7in forward Nikola Zigic unsurprisingly their main aerial threat, although he was marshalled superbly by central defenders Michael Morrison and Dervite.
Charlton nearly took the lead with the first attack of the game when Cameron Stewart’s cross deflected into the path of Jackson, but his close-range header was palmed away by Randolph.
A moment of controversy came in the 16th minute as Ben Hamer spilled a Chris Burke cross and Dan Burn headed home, but the referee awarded a free-kick to the Londoners for a push on the keeper from Lee Novak.
Church and Jackson combined well in the 37th minute as the Welsh striker ran onto a long ball following a slip from Kyle Bartley before setting up Jackson, who fired weakly wide from the edge of the area.
A flurry of chances came in the final minutes of the half with some hesitant Birmingham defending forcing Randolph into a hurried clearance that went straight to Stephens, but the keeper charged out of his goal and blocked the shot from the edge of the area well.
Moments later, Stephens had a volley straight at Randolph before a long ball by City was knocked down by Zigic to Novak, whose half-volley was well-saved by Hamer’s fingertips.
Charlton took the led with the first chance of the second half in the 56th minute, as Stewart cut in from the left-wing and had a 20-yard shot saved by Randolph.
The rebound then fell to Jackson whose close-range volley was again saved, but then the ball arrived at Stephens and he had the simple task of tapping home from six yards to.
Some tenacious work from Zigic meant the ball was played through to Tom Adeyemi, who beat Lawrie Wilson for pace and shot past Hamer, only for Morrison to get back and clear off the line.
Birmingham’s play became more aimless and scrappy as the game wore on, which allowed Charlton to push forward, although they were unable to create any clear chances to double their lead.
City had their best chance of the match in the final minute.
A long free-kick into the box fell to substitute Peter Lovenkrands unmarked six yards out, but he should have done much better as scooped an effort over in what proved to be the final chance of the game.
The result means Charlton have now gone a whole month without conceding a goal and they move up to 17th, three points above the relegation zone.
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Charlton: Hamer, Jackson (Cook 89), Morrison, Dervite, Stephens, Church, Pritchard, Wiggins, Wilson, Cousins, Stewart. Subs not used: Alnwick, Hughes, Evina, Sordell, Harriott, Lennon. Att: 14,070.
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