It was a cold dank wet day with wet snow falling slowly on Saturday morning but it looked unlikely that the weather conditions were going to make a huge impact on the game going ahead or not. I had already been out with Dilys, my faithful Welsh Terrier for our usual morning walk, I’d been down to the newsagents to collect the papers and had renewed my lotto entry as you never know winning my fortune may not allow me to buy the club but I could probably afford a box next to Jasper Carrott! The clock moved round and the time soon came for Mrs Bazza to give me a lift to Farnborough Main Station for the journey to London. It had been a while since I’d been able to go to a game having missed the trip to Burnley (too far nowadays) and Forest (I was at Twickenham watching the Calcutta Cup game; a great time was had by all and let’s just say I have no recollection of England’s final try!) However, I digress; I was on my own for this game as Chris, Will and Little Jack all couldn’t make it and both my lads are at University.
Once arrived at Charlton station there was a pub welcoming away supporters called the Antigallican which was showing the Spurs-Newcastle game and decent beer. Antigallican means one of two things; ‘anti-French’ or an extra backstay support for a ship’s mast. The toilet facilities were small but welcome on such a freezing cold day. They were needed as at least four pints were imbibed before setting off for the ground. Now for the match itself and before I go any further it was not the greatest game I have ever been to by a long way. The standard was pretty rubbish to be honest. Blues played with Butland between the sticks, the back four was as you were with Caddis, Cauldwell, Davies and Robinson. Burke, Reilly, Elliott, Gomis and Hall comprised the midfield supporting King up front.
Blues started the better and the first couple of chances fell to Chris Burke and to Wade Elliott both of whom fired their shots well over the crossbar. Charlton came into the game without really threatening. Dale Stephens and Ricardo Fuller had shots deflected and saved by Butland respectively. Another Charlton move saw Chris Solly cross to Scott Wagstaff, who laid the ball to Kermorgant but the Frenchman’s shot was deflected behind.
From the corner Charlton did go close as Lawrie Wilson headed just wide. Fuller had another shot on the turn but was wide with his effort. Blues’ finishing was equally poor on a dreadful pitch that made the on the floor football that they were trying to play very difficult. Generally the play was slow ponderous and lacking any form of quality. Half time came and went and having queued for a drink I gave up as the teams were back on and I decided I’d have one later.
Birmingham upped their tempo after the break with Rob Hall looking dangerous. At the end of the first period it did look as if he should have had the benefit of the decision for a penalty. I will admit the incident was at the opposite end of the pitch but the tackle did appear to come in from behind the winger but Andy d’Urso waved away Blues’ appeals as he did in the second half when King was quite clearly having his shirt collar pulled not five yards from the official. That one I did see clearly and I am convinced had it been just outside the box it would have been a free kick to Birmingham. Hall continued to cause problems and forced Ben Hamer into a good save and as Blues enjoyed their best spell of the game started to dominate possession. Unfortunately, the finishing did not match some of the approach play and King blazed over again when set up by Burke. Blues never really used their strength out wide to get behind and turn the pedestrian Charlton rearguard and thus the game petered out towards a goalless draw which was all it deserved. Then with two minutes left the Blues defence took their customary slumber and allowed themselves to get outnumbered out on the right and in the centre. Addicks defender Solly overlapped and crossed to Kermorgant who beat Butland with a free header barely eight yards out with no one nearly close to him. I confess that I thought that was it but Blues are nothing if they are not resilient and as Charlton backed off trying to close the game out Burke drilled a low cross into the penalty area where Elliott was on hand to side foot home with seconds remaining. Poor though this game was neither team deserved to lose this match any more than either deserved to win it. A draw was the right result.
The Good: the Antigallican pub before the game. Cracking atmosphere from the travelling Bluenoses.
The Bad: The match. It was the poorest I’ve seen since we lost to Ipswich at home earlier in the season.
The Ugly: The pitch. The recent weather has not helped.
Charlton Athletic: Ben Hamer 6 Cedric Evina 7 Johnnie Jackson 6 Michael Morrison 6 Dale Stephens 6 Scott Wagstaff 7 (Dorian Dervite 89) Yann Kermorgant 7 Ricardo Fuller 6 (Bradley Wright-Phillips 89) Chris Solly 7 Lawrie Wilson 6 (Danny Green 71, 6) Leon Cort 7
Subs Not Used: Button, Taylor, Pritchard, Wiggins.
Goal: Kermorgant 88
Birmingham City: Jack Butland 8 Paul Caddis 6 Stephen Cauldwell 6 Curtis Davies 7 Paul Robinson 6 Chris Burke 6 Callum Reilly 6 (Nikola Zigic 90) Wade Elliott 7 Morgaro Gomis 6 (Wes Thomas 68, 6) Rob Hall 7 (Nathan Redmond 73, 6) Marlon King 6
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Mullins, Lovenkrands, Hancox.
Goal: Elliott 90 + 4
Referee: Andy D’Urso 6: generally OK but it’s arguable that Blues should have been awarded a penalty if not two. The officials cannot be blamed for the poor standard of play.