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Home » Charlton Athletic Match Previews » Preview: Birmingham City Vs Charlton Athletic

Preview: Birmingham City Vs Charlton Athletic

If you have joined Seb Lewis at every Charlton away game so far this season, using The Valley as your starting point, you would have clocked up 6,758.2 miles.

You would have celebrated five wins, questioned whether nine draws were a point gained or two lost, and endured a depressing journey home after nine defeats.

The committed travellers have been treated to 21 goals from the Addicks, but have held their heads in their hands on the 33 occasions that Stephen Henderson, Nick Pope and Neil Etheridge and Marko Dmitrovic have been beaten.

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Those hardy souls have one last 280 mile return journey, made in irrational hope rather than expectation, before they can put their feet up for the summer and enjoy their weekends without self-inflicted stress.

Final away games of the season have been jolly occasions in recent times. A Callum Harriott hat-trick, a Bradley Pritchard goal (!!!) and Chris Powell and Alex Dyer engaging in a crossbar challenge delighting the visiting supporters, fancy-dressed or otherwise.

And those in attendance at St Andrew’s, a ground where the Addicks have lost just once since the turn of the century,  on Saturday will be hoping for a similar party atmosphere, irrespective of the fact neither side have anything to play for and Birmingham’s impressive home record.

LAST MEETING: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-1 BIRMINGHAM CITY

David Davis’ second-half strike punished a sloppy Charlton, who were somewhat fortunate to drop just two points at The Valley in October.

The Addicks looked destined for victory when Igor Vetokele’s opener capped off a fantastic opening period of play for the hosts.

But Bob Peeters’ side, instead of building upon their impressive start, chose to sit back and invite Birmingham back into the game.

The Blues looked to have drawn level when Koby Arthur tapped home from Clayton Donaldson’s pull-back, but the latter was wrongly ruled offside, infuriating Lee Clark.

The equaliser they deserved, however, arrived at the start of the second period. Davis drilled beyond Stephen Henderson after a corner was only half-cleared to earn his side a point.

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FORM

Birmingham: WLDWLW                                                                                                                                     

The Blues’ recent indifferent form is reflective of their mid-table position, but Gary Rowett has certainly made a positive impact since taking charge in October.

The former Burton boss has not only lifted Birmingham comfortably away from a relegation zone that they had flirted with for many months before his arrival, but he’s corrected the club’s torrid home form under Lee Clark.

In fact, after two home wins throughout the whole of last season, St Andrew’s has become something of a fortress since Rowett’s appointment. The Blues are seven without defeat at home, and have suffered defeat in the league at St Andrew’s only twice since the crushing 8-0 loss to Bournemouth did for Clark.

Charlton: WDDDLW

Just as it appeared Guy Luzon’s side were going to end the season in disappointing and dull fashion, Johann Berg Gudmundsson provided the exciting spark needed to end a run of four without a win.

Gudmundsson, a half-time substitute in Saturday’s victory, played a vital part in both goals as the Addicks recovered from going behind to Steve Morison’s first-half strike to beat Leeds.

The Iceland international provided the assist for Tony Watt’s excellent equaliser, before his run eventually resulted in Stuart Taylor conceding a penalty, which Yoni Buyens converted.

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However, Charlton’s overall performance was still somewhat disappointing – Henderson was required to save a first-half Sharp penalty and it certainly didn’t warrant victory.

They remain someway off their flowing best that was shown during the run of seven wins from nine that has left them comfortably in mid-table.

THE OPPOSITION

Michael Morrison will make his first appearance against his former since departing from SE7 in October.

The centre-back, an almost ever-present in his three full seasons at The Valley, was a popular figure while an Addick, and is sure to get a good reception from the visiting supporters at St Andrew’s on Saturday.

But the Blues could be without Diego Fabbrini after the Watford loanee was substituted during the first-half of Wednesday’s win over Reading.

The Italian is alleged to have had a protective face mask broken after Royals midfield Nathaniel Chalobah threw a punch at him and he may now not be risked.

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THE ADDICKS

Charlton look set to be without Alou Diarra after the midfielder was forced off with an injury during last weekend’s win over Leeds.

His absence will mean Jordan Cousins, rested for the visit of the Whites, will return to the starting XI, while Gudmundsson, whose second half impact won the Addicks the game, is also likely to come back into the side.

But with Luzon seemingly intent on rotating his side in the final weeks of the season, predicting his starting line-up with confidence is difficult. Rhoys Wiggins, Roger Johnson and Karlan Ahearne-Grant are among those pushing for a place.

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KEY BATTLE – EXPLOITING THE BLUES ON THE BREAK

During the impressive winning run that lifted the Addicks clear of trouble, their need not to maintain possession for long periods was part of their armoury.

For Luzon’s side were organised and tight, giving the opposition time on the ball but little space to create anything meaningful, and deadly on the break. Possession rarely above 40%, but the goals scored stat frequently looking rather healthy.

However, in recent away games, Charlton’s inability to hold the ball has been a hindrance. With rotation and the fact the Addicks have nothing to play for partly to blame, not only has the attacking spark on the break lessened, but the energy in midfield has decreased.

It allowed Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton to control the tempo of the game, while Fulham and Leeds, at least for a half, did much the same at The Valley. Charlton thankful in most cases that their opposition were tame in front of goal.

And with Birmingham full of confidence, not only given their home form but on the back of a fantastic away win at the Madjeski on Wednesday, a similar pattern will unfold should the Addicks be sluggish once again.

It is therefore vital that the same threat on the break that Gudmundsson showed against Leeds is repeated.

When you have a player performing to such a standard, and creating such a threat, the overall performance need not be brilliant, but the Iceland international will require some support against a Birmingham side more lethal in attack and more organised at the back.

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PREDICTION

Birmingham have made themselves tough to beat at home this season and, despite Gudmundsson’s match-winning influence last weekend, Charlton still appear to be ending the season in sluggish fashion. A draw would be a decent result. Birmingham City 1-1 Charlton Athletic

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