Birmingham salvage a point as the fates smile on Yorke

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Birmingham City 1 Charlton Athletic 1

For a man who used to need ear-plugs or a rhinoceros-like skin to survive the anti-Aston Villa vitriol heaped on him each time he set foot at St Andrew's, Dwight Yorke made a remarkably popular entrance at Birmingham City.

The fans who loathed him in his past existences have wasted no time embracing him following his contribution to this often soporific contest.

Yorke sprang from the substitutes' bench just past the hour and thumped home the near-post header that brought Birmingham some reward from an afternoon that was going dreadfully wrong.

A goal down when Maik Taylor presented Luke Young with a quick follow-up to his recent first goal in 100 Charlton Athletic appearances, and then a man down as Damien Johnson performed football's equivalent of "walking", when trotting-off to the dressing-room even before Uriah Rennie had reached for the second yellow card, Birmingham certainly needed inspiration.

It may only be a few weeks into the season but Steve Bruce's side certainly did not envisage themselves being towards the foot of the table - the fate that would have befallen them here with a fourth odd-goal defeat in five matches - given all their summer spending.

But the fresh impetus that often comes to 10-man teams, combined with the double introduction of Yorke and his fit-again, former Blackburn Rovers team-mate David Dunn, spelled salvation.

"I scored with a header on my Manchester United home debut against Charlton and now I've done the same for Birmingham," the striker said. "Things went pretty well for me at Old Trafford, so hopefully this is a good omen." Charlton are going through the same bedding-in of new players as their hosts, although their manager, Alan Curbishley, insists that is where the similarity ends.

"Steve Bruce has added to his squad," he said. "I've had to replace six or seven players and we know we're nowhere near where we were last season." Charlton resorted to basics after displaying a worryingly soft-centre at both Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, and defended well.

Their attacking ambition was strictly limited and, with Birmingham lacking penetration despite Robbie Savage's reappearance in between bans, the first half was a dire spectacle; a mass of nothingness.

Young's tap-in didn't immediately rouse the hosts. The big wake-up call was the dismissal of Johnson for a trip on Jonatan Johansson. Birmingham generated a head of steam that made them the more-likely winners and Young admitted: "We were disappointed not to have created more against 10 men.

"It was a big improvement on the previous two away games though, and we would have taken a point beforehand." Whatever the game's many shortcomings, these two clubs continue to act as torch-bearers for those trying to find their feet at the top level.

Their troubled starts would not bring much sympathy from around Selhurst, Sandwell and Norwich. Yet you suspect Birmingham and Charlton fans will not be happy for long as mid-table makeweights.

Goals: Young (48) 0-1; Yorke (68) 1-1.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham (Yorke, 61), Upson, Gray; Johnson, Savage, Izzet, Gronkjaer; Heskey, Morrison (Dunn, 61). Substitutes not used: Bennett (gk), Clemence, Martin Taylor.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Fortune, Perry, Hreidarsson; Kishishev, Murphy, El Karkouri (Rommedahl, 75), Hughes; Johansson, Lisbie (Euell, 75). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Jeffers, Konchesky.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

Booked: Birmingham: Johnson, Gronkjaer. Charlton: Kishishev, Hreidarsson.

Sent-off: Birmingham: Johnson.

Man of the match: Gray.

Attendance: 27,400.

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