Johnnie Jackson goal helps Charlton down Birmingham and move out of drop zone
Charlton eased their way out of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone with an excellent if unexpected 1-0 win over Birmingham.
Captain Johnnie Jackson scored the only goal of the game just after the hour as Charlton made it back-to-back victories with their first away triumph of the season.
Birmingham surprisingly slumped to their fourth home defeat of the campaign and at no time did they look like repeating their 5-2 mauling of Fulham in their last outing.
It was significant that Birmingham were forced to draft in Nicolai Brock-Madsen for his first start because Clayton Donaldson was unavailable with a groin strain following his goalscoring exploits for Jamaica against Haiti in midweek.
They certainly lacked his goalscoring potential as Charlton, looking to build on their 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday, produced some promising play in the early stages to give Birmingham an early warning of a shock result.
Generally the home side had the upper hand for long spells but they could not capitalise on their superiority against a dogged Charlton side which is slowly regaining their confidence.
Jacques Maghoma posed the first threat for Birmingham with a powerful low drive which was effortlessly scooped up visiting goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
Charlton responded with an on-target free-kick from Johann Berg Gudmundsson and a close-range effort by Ademola Lookman, who struggled to gain control of a cross from Simon Makienok.
Teenager Lookman was making his first start and certainly created a favourable impression while Tareiq Holmes-Dennis also displayed some clever work in skipping his way past two Birmingham defenders before firing in a shot which Tomasz Kuszczak parried at the near post.
Birmingham became increasingly frustrated by their failure to break through a seemingly solid defence which repeatedly packed the penalty area.
The success of those tactics was illustrated in the 32nd minute. Demarai Gray was sent clear by Paul Caddis and his low cross picked out Jon Toral who fired in a shot which was blocked and then scrambled away.
There were signs of Charlton beginning to wilt as Toral got in a header but it lacked power to really trouble Henderson, who had previously blocked an effort from Brock-Madsen.
Visiting skipper Jackson then instigated another promising move but he was a little too elaborate trying a final pass instead of shooting after working his way into a possible goalscoring position.
Birmingham attempted to swamp Charlton in the second period with Gray forcing a superb save from Henderson, while Stephen Gleeson, who is rarely involved in a goalscoring role, fired one shot agonisingly just wide.
Lookman continued to be lively but the best chance of the game fell to Maghoma, only for the former Burton player to drill his effort just wide of the far post.
It was Lookman who created the breakthrough for Charlton in the 61st minute with an astute pass to Holmes-Dennis, whose first-time cross was met by the on-rushing Jackson to head home.
Such a goal was always on the card as Birmingham had committed themselves to attack leaving themselves vulnerable to a quick break by the opposition.
Lookman's reward for creating the goal was to be immediately substituted by acting manager Karel Fraeye in an attempt to retain their slender advantage.
Birmingham turned to two youngsters, Reece Brown and Viv Solomon-Otabor, in a bid to get something out of the game but were indebted to a fine reflex save by Kuszczak in preventing a second Charlton goal from Ricardo Vaz Te.