Charlton Athletic 1 Watford 2

By Rob Virtue on October 2, 2012 9:51 PM |


Watford overcame a first-half sending off to steal the points at The Valley on Tuesday night.

Gianfranco Zola's men were resolute with 10 men for the whole of the second period when it looked like a defeat was on the cards and a winner against the run of play saw them to a 2-1 victory.

The visitors, fresh from a 3-2 victory over high-flying Huddersfield at the weekend, had the first effort on goal 15 minutes in. Forward Troy Deeney's shot from 30 yards, however, was comfortably saved by Charlton keeper Ben Hamer.

For the Addicks patient play was not being rewarded and Bradley Wright-Phillips' fine run and cross eluding everyone epitomised that.

Watford's movement was good but, like their rivals, found chances hard to come by. A shot fired in by wideman Daniel Pudil was only noteworthy for Addicks' centre-back Leon Cort bravely repelling it with his forehead.

It would take an element of luck for the first goal and Watford got did it with a double helping.

First they won a corner when the ball skidded off the back of the unwitting Salim Kerkar.

Then, Fernando Forestieri's driven corner was met by Tommie Hoban whose header took a wicked deflection to steer it past the helpless Hamer.

Watford now looked strong and after a superb breakaway came to nothing Deeney fired in a shot from an acute angle which Hamer did well to block.

Just when the Addicks looked to be heading into the break at least a goal down, a moment of excellence got them level. Kerkar brought the ball down with magical control and he laid it off to Dale Stephens.

With a wide pass the more obvious choice he slipped it through the between the Watford centre-backs where Ricardo Fuller had raced through beating the offside trap.

With a cool head he side-footed it wide of former Arsenal stopper Manuel Almunia and into the net from 10 yards out.

The visitors were now under the cosh with the Addicks returning to the pressing game used effectively of late.

Watford striker Forestieri, booked earlier for encroaching at a free-kick, is earning himself a reputation in just a few league games for his ability to win free-kicks and he didn't enamour himself to the Charlton faithful when a tumble earned Charlton's Michael Morrison a yellow card.

Within two minutes of that the Italian striker was looking up at the referee with Bambi eyes, lying stricken in the area under another light challenge.

This time seeing through the ruse, Mike Dean showed Forestieri his second yellow and pointed the way to the tunnel to a chorus of pantomime cheers.

A second-half Watford maintained their impressive passing game but still looked lacking in confidence at the back.

Wright-Phillips, playing without fear this season seized on that just seven minutes after the break as he strode through the visitors' backline before stinging the palms of Almunia with a thunderous drive.

The Addicks top scorer last year would soon have another chance racing through the Watford defence again, only to blast over from 18 yards out under pressure from Hornets' defender Neuton.

Seconds later, with the pressure piling on Watford in the midst of wave after wave of Charlton attacks, Almunia got down superbly to save a Fuller shot from close range with his legs following a Kerkar cross.

However, the game was there to be won and it was Watford who took the initiative.

After Leon Cort was penalised for holding just over 20 yards out, Almen Abdi lined the ball up and swung an excellent free-kick inside of Hamer's near post to put the yellows in front.

With just 22 minutes left it was a real sucker-punch.

With those minutes ticking by Hamer handed Watford a free-kick just inside the box when he picked up a Danny Hollands back-pass but the shot rebounded off the wall.

Charlton boss Chris Powell then rolled the dice bringing off Hollands and Danny Green for Bradley Pritchard and new loan signing from QPR Rob Hulse, but despite crosses raining in, chances were hard to come by with credit now due to a Watford defence finally rising to the challenge.

Five minutes of injury time would give chances to both Hulse and Stephens but neither could keep their efforts from flying over the bar, before Almunia had to claw the ball from under the cross bar to safety.

Watford had carried out a smash and grab job.