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Daniel Pudil scores as Watford draw against Charlton Athletic at Vicarage Road
Watford had to settle for a point after an increasingly frustrating afternoon at Vicarage Road against Charlton Athletic ended in a 1-1 draw.
The visitors were effectively gifted the lead when a needless challenge from Essaid Belkalem less than 20 seconds into the second half resulted in a penalty and Yann Kermorgant dispatched the spot-kick.
But after going close on several occasions, the Hornets got back on terms with 20 minutes remaining when Daniel Pudil converted the rebound after keeper Ben Hamer could only parry a Diego Fabbrini shot back into the heart of the penalty area.
Gianfranco Zola made three changes from the side that lost its unbeaten start to the season at Blackpool before the international break, two of which were enforced, but intriguingly the line-up of the team saw a tweak in the formation from 3-5-2 to 3-4-2-1.
Those changes saw Belkalem come in for his first league start in place of Joel Ekstrand, who was ill. Almen Abdi was ruled out with a minor foot problem and his place went to Fernando Forestieri in what looked to be a three-pronged attack, while Pudil replaced Scotland’s new hero Ikechi Anya.
Charlton got their first win of the season in their last league outing against Leicester City and former Hornets defender Chris Powell made just the one change, with Richard Wood replacing Leon Cort. This meant a more recent familiar face, Marvin Sordell, again had to settle for a place on the bench.
Watford were very quickly out of the blocks and the new-look formation immediately caused the Addicks problems. Twice in the early stages Forestieri found space to attack off the left, first seeing a shot blocked before he was released on the left side of the box and closed in on goal before placing a shot across Hamer but just wide of the far post.
Charlton also had an early opening on the counter-attack when Lawrie Wilson’s low cross from the right was just too close to Manuel Almunia as Simon Church slid in to try and get on the end of it.
Dale Stephens picked up a fourth-minute booking for clearly hauling down Forestieri but the next opportunity didn’t come until eight minutes later when Fabbrini fired a right-footed shot over after showing quick feet following a Deeney pass inside.
The next chance came for the home side came when a Gabriele Angella interception set up an opportunity for Fabbrini to counter attack. He advanced before finding Forestieri to the left and again he came inside before hitting a right-foot shot wide of Hamer’s left-hand post.
Charlton did have the ball in the net soon after when Wood bundled the ball over the line after Almunia had blocked a Dorian Dervite header on the line following a free-kick but the assistant’s flag was already up for offside.
However, the temperature was cranked up around the half-hour mark when Simon Church ran at two Hornets defender and was clearly tripped by Belkalem when he got to the edge of the area. A yellow card inevitably followed but the visitors were unable to capitalise on the set-piece opportunity as Johnnie Jackson’s free-kick struck the wall and span behind.
From the resulting corner though, the Hornets were visibly aggrieved, claiming Church had struck Davide Faraoni as the ball was played into the penalty area. But the upshot was both players were booked by referee Andy Woolmer to take the card count to four.
Lewis McGugan struck a 30-yard free-kick against the wall shortly but when the ball rebounded, Angella lifted it into the path of Forestieri and if his first touch had been better, he might have been able to get a shot away. However, he went down as Wilson got the challenge in and despite calls for a penalty from the home fans, the referee dismissed any appeals.
But within 15 seconds of the restart, Woolmer was pointing to the penalty spot and rightly awarding a spot-kick after Belkalem’s needless sliding challenge only succeeded in bringing down Wilson. Kermorgant took the penalty and confidently dispatched it high to Almunia’s right to give Charlton a 1-0 lead.
Watford though, twice had opportunities to get back on terms in the next six minutes.
A low right-footed shot from Deeney brought a good parry out of Hamer and Michael Morrison managed to clear the ball behind just before Forestieri could pounce and then McGugan missed the target with a right-footed shot after bursting into the box to latch on to Deeney’s cushioned header.
Zola made the game’s first change after 57 minutes, bringing on Anya for Faraoni, while soon after Stephens hit a well-struck half-volley that although it was straight at Almunia, the keeper needed two attempts to grab hold of it. Moments later though, Deeney let fly with a 25 yarder which wasn’t too wide of the diving Hamer’s left-hand post.
Joe Pigott replaced the injured Kermorgant in the 65th minute but the Hornets were now knocking at the door and five minutes later were back on terms.
Fabbrini did well on the edge of the area to create a shooting opportunity and Hamer could only parry the well-struck right-footed effort back into the heart of the area and Pudil confidently tucked away the rebound in front of his friend and former teammate Matej Vydra, who was in the East Stand watching the game.
Zola made his second change soon after, bringing on Javier Acuna for Forestieri, but the hosts were nearly opened up in the 82nd minute when it took a good piece of defending from Marco Cassetti to prevent Church from having a potentially routine finish from a low cross.
Fabbrini shot wide before he was replaced by Sean Murray with seven minutes to go, only for Charlton to go close when Jackson got in between and ahead of Cassetti and Angella to latch on to another low centre from the left but he could not direct his effort on target.
However, McGugan went close from 25 yards when he fizzed a shot narrowly wide of Hamer’s right-hand post before the hosts spurned an even better chance two minutes into injury time.
Anya embarked on a blistering run down the right and broke into the area before pulling the ball back to Deeney, who lifted a shot over the target when he should at least have tested Hamer.
Watford’s frustration levels rose still further when a Murray shot appeared to strike a Charlton arm in the area but much to the annoyance of the majority inside Vicarage Road, the referee remained unmoved.
Watford: Almunia; Belkalem, Angella, Cassetti; Faraoni (Anya 57), McGugan, Iriney, Pudil; Fabbrini (Murray 83), Forestieri (Acuna 73); Deeney. Not used: Bond, Battocchio, Doyley and Smith.
Charlton Athletic: Hamer; Morrison, Dervite, Wood; Wilson, Stephens, Pritchard, Jackson, Wiggins; Church, Kermorgant (Pigott 65). Not used: Alnwick, Evina, Sordell, Cousins, Gower and Stewart.
Bookings: Stephens for a foul on Forestieri (4); Belkalem for a foul on Church (30); Faraoni for altercation with Church (32); Church for altercation with Faraoni (32); Iriney for dissent (90).
Attendance: 16,431 (1,784 away).
Referee: Andy Woolmer.
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