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Charlton Athletic v Watford
"That's it", the Charlton fan said as he trudged away from the Valley to get a train home, "I can't see us getting out of it now". Watford had just beaten Charlton 3-2 in a cracking game to put us five points clear of the relegation zone, making it very difficult for Charlton to escape the trapdoor to League One in the process.
Following his slightly questionable changes on Tuesday, Rodgers restored Smith, Cork and McAnuff to the starting line-up, and Hoyte found himself back on the bench, so confidence among the away fans was high. But the match started in a very cagey fashion with both teams content to keep the ball and not take too many risks, as if they were all too aware of the importance of not losing.
Watford opened the scoring with a well worked goal - Priskin's flick on allowing Smith to play a great ball to Cowie who applied the finish. "That's why you're going down", sang the Watford fans joyously.
Yet that was the high-point of the first half for the Hornets, as the rest of it belonged to Charlton. Defensive hesitation and uncertainty, which looked to have been eradicated recently, was back in abundance. The worst example of this started with Doyley and Mariappa challenging each other, allowing Tresor Kandol to come away with the ball, round Scott Loach, and equalise.
In fact, we found it very difficult to handle Kandol. He scored his second with a header from a corner to put Charlton in front. "That's why you're going down", sang the Charlton fans.
The chances of Watford losing seemed to increase when Smith hobbled off injured, and his replacement Rasiak then had a header superbly saved by the Charlton goalkeeper, and also blazed over from near the Charlton goal.
So half-time was a little subdued, but Watford came out for the second half and equalised within ten minutes. In the words of the same Charlton fan walking back to the train station, "It's typical, isn't it? Just when we look like we might actually win, their sub goes and comes out with a world class goal". And it certainly was - Rasiak controlling the ball and then sending a superb volley into the top left of the goal.
That was the signal for the match to become a really open affair, with both sides happy to commit players forward as if they were now aware of the importance of winning, and therefore always looking vulnerable to quick breaks. One goalmouth scramble in the Charlton area ended with Priskin just failing to get his head to the ball to apply the finishing touch, but when he was put through with seven minutes left he coolly chipped the ball past the goalkeeper to score the winning goal.
Both sides had more chances in the remaining time, with Loach making a great save from a Charlton free-kick, but Watford held on for another vital three points to send Watford fans home in jubilant mood. "That's why you're going down", they sang as the streamed out of the Valley, having the last laugh...
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