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Ten-man Watford show real character to battle to 2-1 win at Charlton Athletic
Watford held on to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to Charlton Athletic tonight despite having ten men for the whole of the second half.
Watford took the lead half an hour into the contest when Tommie Hoban, making just his second start, headed past Ben Hamer with the help of a deflection.
Charlton replied immediately though and equalised after Ricardo Fuller was put through one-on-one.
And the Hornets were then reduced to ten men when Fernando Forestieri went down in the box and was accused of diving by referee Mike Dean, although some in the ground believe he slipped due to the wet conditions.
Charlton spent considerable time in the Watford half during the second period but the visitors left with the three points after Almen Abdi found the top corner with a delightful free kick midway through the half.
Watford named an unchanged line-up for the first time this season tonight, despite leading scorer Matej Vydra returning to fitness. The Czech Republic international had to settle for a place on the bench.
The victory means the Hornets have still not lost to Charlton for 16 years, winning the last three contests between the sides.
The opening quarter of an hour passed with very little action. The only moments of note were a good recovery tackle from Neuton and a long-range drive from Troy Deeney, which was gathered at the second attempt by Ben Hamer.
Charlton’s first opportunity came from a set piece. Fernando Forestieri was booked for blocking Salim Kerkar’s initial strike with his hand and the second effort was deflected wide for a corner, which amounted to nothing.
It was an uneventful game and neither side were able to keep possession or create any real chances.
But then Watford took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Fernando Forestieri sent in a corner which was glanced on by Marco Cassetti and then Hoban headed past Hamer, with the help of a deflection from a Charlton defender.
Young Hoban had been coping well up against Fuller in the early stages but the striker switched sides, to go up against Neuton, and it wasn’t long before Charlton equalised as the striker was put through one-on-one and he coolly slotted past Manuel Almunia with 35 minutes gone.
Charlton raised their game following the equaliser and had Watford fans worried when Almunia misjudged the flight of Dale Stephens’ free kick and there were Charlton attackers at the far post. But none of the Addicks’ players could apply a touch to the delivery.
Watford’s hopes of securing victory were diminished when Forestieri was sent off for a second yellow card just before half-time. The first yellow was for handball whilst jumping in the wall and then Forestieri went down inside the box whilst cutting inside the defender. Some thought the player slipped but Mike Dean and the majority of the home crowd accused him of diving and the forward saw red.
The Hornets stayed with three at the back at the beginning of the second half, although the two wide players – Cassetti and Daniel Pudil – were dropping deeper when their side were not in possession.
Watford remained calm when they had the ball and created the first opening of the second period, as Deeney was unable to reach Pudil’s low cross.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was the first to have an effort saved though when Almunia could only parry his stinging strike from distance.
Watford then had a period on the back foot as Charlton piled on the pressure, with several blocked shots, corners and failed Hornets clearances.
After a Watford attack when Deeney had a tame volley saved, the visitors were a little fortunate Wright-Phillips showed honesty by remaining on his feet as Neuton, who had already been booked, clearly pulled at the striker when last man and the striker subsequently sliced wide.
Wright-Phillips was proving a real threat and Almunia needed to be at his best to save with his feet following a low drive by the striker ten yards from goal. Chalobah then did well to block Stephens’ follow-up.
But it was the Hornets who regained the lead when Leon Cort was penalised for climbing over Deeney 20 yards out, on the right side of the area, and Abdi curled the subsequent free kick past Hamer to make it 2-1.
Watford had another two chances from set pieces – one indirect – but both efforts were blocked by the wall.
Charlton were camped in Watford’s half but apart from Rob Hulse’s header over, Charlton did not create many clear-cut chances heading into the five minutes of injury time.
But then the home side had a glorious opportunity to grab an equaliser when the ball was laid off perfectly for Stephens. However, his side-footed effort from 18-yards went over the bar.
There was still more to come though. Cort headed a deep cross back into the goal-mouth and under pressure from Hulse, Almunia just managed to parry the ball clear.
There was more than the five minutes of injury time in the end, due to the substitutions, but Watford held on for a hard-fought victory.
Charlton: Hamer; Wilson, Morrison, Cort, Solly; Green (Hulse 79), Stephens, Hollands (Pritchard 79), Kerkar; Fuller, Wright-Phillips.
Subs: Button, Evina, Dervite, Razak, Wagstaff.
Watford: Almunia; Hoban, Hall, Neuton (Ekstrand 75); Cassetti, Hogg, Chalobah (90+1), Abdi, Pudil; Forestieri, Deeney (Iwelumo 90+5).
Subs: Bond, Yeates, Murray, Vydra.
Referee: Mike Dean.