THE Duke' finally delivered his first Watford goal but it was not enough to earn a first league win at Vicarage Road for three months as Charlton Athletic came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw this afternoon (Saturday).

The point was enough to lift the Hornets back up to second courtesy of Crystal Palace's victory over Bristol City earlier, but a first home victory in eight Championship attempts had looked a distinct possibility when Nathan Ellington calmly slotted his side into a 1-0 lead early in the second-half.

However, the visitors, who were probably worth a share of the spoils over the 90 minutes, equalised when Richard Lee appeared to dive too early, allowing a Darren Ambrose shot to beat him from 20 yards.

The match though, was marred by an injury to Calum Davenport late in the opening period. The on-loan central defensive debutant suffered a neck injury after being accidentally caught by team-mate Darius Henderson and was stretchered from the field wearing a neck brace.

Aidy Boothroyd made two changes following the defeat at Preston, with Davenport replacing Matt Jackson and, more predictably, Ellington coming in for Marlon King. There was some significant news on the bench, with Al Bangura fit enough to be named among the substitutes after winning his battle to stay in the country.

Charlton boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, made just the one change following the 4-1 win over Blackpool, with Chris Iwelumo coming in for Izale McLeod up front. New signing Andy Gray had to be content with a place among the replacements.

Watford started on the front foot and almost took the lead inside the opening minute. Henderson found space around 12 yards out to meet a Jordan Stewart free-kick from the left and guide a header down and a yard wide of Nicky Weaver's left-hand post.

An even better opportunity followed two minutes later when, following some neat play by Ellington, a deep Tommy Smith cross from the right was headed back into the danger zone by Jobi McAnuff and Damien Francis, coming onto the ball around six yards out, really should have done better than clear the bar with his right-footed effort, even though there were defenders in front of him.

Ambrose received the game's first yellow card after six minutes for pulling back Smith after the Hornets winger had sought to capitalise on a mix-up in the centre of the park.

With Smith looking particularly dangerous down the right flank, the Hornets continued to push forward and they created another half chance on 14 minutes when Lloyd Doyley's ball in from the right was flicked well wide by the towering Davenport.

The game then went relatively quite for a spell, although Henderson was involved in a dust-up with Madjid Bougherra that required the involvement of referee Andre Marriner, but it took until the 26th minute for the visitors to register their first attempt when Iwelumo fired wide from the edge of the area after dispossessing Lee Williamson.

The Charlton striker followed that up with an acrobatic attempt from 15 yards that went high and wide after Yassin Moutaouakil had overlapped down the right. But Watford were fortunate to escape soon after when Iwelumo flicked on a Weaver clearance and Luke Varney helped the ball on to Lloyd Sam, who got in behind Jay DeMerit, but fired wide of Lee's near post from the left side of the area.

Moutaouakil was then booked for a foul on McAnuff before the Hornets could have been undone again when a deep Ambrose cross from the left picked out Iwelumo in space beyond the far post, but, instead of heading the ball back into the six-yard box, he directed it over and behind the bar.

The warning signs were there for the home side but they were seemingly failed to heed them and they should have gone behind after 37 minutes. Zheng Zhi's ball in from the right picked out the run of Ambrose, breaking into the area from the opposite flank, but the former Newcastle United man directed a clear opening across Lee but the wrong side of his left-hand post. Ambrose had another shooting opportunity soon after, but this time shot straight at the Watford keeper.

However, the Hornets then rediscovered their attacking touch, with Ellington sending Jordan Stewart racing away down the left and Henderson narrowly failed to get a touch on his dangerous centre across the area.

Next, Smith stood up a deep cross from the right and Henderson got up above Davenport to direct a header down which Weaver saved. However, in his eagerness to get to the ball, the Hornets striker caught his new team-mate on the side of the head and within 30 seconds of the collision he was being tended to by several medical personnel. After receiving treatment, Davenport's debut ended on a stretcher with his neck in a brace, and Adrian Mariappa came on to replace him with Doyley switching across to centre back.

The incident, not surprisingly, unsettled the home side and Ambrose had another opportunity to give the visitors the lead in the last of four minutes of injury time, but he fired wide from the edge of the area.

Charlton began the second period the better of the two sides but the Hornets were soon looking to push on and it almost paid off after 53 minutes. A fine cross-field ball by Smith found McAnuff on the left and he jinked past two challenges to open up a shooting opportunity which, unfortunately, he sliced wide.

However, it then took a fine save from Lee to prevent Athletic from taking the lead. Kelly Youga played the ball inside Doyley to Varney whose intelligent cut back found Ambrose on the edge of the area, but the Hornets stopper was equal to his effort, diving full length to push the low drive round his left-hand post.

Sam then headed straight at the keeper before, after exchanging passes with Zhi on the edge of the 18-yard area, striking a low cross-shot that wasn't far wide of Lee's right-hand upright.

But on 59 minutes came a moment of massive relief for one particular Hornets striker. A long Stewart free-kick was well controlled by Henderson before he slid it across the area, Francis intelligently let the ball run to an unmarked Ellington who calmly stroked the ball inside Weaver's near post to finally score his first Watford goal and give them a 1-0 lead.

As chants of are you watching Marlon King' rang out from the Rookery, Smith looked to have a great chance of possibly setting up a second when he found space near the byline, but an acrobatic Weaver did well to push his attempted cross over.

But Watford continued to turn the screw and it took a fantastic defensive header from Patrick McCarthy to prevent Henderson from getting on the end of a searching Ellington cross. From the resultant corner, Mariappa got up well but headed behind.

Francis picked up Watford's first yellow card after 67 minutes for bringing down Matt Holland from behind, but Ambrose could only smash the resultant 30-yard free-kick well over the top.

Pardew played his first card soon after, bringing on Gray for his debut at the expense of Iwelumo, but Boothroyd then had to follow suit by replacing injured substitute Mariappa with John-Joe O'Toole. This meant Williamson became Watford's third right-back of the afternoon.

McAnuff saw yellow for a foul on Sam with 14 minutes remaining but soon after disaster struck for Lee. There appeared to be no real danger when Ambrose picked up the ball deep and drove at the Hornets defence and although he connected well enough with a 20-yard effort - his sixth attempt of the afternoon - it wasn't anything that the Hornets keeper would not have expected to deal with. However, Lee dived too early and he could only parry the ball into his own net as it flew past him to make it 1-1.

The Watford manager's response was to make his final change, bringing on Bangura for Ellington, while Chris Dickson replaced Sam.

The substitute almost made an impact when he raced through a statuesque Hornets defence and onto a Moutaouakil thorugh ball but Lee did well as the substitute attempted to round him and the chance went begging.

After Jonathan Fortune had come on for Bougherra, Watford had a chance when the ball broke to Williamson following a corner, but he dragged a piledriver wide of the far post.

However, Charlton might have snatched it in the second of four minutes of injury-time when a free-kick from the left was rolled square to Zhi in a decent position in the area, but he side-footed the ball wide.

Watford: Lee; Doyley, DeMerit, Davenport (Mariappa, 45 (O'Toole, 70)), Stewart; Smith, Williamson, Francis, McAnuff; Henderson, Ellington (Bangura, 80). Not used: Priskin and Poom.

Charlton Athletic: Weaver; Moutaouakil, Bougherra (Fortune, 89), McCarthy, Youga; Sam (Dickson, 80), Holland, Zhi, Ambrose; Iwelumo (Gray, 68), Varney. Not used: Randolph and Semedo.

Bookings: Ambrose for a foul on Smith after six minutes; Moutaouakil for a foul on McAnuff after 34 mins; Francis for a foul on Holland after 67 minutes; McAnuff for a foul on Sam after 76 mins.

Attendance: 17,214.

Referee: Andre Marriner.