Watford signed off their pre-season campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

An early goal from Danny Graham, with his fourth of the summer making him the top scorer of the warm-up matches, was to prove enough as the Hornets encouragingly completed back-to-back wins with successive clean sheets.

However, of potentially greater concern is the fact that the League One Addicks had the majority of the possession and created most of the chances in a game lacking many genuine clear-cut opportunities.

Malky Mackay made two changes from the side that beat Stevenage 2-0 on Tuesday night. Martin Taylor missed out with a minor knock, so Tom Aldred joined Adrian Mariappa at the heart of the defence, while the fit-again Will Buckley replaced Piero Mingoia on the left flank.

The Hornets started brightly and had a chance after a minute when Graham picked out Don Cowie at the far post, he headed back across goal, but no team-mate was up in support.

It didn’t take the visitors too long to create their first opportunity either, with Akpo Sodje laying the ball back to Alan McCormack, but his shot was blocked.

The game then went through a quiet spell until the eighth minute when the Hornets took the lead. Stephen McGinn continued his encouraging pre-season form with a shot that was blocked, Marvin Sordell’s follow-up was parried by keeper Rob Elliot, but all this did was present Graham with the simplest of finishes for his fourth goal of the summer.

The visitors tried to respond instantly, with Sodje dragging a shot across the target and wide before Scott Loach had to push behind Kyel Reid’s angled effort from the left side of the area.

The Addicks continued to have the better of things, with Therry Racon hitting a 25-yard effort over, but in the 23rd minute it took a good block by Christian Dailly to prevent Sordell potentially troubling Elliot after Graham and Buckley had combined to good effect down the left.

Charlton weren’t too far away from equaliser in the 29th minute when Racon hit a left-footed free-kick from 30 yards that sent Loach scrambling across as it went wide of his right-hand post, although he had it covered.

Scott Wagstaff then headed a Reid cross over, but the right midfielder went closer with a shot seven minutes before the interval with a left-footed effort that forced Loach to parry.

The traffic continued towards the Hornets’ goal as the interval approached, with former Hornets loanee Johnnie Jackson striking a left-footed free-kick from 20 yards narrowly over.

Watford had an opportunity to relieve some of the pressure two minutes before the break when they were awarded a free-kick in a central position around 30 yards out and Don Cowie rolled the ball to Sordell on the edge of the box, but he sliced his effort high and wide.

Another chance came and went soon after when John Eustace rolled a pass down the left side of the Charlton defence and Sordell got behind Gary Doherty, but the young striker was unable to pick out Graham in the middle from what was an admittedly awkward crossing situation.

That was to be Doherty’s last real involvement, as he was replaced by Miguel Llera at the start of the second period.

Charlton had the first meaningful attempt of the second half when a sweeping Chris Solly ball picked out McCormack in space on the left of the Hornets area, but he was unable to generate enough pace on his header to test Loach.

New signing Pawel Abbott replaced Jose Semedo after 54 minutes, as the visitors switched from a 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2, and then Mackay made his first change, with Eddie Oshodi coming on for Aldred after a solid enough display.

More changes from the visitors followed, but there was little happening of note on the pitch, except for a blocked Sordell shot, until the 66th minute when Loach made a fine save at the foot of his near post to keep out Racon’s strike.

That was the cue for Charlton to have another decent spell and three minutes later they missed a fine chance to equalise when substitute Yado Mambo flicked a free header wide from an Abbott corner.

Piero Mingoia replaced Sordell with 15 minutes remaining, with Buckley moving up front to partner Graham, but it was the visitors who were still having the better of the attacking play, with another replacement, Jonathan Fortune, firing straight at Loach.

However, Racon did his best to almost gift Watford a second with 12 minutes remaining with a sloppy pass in field which Graham quickly latched on to, but Elliot narrowed the angle and managed to block his angled shot.

But Watford were fortunate to escape in the 81st minute when Reid wriggled free near the goalline and sent in a cross, which Loach bizarrely decided to leave alone and then had to watch as the ball drifted dangerously across his six-yard box.

The visitors continued to push in the closing stages and they almost levelled in the last minute of normal time when Lloyd Doyley had to make a brave block following a scramble.

Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Aldred (Oshodi 56), Doyley; Cowie, Eustace, McGinn, Buckley; Sordell (Mingoia 75), Graham. Substitutes: Gilmartin, Jenkins, Bryan, Whichelow and Henderson.

Charlton Athletic: Elliot, Solly (Mambo 63), Doherty (Llera 46), Dailly, Jackson; Wagstaff (Fortune 71), Semedo (Abbott 54), McCormack, Racon, Reid; Sodje (Bauza 63). Substitutes: Stavrinou and Marshall.

Attendance: 2,097 (Charlton contingent: 293).

Referee: Danny McDermid.