Two Watford goals in quick succession in the second half eroded a 2-0 lead the Addicks had secured off the Hornets by half time. At the beginning of the match referee P Taylor took a pretend photo of the Watford lineup and this set the tone for the match. Blatant fouls by Watford were ignored, their first goal had a touch of offside and the referee awarded them a dubious free kick in the 'D' in time added on in the hope of giving them a winning goal. He even sent Thomas off to change his shorts and dallied before letting him on again.
Watford play a Route 1 style of football and I am yet to see any team in the Championship this year, with the possible exception of the Baggies, with the quality which would enable them to survive in the Premiership. Whilst the Addicks remain in their customary 5th position, Ipswich have narrowed the gap and this was two points dropped. Somewhat surprisingly, Watford fans going back on the train afterwards were 'very disappointed' with the result.
Deptford Creek was at a very low tide on the way in, not a good sign. Before the match we had a ceremony to celebrate our links with Zheng Zhi's club in China. They were represented by their 'Standing Vice General Manager' so it looks as if chairs are not part of the management deal there.
The teams changed ends at the beginning of the match. It started with a succession of throw ins on the West Stand side. Gray displayed one of his classic neat touches to give the ball to Varney whose effort was just over the bar.
Halford put in one of his long throws and it gave the Watford keeper some grief as he dropped the ball twice before grabbing it. McAnuff launched an attack and the Watford shot was just wide, leading to a Watford corner. This was not cleared well by the Addicks defence and I felt that we were missing Bougherra today.
Zheng Zhi put in a quality ball to Lloyd Sam. Sam provided a good cross to Varney whose deflected effort was just wide. It should have been a corner, but the referee from Hertfordshire was having none of it. Charlton continued to pressure but an effort by Halford was way over. Darren Ambrose won a throw in by the corner flag.
Charlton were put under some pressure from a cross and the ball was eventually cleared after some poor defending. Then in a well worked move, Zheng Zhi put the ball in and Ambrose slotted the ball in the net to make it 1-0 on 14 minutes.
Sam advanced on goal, but then stopped when he should have gone on and pressured the suspect Watford keeper. There was a clear handball call against Watford, but the referee was having none of it. Varney won Charlton a corner and the resultant header was just over the bar.
Watford were given a free kick by the flag and then another free kick. Clearly part of their game plan was to try and score from set pieces. Charlton were actually awarded a free kick and Pards jumped up abd down on the touchline in celebration. Lloyd Sam went down. The ageing linesman on the West Stand side was taken off and a replacement came on.
Youga played one of the air balls which is one of the downsides of his play, but subsequently defended well. Then Halford put in an excellent cross and Shittu directed it forcefully into his own net, giving the keeper no chance and making it 2-0 to the Addicks.
Andy Gray won Charlton a corner but the keeper was able to smother it. Watford were given another free kick in a dangerous position. Then, sensationally, Charlton were awarded a free kick and it eventually led to a Charlton corner. Despite some good work by Zheng Zhi it was eventually cleared and led to a Watford break, but Youga defended well.
In the two minutes added on, Watford hit the post. The referee clearly thought that they should be given another chance to score and extended the two minutes added on while Watford sought to exploit a corner.
Half time: Addicks 2, Hornets 0
Watford took off Bangura and brought on John Joe O'Toole in what turned out to be an important substitution for them. I thought that the Addicks were sitting on their lead a bit in the early part of the second half instead of looking for the decisive third goal. 2-0 is a dangerous position to be in, particularly at Charlton, and Watford stepped up a gear.
Matt Holland put in a good tackle to frustrate a Hornets attack. Varney put in a good cross. Youga provided good defensive work. Zheng Zhi worked well to release the ball to Varney, but the advancing striker was judged to be offside.
Then Watford advanced on goal and O'Toole put the ball in the net to make it 2-1. I thought it might be offside, but the ball was played in very slowly. Then a minute later Watford got a corner and this time Shittu made no mistake putting the ball in the net with a header to level the scores.
A Charlton corner was cleared. McCarthy once again showed his worth with some good defensive work. Zheng Zhi put in a shot but it was straight at the keeper and he was able to save. A Watford corner ended in a goal kick. Holland turned provider for Varney. The ball in was a good one, but it was blocked by a Watford defender.
Andy Gray won a free kick. It was taken by Holland and led to a Charlton corner. Darren Ambrose was taken off in favour of Lee Cook, provoking paroxysms of rage from the Hornets. Luke Varney was shoved off the ball as he advanced on goal, but predictably no action was taken.
In a double substitution, Lloyd Sam was replaced by Jerome Thomas and Andy Gray was replaced by Chris Iwelumo. Watford advanced on goal and secured a corner but it was played out. With Thomas off the pitch looking for new shorts, Nicky Weaver made a good save at the expense of a Watford corner.
A foul against Jerome Thomas led to a rare free kick for the Addicks and eventually a Charlton corner. Despite receiving a tirade of abuse from the adjacent Watford fans, Cook took an excellent corner, but unfortunately it was unproductive.
A blatant foul by Ellington could not be ignored by the referee who awarded the only yellow card of the game. Matt Holland put in a shot that was just over the bar and he held his head in his hands.
Thomas was fouled again and brought down. The Hornets had a break which led to a corner for them. In the three minutes of time added on, the referee decided that the time had come to give Watford their victory and awarded a free kick in the D which went way over the bar.
With the whistle blown, the Covered End challenged the referee for being anally retentive, while Watford players lined up to congratulate him. Pards had a very quick word with him and Steve from Croydon (formerly Sidcup) thought he saw him make an appropriate gesture, but I cannot confirm that.
I have not seen such bad refereeing for a long time. Of course, it was in many ways an opportunity to read off results as it was our fourth draw in a row with Watford. On the balance of play, one cannot say the result was an unfair one. Even so, one would like to see an important game refereed in a fair and balanced way.
If teams like Watford and Stoke go up to the Premiership, they will be justified in cutting it back to 18 clubs and reducing promotion opportunities. Although we play more cultured football, I do not think that we are ready for promotion either. The team needs another season to blend and develop.
Ivy the Terrible has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Greg Halford. Not only did he provide the assist for Danny Shittu's emphatic goal for the Addicks, he was a powerful presence throughout the match. Weaver could hardly have saved the two goals, although he came close to handling outside his area at one point when throwing the ball out. McCarthy was fired up and generally did a good job. Fortune relied very much on the defensive header, but was competent enough. Youga was a constant thorn in the side of the Hornets and we shall miss him at Blackpool. Holland was committed as ever and came close to scoring. Sam had a somewhat better game than he has had of late, but he still needs to be more confident and press forward. Ambrose scored a good goal, but still gave the ball away more than once. Zhi was a power house, pounding up and down the field to assist in defence and attack. Gray is clearly skilled, but seems unlikely to score. Varney provided some good approach work, outwitting the Hornets on the wing. Cook was greeted with jeers by the Hornets, but looks like a real prospect, displaying excellent pace, accuracy in his passes and good positioning, although he did give the ball away once. Iwelumo tried to get involved and did use his head. Thomas did trouble Watford's defence.
Hiss of the Match This has been given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the referee who asked her sister Amber to combine with her in an extra loud hiss.
Crowd rating: Good at some times, but a bit subdued at others. Clearly losing the lead was a blow but this is the sort of time when the team needs the crowd behind them. 6/10.