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Watford give poor Charlton the Italian Job

Luck is a funny old thing. When it goes against you once, twice, maybe even three times it’s a plausible excuse. You feel hard done by when all the efforts result in no reward. But when it happens every game of the season, time and time again, you have to ask yourself the question, is it something we’re doing wrong? The answer is yes. Charlton were poor from start to finish. Finishing is becoming a serious issue, not just bad luck, and despite Mike Dean’s poor performance, a decision went The Addicks’ way tonight which wasn’t capitalised on.

When Watford went down to 10 men in first half stoppage time with the scores at 1-1, Charlton should have taken the game by the scruff of the neck, dominated and not let Watford have a sniff of possession. Instead, long ball football was the order of the day with hit and hope punts flying left, right and centre to no avail. The few occasions in which decent passing moves were executed, chances were created, but they were few and far between.

The game began with positive anticipation. Ricardo Fuller was back into the starting XI after suffering from a virus and the Addicks reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation. It was thought his inclusion with a repeat performance from the weekend draw over Blackburn would result in all three points for Chartlon against an indifferent Watford side. Much like the Blackburn fixture, the game started slowly with few chances falling the way of either side, and much like the Blackburn fixture it was the opposition who took the lead. A Watford corner was met by the head of youngster Tommie Hoban who scored his first senior goal via a deflection. The Addicks hit back quickly though as Dale Stephens played a defence splitting through ball into Ricardo Fuller, who finished calmly from inside the area.

With the final 10 minutes of the half mirroring the beginning with few chances created, the final piece of drama was saved for stoppage time. Fernando Forestieri, already on a yellow card for encroachment, appeared to dive in the box. Referee Dean took this view and gave Forestieri his second yellow card. Although the Argentinian had been going down softly for the whole game, it did appear to be a slip and possibly a harsh decision.

For a brief spell after the half time interval it appeared it was a matter of when not if the Addicks would score. Salim Kerkar’s corners were causing chaotic defending in the Watford box with Leon Cort a constant nuisance and Wright-Phillips forced a strong save out of former Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia from a long range pile driver. Dale Stephens came close and Ricardo Fuller had shot saved from a tight angle but this all too familiar situation of not being able to take out chances was repeating itself.

The home side were made to pay on the 70th minute when a free kick from Switzerland international Almen Abdi was wonderfully curled home. Heads immediately dropped and it was difficult to see a goal coming from anywhere. Pritchard had a weak shot blocked from a good position, Wright-Phillips failed to react to a number of clear chances when just a few yards from goal and Stephens missed a fabulous chance in stoppage time but it wasn’t to be. The poor quality of Charlton’s performance got what it deserved.

The strangest tactic of the night was to continuously send in ‘crosses’ from 20 to 30 yards outside the box. Again and again the ball went in but with so much time for the Watford defenders to judge it, they cleared the ball with ease or watched as it evaded everyone and went out of play. We’re a long ball side and at times last season we relied on Yann Kermorgant’s heading ability. Without that, we look void of successful ideas.

Saturday’s 4-5-1 formation helped as we controlled the midfield and kept possession of the ball far better than at any other point this season. I would like to see a repeat of that away at Blackpool this weekend with Fuller as the lone man. Negative it may be, but it’s clear the tactics used last night weren’t effective.

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