Honours even at The Valley

Charlton 0 Watford 0

Charlton 0 Watford 0

Bottom club Charlton stopped the rot with a goalless draw against fellow strugglers Watford at The Valley - but under-pressure manager Iain Dowie was left with more questions than answers on Saturday afternoon.

Veteran striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was relegated to the substitutes' bench in the hope a change of formation would bring the required victory following seven defeats in their opening eight league matches.

But despite creating several good opportunities, the finishing touch was still missing in front of goal and it was the battling Hornets - themselves yet to win in the Barclays Premiership - who will have been more happy with a hard-fought point.

Charlton had started brightly, and created the first opening of the match when Darren Bent latched onto a through-ball on the edge of the penalty area.

His angled drive was beaten away by keeper Ben Foster, on loan from Manchester United.

The goal was unguarded, but Charlton winger Dennis Rommedahl was just unable to reach the loose ball before it ran out.

With main man Marlon King out because of a reported ankle problem, Darius Henderson led the Hornets attack alongside Ashley Young.

While Watford tried to catch the hosts on the break, too often they opted for a long ball when they had men over.

Winger Jerome Thomas, fit again following a broken foot, was looking lively down the left for Charlton. After 13 minutes, his cut-back was drilled wide of the far post by Bent from the penalty spot.

At the other end, Hameur Bouazza blazed high over Scott Carson's goal when the ball dropped to him inside the penalty box following a long throw-in.

A monster drop-kick from Foster then bounced all the way through to his opposite number - and dropped just past the outside of the post.

After 23 minutes, former Charlton trainee Danny Shittu almost saw his flicked header creep under the crossbar.

As the half-hour mark approached, Thomas - once on the books at Arsenal - jinked his way into the left side of the area, only to then drill the ball just too high.

The match then degenerated somewhat into scrappy midfield exchanges as both sides became careless in possession.

With seven minutes to go before the break, Bent was released on the left, and his cut-back found Andy Reid. The Republic of Ireland midfielder unleashed a fierce drive, which Foster beat away down to his right.

Charlton were then awarded a free-kick on the right edge of the area after a handball.

Reid whipped the ball up over the wall, with Foster acrobatically tipping it behind for a corner.

Shittu then deflected a dangerous cross behind as the home side pressed during the closing stages of the first half.

When Watford did get a chance as Young sprinted clear on the break, his low, 20-yard strike was too central to worry Carson.

Charlton started the second half well, and almost took the lead on 53 minutes.

Bent slid a pass in for Reid, and he held off the challenge of two defenders to stab the ball under Foster.

However, Jordan Stewart was on hand to dash back and hack clear from in front of his own goal.

At the other end, it should then have been 1-0 to Watford. Young did well to get into the right side of the area, and from the by-line he cut the ball back into the path of Henderson.

However, the Watford striker somehow managed to balloon his effort horribly high and wide from no more than seven yards out.

Tensions inside The Valley grew as the match entered the closing stages.

After 65 minutes, Charlton had what looked a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Lee Mason when Bouazza appeared to wrestle Amady Faye to the ground - much to the disgust of the home supporters.

Watford midfielder Tommy Smith then had a goal-bound effort charged down.

With 13 minutes left, under-fire Dowie turned to Hasselbaink with the veteran Dutchman replacing Thomas.

However, the goal Charlton so desperately craved just would not come.

And the afternoon could have ended in further disappoint had Smith volleyed the ball in at the far post rather than wide following a deep cross from the Watford left.

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