Hornets haul themselves off the bottom

Watford moved off the bottom of the Premiership for the first time since early December but the 2-2 draw with Charlton effectively pushes both sides nearer to the drop.

Watford moved off the bottom of the Premiership for the first time since early December but the 2-2 draw with Charlton effectively pushes both sides nearer to the drop.

First-half strikes from Hameur Bouazza and Damien Francis were not enough for Adrian Boothroyd's side to record only its fourth top-flight victory of the season.

Charlton, presumably having received a half-time ear-bashing from manager Alan Pardew, were greatly improved after the break and salvaged a point through Darren Ambrose's 89th-minute header after Luke Young had pulled one back midway through the second half.

But at this stage of the season a point is not much use to either side and it was also bad news for West Ham, who will kick off against Tottenham tomorrow at the foot of the table.

Wigan's win at Manchester City was also significant and it is likely the bottom three will remain the same to the end.

Watford had been soundly beaten by Everton the week before while Charlton had been busy dismantling West Ham but it was the Hornets who dominated the first 45 minutes.

Charlton's defence is the leakiest in the Premiership and it was easy to see why when Talal El Karkouri handed Tamas Priskin a clear run on goal but failing to cut out Tommy Smith's flick-on and tumbling to the turf.

Priskin, the young Hungarian brought in to replace Darius Henderson as the lone striker, fluffed that chance by firing straight at goalkeeper Scott Carson but recovered to play a major role in the opener in the 15th minute.

He showed persistence on the right of the box to get into a crossing position and his delivery was met by Francis, the midfielder who had been given license to get forward whenever possible. Carson parried the former Norwich man's header but Bouazza was on hand to lash the rebound home.

Worse was to come for Pardew's side six minutes later when Francis found the net from Smith's pass, which had been just too far in front of Priskin but ideal for his team-mate, who arrived at the back post to drive the ball past the helpless Carson.

Charlton had offered next to nothing by this point but there was a chance for the recalled Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when Darren Bent headed on and the veteran striker timed his run to perfection to get behind the home defence.

The Hasselbaink of old would have lost no time in putting away such a chance but on this occasion he delayed, tried to take the ball away from challengers with a turn to his right that allowed Jay DeMerit to nick it away from him.

The Dutchman also over-hit an attempt to put Jerome Thomas away down the left and fired a long-ranger woefully over. It was not his day, or Charlton's, and he was replaced at the break by Zheng Zhi, the China captain.

The first half ended with bookings for Charlton defender Jonathan Fortune, who had been recalled from a loan spell at Stoke for the occasion, and Watford's Adrian Mariappa, with Francis having been shown a yellow card for an earlier misdemeanour.

Charlton looked more purposeful in the second half with Matt Holland firing just wide after a couple of nervy moments for the home side.

Francis acrobatically volleyed a Doyley cross just over on the turn but the substitute was soon needed at the other end to divert an Ambrose pass away from its intended recipient and into the arms of goalkeeper Richard Lee, who was deputising for injured first-choice Ben Foster for the third time in four games.

Francis was replaced in he 64th minute by Johan Cavalli as Watford attempted to hold on to what they had already got.

There was a let-off a minute later however when Holland blazed over after Alexandre Song's defence-splitting pass left him with only Lee to beat.

But the on-loan Arsenal man tried again a minute later and this time Young gave Lee no chance with a low drive across the goalkeeper from the right of the box.

It was now a question of whether there was another goal in a match that was to be played to a frantic finale and Priskin, having taken the ball down in the box with a sublime touch, saw his shot blocked by El Karkouri.

In the end Ambrose provided it with a minute remaining, heading home a cross from substitute Dennis Rommedahl and there was also a chance in stoppage time for another Charlton replacement, Kevin Lisbie, to complete the comeback but he dithered and saw his shot blocked by Doyley.

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