Gary Haines reports from Vicarage Road
Charlton started 2013 with a bang after a nudging a seven-goal thriller against Watford on New Year’s Day.
In an incredible game in which the lead switched hands at will it was the Addicks that eventually emerged victorious thanks to a header from skipper Johnnie Jackson.
The former Watford loanee soared to meet a corner 12 minutes from time and buried a header into the back of the net for the game’s seventh – and decisive - goal.
Charlton had twice come from behind either side of the break with two own goals aiding their quest to snap a six-game winless streak stretching back to late November.
Daniel Pudil’s crunching drive on 11 minutes put the Hornets in front but an own goal from Joel Ekstrand drew the visitors level 11 minutes before the break.
Charlton led at the interval after Yann Kermorgant headed home Bradley Pritchard’s centre moments later but Watford were level from the penalty spot seven minutes after the restart through Almen Abdi after Dorian Dervite was penalised for a foul on Forestieri.
Alex Geijo then sauntered clear to put Watford back in front midway through the half before a second own goal, this time from Nathaniel Chalobah ensured parity with 20 minutes still remaining.
With the game on a knife edge, Jackson’s fifth goal of the season on his 100th start for the club proved the decisive goal with Charlton digging in late on after losing Lawrie Wilson to a broken nose and Leon Cort to a hamstring injury.
Charlton had registered the game’s first two shots but it was Watford who cashed in with their first opening on 11 minutes.
Hamer got down to turn away an effort from Alex Geijo but could do nothing as left wing-back Daniel Pudil crashed home the loose ball from a narrow angle.
While Watford, who made the pitch very big with their formation, posed a threat going forward, the Addicks enjoyed promising flurries – and they were level on 34 minutes.
Having had a goal ruled out for hand-ball moments earlier, a decision that looked decidedly harsh, Jackson delivered an accurate corner from the left and amid a cluster of players Ekstrand diverted the ball over his own line.
Parity lasted just three minutes, with the Addicks snatching the lead from their next serious raid.
Cedric Evina, a real presence on the left as the game progressed, worked the opening, finding the equally impressive Bradley Pritchard whose chipped cross was headed home by Kermorgant.
Three opening period goals was just the starter ahead of a spectacular second half which went one better as the destiny of the points swaying one way and then the next.
After Hamer saved magnificently from Forestieri, the Hornets were level from the penalty spot after the Argentinean was upended in the box by Dorian Dervite.
It was the third spot-kick Charlton had conceded in as many matches and Adbi obliged from 12 yards. The hosts then grabbed the lead for a second time as Geijo barrelled into the box to produced a clinical finish.
That advantage was wiped out within two minutes as Chalobah put through his own net and a topsy-turvy affair was eventually settled as Jackson rose to head home.
There was time for a nervy finale as Charlton lost Wilson and Cort to injury and ended up with hero Kermorgant as a stand-in centre back.
But they dug in to clinch three vital points and seal a first win since November 27th and start the New Year in the best possible fashion.
In terms of team news the Addicks made two changes with Ricardo Fuller and Dervite returning to the fold.
Fuller was in up front after the unlucky Danny Haynes suffered a hamstring injury three days ago, while the suspended Michael Morrison was replaced at the heart of the defence by Dervite.
Otherwise it was unchanged against Gianfranco Zola’s in-form Hornets on the first day of 2013 although there were landmark outings for skipper Jackson and midfielder Dale Stephens.
For Jackson it was a 100th start in Addicks colours with fellow engine-roomer Stephens bringing up a half century of appearances.
Ben Hamer was again between the posts for the visitors with Frenchman Dervite partnering Leon Cort in the middle of the backline with Chris Solly and Evina the full-backs.
Jackson lined up in midfield alongside Stephens and Pritchard with Wilson operating further forward on the right as Kermorgant and Fuller occupied the frontline.
David Button was back on the bench after his recent ankle injury and there was also a reserve return for Matt Taylor. Dan Seaborne, Salim Kerkar, Jordan Cook, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Rob Hulse completed the replacements.
Watford, sitting sixth in the table after an impressive win at Brighton & Hove Albion on December 29th, are bidding to complete a Championship double against the Addicks having prevailed 2-1 at The Valley in early October.
Matej Vydra and Troy Deeney, who netted three goals between them in the win at Brighton, were both on the bench as Zola opted for Forestieri and Alex Geijo up front.
Forestieri was sent off in SE7 while defender Tommie Hoban and midfielder Abdi, who netted in the 2-1 win, also started.
A perfect Vicarage Road pitch greeted the players on a bright but chilly start to 2013 and the firs shot in anger came from Kermorgant as he collected a throw from Solly and fired wide from the edge of the box.
Kermorgant spun to shoot over inside the box after a messy comer from Stephens was only half cleared, and it was played back in after an inadvertent collision between Cort and Pritchard.
But Watford snatched the lead following their first shot of the afternoon.
Chelsea loanee Chalobah was the architect, cleverly lifting the ball away from two Addicks trackers before feeing Geijo.
His angled shot from the right was parried out by Hamer but Pudil arrived on the left to hammer the loose ball into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a hammer blow for the visitors but the Addicks almost hit back within five minutes as Jackson’s lofted pass was gathered by Fuller and the striker span sharply before his shot was saved by the legs of Manuel Almunia.
After Fuller was unlucky not to win a free-kick right on the edge of the box, Joel Ekstrand required lengthy treatment after being caught by Pritchard, who was ticked off by referee Kettle.
Forestieri was booked after attempting to hoodwink Hamer with a hand-ball right on the edge of the Charlton box
At the other end Solly went down in the box and aimed a questioning glance at Kettle as the attack broke down, and a Sean Murray drive was well fielded by Hamer on the half hour.
Moments later Jackson bludgeoned his way into the box and tucked the ball home, but play was pulled back for another hand-ball and the skipper was booked.
But it was all square on 34 minutes as a Jackson corner proved fruitful.
Solly had been making good ground on the right as the half progressed and it was he who forced the flag-kick on the right.
And Jackson’s cross from the right was inadvertently turned into his own net by Ekstrand, with Wilson lurking in close attendance.
Level, the Addicks pressed on, and a superb three minute-spell climaxed with them taking the lead with a terrifically-worked goal.
It owed much to some superb enterprise from Evina on the left, the defender cutting back and slipping a delightful reverse pass to Pritchard on the left of the box.
The midfielder stood up a delightful cross and Kermorgant was one of three red shirts in the box and rose well to head home.
Suddenly the Addicks were looking a threat every time they ventured forward and after a Stephens challenge ricocheted off Geijo, Fuller wriggled away from his man in the box and crashed an angled drive into the side-netting.
It wasn’t far away, and certainly had former Arsenal man Almunia scrambling across, and Fuller tried his luck again soon afterwards but the keeper saved.
That proved the last noteworthy act of an eventful first period with the Addicks retreating with the advantage.
Kermorgant’s header from a Dervite cross was plucked out of the air by Almunia early in the second period but Charlton were grateful to their keeper five minutes in.
After slick play from Forestieri and Geijo, the former collected his strike partner’s pull back and looked certain to score only for Hamer to make a magnificent point-blank stop.
A tempting low cross from Wilson on an Addicks break flew across the face of goal and away from danger, and the midfielder dragged an effort well wide before Watford drew level on 52 minutes.
After Forestieri was played into the box, the challenge from Dervite sent the striker sprawling and Kettle had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Abdi stepped up and buried his spot-kick into the bottom left corner and the game was locked at all square once again.
Charlton ought to have snatched back the lead three minutes later as Kermorgant’s clipped pass found Jackson in space in the box.
The skipper’s eyes lit up, but should have done better and his shot was beaten away by Almunia to maintain parity.
There were bookings for Wilson and Neuton either side of more great interplay between Forestieri and Geijo which resulted in the latter’s shot being tipped over the bar by Hamer.
Neuton defied the laws of gravity when theatrically falling on the far side after a brush against Fuller, while Watford showed the good side of their game as Pudil centred from the left for Forestieri to slam over on the stretch.
But the Hornets grabbed back the lead in the 68th minute as the pendulum swung back their way.
Forestieri’s clip was misread and suddenly Geijo was clear on goal, and the striker produced a terrific finish into the bottom right corner of the net.
Watford’s joy was shortlived, however, as Charlton came storming straight back.
Fuller worked an opening on the right, gliding along the touchline and firing the ball across.
The ball was scrambled over the line amid a scrum of players with Kermorgant looking like he got the final touch.
Replays suggested it was Chalobah that got the decisive touch, however, making it the game’s second own goal.
Kermorgant looped a header narrowly wide moments later and Forestieri had a goal disallowed for offside before Charlton snatched the lead back on 78 minutes.
Stephens delivered a corner from the right and there was skipper Jackson to bury a header into the back of the net.
It was all the more impressive given Wilson had gone off for treatment after suffering a broken nose, and he was replaced by Cook as Vydra also entered the fray.
The Watford newcomer had the afternoon’s third disallowed goal, again for offside before Cort hobbled off with a hamstring niggle and was replaced by Taylor.
Forestieri’s cross looped off Evina with Hamer back-tracking to tip over the bar expertly, and the keeper got down to foil the same man in the last regulation minute.
There were groans from the away end as the board went up for five added minutes and Charlton had Kermorgant in a three man defensive unit in the closing moments.
Cook teed up Pritchard to slice wide before Ekstrand was booked for a foul on Fuller, his last act before being replaced by Hulse.
Cook was booked late on for kicking the ball away and time was against the hosts as Charlton eked out the closing moments up at the Watford end.
And they even managed to survive 100 more seconds of added added time before seeing out a terrific win.
Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Evina, Cort (Taylor 86) , Dervite; Pritchard, Stephens, Jackson; Wilson (Cook 79), Kermorgant, Fuller (Hulse 90).
Subs (not used): Button, Seaborne, Kerkar, Wright-Phillips.
Goals: Ekstrand og 34, Kermorgant 37, Chalobah og 70, Jackson 78
Booked: Jackson 32 (hand-ball), Wilson 57 (foul on Pudil), Cook 90 (kicking ball away).
Watford: Almunia; Cassetti, Hoban, Ekstrand, Neuton, Pudil (Vydra 79); Abdi (Yeates 62), Chalobah, Murray (Deeney 82); Geijo, Forestieri.
Subs (not used): Bond, Nosworthy, Battocchio, Anya.
Goal: Pudil 11, Abdi pen 52, Geijo 68
Booked: Forestieri 22 (hand-ball), Neuton 60 (foul on Pritchard), Ekstrand 90 (foul on Fuller)
Referee: T Kettle