Gary Haines reports from Vicarage Road
Solid Charlton continued their fine recent form with an impressive point at Watford on Saturday.
Yann Kermorgant’s penalty less than a minute into the second-period put the visitors in front, but Watford reacted well and levelled through Daniel Pudil on 57 minutes.
The Czech, who like Kermorgant, was on target the last time the sides met at Vicarage Road on New Year’s Day, swooped to score from close range after a good stop from Ben Hamer.
Charlton dug in after that with both sides spurning good chances to win it, Jackson shooting over for the visitors and Troy Deeney lifting a great late chance off target.
But a point extended the Addicks unbeaten run to three matches either side of the abandoned match against Doncaster Rovers and Chris Powell can again be hugely encouraged by the display of his side.
Kermorgant was spot on less than a minute into the second half for the Addicks, firing them in front after Lawrie Wilson was upended in the box by Essaid Belkalem’s rash challenge.
The French talisman’s afternoon would end prematurely as an ankle injury forced him out of the action and Watford drew level on 65 minutes as Pudil followed up after Diego Fabbrini’s shot was shovelled away by Hamer.
Watford, who reacted well to falling behind, will claim they deserved their leveller, but Charlton were also well worth at least a point for their efforts against tricky opponents in what was a compelling contest.
Just two minutes has elapsed when a slick interchange between Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney resulted in the former curling a shot narrowly wide.
The Argentinean-born striker went close from similar range soon afterwards with the skilful Diego Fabbrini shooting over from the edge of the box amid a bright Watford start.
At the other end Wood’s hopes of a goal on his first Championship start for the club were halted when an offside flag ruled out his scruffy effort at the far post.
And Charlton grew stronger after that, enjoying some purposeful raids against an edgy-looking home rearguard.
The ever-lively Church, booked following a skirmish at an Addicks corner, span sharply but couldn’t connect sufficiently in the middle and the only criticism of a solid first half was a lack of clear chances.
That changed moments into the second-half, however, as Kermorgant blasted his side in front from 12 yards.
Wilson and Pritchard were the creators, with the latter teeing up Wilson 20 seconds in and his burst into the box halted cynically by Essaid Belkalem.
Kermorgant made no mistake from the penalty spot, but the goal galvanised Watford with Hamer saving well from Troy Deeney and then watching the striker tee up Lewis McGugan to fire a great chance over.
Church might have had another penalty after being taken out on one of his typical forages and Manuel Almunia kept out a rasping drive from Stephens just past the hour mark.
Deeney was inches wide from similar range at the other end while Charlton lost Kermorgant to injury 20 minutes into the second period.
Five minutes later the hosts were level as Pudil swooped to fire home from close range after Hamer had brilliantly kept out a drive from Fabbrini.
Jackson and Deeney spurned opportunities as the clock ticked down, but a point was a satisfying outcome for the visitors who are very much up and running in their Championship campaign.
In terms of team news there was a first Championship start for Richard Wood at the back as Powell once again utilised a 3-5-2 formation.
Wood operated on the left of a back three which also contained Michael Morrison and Dorian Dervite with Leon Cort sidelined with injury.
Also still on the injured list was right-back Chris Solly so Wilson continued at wing-back.
There were places on the bench for deadline day signings keeper Ben Alnwick and winger Cameron Stewart.
Following the impressive home win against Leicester ahead of the international break, the Addicks arrived in Hertfordshire in good spirits.
And Hamer continued between the posts for Powell’s side with Wilson and Rhoys Wiggins flanking the three central defenders.
Dale Stephens, Bradley Pritchard and skipper Jackson, a one-time Watford loan man, were in the midfield engine-room with Kermorgant and Simon Church up front.
Alnwick and Stewart were joined on the bench by Cedric Evina, Jordan Cousins, Mark Gower, Joe Pigott and another former Hornet, Marvin Sordell.
For the hosts there was a debut for Essaid Belkalem in place of the unwell Joel Ekstrand, with Watford also deploying three men at the back.
Scotland international Ikechi Anya dropped to the bench while Pudil and Fernando Forestieri, sent off when the sides met at The Valley last term, were in the starting XI.
It was Forestieri who had the game’s first chance when the clock reached two minutes.
The Addicks were undone by a slick one-two between the striker and Troy Deeney, and his curling shot from the right flew across goal and narrowly wide.
His angry boot of the advertising hoarding behind the goal suggested he might have done better as the Addicks survived the first significant raid from the Hornets.
At the other end Wilson got in on the right and his low cross just eluded a sliding Church in the middle, while Stephens picked up a fourth-minute booking after tugging back Forestieri after surrendering possession cheaply.
Diego Fabbrini twisted and turned on the edge of the box and fired over eight minutes later and Forestieri was wide from similar range on the left to his earlier chance as the hosts broke forward quickly.
It was Charlton that had the ball in the net first on 19 minutes, although Wood was denied a first goal by an offside flag.
A Stephens free-kick was nodded back by Kermorgant and in the chaos that ensued Dervite had a stab and Wood bundled the ball home at the back post, only to be denied by the assistant referee.
Watford’s unconvincing defending from the set-piece certainly offered room for optimism for the visitors having worked their way into the game.
There was certainly room on the left for Wiggins to exploit, although the wing-back did not see as much of the ball as him – and watching boss Powell – would have liked in the opening quarter.
Manuel Almunia reached up to reach a header from Jackson, whereby the ball rather hit the skipper, and the visitors were growing in confidence.
That was evidenced further as Church weaved his way through on 31 minutes and was tripped by Belkalem, earning the debutant a deserved yellow card.
Jackson’s free-kick from inside the D cannoned behind off the wall and there was a skirmish in at the resulting corner with an angry Church and Davide Faraoni both booked when the dust settled.
It was all getting rather prickly as the action continued and the two skippers were summoned by fussy referee Andy Woolmer at Charlton’s next corner.
Marco Cassetti shot horribly wide for the hosts after they broke from that corner and Church couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball in the box after a chipped Wiggins cross was nodded back across after brilliant midfield foraging from Pritchard.
There was little doubt that Charlton were in the ascendancy at this juncture but Watford were still a threat and after McGugan hammered a free-kick into the wall, Wilson got back superbly to outmuscle Forestieri as he looked to pull the trigger.
The Hornets cranked it up at the end before a Stephens free-kick that sailed over from way out rounded off a compelling half.
It got better, much better, mere seconds after the interval with Kermorgant spot-on.
Pritchard slipped the ball through to Wilson just 20 seconds in, and Belkalem slid in to send the wing-back crashing to the turf.
It was a clear penalty, with the defender lucky to escape without a second yellow card of the afternoon, and Kermorgant held his nerve to blast a spot-kick into the roof of the net.
The Addicks supporters rejoiced behind the goal but there was danger almost immediately as Deeney, quiet in the opening period, broke the offside trap but was held up before Wilson got to Forestieri’s clipped centre and Hamer eventually pounced on the ball.
Hamer got down well again moments later to foil the bustling Deeney, and Morrison hooked the loose ball to safety ahead of Forestieri.
Watford continued to press and Deeney fed McGugan who hammered a great chance over, but Charlton may have been awarded a second penalty when Church appeared to be chopped down chasing a lost cause.
Kermorgant received attention after a knock to the right ankle before Anya came on for Faraoni.
Rasping drives at either end then saw Stephens denied by Almunia before Deeney walloped an effort inches wide form 25 yards.
After falling awkwardly again soon afterwards Kermorgant’s race was run and after he got back to valiantly defend a corner, he went down again 65 minutes and was replaced by youngster Pigott.
Wood got back to toe-end the ball behind for a corner 20 minutes from time, but from the flag-kick the Hornets levelled matters.
It was unfortunate for Hamer after he got down brilliantly to keep out Fabbrini’s effort from the edge of the box, but Pudil was quickest to react and hammered home the loose ball from close range.
The goal woke up the natives as the afternoon’s dynamic changed but Watford needed an outstretched leg from Cassetti to deny an unmarked Church at the far post after a low ball from the left from Pigott.
Fabbrini swapped passes on the edge of the box but fired over before making way for Sean Murray.
And Charlton got in on the left again moments later with Wiggins fine low centre steered wide on the stretch by the marauding Jackson.
McGugan was narrowly wide from range at the other end with the game delicately poised and there was five added minutes at the death for either side to strike a decisive blow.
It might have arrived from Deeney two minutes in after great work from Anya.
The substitute scorched down the right and even Pritchard could not keep up. His pull-back sat up deliciously for Deeney but the big striker could only fire a glorious chance over the bar.
Powell summoned Cousins for the hard-running Church seconds later and Watford had loud claims for a penalty turned down as a late shot clattered off the upper torso of Dervite.
Five minutes were up as the hosts were awarded a free-kick on halfway, and although the Charlton box was packed out, it was half-cleared out, and that proved the last act of the afternoon.
Charlton: Hamer; Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wood, Wiggins; Stephens, Pritchard, Jackson; Church (Cousins 90), Kermorgant (Pigott 65).
Subs (not used): Alnwick, Evina, Gower, Stewart, Sordell.
Goal: Kermorgant pen 46
Booked: Stephens 4 (foul on Forestieri), Church 33 (skirmish with Faraoni)
Watford: Almunia; Belkalem, Angella, Cassetti; Faraoni (Anya 57), McGugan, Iriney, Pudil; Fabbrini (Murray 83), Forestieri (Acuna 73); Deeney.
Subs (not used): Bond, Battocchio, Doyley, Smith.
Booked: Faraoni 33 (skirmish with Church)
Ref: A Woolmer
Att: 16,431 (1,784 Charlton)