Olly Groome reports from The Valley
It’s three wins out of three at The Valley for Charlton as they kept their 100% home league record going, and extended their unbeaten run in the league to six with a 1-0 victory over Watford at The Valley on Saturday.
Yoni Buyens’ third-minute penalty, his third of the season, was enough to secure all three points for Bob Peeters’ men, who put in yet another hugely disciplined defensive display to earn a first leahue clean sheet from what was a hard-fought, physical encounter between the two high-flying sides.
With Peeters’ naming an unchanged starting XI to the team which earned a 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion two weeks earlier, the match kicked off with a real feel-good atmosphere around SE7, with the Covered End, and indeed, the East and West stands in fine voice from the off.
And with the crowd cheering on the Addicks, they were rewarded with the best possible start after just two minutes.
Jordan Cousins did brilliantly to beat his man on the left before laying a deft pass through to Igor Vetokele.
With one touch, the lightning-quick forward it past a defender and around Hornets stopper Heurelho Gomes who took out the Angolan with an outstretched arm to send him tumbling.
The referee was given little choice as he pointed to the spot before brandishing Gomes with a yellow card.
Up stepped Buyens; a man who had been in this position twice before this season , to dispatch his spot-kick with similar results.
Cool as ever, he sent the keeper the wrong way with a calm finish to the left and the Addicks were ahead.
Shell-shocked, Watford came straight back at the hosts and Troy Deeney opened up to try and bend and effort past Stephen Henderson from 25 yards.
In truth, the Irishman was well-beaten, but the Valley faithful were relieved to see the ball bounce off the right side of the post and out to safety for a goal-kick.
Charlton were comfortable in possession, showing more of their slick passing football which has, by now, come as second nature to Peeters’ men. But it was Watford who would enjoy the majority of chances in the first period.
Deeney tried his luck with a similar effort which Henderson was equal to before Lewis McGugan really should have done better than blasting an effort well over the bar from just inside the box.
And on the half-hour mark, hearts were in mouths when Deeney’s pace earned him an extra yard on Tal Ben Haim to race through on goal.
The Israeli put pressure on the forward, who just had Henderson to beat, and stuck a leg out which sent Deeney to the floor.
It looked like it could have been penalty number two for the day, but Mr Madley took one look before shaking his head and waving play on.
Scottish international Ikechi Anya was next to test Henderson with a stinging 30-yarder while Joel Ekstrand saw his header saved at the near post from the resultant corner as the hosts found themselves somewhat under the cosh.
But just as they did against Brighton last time out, Charlton’s defence had a remarkable ability to stand up strong to whatever the visitors had to throw at them.
That only seemed to frustrate the hornets who received a flurry of bookings towards the end of the first half – three in four minutes to be exact - as Watford tried to extinguish the threat of Vetokele on the break. (The tactic of choice throughout the first half seemingly being to foul the Angolan whenever possible.)
It was Vetokele who got the first shot of the second half away – his effort from range deflecting away for a corner - while Deeney quickly followed suit with another shot which sailed well wide.
Oscar Garcia’s men continued to threaten, just as they did in the first 45, but the Addicks defence, likewise, continued to keep their shape and discipline as they kept Watford at bay.
And, as usual, Charlton had their counter-attacking threatholstered within their arsenal. As long as Vetokele was on the pitch, there would always be further chances.
Wilson bombed forward on the hour to supply a perfect cross for the league’s joint top scorer, but he could not add a sixth of the season, getting underneath his header as it looped far too high to worry Gomes.
With 18 minutes remaining, Daniel Tozser sent in a cross of his own which evaded the hosts’ defence, including Wilson at the back post, and substitute Lloyd Dyer should have punished Charlton, but for a slip. His effort on the volley eventually rolling into the side-netting.
Watford did have the ball in the back of the net on 77 minutes.
Dyer’s cutback from the left was deflected onto the post before bouncing back to Deeney, but the flag was long since up, silencing the celebrating travelling fans.
For all their possession, Watford’s threat had only really come from range, with their best-looking effort coming courtesy of Tozser, whose stinging drive sent Henderson sprawling to palm the ball back out away from goal.
The Hornets came closer still minutes later when they did, finally, carve open Charlton’s defence after the otherwise-solid Andre Bikey-Amougou had misplaced a pass from the back.
Dyer was played in on the left and the tricky winger powered through with only Henderson to beat but the Addicks’ custodian stood up strong to make a superb one-handed save to deny the former Leicester City man.
However, as Watford piled forward, they left themselves open on the counter and Charlton really should have made more of a pair of opportunities after pressing upfield.
Sub Franck Moussa got caught in possession on the edge of the box and Wilson’s cross was too far for Vetokele as Peeters’ men started to play down the clock with six minutes of additional time indicated.
Fans, players and staff alike were desperate to avoid a repeat of the late goal conceded at the Amex Stadium a fortnight earlier.
All hands were to the pump and a crunching Chris Solly tackle in the box at the death signalled Charlton would have what it took to play out the victory their defensive display fully deserved.
The win ensures that they are still unbeaten with six games down. And with 40 still to go, it is so far, so brilliant for Peeters’ Addicks.
Charlton: Henderson; Solly, Wiggins Ben Haim, Bikey; Gudmundsson (Wilson 28), Cousins (Harriott 77), Jackson, Buyens, Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 55).
Subs (not used): Pope, Gomez, Morrison, Church.
Booked: Gudmundsson 24 (foul on McGugan), Wiggins 48 (foul on Anya), Cousins 61 (dissent), Buyens 70 (foul on Anya)
Goal: Buyens 3 (pen)
Watford: Gomes; Hoban (Paredes 46), Angella, Ekstrand; Anya, Abdi, Tozser, Pudil, McGugan (Ighalo 77); Vydra (Dyer 62), Deeney.
Subs (not used): Bond, Cathcart, Fabbrini, Doyley.
Booked: Gomes 2 (foul on Vetokele), Abdi 41 (foul on Vetokele), Holban 43 (foul on Tucudean), Ekstrand 45 (foul on Vetokele)
Referee: A Madley
Att: 17,628 (3,199 from Watford)