OSCAR GARCIA’S first game in charge of the Hornets ended in defeat as Charlton’s early goal at The Valley proved to be the difference between the sides.
The Hornets were improved after the break, after a slow start to the game, but Yoni Buyens’ penalty kick after just three minutes won the home side all three points.
Lewis McGugan was a latecomer into the starting XI as he replaced Keith Andrews who picked up a knock in the warm-up.
There was drama within the first few minutes in south London as the hosts were awarded a spot-kick with just a few minutes on the clock.
Heurelho Gomes was quick off his line and the home crowd were baying for a penalty kick after Igor Vetokele was brought down in the penalty area.
Buyens stepped up and dispatched the kick in style to send Gomes the wrong way and make it 1-0 after just three minutes.
Troy Deeney immediately tried to grab a goal back as he somehow took the ball off two defenders but his curling effort clipped the post.
The Hornets quickly switched from the starting 3-5-2 formation to 4-4-2, with Ikechi Anya pushing further forward on the right hand side.
Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson was equal to Deeney’s effort after 26 minutes following Matej Vydra’s dummy from Almen Abdi’s pass.
There were cries for another penalty kick at The Valley on the half-hour mark but this time they were coming from the Hornets’ bench and the 3,000-odd travelling Watford fans situated behind Gomes’ goal.
Deeney and Tal Ben Haim tangled in the box and the striker ended up on the ground but referee Mr Madley was quick to wave away the appeals.
Henderson turned Anya’s long-range drive round the post eight minutes before the break and the Hornets were thankful for the interval, as Joel Ekstrand was the fourth Watford player to collect a booking right on the stroke of half-time.
The Swede tugged at Vetokele’s shirt close to the halfway line and was given a warning by referee Madley as the home crowd begged for further action.
Juan Carlos Paredes was introduced for the second half, taking the place of Tommie Hoban at right back in a flat back four.
The Hornets certainly came out with more purpose as they looked to improve their passing across their field, and move the ball quickly into dangerous areas.
Watford were now largely on top as they looked to strike back but the hosts were staying strong.
Charlton had a rare chance just before the hour-mark as sub Frank Moussa headed over before McGugan blasted over the bar after Deeney’s impressive header down when up against two covering defenders.
Lloyd Dyer was introduced after 61 minutes, taking the place of Vydra as the Hornets were now operating with a front three, including Anya.
Despite the increased pressure, chances were few and far between for the Hornets. Dyer put his effort from Tozser’s cross the wrong side of the post after 72 minutes and then the Hungarian’s stinging drive was well stopped by Henderson in the Charlton goal.
Odion Ighalo was brought on in the closing stages to add further strike-power to the Hornets’ attack, as McGugan made way for the forward.
Henderson made an outstanding save with five minutes remaining as the keeper made himself big to deny Dyer from close range after Ekstrand’s cool pass to his left.
The game opened up at the end and despite six minutes of time added on, Oscar’s side couldn’t find the all-important goal to claim a point in south London.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC: Henderson (GK); Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins; Gudmundsson (Wilson 28), Jackson (c) (Harriott), Buyens, Cousins; Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 55). Subs not used: Pope (GK), Gomez, Morrison, Church.
WATFORD: Gomes (GK); Hoban (Paredes HT), Ekstrand, Angella; Anya, Abdi, McGugan (Igahlo 77), Tozser, Pudil; Vydra (Dyer 61), Deeney (c). Subs not used: Bond (GK): Doyley, Cathcart, Fabbrini.
GOALS: CHARLTON ATHLETIC; Buyens (3). WATFORD; none.
BOOKINGS: CHARLTON ATHELTIC; Gudmundsson (24), Wiggins (48), Cousins (61), Buyens (70). WATFORD; Gomes (3), Abdi (41), Hoban (43), Ekstrand (45).
ATTENDANCE: 17,628 (3, 199 Hornets)
REFEREE: Mr A Madley.