Priskin pushes Charlton to brink

Charlton Athletic 2 Watford 3
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The Independent Football

Charlton Athletic fans who bemoaned the mid-table security that Alan Curbishley once brought them in the Premier League can at least begin to contemplate the possibility of being front-runners in a division once more. Unfortunately, barring results between now and 3 May of the sort not seen at The Valley this season, it will be in League One, the third tier of English football, where they have not been since 1981.

Phil Parkinson's side lost, when they needed to win and although they finished the day as they started it, 12 points off safety and at the foot of the Championship, the problem is not only that gap.

Three of the Addicks' next five games are against teams looking for automatic promotion: Reading, Wolves and Birmingham. The end of March could see Charlton's second relegation in three seasons.

The problems were obvious all over the pitch, from the way they were picked open for Watford's first, well-worked goal, scored by Don Cowie after 17 minutes, to their lack of ball-winners and players adept at distributing in midfield.

Four minutes later the hosts at least responded as if the relegation penny had suddenly dropped. Tresor Kandol ran on to Deon Burton's pass and skipped around the goalkeeper, Scott Loach. Then from a corner taken by Matt Spring 12 minutes later Watford gave Kandol, on loan from Leeds, plenty of time to head past Loach.

The visitors lost Tommy Smith to injury just before the interval. In his place came Grzegorz Rasiak who showed he is not a spent force at this level. After 56 minutes, Jobi McAnuff crossed and Rasiak, just outside the penalty area, controlled the ball with one touch and volleyed into the top corner. "A world-class finish," enthused Brendan Rodgers, the Watford manager. Watford secured victory through Tamas Priskin's winner seven minutes from time, as he chipped the advancing Rob Elliot.

A key result also went against Charlton, as Blackpool beat Norwich, although matters fell out of their own hands a long time ago. Parkinson said: "I felt that fighting spirit was lacking." League One beckons.