Charlton Athletic 0 Watford 0: Dowie takes blame for Valley demise

Charlton remain at foot of table as Foster thwarts best efforts and fans turn on manager
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The Independent Football

Charlton's cheers were reserved, heart-warmingly, for one of their old warriors, Chris Powell. Brought on by his new employers, Watford, as a time-consuming measure in the final minute, he was accorded a fine reception, and another one at the end.

There was not much else to cheer about for home fans as Charlton's stricken vessel failed to lift clear of the rocks. Plenty to boo, though, as the renowned patience of The Valley people evaporated when manager Iain Dowie attempted to show his appreciation of their support and was jeered for it.

This barren sharing of the points clearly suited Adrian Boothroyd more than Dowie. "We would have preferred three, we had three great chances," said the Watford manager. The club's way to move off the Premiership's bottom rung, he stressed, was the urgent need to start taking those chances. As for Dowie, he was able to bemoan the torrent of missed opportunities, most of them laid on by a resurgent Andy Reid, but he declared himself prepared to take the responsibility.

"I understand [the booing] and I have to accept that blame," he said. "At home against Watford, bottom of the League, I am not going to try to spin it away. We have played eight games and got four points. The fans are entitled to vent their feelings. I have had good support here, so if there are any brickbats to be thrown you have to take them. We can't look for excuses, we have to fight for every point. But at home we should be winning these games, and we created enough chances to do that."

Pre-game misfortune centred on Watford, forced to omit top scorer Marlon King because of a knee problem, clearly news which was of no help to a team who had managed two goals in four previous away games. In his place, alongside the livewire England Under-21 international Ashley Young, Boothroyd stationed the burly figure of Darius Henderson. Inevitably, Henderson it was who wasted Watford's best opening in their second-half revival, scooping Young's low cross high over the top from close in.

Almost until that moment, Watford's up and at 'em style needed to be replaced by dogged defence as Charlton, with Reid offering not only deft touches on the wheel but also a spot of explosive finishing, kept their supporters on edge by dominating without quite managing the goal which would have underlined that superiority.

Reid must have despaired of the number of times his genius at opening up Watford's back line was squandered by indifferent finishing or poor control. Inside the first 10 minutes he put Dennis Romedahl and Darren Bent through, the Dane failing to get his shot off and Bent seeing Ben Foster, to chants from Watford fans of "Foster for England", turn the shot aside.

After watching Bent fluff two more of his passes, Reid went for goal himself, starting the move in midfield and finishing it explosively, demanding a punched save from Foster. The Watford keeper did even better just before the interval, tipping over Reid's venomous free-kick with swerve and dip imparted.

Though lacking full fitness, Reid got through most of the second half in the same fashion before fading. Holding off Daniel Shittu, Reid touched the ball past Foster's advance. It trundled towards goal, only to be booted away by the back-pedalling Jordan Stewart.

While the groans were still echoing, Watford might have gone in front but for Henderson's profligacy. Twice more in the second half, too, as Charlton nerves were stretched, Watford could have snatched that elusive first Premiership win. On both occasions the excellent Hameur Bouazza got away down the left for crosses which Tommy Smith volleyed wide, one narrowly and the other yards off the mark.

The minutes ticked away, Charlton's stress mounted. Matt Holland and Bent drew yellow cards for fouls and Souleymane Diawara, on his home debut in central defence, panicked at a cross and headed the ball for a corner out of Scott Carson's hands.

There was desperation, too, in the claim for a penalty when Amady Faye fell under a Bouazza tackle, a claim which rightly drew no official sympathy. On came that old warhorse and mercenary, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, for the last 10 minutes to no obvious improvement, before Powell's acclaimed arrival. So chuffed was the former Charlton left-back by the applause that he reappeared from the tunnel for an encore. Dowie must wish he was as popular right now.