Late drama saw Charlton’s U23s share a point with Watford at Sparrows Lane on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite controlling much of the game, the young Addicks could not convert their chances into goals, while Aaron Henry’s missed penalty compounded a frustrating afternoon in Dartford before Ryan Cassidy looked to have completed a smash and grab for the visitors with a 90th-minute goal.
But Dylan Gavin’s header in the fourth minute of stoppage time rescued a point which was the very least that Anthony Hayes' side deserved for their efforts.
It was the hosts who got the first shot away of the afternoon with five minutes gone as Henry forced a smart save from Hornets keeper Vincent Angelini who tipped over the skipper’s effort from distance.
The Addicks were thwarted by Angelini again nine minutes later when a good passage of play saw Ryan Viggars get played into the box with just the keeper to beat, but he got out quickly to make another good save.
Moments later, Charlton had another golden opportunity to open the scoring, this time missing the target when Henry’s excellent cross was met by an unmarked Gavin six yards out, but he could only divert his shot narrowly wide of the post.
The flow of the first half was disrupted somewhat when referee Steve Hughes went down with an injury, forcing a 10-minute delay while a replacement from the crowd was found to run the line and the rest of the half passed with little incident until the 11th minute of injury time when Gavin was denied by yet another impressive save from Angelini from a tight angle.
Charlton continued to probe after the restart and came close again on the hour mark when Euan Williams drove into the box before fizzing a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but Viggars just could not get a toe on it to take it over the line.
The Addicks were struggling to convert their dominance into a goal, but they were handed a chance from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining when Gavin was brought down by Angelini in the box.
But it would be an opportunity missed as Henry stepped up, only for him to blast his effort over the bar.
As the clock ticked into the 90th minute, Cassidy sprung the offside trap and finished in off the post for the Hornets, leaving the hosts seemingly floored.
But Charlton would have other ideas, piling on the pressure to win a corner in the fourth minute of injury time which saw Gavin rise highest to head home the equaliser.
It very nearly got even better with Williams racing through moments after the game was restarted, but Angelini stood firm to deny the Addicks what would have been a stunning, yet deserved three points.
Charlton U23s: Harness, Ness, Lavelle (Bakrin 72), Elerewe, Barker (Santos 46), Chin, Henry, Agyemang (Powell 72), Viggars, Williams, Gavin.
Subs (not used): Harvey, Oguntayo.
Goal: Gavin 90+4
(Photos: Tom West)