Watford 1 - 1 Burnley Match Report.
A late Scott Arfield strike from just outside the area five minutes from time broke the Hornets hearts as Watford slipped to a 1-1 draw with second place Burnley on Saturday at Vicarage Road. A point against second placed Burnley would have been warmly received before kick off but on the basis of chances, the Hornets would have been slightly disappointed to draw the match considering that they had various chances to double their lead. Troy Deeney opened the scoring for Watford with his 21st goal of the season in the 10th minute but a mixture of Watford failing to convert chances that were presented and good goalkeeping and defending from Burnley restricted the Hornets to 1 point when on chances it ought have been 3. The Hornets performed well in the match and kept Burnley at arms length for most of the match. Beppe Sannino made one change to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 the previous week. Marco Cassetti returned from injury to replace Lloyd Doyley who dropped out of the match day 18 due to his own injury. The build up to the match was based around the return of referee Stuart Attwell after awarding the ghost goal against Reading nearly 6 years ago. Attwell had a very poor performance and didn’t even think that it was a blatant foul on Cristian Battochio in what was the challenge that ended the Italians match and possibly his season. The Hornets started the match the brighter and Watford fans were already teasing Attwell when the ball went out for a goal kick within the first minute with Hornets fans cheering as if Watford had scored a goal. The Hornets bright start was rewarded in the 9th minute. A long ball up field by Gabriele Angella was controlled by Troy Deeney on his chest after being left completely unmarked. Deeney bought the ball down turned and hit a deflected 25 yard effort which looped over Tom Heaton and into the top corner sending Vicarage Road into mass celebrations. This was Deeneys 21s goal of the season and his 56th for the golden boys since joining the club in 2010. Burnley thought that they were level four minutes after when Keith Treacys superb cross was turned home by Ashley Barnes but the goal was ruled out for offside by linesman Richard Hulme. The Hornets then saw two fantastic efforts go just wide within the following minutes. Lewis McGugan received the ball before cutting into the box and then sending a curling effort which went just wide of Heatons far post. 5 minutes later and the Hornets went even closer thanks to Deeneys superb first time effort. Mathias Ranegie nodded the ball down to Deeney whose first time half volley went inches wide of Heatons post. Then Deeneys strike partner Ranegie was inches from connecting to McGugans cross and the Hornets may have well been two to the good if he could have got a chance. Then the sour moment of the first half occurred. Cristian Battochio nutmegged Ben Mee in front of the Rous but was then blocked from reaching the ball by the former Manchester City defender. Battochio fell awkwardly but much to the amazement of everyone in Vicarage Road, referee Stuart Attwell didnt see anything wrong with the challenge when it was a blatant foul. He let play carry on for a few minutes before letting the Watford physio team come on to attend to the player. This was one of many baffling decisions made by Attwell during the match. After a delay of 6-7 minutes, Battochio was stretchered off much to the disappointment to everyone around Vicarage Road as the little Italian has grown into a fans favorite due to his energetic displays. That could possibly be the last time that the 22 year old features for the Hornets this season. It was a shame for Battochio as he was having an excellent first half and was an influential figure in the Hornets midfield during the opening period. Almen Abdi came on to replace the little Italian and was met by a good reception from the Vicarage Road crowd after a injury ravaged season for the Swiss player.
Half Time - 1-0.
Watford sat back for most of the second half and seemed content to let Burnley have the ball as the Hornets look to spring the Lancashire outfit on the break. After battling to reach Ranegies flick on, Deeney pulled the ball back but neither Ranegie or Pudil. Burnley though had most of the possession and former Watford loanee Michael Kightly hit the side netting for Burnley in what was a effort which reminded the Hornets that they could not underestimate Burnley. Then some great defending from Burnley kept the score at 1-0 around the 60th minute. Deeney released Anya who was in acres of space. The Scotland international crossed the ball into the box and only a last minute intervention from Chris Baird prevented Lewis McGugan from having a tap in. Then a few minutes later, Joel Ekstrand and Daniel Pudil were both denied by some resolute Burnley defending with both players having goal bound shots blocked. Tom Heaton then made a good diving save as Mathias Ranegie sent a goal bound header towards goal after a McGugan cross but the former Bristol City goalkeeper made an excellent save. Manuel Almunia then made a excellent save 13 minutes from time, when Ben Mees header was superbly saved by the Spanish international in order to prevent Burnley from drawing level. Mathias Ranegie was then replaced by Marco Davide Faraoni with Ikechi Anya pushing further up field to support Deeney. Then the Key chance came about in the 80th minute from the golden boys and should have put the game to bed and it fell to Anya. Lewis McGugan played a fantastic through ball to Anya, who rounded Tom Heaton and set a ball towards goal. It lacked power and Chris Baird got back in the nick of time to prevent the ball from crossing the line. If it had been hit with anymore power, Anya would have scored but instead five minutes later, the Hornets were made to rue their missed chances. Chris Baird played the ball into Scott Arfield who side stepped a challenge before sending a effort in to the bottom corner of Almunias goal. It was a sucker punch for the Hornets who had the chances to kill off a decent Burnley side without their main players. But instead they were made to rue their missed chances come full time as they secured one point when it could of and perhaps should have been three.
Full time - 1 - 1
Team Lineups and Player Ratings
Watford - Almunia (GK)(C) 7, Angella 7, Cassetti 7 , Ekstrand 6 , Pudil 7, Tozser 7, Battochio 6 (Abdi 40 6) McGugan 7 (Riera 87 N/A), Anya 6.5, Deeney 9, Ranegie 7 (Faraoni 75 N/A)
Subs Not Used - Bond (GK), Hoban, Murray, Diakite.
Goals - Deeney (9)
Bookings - Faraoni (88)
Red Cards - None
Burnley - Heaton (GK), Mee, Shackell (C), Duff, Baird, Kightly, Jones (Stock 76), Edgar, Treacy (Wallace 63), Arfield, Barnes.
Subs Not Used - Cisak (GK), Lafferty, Long, Hewitt, Gilchirst.
Goals - Arfield (86)
Bookings - None
Red Cards - None
Possesion - Watford 45% - 55% Burnley
Attendance - 16,182 (1732 Burnley Fans)
Referee - Stuart Attwell.