Watford came from behind twice to deny Bournemouth an impressive away win in a 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road.
The away side were leading at half-time through Callum Wilson’s header in the 31st minute, but Troy Deeney fired Watford level with his 99th goal for the club.
Eddie Howe’s side managed to retake the lead through Joshua King’s deflected shot in the 62nd minute, but Watford levelled three minutes later with Isaac Success’s header and neither side could grab a winner despite Bournemouth hitting the post three times.
The Hornets were looking to bounce back from a limp performance at Turf Moor on Monday where they lost to Burnley and could have been in front after just two minutes. The partnership between Deeney and Odion Ighalo flowed as usual but after a clever flick on from the former Walsall man, Ighalo failed to hit the target with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box.
Bournemouth are in good form and defeated high-flying Everton at the Vitality Stadium last weekend, but found it difficult to break down the Watford defence during the first half. Junior Stanislas’ free-kick from 20 yards nearly found the top corner, but Heurelho Gomes made a smart save to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Unfortunately for the home fans, it was a goalkeeping error that gave the Cherries a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute. Stanislas did well to dig out a cross towards the near post and Wilson beat his marker to the ball and nodded from ten yards. The header went straight through Gomes, who should have made a simple save to keep it out. The goal also marked the eighth consecutive goal that Watford have conceded from a cross.
Watford looked to summer signing Nordin Amrabat to be their dangerman and he nearly pulled them level in the 40th minute. Ighalo turned nicely on the edge of the box and spread the ball wide for the tricky winger and Amrabat forced a great double save from Artur Boruc. The saves allowed Bournemouth to go into half-time with a 1-0 lead, but that lasted just five minutes into the second period as Deeney struck.
Amrabat did most of the good work on the right wing and he skipped past Charlie Daniels with skill and pulled the ball back for Deeney to come on to and the Englishman eagerly wrapped in an equaliser which marked his 99th goal for the club. It was one of the simplest finishes of his career, but that is a testament to the great play provided by Amrabat on the right wing.
Despite Watford doing so well to equalise, they nearly fell behind again just a minute after Deeney’s goal. Jack Wilshere has been the centre of attention at Bournemouth since signing on loan from Arsenal and he proved his talent with a jinking run on the edge of the box, but his side-footed finish clipped back off the post with Gomes beaten.
Up the other end, Deeney would have had a century of Watford goals if it weren’t for a superb save from Bournemouth’s Polish goalkeeper. Amrabat did superbly again to stand up a great cross that Deeney could attack in the air, but Boruc got down well to tip the ball away with a Peter Shilton-like save.
Howe brought on King in a hope he could win the game for them and he made a great first contribution as he scored with his first attack. He held off a tackle and let fly with a right-footed shot that took a wicked deflection off Younes Kaboul and beat Gomes at the near post. It was a great substation by Howe, but a Watford change sparked an immediate reply in the 65th minute.
Success came on for Ighalo and changed the atmosphere inside the stadium with a wonderful header. Jose Holebas’ free-kick was whipped in beautifully and Success used the pace on the cross to plant the ball into the far corner, giving Boruc no chance. It was a fantastic header and Watford fans were hoping they could use the momentum to go on and win the game.
It would be the away side who had the best chance to win the game, but it was horrifically wasted by Wilshere. King released Adam Smith on the right wing and his low cross found Wilshere at the back post who had escaped marking, but he failed to turn it in from four yards as the ball clipped the post. It was a bad miss and unfortunately for the England international, it proved to be his last touch in the game as he was immediately substituted to a bout of ironic cheers.
It wouldn’t be the final time that Bournemouth rattled the frame of the goal as Stanislas was inches away from adding to last week’s stunner against Everton. The winger was making his 50th appearance for The Cherries but he was denied a goal to mark the occasion when his super curling free-kick from 30 yards pinged back off the post with Gomes well beaten.
It ended with a point each and I think both teams will be pleased with that. For Bournemouth, Vicarage Road is a hard place to go while Watford will be relieved to not lose after going behind twice.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)