Late show wins the points at Watford
It was a dramatic late show from the Clarets at Watford with two goals from our central midfielders turning the game in our favour to give us a 2-1 win and move us up a place to sixteenth in the Premier League table.
For much of the afternoon it didn’t look as though we would get even a point from the game having falling behind in the opening minutes but those two late goals turned the whole game on its head to give us three points which, given this afternoon’s news from Goodison Park, are of such importance as we try to keep out of the bottom three.
The fixtures have been strange this season with this the closest away match scheduled after the trip to Leeds at the start of 2022. Only the previously postponed game at Aston Villa has interrupted that so at least it was a slightly later departure by car yesterday than recently, helped also by the fact that we were kicking off at 3 o’clock.
After a pickup in Nottinghamshire and a breakfast stop, we were parked up in Watford early with Clarets already in town in numbers. We even saw Glen Little making his way to Vicarage Road to watch his former club. Having spent much of the season almost expecting relegation, Burnley fans are now much more positive than for some time and the worry now is that maybe we are all getting a little over optimistic.
That’s what we thought; the teams came out and we noticed nothing but just after kick off, Vydra was spotted. He’d had to come into the team just minutes before kick off with Rodriguez having to withdraw with a hamstring problem. It caused us problems; firstly in terms of numbers, it meant Will Norris had to go on the bench to make it up to nine, and all the plans made and worked on with a Weghorst/Rodriguez partnership up front were out of the window.
How much that affected us is hard to say, but we started poorly, saw Watford take the game to us and they went in front in only the eighth minute albeit with a little good fortune as the ball came back off the bar and went in off James Tarkowski.
It was just what we didn’t want and the concern was that there was no real reaction from us. We were sloppy in possession, gave the ball away far too easily and far too often and we were probably that the opposition was a Watford side who didn’t really take advantage beyond that opening goal.
When the half time whistle blew with us still behind, we couldn’t really have any complaints at still being behind. If we were going to get anything at all from this game, then surely we would have to offer a lot more in the second half.
The second half did get off to a brighter start and both goalkeepers were called into action in the opening minutes. We had definitely stepped things up and did start, at last, to apply some pressure on the Watford goal.
Ashley Barnes was introduced on the hour and I thought that made a big difference. Watford began to look more and more concerned and, after James Tarkowski had headed over from a corner, Barnes was close to having his say when he got his head to a right wing corner. His header was goal bound but Ben Foster did really well to get a touch to it which was enough to tip it onto the board. From the far end, we thought we might have scored but pictures showed it clearly wasn’t over the line.
Cork doesn’t score many goals. His last was way back in December 2018 at home against Liverpool; his last in an away game was, just like yesterday’s, at Watford as we came from a goal behind to beat them 2-1 in April 2018.
That goal was our second that day when Sam Vokes and he scored within three minutes of each other. This time it was the equaliser and none of us could have known that once again we’d score three minutes later to win the game,
Barnes won a free kick on the left. It was a clear foul. McNeil took it towards the far side of the penalty box. Watford twice half cleared it but there was no escape for them when Cork headed it back into the box. This time they could only get it down to Vydra who took one touch with his right foot before laying it back to Brownhill with his right. From inches inside the box, Brownhill stroked the ball home.
That was it; the fans were celebrating a win even though there was still some time to play. I was, by now, more nervous than I’d been all afternoon and only when the final whistle blew did I dare celebrate.
“We are staying up,” was the chant, but there is much more work to be done before we can even believe that to be the case. Manchester City, as expected, helped us at Leeds last night; Chelsea very definitely didn’t this afternoon at Everton which puts everything back in the melting pot.
We can do no more than keep collecting as many points as we can and I’ll repeat that we’ve given ourselves a chance but no more than that. There is so much work still needs to be done and more points are still going to be needed.
We’ve still four games to play. We’ve no idea how many points we are going to need so we just need to get as many as we can. And let’s hope we can get some of our injured players back soon; they are going to be needed.
Finally, and rightly, a special mention to two people, one from each side, Watford manager Roy Hodgson and Burnley’s Tarkowski. We know Roy hasn’t been well but it was good to see he was able to be there yesterday if he was seated throughout. I’ve read reports of him having a family issue ahead of the game. We wish him and his family all the very best.
The teams were;
Watford: Ben Foster, Kiko Femenía, Christian Kabasele, Samir, Hassane Kamara, Moussa Sissoko, Imrân Louza, Juraj Kucka, Ismaíla Sarr, João Pedro, Emmanuel Dennis. Subs not used: Daniel Bachmann, Jeremy Ngakia, William Troost-Ekong, Josh King, Adam Masina, Ken Sema, Dan Gosling, Samuel Kalu, Edo Kayembe.
Yellow Card: Juraj Kucka.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon (Matt Lowton 89), Wout Weghorst (Ashley Barnes 60), Matěj Vydra (Dale Stephens 90+2). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Dara Costelloe.
Yellow Cards: James Tarkowski, Nathan Collins.
Referee: Craig Pawson (Sheffield).
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