Watford fight back in the second half to sting Newcastle United
Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Watford came from 1-0 down to run out 2-1 winners in an atypical game of two halves.
A 23rd minute tap in for Dwight Gayle, his third goal since the restart, had Newcastle United ahead at the break in the Saturday early kick off. A Matt Ritchie corner flighted onto the head of the unmarked Fernandez would be flicked into the Englishman’s path who had the easiest job at Ben Foster’s back post.
And but for the Watford stoppers great save from Saint-Maximin when the winger raced clear on the half hour mark it would have been worse for the home side by half time.
But a change in philosophy from the home side in the second half, seeing them press much higher up the pitch would swing the game entirely in the second period.
And who needs to score from open play when your opponents could just gift you the points.
First Ritchie was adjudged to have felled Femenia in the box Deeney would step up to hammer home an equaliser. And 30 minutes later the game had turned on its head. Another penalty, the time Manquillo the culprit, Deeney again making no mistake.
An utter waste of 45 minutes good work and a chance to move up the table.
The trip to Vicarage for Newcastle would be a nerve wracking, pressure cooker for one of these teams threatened by relegation of course. Nice then, with this being the fourth last game of the season, that it wasn’t Newcastle United facing those worries for a change.
Instead Watford started the game just 3 points ahead of Bournemouth who occupied the final relegation place.
Having suffered something of a humiliation against City in the league last time out, a five nil drubbing no less, Bruce would make a raft of changes to his side for this one. Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Lascelles amongst those coming back into the side.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Maquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Lascelles (Lazaro, 87), Rose (Krafth, 79), Shelvey Ritchie (Joelinton, 72), Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Gayle (Bentaleb, 79)
Watford were certainly looking up for this one from the first whilst. A strong challenge on Saint-Maximin in the opening minute was swiftly followed up by an elbow in the face for Rose from Sarr, but nothing given.
The first big chance of the game would fall to Almiron. A corner from Shelvey was only headed into the path of the Newcastle man who’s volley was good but straight at the Watford keeper.
Watfords big change would be even closer. Welbeck thumping an effort from a deep cross onto Dubravka’s right hand post before Lascelles would hack the ball off the line with most of the ball showing over the line on the replay.
The home side were set up in a system and style that would be all too familiar for Newcastle fans. Sitting deep in their own half and only pressing in the last third. But with quality like Shelvey on the pitch with a range of passing that can switch play there would always be a danger.
And it was this weapon that would lead to the first goal. His lovely cross field ball to Ritchie eventually leading to a corner than when taken would see Fernandez unmarked to flick onto Gayle to tap in at the far post. His third of the season, all since the re-start. 1-0 United.
That took both teams into the drinks break. After which, Newcastle carried on the pressure with a string of set pieces that would see Watford at panic stations on more than one occasion.
Just after the half hour mark it could have been two for Bruce’s men. This time Allan Saint-Maximin racing clear after being set clear by Manquillo and Gayle only to find Ben Foster in imperious form to save with an outstretched leg.
As the game move to half time it was already start gin to look a little desperate for the Hornets. Long ball after long ball being thrown forward to Deeney in the hope of something falling to a fellow yellow shirt. This none more typified by a goal-mouth scramble on 42 minutes. Newcastle scrambling the ball clear after what felt like 21 players all trying to kick a bag on wind inside a 6 yard box. Hardly beautiful football.
United one up at the break.
Watford looked to have ore intent in the second half. No longer retreating into their own half and inviting United on.
But the first chance of the second period would again fall to the visitors. Good work from Saint-Maximin stealing back the ball from Deeney before whipping a cross into the middle. After Ritchie returned the ball with interest Gayle could only smash the ball over the bar.
On 50 minutes Watford would get themselves back level. Ritchie was adjudged to have felled Femenia after the Watford player seemed to run into the Newcastle man’s leg. Deeney would make no mistake from the spot, absolutely thundering his penalty straight down the middle.
A huge mistake at the back from Fenendaez almost let the home side in again. When his clearance was charged down by Hughes it fell into the path of Deeney on the edge of the 18 yard box but his shot was straight at Dubravka.
What had been a little powderpuff from Watford lumping forward in the first half was now anything but. With bodies now being shown forward it was more like panic stations for the Magpies who needed to grab some control of the game again.
It certainly was feeling like another big chance was just around the corner as the game moved into the last 30 mins.
Newcastle would have the ball in the Watford net on 66 minutes. Saint-Maximin once again racing clear and crossing for what would have been an own goal. But with the flag up early and a VAR check completed, the Frenchmen was confirmed to have strayed offside by a yard as he was played through.
Manquillo then had a moment of madness. Having just switched to left back he pulled down Sarr.
Deeney again. Same result. Watford on top 2-1.
Newcastle masters of their own downfall. Having not conceded a penalty all season they give away two in just 30 minutes.
And that was that. A battling performance from Watford that provided just rewards in the end.