Burnley 2 Watford 2: Blake helps Burnley off ropes against heavyweight Watford
Monday 03 March 2008
Watford are the playground bullies of the Championship and Dean Whitestone, an inexperienced referee, was unable to control them.
That was the consensus among the home fans at Turf Moor on Saturday as Burnley twice came from behind to earn a point as late substitutes scored three of the game's four goals. The popular assessment was wide of the mark – much like the finishing of Burnley's Ade Akinbiyi.
Akinbiyi chases more lost causes then even his opposite number at Watford, Darius Henderson, but he missed an open goal in the first half and headed over from six yards in the second.
Fortunately for Akinbiyi his replacement, Robbie Blake, came off the bench to cancel out Henderson's first-half header and then, with two minutes left, bring the Clarets level.
This was an excellent advertisement for the Championship, once the sides got used to a gusting wind. At times it seemed Watford – imposing and purposeful – would overwhelm Burnley. Yet the hosts matched Watford for strength – if not size – when they had to.
In a game that was, in the words of the Watford manager, Adrian Boothroyd, "between two clubs, two sets of players, two teams and two coaching staffs who wanted to win", referee Whitestone earned praise from both managers for keeping control and being sympathetic to the occasional mis-timed tackle.
"We wanted to continue the momentum but we haven't lost and that keeps us unbeaten," said the goal-scorer Jordan Stewart of Watford's eight-game run without a defeat.
Goals: Henderson 23 (0-1); Blake 75 (1-1); Stewart 85 (1-2); Blake 88 (2-2).
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Harley; Elliot, O'Connor, McCann, Lafferty; Akinbiyi (Blake, 73), Cole. Substitutes not used: Kiraly (gk), Gudjonsson, Randall, Unsworth.
Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Mariappa (DeMerit, 61), Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith (Stewart, 83), Eustace, O'Toole, McAnuff; Henderson, Ellington (Kabba, 73). Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), John.
Referee: D Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
Booked: Burnley Akinbiyi, Cole, Caldwell. Watford Henderson.
Man of the match: Blake.
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