Watford 3 Burnley 3: match report - Zola puzzled by Watford wobble at the vital time

 

Watford's chances of promotion to the Premier League may have seemed strong a month ago but they are now in danger of unravelling in front of Gianfranco Zola's eyes after this latest wobble.

Watford missed the chance to move into the top two of the Championship here and with just seven games remaining time is running out. A blip at the worst possible time continued as Sean Dyche came back to his old ground as Burnley manager to grab a last-gasp point thanks to substitute Sam Vokes.

After twice coming from behind, Zola had every right to believe his side were on course to end their mini-slump before Vokes' 90th-minute equaliser. "I didn't see it coming," said Zola. "We came back twice behind, put ourselves in front and towards the end I thought we did enough. It is not the first time we have conceded late goals.

"We have a very young team and a lot of players who need to grow up in terms of experience and knowledge of the game. But there is not much time to learn. We have done well so far so it would be a pity not to finish off the job."

With games against Hull and Cardiff fast approaching, this was seen as a banker. But replaced by Zola, after falling victim to the club's Italian takeover last summer, Dyche had other plans.A sweeping move saw Danny Ings cross and Charlie Austin swept home with just 51 seconds on the clock.

Watford, who had lost two in succession before yesterday, ensured there was little chance of falling sorry for themselves as Troy Deeney hauled them level within five minutes. Ikechi Anya's pass found the stand-in Watford captain in space and he had time to line up a 20-yard shot which left Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant with little chance.

Not that the immediate setback deterred Burnley. Austin's backheel saw Alex Kacaniklic's run ended by Marco Cassetti's clumsy trip for a clear 24th-minute penalty and Austin duly converted for his 28th goal of the season.

Yet, once more, Burnley could not hold onto the lead for long as they undid all their hard work by conceding again with 29 minutes on the clock. Fitz Hall's pass should have been cut out and Fernando Forestieri bundled his way past two weak challengers before firing in the equaliser.

Anya and Forestieri came close in quick succession before Deeney saw his chip bounce off the top of the crossbar as Burnley rode their luck. That appeared to end when Foresteri struck through a crowd of players in the 72nd minute, only for Vokes, following up Matthew Briggs' error, to deliver a hammer blow to Watford's promotion push late on.

"I gain great satisfaction as a manager at how we performed, the result and how we came back at the end," said Dyche. "That's the satisfaction, nothing to do with Watford. I enjoyed my time here."

Watford (3-5-2): Bond; Ekstrand, Hall, Briggs; Cassetti (Doyley 50), Anya (Vydra 69); Battocchio, Chalobah, Abdi; Forestieri, Deeney (Geijo 90)

Burnley (4-4-2): Grant; Trippier; Shackell, Long, Lafferty; Wallace (Vokes, McCann, Bartley (Stock 62), Kacaniklic (Paterson; Ings, Austin

Referee: D Coote (Nottinghamshire).

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