Watford bow to Weller's late strike

Watford 1 Burnley 2
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The Independent Football

Burnley completed an impresssive comeback, sealing their first league victory in six games with only seconds remaining of this First Division game. With the match deep in injury time, the Burnley defender Lee Briscoe crossed from the byline and with the help of a deflection the ball bounced across the goal line to leave Paul Weller with the simplest of finishes.

However, Burnley's third league goal of the year would have counted for little if Watford had converted a penalty after 66 minutes, given after Arthur Gnohéré had felled Gifton Noel-Williams. Marcus Gayle stepped up it but underhit his kick and Marlon Beresford got down well to his left.

Six minutes later and Ian Cox, who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, pulled Burnley level. A Briscoe free-kick rebounded off a post and the defender was there to ram home from short range.

Jermaine Pennant had scored his first goal since joining the Hornets on loan from Arsenal to give his side the lead at the interval. The midfielder latched on to a perfectly weighted pass inside the Burnley left-back Graham Branch and moved the ball on to his left foot to unleash a curling shot inside Beresford's right-hand post.

That gave Watford a timely boost as until then it had been the visitors, who, with more of the possession, had appeared more likely to score, especially given the return of one of their leading scorers, Glen Little, from injury. But Little looked rusty after his recent absence, lending the Burnley team a goal-shy look. Since topping the First Division at Christmas, the Clarets have been on an alarming slide, dropping to outside the play-off zone.

After conceding that early effort, the Burnley manager Stan Ternent wasted little time in trying to give his side more of an attacking edge, replacing Branch with Robbie Blake.

Ternent rang the changes before kick-off as well, dropping the captain Cox to the bench, not that Noel-Williams minded who marked him as he hit a ferocious 20-yard shot that dipped over Beresford's bar after only four minutes.

Although Pennant's goal had put Watford in front, it was Lee Cook, his team-mate on the opposite flank, who caught the eye. The teenager, just back from a knee injury, showed the flair and verve to worry the Clarets' defence, reminding them they were ready to be picked apart by a pair of 19-year-olds.

The Watford manager, Gianluca Vialli, who because of a minor injury crisis in midfield partly had his hand forced, still chose Cook ahead of the more experienced Stephen Glass in that position and he returned his manager's faith.

Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Blondeau, Galli, Vega, Brown; Hyde (Noble, 81), Okon, L Cook, Pennant; Noel-Williams (Hand, 68), Gayle. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Glass, Doyley.

Burnley (4-4-2): Beresford; West, Gnohéré, Briscoe, Branch (Blake, 29); Weller, Ball, Grant, Little; Taylor (Cox, 62), Moore. Substitutes not used: Armstrong, P Cook, Maylett.

Referee: M Messias (York).