Brighton and Hove Albion fought back to draw 1-1 against relegation rivals Watford at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
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Abdoulaye Doucoure gave Watford the lead in the first half but Brighton kept plugging away and eventually Adrian Mariappa scored a comical own goal to grab the Seagulls a point.
With the draw Graham Potter‘s side move on to 27 points and are in 15th, while Nigel Pearson‘s Watford have 24 points and sit in 19th place but are just one point from safety in the congested relegation scrap.
Three things we learned
1. Same old story for Brighton: The Seagulls dominated yet another game but couldn’t secure a first win in six and that is pretty much the story of their season. They keep the ball so well and it is remarkable how quickly their style has changed under Potter in his first season in charge but they just aren’t clinical and that is why they’re in a relegation scrap. Brighton had 67 percent possession and 10 shots to Watford’s two. Both of Watford’s efforts were on target and only two of Brighton’s were. That is where their biggest problem lies. The Seagulls get into some great positions but don’t pounce and make the most of their chances. That has to change if they’re going to stay up.
2. Watford fail to make most of big chance: With just over 10 minutes to go, Watford could see the smash and grab in sight. Then Mariappa slid in and scored a beauty of an own goal to cough up two points. Just like last week they’d collapsed as Watford were 2-0 up and cruising against Everton but they then lost 3-2. These are the kind of late setbacks you see happen to teams who end up going down season after season. You have to applaud the way Pearson has organized this team. They are tough to break down and better defensively but unless they go 3-0 up they don’t look like they can hold on to a lead right now. Watford’s confidence has taken a hit in recent weeks but they will be very happy with a point because they didn’t play well at all at Brighton.
3. Relegation battle remains wide open: From 19th place to 15th there are just three points in this and it is set to be an almighty scrap to avoid the drop. Watford are in 19th and Brighton in 15th, with West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth in-between them. Teams in that area of the table are picking up points. That should set things up for a very tense finish because with the title sewn up for Liverpool, the real drama will be in seeing who can drag themselves away from the bottom three.
Man of the Match: Lewis Dunk – Held things together defensively and set the tone for Brighton being so dominant throughout. Dangerous from set pieces and always calm on the ball to get the Seagulls going.
Glenn Murray headed off target early on as Troy Deeney also had to head clear from inside his own six yard box.
Even though the home side had a lot of the ball early on it was Watford who took the lead in stunning fashion. Etienne Capoue intercepted Aaron Mooy‘s pass on the halfway line and Doucoure raced towards goal.
The French midfielder galloped forward with purpose and smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to make it 1-0.
Brighton tried to get back into the game as Solly March‘s cross was cleared and Murray continued to sniff around and cause a nuisance of himself.
Watford had a few counter attacks of their own but couldn’t quite find the final pass and Brighton wanted a penalty just before half time as Ezequiel Schelotto went down in the box with Gerard Deulofeu nearby. Nothing was given.
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In the second half Brighton kept dominating possession and Schelotto drilled across goal but Murray couldn’t get on the end of the cross.
Neal Maupay came on for the final 30 minutes as Brighton threw everything at Watford in the closing stages. Lewis Dunk almost got on the end of a cross as Brighton launched the ball forward at every opportunity.
Mooy was played in but his low shot was saved superbly down low by Ben Foster but moments later Brighton were level.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh‘s cross from the right was knocked into his own net by Mariappa as the Seagulls finally had the equalizer their pressured deserved.
Late on both teams were exhausted and neither could muster the energy to grab a winner.