Post by Football News on Feb 25, 2017 20:54:14 GMT
Watford 1 - 1 West Ham
André Ayew pounces to earn West Ham hard-fought draw against Watford
Home team scorers Troy Deeney 3 Pen
Away team scorers Andre Ayew 73
West Ham took a deserved point after dominating the second half against a cautious Watford side too keen to sit on an early lead.
A Troy Deeney penalty in the third minute was cancelled out by André Ayew with 17 minutes remaining after superb work by Michail Antonio. The winger, who was the Hammers’ best player, had his day spoiled however when he was sent off in the dying stages.
The game set off at a furious pace with the visitors obviously keen to shake off any rustiness built up by two weeks without a match. They snapped into tackles, flicked intricate passes around the Watford box and fell behind to the first piece of play in their own half.
Valon Behrami started the move, dinking a pass over West Ham’s high defensive line. Deeney ran onto it and bore down on the penalty area before laying the ball to his team-mate Mauro Zárate. The tricksy Argentine received the ball in the box, stood his ground and invited Cheikhou Kouyaté to get close to him. The Senegalese duly obliged and when Zárate tried to roll him, Kouyaté pulled him to the ground. A penalty was the obvious call and after referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot, Deeney stepped up to score his eighth goal of the season and his fourth in the past six games.
The Watford captain celebrated by shushing the away support and blowing them a raspberry.
This was a game between two evenly-matched sides however, so West Ham stuck to their guns, seeking to use the pace of Antonio, aim for his head or simply try and get the ball near him such was the willingness of the player, made centre-forward for the day in the absence of the injured Andy Carroll. He won three corners in the first half by persistence alone and his low cross from the left hand side in the ninth minute provided the first dangerous moment for the home defence, with Miguel Britos slicing his clearance over his own head to safety. If West Ham had a problem it was that they needed another Antonio to get on the end of his own approach play.
The Hammers’ best opportunity came just before half time when the Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes pushed an Aaron Cresswell cross into the path of Robert Snodgrass. Six yards out, the £10m signing from Hull was unable to get the ball under control and the Watford defence lashed it to safety.
In first-half added time, the home side lost Zárate to what looked like serious injury, the striker carried off on a stretcher while being administered oxygen after collapsing under no contact just outside his own penalty area.
The second period rattled by as both teams upped the pace, Watford now in a 4-5-1 formation designed to repel West Ham attacks. With the visitors dominant in possession, Gomes was forced into a desperate save to divert Manuel Lanzini’s cross away from Antonio in the 58th minute. Soon after the Brazilian keeper did even better, turning José Fonte’s near-post header away from goal after a smartly worked set-piece move.
Watford meanwhile lost another player to injury, Daryl Janmaat hobbling off to be replaced by Craig Cathcart. It was down that right-hand side that Cresswell found space in the 69th minute to drive a low cross along the six-yard line. At last Antonio was there to get on the end of it but his effort skewed horribly wide.
Would that miss linger with the former Nottingham Forest man? Not a bit of it. Four minutes later Lanzini sprang the offside trap and Antonio rushed at goal leaving Younès Kaboul in his wake. He hit a fearsome shot from the edge of the box that cannoned off both posts and back into the path of substitute André Ayew who turned home the equaliser with glee.
With four minutes remaining and the visitors scenting three points, Antonio needlessly and deliberately handled the balled in the middle of the pitch. After having earned a yellow card earlier for a foul on Behrami, a second yellow was inevitable and a bewildered Antonio marched off.
Watford might have made their advantage pay at the death but Britos headed over when unmarked at a corner before Isaac Success failed to take his chance just inches out at the very last second of the match.