Newcastle United 1 Watford 1
- Paul Tierney
A late equaliser from Watford’s João Pedro denied Newcastle United a crucial Premier League victory at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
The Magpies looked to be heading towards a huge three points, and just a second win of the campaign, after a moment of magic from Allan Saint-Maximin early into the second half, the Frenchman producing a trademark finish after checking in from the left-hand side.
But, truth be told, United never really built on that. And after seeing a couple of good opportunities come and go, fellow relegation battlers Watford snatched a late point through Pedro, who rose high inside the penalty area to steer home substitute Kiko Femenía’s pinpoint cross.
A point keeps Eddie Howe’s side in touch with the Hornets, who stay 17th, but – 20 games in – last month’s success over Burnley at St. James’ remains United’s only three-point haul of the campaign.
The game got off to an end-to-end start. Juraj Kucka’s rash early challenge on Joelinton gave the Magpies a swift opportunity to put the ball into the box, with Jonjo Shelvey volleying wide after Watford failed to clear. Kucka was then chopped down himself, by Shelvey, but Emmanuel Dennis failed to make anything come of the free kick. After Josh King skimmed one wide, Joelinton helped Ryan Fraser’s deflected cross onto the woodwork at the opposite end before Hornets frontman King shot off-target again.
Newcastle then looked to up the ante a bit. Joelinton squandered a decent chance after timing his back-post run to perfection, turning the ball wide after United had played a corner short. New recruit Chris Wood headed a Fraser delivery onto the roof of the net halfway through the first 45 and was then involved again two minutes later, nodding over after Jamaal Lascelles helped on a Kieran Trippier cross. After a quieter spell, Sean Longstaff fired high and wide after meeting a loose ball 20 yards out, before Magpies old boy Moussa Sissoko headed straight at Martin Dúbravka with the last chance of the half.
Within five minutes of the restart, the deadlock was broken. Saint-Maximin – who’d cut a frustrated figure for much of the opening period – got the better of the Hornets’ Jeremy Ngakia, who got caught in a tangle near the touchline deep on the left flank. The United wide-man cut inside and, with two Watford defenders starting to charge him down, unleased a fizzing effort which nestled in the near corner and left Ben Foster flat-footed.
With King having already wasted a decent chance after getting in behind the Magpies’ defence, Watford should have equalised pretty much on the midpoint of the second half. The culprit, of all people, was Sissoko, who lost his composure after being put through by Dennis after Lascelles had gifted possession to the Nigerian international.
Newcastle didn’t seem to heed the warning signs, however, and Claudio Ranieri’s side continued to push. And, with just a couple of minutes of normal time remaining, they got themselves back on level terms. Femenía – a second-half replacement for Ngakia – made a difference after coming on, and his inviting delivery from the right flank was met by Pedro, whose headed effort curled away from Dúbravka and hit the back of the Gallowgate End net.