Saturday, July 22, 2017

Watford 1 Everton 1: Holebas earns point in scrappy draw

SoccerNews in English Premier League 9 Apr 2016

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Everton picked up their 500th point away from home in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw against Watford on Saturday.

Roberto Martinez’s side headed to Vicarage Road on a three-game losing streak, and some visiting fans held banners calling for the manager to go as a result of their disappointing league campaign.

Watford were aiming to halt a run of four defeats in a row and a lack of confidence in either side was apparent in a game which barely spluttered into life outside of two minutes of first-half stoppage time.

James McCarthy pounced on a mistake to drill his side ahead but, as Everton have so often been criticised for this season, they surrendered their advantage all-too readily when Jose Holebas headed in from a corner just before the break.

Heurelho Gomes twice saved well from Aaron Lennon in the second half but neither side seemed willing to throw caution to the wind and risk another loss, with Romelu Lukaku and Watford’s dangerous duo of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney too often isolated in attack.

Watford fans attempted to lift their side for a big finish, but neither side could fashion a chance to snatch all three points, with a draw enough to edge them a step closer to mathematical safety.

A cagey opening few minutes was lit up by two fine saves at either end. First, Joel Robles tipped Jose Manuel Jurado’s left-footed drive from distance just past the post, before Gomes parried a fine curling effort from Gerard Deulofeu.

Lukaku endured a frustrating opening half-hour and a hopeful shot from 35 yards which drifted high and wide summed up Everton’s lack of attacking spark, though Gareth Barry was frustrated not to win a penalty when Miguel Britos clattered him from behind when attempting to clear a cross.

Etienne Capoue’s half-volley was inches from putting Watford ahead, but the home side gifted a goal to Everton in the last minute of the half. McCarthy pressured Britos into conceding possession on the edge of the box and he kept his composure to finish past Gomes into the bottom-right corner.

But Everton, much to Martinez’s anger, failed to see out the half in front. John Stones’ somewhat risky pass to Joel saw the goalkeeper clear the ball for a corner, and Holebas climbed highest at the far post to turn in a header from Ben Watson’s delivery which deflected off Seamus Coleman.

Everton started the second half strongly. Lukaku’s flicked attempt from Deulofeu’s cross was well blocked and Lennon saw a shot deflect narrowly wide, before the winger was denied by a good low stop from Gomes and the Brazilian just managed to claw the rebound away from Lukaku, who was waiting to pounce.

Watford enjoyed a spell of pressure without ever really troubling Everton’s goal, and Gomes was once more called into action to deny Lennon’s low effort from the edge of the area after the ex-Tottenham man was afforded too much space.

Nordin Amrabat and Kevin Mirallas were introduced in an effort to spark some life into the final stages, and the Belgian’s free-kick gave Lukaku a great chance to snatch the win after Gomes’ save, but Juan Carlos Paredes intervened to ensure the ball clipped the crossbar and went harmlessly out.

Joel tipped Watson’s drive from 20 yards around the left-hand post to safeguard a draw, which means the two sides remain a point apart in the table.

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