Brighton 1-1 Watford: Hornets throw away another win in relegation six pointer as Adrian Mariappa’s howler own-goal cancels out wonder strike by Abdoulaye Doucoure
- Abdoulaye Doucoure charged forward and found the bottom corner for Watford
- Brighton were poor during a sloppy first-half where they couldn’t keep the ball
- The home side came out stronger in the second half but struggled to score
- But Adrian Mariappa put the ball into his own net and Brighton salvaged a point
- It is the third successive game Watford have dropped points when in the lead
Brighton’s equaliser had been coming for a long time but that did not make it any easier for Nigel Pearson to take.
Watford’s manager threw his water bottle to the ground and let rip in an expletive-filled rage in response to Adrian Mariappa turning the ball into his own net.
This is six pointer territory and Watford were just 12 minutes away from a victory that would have been worth much more than the usual three it would have added to their tally when Mariappa had a moment of misfortune.
Adrian Mariappa’s 78th minute own goal meant Watford shared the spoils with Brighton
The Hornets were just 12 minutes from a huge victory at the bottom before the own-goal
They would have climbed out of the bottom three and level on 26 points with Brighton.
Their survival bid would have received a kick-start too having seen the new manager bounce they received following Pearson’s arrival run out in recent weeks.
They were unable to hold on to the lead given to them in the first half by Abdoulaye Doucoure though, Brighton’s persistence and pressure in the second half eventually telling.
Brighton boss Graham Potter’s substitution’s paid off too, especially his final one, with the goal set up by his final player he introduced, Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Abdoulaye Doucoure charged at the Brighton defence and his well hit shot found the corner
Abdoulaye Doucoure celebrates with manager Nigel Pearson after opening the scoring
The Iranian winger’s contribution was key and helped force the goal that earned Brighton a point and kept them 15th and still with daylight between them and the bottom three.
Brighton’s start had the most intent. Three early corners helped whip up the atmosphere around the Amex.
Solly March and Glenn Murray had the first of their chances.
Adam Masina got a toe on March’s shot which led to Brighton’s first set-piece. Murray, meanwhile, climbed high above Christian Kabasele to reach March’s driven cross but the Seagull’s talisman could not generate the power on his header to match his jump.
Brighton (4-2-3-1): Ryan 6; Schelotto 6.5 (Jahanbakhsh 72, 6.5) Duffy 6, Dunk 7, Burn 6 (Maupay 56, 6); Propper 6, Mooy 6; March 6.5, Gross 5 (Alzate 61, 6), Trossard 6; Murray 6.5.
Subs not used: Webster, Button, Bernardo, Connolly
Goals: Mariappa own goal 78
Manager: Graham Potter 7.5
Watford (4-2-3-1): Foster 7; Mariappa 6, Cathcart 7.5, Kabasele 6, Masina 6; Capoue 6, Hughes 7.5; Deulofeu 6 (Welbeck 85), Doucoure 7.5, Pereyra 6 (Pussetto 81); Deeney 7.
Subs: Gomes, Dawson, Welbeck, Chalobah, Gray, Holebas,
Goals: Doucoure 19
Booked: Hughes, Mariappa
Manager: Nigel Pearson 7
Referee: Kevin Friend
There was an occasional sloppiness to Brighton’s play, a by-product of their passing and possession style which has also paid off numerous times this season.
Nineteen minutes in, though, it cost them. While others might have played percentage football and aimed a hopeful ball into a channel, Aaron Mooy held onto possession as he waited for a suitable option to emerge.
He delayed a split second too long and was pressured into poking the ball straight at Etienne Capoue before it rolled perfectly into Abdoulaye Doucoure’s path.
The rest of the work for the goal was all the Frenchman’s.
Experience Watford keeper Ben Foster handled the aerial attack of Brighton well throughout
Gathering the ball just inside Brighton’s half, he drove straight at the Brighton defence, sending Shane Duffy backtracking towards his own goal and from the edge of the box unleashed a rocket of a shot that flew past Mat Ryan, denying him a clean sheet on his 100th Brighton appearance.
Confidence coursed through Watford for a period. Capoue and the impressive Will Hughes, who saw a low shot deflected wide, were dominating the midfield battle while Craig Cathcart stood tall at the back.
March responded for Brighton, jinking past Gerard Delofeu and seeing his cross beaten out by Ben Foster before Ezequiel Schelotto’s follow up was blocked.
Graham Potter was visibly frustrated at his team’s performance particularly in the first-half
Undeterred by the nature of the first goal, Brighton continued to take risks on the ball. Duffy was bailed out by Schelotto after Cruyff turning straight into Troy Deeney and giving the ball away. A second defensive mix-up also almost let in Watford’s captain.
One spell at the start of the second half underlined that Potter needed to change something to swing the game back Brighton’s way. They held possession for at least two minutes but their period of possession ended in anti-climax, with a tame cross straight into Ben Foster’s arms. More cutting edge was needed.
On came Neal Maupay to partner Murray in a 4-4-2, followed by Steven Alzate not long after.
Brighton midfielder Davy Propper had an acrobatic attempt but didn’t trouble the keeper
Brighton’s increasing pressure was starting to tell. Hughes and Adrian Mariappa both went into the book for halting Brighton attacks.
Pearson’s frustration was obvious when his charges, who were struggling to get out of their half, failed to capitalise on counter attack opportunities.
Deeney earned a kiss on the head from a relieved Adam Masina when the combined to deny Lewis Dunk a clear header.
Brighton were disappointed at the end as despite their late pressure they couldn’t net a winner
Potter made another attacking change, replacing Schelotto with Jahanbakhsh and his bravery looked all set to be rewarded when Maupay’s touch sent Aaron Mooy through only for Foster to stick out a big boot to deny him.
It proved to be just the briefest of reprieves for Watford. Brighton raided forward again, worked the ball out to Jahanbakhsh and his low cross from the right was turned into his own net by Adrian Mariappa.
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