Watford 1-1 Blackburn Rovers: Debut Hoedt goal not enough for three points

Watford could only earn a point as they drew 1-1 with Blackburn. 

A debut goal for Wesley Hoedt cancelled out Bradley Dack's first-half opener for the visitors who could have taken Watford's spot in the top six with a win. 

The hosts had enough chances to win the game, with João Pedro looking lively in the first half upon his return from injury and Ismaël Koné putting his name forward for miss of the season with an open goal miss after the break. 

It's a frustrating result for The Hornets who are now without a win in three games; only Rotherham have drawn more games than them in the league. 

Slaven Bilić made three changes from the side who threw away a two goal lead at Reading last week, with Koné, Hoedt and Pedro returning to the side. 

The latter was at the heart of everything Watford were doing in the opening exchanges. As he floated around Watford's new-look attack, he came agonisingly close to threading in new arrival Henrique Araújo, only to be denied by a tiptoed sliding interception by Hayden Carter. 

Minutes later he went close himself; after picking the ball up in midfield, his long range effort was enough to test Aynsley Pears but was well held by the 'keeper.

Failing to take advantage in the early stages of matches has been the story of Watford's season so far. Despite lengthy spells of possession and threatening advances into Blackburn's area, it was indeed the visitors who struck first. 

Joe Rankin-Costello was allowed too much space to venture into the area, and despite his shot being spilled by Daniel Bachmann, Dack was on hand to slot away his 50th Blackburn goal. 

Apart from a speculative long range effort by Sorba Thomas which flew well over in the opening minutes, it was pretty much Blackburn's first venture into Watford territory. 

Pedro had the best chance to equalise just moments after the opener. Koné's interception in Blackburn's half fell to the Brazilian, but he could only drag his effort wide of the post. 

Watford brought Keinan Davis off the bench for the second half in an attempt to get back into the game, and they once again started on the front foot. Ismaïla Sarr's fierce long range effort stung the palms of Pears but was gathered at the second time of asking. 

Somehow the scores weren't levelled when Martins' cross was flicked beyond Pears by Davis and Koné couldn't convert despite being a matter of yards out and the goal at his mercy. The ball may have taken a nick off the goalkeeper at the last second, but it was a chance Watford feel they should have taken. 

Dack had the ball in the net for a second time when he tapped the ball home from a set piece, but Watford were saved by the linesman's flag for an offside in the build up. 

The introduction of Ken Sema and Tom Cleverley's return from injury invigorated the hosts and they finally drew level through Hoedt. Debut goals have been the theme of the year at Vicarage Road, and the Dutch defender joined Tobi Adeyemo and João Ferreira in notching on their first appearance at The Vic in 2023. 

The giant defender who joined in January from Anderlecht emphatically hammered his volley beyond Pears after the ball fell to him from a free-kick. It was only his sixth goal of his entire career, but it was one which lifted the home side and indeed their fans. 

They almost took the lead directly from the kick-off, when Davis broke down the right hand side his shot was parried by Pears before Sema headed just over. 

For the amount of possession enjoyed they didn't create enough chances in the final minutes, and the game was played out for an even share of the points. 

They cling on to their place in the playoffs, but face a tough run of games. League leaders Burnley come next on Tuesday at Turf Moor before they welcome in-form West Brom to the Vic next Monday. 

 

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