Watford and Everton slip further into abyss with draw

Date published: Saturday 9th April 2016 4:53

Jose Holebas: Cancelled out James McCarthy's opener

Jose Holebas: Cancelled out James McCarthy's opener

James McCarthy and Jose Holebas both scored in first-half stoppage time as Watford and Everton drew 1-1 in the Premier League at Vicarage Road.

These two FA Cup semi-finalists have both been in poor form recently, with Everton losing their last three league games and Watford their previous four heading into this clash.

A McCarthy strike and Holebas header allowed both to stop the rot but does little for their ambitions of top-10 finishes, with Everton slipping two places to 14th and Watford a place to 15th.

 

Everton enjoyed the better of the chances in the second half – Romelu Lukaku struck the crossbar in the closing moments – but they failed to turn their advantage into a much-needed three points.

Quique Sanchez Flores made five changes to the side that was thumped at Arsenal, while Gareth Barry, back from suspension, replaced Tom Cleverley for the visitors.

Leighton Baines also kept his place in the Everton side after issuing an apology to manager Roberto Martinez for saying the Toffees lacked chemistry following their defeat against Manchester United.

But it was clear which party had the full support from the travelling Everton support after they unfurled two banners prior to kick-off, one which read “Baines is one of us”, while the other said “Martinez out”.

The first real chance of the game came after 17 minutes when Jose Manuel Jurado drifted in from the right-hand side before unleashing a curling left-footed effort at the Everton goal. Joel Robles, at full stretch, tipped his shot round for a corner.

Moments later, Gerard Deulofeu called Heurelho Gomes into action after his shot from the edge of the area drew a fine save from the Watford goalkeeper.

The game appeared to be heading towards a goalless first-half, but when Miguel Britos was caught dithering on a long header forward from John Stones, McCarthy dispossessed the Watford defender to open the scoring 45 minutes in.

James McCarthy Everton celebration

The Toffees were still celebrating their goal when a back pass from Stones was hit behind for a needless corner by Robles. Holebas leapt highest from the ensuing set-piece and his header hit Seamus Coleman before finding its way into the roof of the Everton net. A game devoid of chances and goals suddenly had two in as many minutes. The half-time whistle was greeted by jeers from the frustrated Everton fans.

The second period continued in much the same vein as the first with both sides failing to create many chances.

After 55 minutes, Aaron Lennon evaded two challenges before unleashing a low shot which was smothered by Gomes. Lukaku looked set to pounce before Gomes managed to scramble the ball away from danger.

Lukaku and Lennon were involved again midway through the second half when the Belgian’s backheel fell to his team-mate whose shot drew another decent stop from Gomes.

Substitute Kevin Mirallas’ late free kick was then turned away by Gomes, and Lukaku seemed certain to score from the follow-up, only to see his effort hit the crossbar. Ben Watson then thought he had won it in the closing moments, but a terrific flying save from Gobles denied the Watford midfielder.

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