Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Tuesday April 17 2012
WATFORD SHIPPED two second half goals to hand Brighton & Hove Albion a point after taking a two nil lead through Sean Murray and Troy Deeney.
However, goals from captain Inigo Calderon and former Hornet Will Buckley rescued Albion with close range finishes.
Sean Dyche made one change from the side that drew at home to Hull City last season with Chris Iwelumo taking the place of Joe Garner.
Albion started with two wingers in Kazenga Lua Lua and the aforementioned Buckley. Craig Mackail-Smith started up top.
The hosts started the brighter with Mackail-Smith baring down on goal inside the opening minutes. The Watford fan was denied by Tomasz Kuszczak.
Buckley was the next to break through but once again Kuszczak was able to keep the scores level.
In the sixth minute though, the tide changed and Watford roared into the Albion half to open the scoring.
Murray stood over a free kick on the right hand side of the area before curling past Brighton debutant David Gonzalez and into the right hand corner of the net.
The Seagulls were quickly back into the swing of things and continued to carve out chances.
Buckley nearly pulled his level when he thumped a header against the inside of the 'Orns post, Kuszczak grasping the ball for dear life as it bounced up.
Lua Lua saw his powerful effort skip off the slick turf and narrowly wide before Gary Dicker had his head in his hands.
With skipper John Eustace grounded and the goal at his mercy, the Irishman hammered comfortably wide on the volley from inside the area.
In need of a second goal, the Hornets were handed a penalty when a Watford player was pulled down inside the area.
Scott Mathieson awarded the spot kick and with Marvin Sordell gone, Troy Deeney stepped up to bury with aplomb.
The second half started in a similar manner to the first with the Seagulls taking the bit between their teeth.
The pressure didn't take long to pay off and having already denied Spanish full back Calderob, Kuszczak was powerless to prevent a second effort from bouncing into the far corner.
With their tails up, the Seagulls continued to peg the Hornets back and had it not been for some sublime last ditch defending, the equaliser would surely have come quicker.
However, with 14 minutes to go, the Hornet's defence was breached with Buckley left in oceans of space to stab home at the near post from substitute Vicente's centre.
Dyche's side were not to be beaten however and Deeney continued to work his socks off up top. The former Walsall hitman was unlucky not to claim his 10th of the season Iwhen his diving header was held by Gonzalez.
Deeney was spared the blushes of a miss from an ideal angle by the linesman's flag after a cute pass from Jonathan Hogg found the forward one on one with Gonzalez.
We'd all have taken a point beforehand and on the balance of play, it was a fair result. However, you can't ignore the blown lead and I left the beautifully crafted AmEx with a heavy heart.
A word on the Seagull's new ground - aesthetically impressive but in terms of access, exits and facilities, very disappointing.
A word too for my co-editor Chris (@chriswfc) on Twitter, who rightly called the opener as Murray shaped up for the free kick.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Gonzalez; Calderon, El-Abd, Dunk, Painter (Vincelot); Buckley, Bridcutt, Dicker, LuaLua (Vicente); Barnes & Mackail-Smith.
Subs not used; Ankergren (gk), Noone & Assulin.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Dickinson, Taylor, Nosworthy; Buaben (Assombalonga), Eustace (c) Hogg; Murray, Deeney & Iwelumo (Garner).
Subs: Loach (gk), Bennett & Whichelow.
Date:Tuesday April 17 2012
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