Report: Albion 1 Watford 1Andrew Crofts netted his fourth goal of the season to earn Albion a deserved share of the spoils against the Hornets.
In an entertaining game between two teams intent on returning to winning ways after some indifferent results of late, Crofts’ second-half goal cancelled out an early strike from Sean Murray.
It was Fright Night at the Amex and Albion suffered their own horror show as early as the fourth minute when Murray’s 20-yard effort took a wicked deflection off Stephen Ward, before nestling in the back of Tomas Kuszczak’s net.
Watford’s in-form midfielder Lewis McGugan also went close in the opening stages, bending his effort inches wide of Kuszczak’s left-hand upright, as Albion struggled to get their passing game going.
Once they got a foothold in the game, the hosts looked a far more potent proposition and had the Amex crowd on their feet in the 14th minute when a dangerous ball into the box by Craig Conway fell to Will Buckley at the far post.
The former Watford man then sent a dinking cross back across the face of goal which Ashley Barnes met with his head, only for keeper Manuel Almunia to beat the ball away for a corner.
Buckley was finding space down the right flank and another inch-perfect cross was this time met by Conway, whose header fell the wrong side of the post.
The crowd were on their feet when Fernando Forestieri went in late on Kuszczak, receiving a yellow card for his actions, but the game then suffered a lull with chances at a premium for both sides.
Albion again went close before the break when Buckley met Conway’s deep cross with a cushioned volley, but Hornets defender Gabrielle Angella cleared from inside the six-yard box with Barnes waiting to pounce.
Watford thought they had doubled their lead immediately after the re-start as Forestieri’s effort was cleared by Gordon Greer at the second attempt, but TV replays showed the Albion skipper had carried the ball narrowly over his own line.
The ‘Ghost Goal’ provided a long overdue slice of luck for the Albion who were back on level terms in the 54th minute when Matthew Upson got his head to a Conway corner and following a game of pinball in the box, Crofts reacted quickest to shoot home on the turn.
McGugan then saw a dipping free-kick go wide, Stephen Ward also made a crucial last-ditch tackle to stem another chance, and to complete a good spell of pressure by the visitors, Daniel Pudil had claims for a penalty, but the challenge by Bruno was outside the box.
Conway was replaced by Leroy Lita in the 72nd minute for his home debut and the game started to open up as both sides went for the victory.
Forestieri again went close five minutes from time, climbing above Bruno only to see his header come back off a post, while at the other end Buckley cushioned down Lita’s cross into the path of Crofts, whose fierce drive was beaten away by Almunia.
The Watford keeper was named the Sky Man of the Match and without his heroics on at least two occasions, Albion could have been looking at first win in five attempts.