- Watford lead twice through Kabasele and Deeney
- King and Afobe score for the Cherries
- Odion Ighalo makes his 100th Golden Boys appearance as a substitute
- Hornets remain 14th in the Premier League
As has been the case in their last four meetings, the points were shared by Watford and Bournemouth. And not for the first time Heurelho Gomes was the Hornets’ stand-out performer.
The Watford goalkeeper made a string of fine saves to deny their hosts, as Bournemouth twice pegged back Christian Kabasele and Troy Deeney goals.
Kabasele’s close-range header was the only goal in a relatively even first-half, but the Cherries needed just three minutes to restore parity through Joshua King after the break.
Troy Deeney nodded his 101st goal in Watford colours midway through the second-period, and just as it seemed Walter Mazzarri’s men might be on course for a first win in seven, substitute Benik Afobe popped up to dispatch a late equaliser.
Eddie Howe’s men were afforded two early chances, Callum Wilson nodding wide before Ryan Fraser forced the first of numerous impressive Gomes stops, the Brazilian tipping over a looping header whilst back-tracking.
The ex-Spurs stopper was again called into action, palming away Jack Wilshere’s fierce left-footed strike with 20 minutes played, and the Hornets were to capitalise soon after.
Stefano Okaka flicked on a Jose Holebas corner and Miguel Britos nodded back across goal, where Kabasele was on-hand to head his third goal of the season with 23 minutes gone.
Watford looked visibly more confident having taken the lead. Etienne Capoue saw a shot blocked, then moments later Tom Cleverley fired marginally wide after latching onto Tyrone Mings’ clearance.
The Hornets went into the break the more likely of the two sides, but their lead was cut out with the first chance of the second period. Adam Smith crossed from the right-hand side, and King converted from six yards.
The visitors fought back and were within an inch of restoring their advantage. Holebas let rip with his right boot, but Artur Boruc turned the spectacular 25-yard effort behind.
With 56 minutes played Gomes denied Fraser once more, this time tipping the Scotsman’s curling shot wide with probably his best save of the game.
It was advantage restored in the 64th minute as Deeney rose highest to nod Cleverley’s corner past Boruc with the back of his head, much to the delight of the 1,300 travelling supporters.
Holebas earned his 10th booking of the season for tugging Wilshere as the Cherries looked to counter-attack, and the ex-Roma wing-back will now miss the next two games.
Afobe had only been on the pitch eight minutes when presented with a shooting opportunity as defender Kabasele lay stricken on the surface, and the ex-Wolves striker fired across Gomes and into the bottom corner to score an 82nd-minute leveller.
In the end it was Watford who were hanging on during four minutes of stoppage time. First Callum Wilson headed a Jordon Ibe cross wide, then Charlie Daniels slotted home at the death, but referee Lee Mason correctly spotted a clear Steve Cook handball in the build-up and the goal was ruled out.
A first point on the road in six attempts, but the Golden Boys’ search for a first league win since December 10 continues.
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Kaboul, Prödl, Britos; Kabasele (Cathcart, 85), Cleverley, Doucouré (Ighalo, 88), Capoue, Holebas; Deeney (c), Okaka (Janmaat, 62).
Subs not used: Pantilimon (GK), Mason, Zúñiga, Sinclair.
Goals: Kabasele (23), Deeney (64)
Yellow card: Holebas (70), Kaboul (79)
CHERRIES: Boruc (GK); Smith, Cook, Mings, Daniels; Surman (c), Wilshere; Stanislas (Ibe, 74), King (Afobe, 74), Fraser (Pugh, 81); Wilson.
Subs not used: Federici (GK), Gosling, Arter, Smith.
Goals: King (48), Afobe (82)
Yellow card: Cook (90+4)
Referee: Lee Mason