• Troy Deeney penalty cancelled out by Andre Ayew
• Mauro Zarate stretchered off injured in the first-half
• Hammers reduced to ten-men as Michail Antonio shown two yellow cards
• Isaac Success inches away from winning it at the death
• Hornets climb to 12th in the Premier League
The Hornets and the Hammers collected a point each in a closely contested affair at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening.
Troy Deeney’s third minute penalty put Watford ahead, only for Andre Ayew to secure a point mid-way through the second-half.
It could have been a different story, had Isaac Success managed to get a connection in front of goal in the final second of the game.
The point sees Watford unbeaten in four home games in all competitions, and up to 12th in the Premier League.
Daryl Janmaat and Valon Behrami came into the side, while Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prödl were only fit enough for the substitutes' bench after knocks.
The game started at an electric pace and within the opening minutes the Hornets were awarded a penalty. Deeney was played in down the left and the captain squared the ball in to Mauro Zaraté.
The former Hammer was upended by Cheik Kouyaté inside the box and referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot.
Deeney stepped up and coolly rolled the spot-kick into the bottom left corner to put the Hornets ahead.
Walter Mazzarri’s side looked comfortable as both M’Baye Niang, Etienne Capoue and Jose Holebas all went close from range.
Younes Kaboul then did brilliantly to block Robert Snodgrass’ goal-bound effort after Holebas had been dispossessed outside of the box.
Snodgrass again tried his luck at goal with just over half-an-hour played, but the midfielder’s shot was always rising and flew harmlessly over Heurelho Gomes’ bar.
The Hornets were forced into their first change of the match on the stroke of half-time as Zarate fell awkwardly. Abdoulaye Doucouré came on in his place.
The Hammers wanted a penalty of their own early into the second-half as Niang and Kouyaté tangled inside the box, however the former was fouled first and referee Craig Pawson awarded a foul to the Hornets.
Minutes later Janmaat came off and was replaced by Cathcart on the right side of the Hornets’ defence.
Watford were sloppy in their possession and the Hammers almost capitalised, but Gomes did brilliantly as he dealt with Manuel Lanzini’s testing ball across the front of goal with Antonio lurking and ready to tap-in.
The shot-stopper was called into action again moments later as he pulled off a fantastic one-handed save to tip José Fonte’s header around the post.
Slaven Bilič’s side were enjoying a sustained period of pressure and Lanzini had an effort at goal from range, but it failed to hit the target.
In the 73rd minute the Hammers broke through and equalised. Antonio’s left-footed shot hit both posts before falling to substitute Ayew who had the simple task of tapping in.
Mazzarri responded to the set back by replacing Niang with Success, as the Hornets went in search of the winning goal.
With five minutes left to play the Hammers were reduced to ten-men. Antonio attempted to halt Success’ run but clawed the ball back with his hand. Referee Pawson had no choice but to show the attacker his second yellow.
Cleverley then whipped a great corner into the box from the left which Britos met with a powerful header, however it flew agonsingly wide of the far post.
In the final second of the game the Hornets were once again inches away from securing the win.
Deeney knocked a header back across the face of goal and Success was just unable to connect. Any contact would have surely sealed all three points.
However, Mazzarri’s men climbed to 12th in the Premier League and look ahead to next Saturday’s home game against Southampton.
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Janmaat (Cathcart, 52), Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Capoue, Behrami, Cleverley; Niang (Success, 81) , Zarate (Doucouré, 45); Deeney (c).
Subs not used: Arlauskis (GK), Prödl, Zuniga, Okaka.
Goals: Deeney (3)
Yellow Cards: Janmaat (36), Cleverley (68), Doucouré (79), Holebas (83)
HAMMERS: Randolph (GK); Kouyaté, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Noble (c), Obiang; Feghouli, Snodgrass (Ayew, 65), Lanzini (Fernandes, 90), Antonio.
Subs not used: Adrian (GK); Collins, Byram, Masuaku, Calleri.
Goals: Ayew (73)
Yellow Cards: Antonio (45), Kouyaté (65)
Red Cards: Antonio (86)
Attendance: 20, 702
Referee: Craig Pawson