Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary Goals: 1
Relive our coverage of Watford’s final game of 2018 against Newcastle United
Watford vs Newcastle United: Abdoulaye Doucoure salvages a point
Watford vs Newcastle United: Javi Gracia defends decision to make six changes
Our Watford player ratings against Newcastle United
A selection of images from Watford’s draw with Newcastle United
The Watford manager made six changes to his starting XI as his side played a third Premier League game in eight days. When asked if that was too many he said: “If you see the result you can say that, but I don’t agree.
Salomon Rondon gave the visitors a surprise lead in the first half (29) shortly after Gerard Deulofeu squandered a great opportunity to put the hosts in front. But Watford grabbed a deserved equaliser through substitute Doucoure (82), who converted his powerful header from close range.
The visitors will feel they should have finished Watford off in the second half as Rondon headed over from Ritchie’s cross and the latter player shot straight at Foster. But they lacked a cutting edge and while they played with plenty of heart it was not enough to hold on as Watford, who had failed to offer much of note themselves, eventually exposed poor defending eight minutes from the end.
Doucouré gave the hosts more security and thrust in midfield when introduced by Gracia and headed an equaliser from 10 yards after a rare accurate delivery by Deulofeu.
Newcastle hit us with their stock goal and it’s a Neal Ardley to Heidar Helguson tribute act. Matt Ritchie swings a beast of a cross in from the left to our far post and Rondón rises to dump a header past the helpless Ben Foster. Newcastle aren’t a great side, Ray Lewington’s Watford side weren’t great either however lovable but that goal more than kept us up and it’ll keep them up too.
That is the second time that we have played Newcastle this season and the second time that we have come away frustrated. The visitors were certainly more impressive than they had been at St James’ Park, but we should have challenged them more. They had come to put 10 men behind the ball and Watford just couldn’t find a way to break them down. While there had been a lot of changes, the starting XI should have been good enough to create more than they did in the first half. The performance was considerably better when Deeney and Doucouré came on. They battled more when the opposition had the ball and we generally looked more dangerous. We also missed Holebas’s attacking prowess.
Newcastle came with a game plan and it almost paid off. Watford were too slow and couldn’t breakdown a resolute defence.