Southampton were on the end of a controversial decision as they let a two-goal lead slip in a 2-2 draw against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Three changes were made to the side that suffered a 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace. Wesley Hoedt and Cedric made their returns from injury, replacing Maya Yoshida and Jeremy Pied respectively. Steven Davis was also brought in, with Sofiane Boufal making way.
The Hornets were enjoying the early possession, although rarely threatening Alex McCarthy’s net, with a hopeful longshot from Daryl Janmaat which was tipped over by McCarthy.
Southampton were ahead after 20 minutes, Shane Long beat Marvin Zeegelaar in an aerial battle on the right wing to allow himself to get into the box to pull it back to James Ward-Prowse, who stroked the ball through a couple of Watford defenders and beyond the stretching arms of Heurelho Gomes, in similar fashion to the goal he scored days earlier at Craven Cottage in the FA Cup against Fulham.
Six minutes later, Hoedt attempted an extremely speculative effort from a very long distance, after spotting Gomes off his line, and forced the Brazilian veteran into a save.
Just past the half an hour mark, Long had a fantastic opportunity to double Southampton’s lead, after some great work from Dusan Tadic on the left wing, the ball was drilled across the goal and found Long, who took a touch, which allowed Zeegelaar to make the crucial block. Had the shot been taken first time by the Irishman, it would’ve been an easy tap-in.
On the brink of half time, Southampton did double their lead. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg dispossessed Abdoulaye Doucouré and Hoedt’s clearance was chased by Long, who beat Molla Wagué for pace, the ball was pulled back to Tadic who settled the ball perfectly and laid the ball just as perfectly for Ward-Prowse, who slotted the ball past Gomes, to give Saints a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time.
Watford were threatening Southampton, who seemed content to invite the Watford pressure, and they pulled a goal back after 57 minutes, Steven Davis lost possession in the final third, substitute Troy Deeney laid the ball off for Janmaat, his shot was tipped onto the crossbar by McCarthy, but Andre Gray was first to the rebound and headed the ball into the back of the net.
Throughout the second half, Southampton sat back and on the brink of full time, Watford were level, through controversial fashion. A direct ball into the box was met by Deeney and Doucoure was free at the back post, to literally scoop the ball into the net past McCarthy.
Southampton will feel aggrieved by the decision, but that is still no excuse for the negative tactics. Sofiane Boufal and Josh Sims were brought on in the 92nd minute and had no time at all to make an impact, those changes should’ve been made 15 minutes prior if counter-attacking football is the aim.
Mauricio Pellegrino was booed and chanted at in a rather negative way to put things mildly. Southampton haven’t won in their last 10 league games and currently sit in 16th place. Major changes are going to have to be made both on the pitch and off it if Saints don’t want to find themselves in the Championship next season.