Only an ounce of inspired skill from Troy Deeney allowed Watford to share the spoils with Swansea in a 1-1 draw that was controlled by the visitors and could easily have become a route.
For much of the game the 19,000 spectators at Vicarage Road watched in stunned silence as Swansea lashed the home team’s defense with wave after wave of attack.
Only briefly did Watford offer any resistance.
The home team’s only chance in the first half came in the 12th minute from a drive through the midfield against a well-organised Swansea defense. The shot on goal went wide… and for the rest of the first half it was all one-way traffic.
In the 20th minute, the 28th minute, and again in the 33rd minute, Swansea created good chances to score, but each attack was thwarted by poor finishing or great goalkeeping. It seemed only a matter of time before Watford’s fragile back four were torn apart and a Swansea opportunity seized – but remarkably the Hornets held out through good luck rather than good management. At the break the scores were locked at 0-0.
Multiple scoring opportunities. Time and time again in the first half, Swansea was on the attack, threatening the Watford goal.
In the 53rd minute the inevitable happened; a Watford defender playing out from the back had his pass intercepted. Instantly Swansea burst onto the attack. The ball was played wide to an overlapping midfielder who drove to the byline and then cut a ball into the goal mouth. Routledge was perfectly positioned. The pass came to his feet and the Swansea striker made no mistake from close range, giving the visitors a well-deserved lead.
The sequence to goal: Top – Watford playing out from the back have their pass intercepted. Middle – the ball laid off to an overlapping Swansea midfielder who drives to the byline. Bottom – a simple tap-in. Routledge makes no mistake from point-blank range.
It seemed as though the floodgates might open. Swansea were buoyant and set about pressing for a second goal to seal the match. Watford went to the bench and brought on a second striker.
It was the pivotal moment of the match. With a second striker on the pitch, Watford suddenly looked a different team. They came forward with greater confidence and the Swansea defense experienced it’s first phase of prolonged pressure. Momentum swung to the home team and the weight of their possession finally resulted in the goal that secured a draw.
The opportunity came in the 76th minute after a sequence of tight passing saw a through-ball played into the path of Troy Deeney. The big frontman latched onto the ball and smashed a wicked strike at goal that caught the keeper out of position. The desperate dive was not enough to stop the shot, and it rolled into the back of the net.
Deeney gets just one chance for Watford and makes no mistake, seizing onto a deft through-ball and firing a shot on target to score the equalizer.
There was fifteen minutes of play remaining, yet Watford – suddenly riding the crest of a momentum wave – was unable to reproduce the cunning touches that helped to create their goal while Swansea appeared resigned to settling for a drawn result.
For the Swans it could have been so much better…