Date: 25th March 2014 at 11:09pm
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Watford were denied a sixth straight home league win by a late Blackburn Rovers equaliser in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road this evening. Marco Cassetti’s first goal for the Hornets gave them a 4th minute lead before goals from David Dunn and Craig Conway put Rovers ahead. Watford then came back with a Troy Deeney penalty, before a late Cristian Battocchio goal had Hornets fans dreaming of that sixth straight win before Rudy Gestede’s stoppage time header denied them all three points.

Beppe Sannino made four changes to the Watford side that lost at Wigan at the weekend. Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand came into a reshuffled defence in place of Essaid Belkalem and Davide Faraoni. Meanwhile fit again Sean Murray and Alexander Merkel replaced Cristian Battocchio and Lewis McGugan in midfield.

Gary Bowyer made two changes to his Blackburn side with David Dunn replacing Liam Feeney in midfield and Todd Kane coming in for Adam Henley at the back, the right back suffering a season ending injury at the weekend.

Watford started the game quickly and took the lead after just four minutes thanks to Marco Cassetti’s first goal for the club. A good move down the left found Alexander Merkel in space and his cross was turned in by Cassetti on the volley from inside the box.

Blackburn responded quickly through and had chances to equalise. First, Manuel Almunia had to be at his best to deny Rudy Gestede when he got onto a long ball behind the Watford defence and shot on goal. Minutes later Gestede again went close when he was found unmarked from a corner but headed over.

Watford were playing some slick football themselves and another good move saw Daniel Tozser find Troy Deeney behind the Blackburn defence but the Hornets striker could only shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.

Blackburn equalised midway through the first half slightly against the run of play through David Dunn. A deep free kick was played into the Watford box and with Almunia’s punch only reaching the edge of the box Dunn was on hand to fire the ball into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

Blackburn then took control of the game and Gestede came close to putting the visitors ahead when his flicked header went just wide of the far post. Daniel Pudil also had to be at his best to deny Craig Conway after the Scot latched onto a pass from Jordan Rhodes.

Half Time: 1-1
Second Half

The Hornets were unlucky not to take the lead just minutes into the second half when they had a goal ruled out to a very tight offside call. Anya exchanged passes with Pudil on the left before breaking into the box and crossing for Deeney to tap in only to find the linesman’s flag raised for a very marginal offside call.

Blackburn then took the lead after 63 minutes through Craig Conway after more poor defending from the Hornets. A long free kick into the box was punched away by Almunia when catching might have been the best option. Tommie Hoban then failed to clear the resulting cross with the ball falling to Dunn who teed up Conway to slot into the net.

However, Rovers were only ahead for six minutes as Watford equalised from the spot after 71 minutes. Anya’s cross from the left struck Todd Kane’s outstretched arm and referee Darren Sheldrake pointed straight to the spot. Deeney stepped up and sent Robinson the wrong way to level the scores.

Both sides went looking for the winner in an open game. Conway missed another chance for the visitors shooting wide from inside the box whilst Pudil also shot wide for Watford from long range.

It was the home side that thought they had won the game late on when substitute Cristian Battocchio gave Watford the lead after 88 minutes. A dangerous Blackburn free kick was cleared and Watford pounced in a classic counter attacking move with Anya finding Battocchio who had the whole Rovers half to himself as he ran clear and slotted past Robinson.

However just five minutes later Blackburn scored again and provided yet another twist to this entertaining match. A long hopeful ball forward from Matthew Kilgallon found Gestede arriving on the edge of the box and his bullet header hit the post and rolled over the line.

Even then both sides still had chances to win the game as substitute Luke Varney had a goal bound effort blocked whilst Cassetti and Gabriele Angella both went close for Watford from corners, but both sides had to settle for a draw.

Full Time: 3-3

Watford: Almunia, Hoban (McGugan), Ekstrand, Angella, Cassetti, Murray (Battocchio), Tozser, Merkel (Diakite), Pudil, Anya, Deeney

Subs Not Used: Bond (GK), Neill, Doyley, Faraoni

Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Kane, Kilgallon, Keane, Spurr, Williamson, Dunn (Varney), Evans, Conway, Gestede, Rhodes

Subs Not Used: Eastwood, Hanley, Dabo, Taylor, Olsson, Feeney

Att: 13,921

Referee: Mr Darren Sheldrake