Watford Ensure Groundhog Day At The Gate
Ashton Gate, Bristol
28 December 2009, 15:00
Ten-man City ended 2009 as we started it by conceding yet another stoppage time equaliser - our 11th goal shipped after 85 minutes in the league this season - as Watford escaped with a deserved point.
Johnson chose to drop Liam Fontaine, Gavin Williams and Alvaro Saborio in place of Lewin Nyatanga, Marvin Elliott and David Clarkson as City strived to put behind Boxing Day disappointment at QPR to bring a first win in nine.
Clarkson, fresh off the back of missing a great chance at Loftus Road on Saturday, shanked another glorious chance on 7 minutes today as his left footed effort ended up in the Atyeo Stand with the goal gaping after a combination of good work by Nicky Maynard and calamatous Hornets defending.
Gerken was then worked over by on-loan Gooner Henri Lansbury's rasping 30-yarder.
Louis Carey threatened from a Hartley corner but could only head into the crowd when well placed before Carey rode his luck to get away with a decent looking penalty shout under pressure from Heidar Helguson.
Helguson thought he'd opened the scoring on 36 minutes, heading home the impressive Tom Cleverley's free-kick only for it to ruled offside.
Just to rub salt into the wounds 2 minutes later, City went up the other end and scored the game's first goal. Clarkson's deep ball was tamely cleared by Lansbury but landed at the feet of Danny Haynes to fire a rasping, angled drive past England Under-21 keeper Scott Loach.
It didn't last long though as McAllister's weak header landed at the feet of on-loan Manchester United starlet Cleverley who volleyed into the bottom corner on 43.
But in a frantic end to the first half, the game's moment of pure brilliance arrived in stoppage time.
Marvin Elliott was brought down some 30-yards out, central of goal, allowing Paul Hartley to step up and sweetly curl a dipping free-kick into the top corner for his fourth of the year.
Clarkson found the net on 51 after a neat one-two with strike partner Maynard only to denied by the linesman's flag whilst Lansbury slipped at the vital moment at the other end and blazed his shot high and handsome.
Loach justified his growing reputation with a brilliant stop to keep out Maynard with his feet at the other end after excellent work down the right by Danny Haynes.
Danny Graham then nearly scored a goal of the season contender after Gerken's misplaced clearance landed at this feet fully 45-yards from goal. He teed it up with his first touch before firing a rasping volley that only just cleared the bar.
Gerken was keeping City in the game at this time and denied Helguson what looked like a nailed on equaliser before Nyatanga was given his marching orders for a second booking on 69.
Helguson became the latest player to have a goal ruled out, this time for a foul on McAllister before Gerken produced a magnificent double save to Watford sub Liam Henderson.
Ivan Sproule, on for Haynes at this point, then wasted a great chance to seal it five minutes from time when his tame shot was easily blocked by Loach.
And how costly it proved as 3 minutes into stoppage time, Jon Eustace popped up to make it six home draws out of the last seven.
CITY (4-3-3): Gerken, Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, McAllister, Skuse, Hartley, Elliott, Haynes (Sproule '86), Maynard (Saborio '89), Clarkson (Fontaine '70).
WATFORD (4-4-2): Loach, Hodson (Henderson '85), DeMerit, Mariappa, Doyley, Cowie, Lansbury (Harley '73), Eustace, Cleverley, Helguson, Graham.
REFEREE: James Linington (Newport, I-O-W)