Ward-Prowse at the double but Watford fight back

By SFC Media time Sat 13 Jan Watford v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | James Ward-Prowse
Sat 13 Jan 3PM
Premier League
Gray [58'] Doucouré [90']
Ward-Prowse [20' 44']
yellow card
Højbjerg (31') Romeu (79') McCarthy (81') Tadic (87') Soares (90')
Referee: Roger East | Venue: Vicarage Road | Attendance: 20,018

James Ward-Prowse’s first-half brace was not enough to secure back-to-back wins for Southampton as Watford snatched a point from 2-0 down in controversial fashion at Vicarage Road.

Having scored the winner in the Emirates FA Cup at Fulham a week ago, the Academy graduate was at it again with two well-taken goals as Saints stormed out of the blocks.

A revitalised home side pushed hard for a route back into the game after the break, halving the deficit through Andre Gray, before Abdoulaye Doucouré scored with a suspicion of handball in the very last minute.

Mauricio Pellegrino made three changes to his team following the cup success at Craven Cottage.

Defensive duo Wesley Hoedt and Cédric returned from injury to take their place in the back four, while Maya Yoshida was not fit to play and Jan Bednarek dropped to the bench.

Elsewhere, Sofiane Boufal also missed out as Dušan Tadić was preferred to the Moroccan to provide the closest support to Shane Long.

Saints showed some promising early intent when Oriol Romeu embarked on a surging run and inadvertently overran the ball into the path of Long, who had time to set his sights and be denied by Heurelho Gomes before referee Roger East curiously overruled his assistant and awarded offside against the Irishman.

Pellegrino’s men made the brighter start. Cédric fired over from the edge of the box before Tadić slid the ball in behind the Watford defence for Long, who did get a toe to it fractionally before the advancing Gomes, but the keeper did well to clear his lines.

Watford threatened for the first time shortly before Ward-Prowse struck the opener on 21 minutes.

Midfield powerhouse Doucouré escaped down the right and crossed low for Gray, who missed his kick, before André Carrillo’s follow-up was well blocked.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: James Ward-Prowse(R) of Southampton celebrates with Shane Long and Jack Stephens(L) during the Premier League match between Watford and Southampton at Vicarage Road on January 13, 2018 in Watford, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse celebrates opening the scoring at Vicarage Road

But it was at the other end that the deadlock would be broken to send the packed travelling contingent into raptures.

It owed much to the industry of Long, who accelerated to the byeline and cut the ball back to pick out Ward-Prowse, who took a touch and picked his spot with a low shot through the legs of the defender and just inside the far post from 15 yards.

Saints had the goal their superiority merited and were soon pushing for more. 

Tadić left Marvin Zeegelaar on his backside as he twisted and turned before crossing to the far post where Long was waiting with a header back across Gomes, who was just able to get his fingertips to the ball and prevent his team from falling two behind.

Gomes was unexpectedly busy again when Wesley Hoedt spotted the Brazilian off his line fully 40 yards out, forcing him to backpedal furiously and tip a stunning effort over the bar.

After Højbjerg was booked for bringing down Tom Cleverley, who left the field injured before the break, Tadić showed his quick feet to set up another chance for Long.

This time the Serbian nutmegged Daryl Janmaat down the Saints left and found his centre-forward with a fizzing low cross. Long took a touch and looked set to score, only to be denied by a crucial last-ditch block.

Saints had completely controlled the game, and few inside Vicarage Road could argue when the visitors doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Hoedt’s lofted pass forward released Long, whose pace was too much for the Watford defence.

Accelerating away down the left, he checked back to pick out Tadić in support, who showed brilliant composure to slide the ball on to the onrushing Ward-Prowse, who did not need to break stride in slotting home his second.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton scores his second goal during the Premier League match between Watford and Southampton at Vicarage Road on January 13, 2018 in Watford, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ward-Prowse adds his second of the game shortly before half-time

Watford boss Marco Silva used the interval to make his second change, as Troy Deeney joined Gray up front in a move that suggested the hosts were prepared to go for it.

Within minutes there was a noticeable improvement. Gray and Richarlison rather got in each other’s way from a right-wing cross, before the home fans called for a penalty as Hoedt and Gray grappled in the box.

After Roberto Pereyra curled one wide from 20 yards, Watford did get their goal.

Deeney rolled in Janmaat, who forced a brilliant save from the unfortunate McCarthy, whose tip on the crossbar only served to send the ball looping into the air and dropping invitingly on to the head of Gray, who made no mistake from four yards.

Pellegrino responded by introducing Mario Lemina for Steven Davis just after the hour, as Ryan Bertrand assumed the role of captain.

From then the Hornets’ momentum stalled. Højbjerg headed over in a bid to put the game to bed, but at the other end Saints coped admirably with an aerial bombardment that failed to carve out another chance until the 90th minute.

This time Saints failed to deal with the direct route, as Deeney nodded on and Doucouré beat McCarthy to the loose ball to force home a controversial equaliser.


Head to Head Stats

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Heurelho Gomes (GK) (C)
Daryl Janmaat
Marvin Zeegelaar
Molla Wagué
Christian Kabasele
Abdoulaye Doucouré goal
Ben Watson
replace Troy Deeney (45′)
Tom Cleverley
replace Roberto Pereyra (35′)
André Carrillo
Andre Gray goal
replace Stefano Okaka (73′)
Roberto Pereyra
Stefano Okaka
Adrian Mariappa
José Holebas
Orestis Karnezis
Troy Deeney
Sebastian Prödl


Alex McCarthy (GK) yellow card
Cédric Soares yellow card
Jack Stephens
Wesley Hoedt
Ryan Bertrand
Dusan Tadic yellow card
replace Sofiane Boufal (92′)
Oriol Romeu yellow card
James Ward-Prowse goal goal
replace Josh Sims (93′)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg yellow card
Steven Davis (C)
replace Mario Lemina (63′)
Shane Long
Fraser Forster
Jérémy Pied
Manolo Gabbiadini
Sofiane Boufal
Mario Lemina
Josh Sims
Jan Bednarek
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