Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Watford 1
The Seagulls managed a draw thanks to a cracking own goal Adrian Mariappa.
The Albion managed just one shot on target, Aaron Mooy’s effort defelcting off Watford keeper’s Ben Foster’s leg.
The Seagulls started brightly enough but were undone by Abdeoulaye Decoure’s weaving 30-yard run. Albion defenders backed off until the Watford man unleashed a shot which flew past Maty Ryan into the centre of the net.
Albion had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals turned down – a challenge on Ezequiel Schelotto by the Watford goalscorer was seemingly reviewed and discounted by VAR.
Aaron Mooy had a wayward shot from a good position and Pascal Gross fired in a delightful cross for Glenn Murray but the veteran forward couldn’t get any power in his header.
With Shane Duffy looking increasingly nervous and firing the ball out of play more than once from an ambitious cross-field pass, Albion were booed off at half time.
The Seagulls were much improved as the second half started and pinned Watford back for sustained periods but were unable to create a shooting opportunity.
Gross, so accomplished in his first season at the Amex, was having a shocker, at one point passing the ball backwards when there appeared so many options up front.
As Neal Maupay stripped to replace Dan Burn, Aaron Connolly warming up along the touch line, pulled his training bib up over his head and walked purposefully down the tunnel, returning around five minutes later.
Soon after, the already cautioned Schelotto was replaced by Alireza Jahanbakhsh, after the former took out Will Hughes and escaped with a talking to.
It was Jahanbakhsh who provided Albion’s leveller. His cross from the right was rifled home by the unfortunate Mariappa.
The Albion had half chances from Lewis Dunk and Leandro Trossard, who just failed, to take the ball in his stride when clean through. The same player tried an audacious chip from a tight angle, which the time-wasting Foster had covered.
The Seagulls need a win soon. Dropped points against Villa and West Ham make them look vulnerable with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City all to come at the Amex. All attractive fixtures but equally difficult to take points off.
Albion travel to Sheffield United after the winter break and then entertain Palace at home in a leap year day lunchtime showdown at the Amex.