Late Josh Brownhill Winner Raises Burnley’s Survival Hopes and Leaves Watford on the Brink

With a sting in the tail that made his survival in the Premier League a distinct possibility, Burnley almost certainly consigned Watford to the football championship next season.

Twelve points behind safety and with a woeful gap of -37 goals, Watford’s fate is all but sealed with four games remaining.

For so long here, Roy Hodgson’s team looked like they were finally going to win a rare home win after taking the lead in the eighth minute. But two late goals from Burnley in three minutes amplified their suffering to make them the first team in Premier League history to lose 11 consecutive home games.

For Burnley, a renaissance that seemed almost impossible continues. This was the first time since August that they had played a league game having started the day outside the relegation zone, and they are now five points clear of Everton, who host Chelsea on Sunday.

The controversial firing of Sean Dyche is looking more like a masterstroke with each passing week. Interim manager Michael Jackson has yet to experience defeat in four games in charge and has now secured Burnley’s third straight win for the first time since April 2019.

In an often frantic game, Watford’s only goal claimed a huge slice of the fortune, courtesy of a vicious ricochet off Burnley captain James Tarkowski’s belly and into the net.

Keeping the lead until the 83rd minute, the hosts allowed Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill to score quickly, sending the visiting supporters into a frenzy.

“It’s a great result for us,” Jackson said. “I don’t think you’re going to have silky football games at this stage of the season, it’s just finding a way to win. What you can never fault is this team spirit and togetherness.

“We’ve just improved from what we were doing in the first half. We didn’t start as well as we could, everyone needed to do more – if we increased 15 to 20 percent, we thought we could get back in the game. ”

The last team to equal Watford’s 22 home games without conceding was Queens Park Rangers between 1968 and 1973. Their brief stay in the Premier League is almost certainly over.

The hosts were dominant for much of the first half, but paid the price for falling behind and allowing Burnley an ever-increasing position in the game.

“It summed up our time here,” said Watford assistant manager Ray Lewington, deputizing for a sick Hodgson. “We’re very nervous and it doesn’t seem like we can hit two passes consistently, which is always the sign of a team going through a tough time in a division.

“There’s a huge fear factor there, which we’ve discovered since we got here, especially at home. That comes from losing matches. Today you can see it at its extreme.

“In the first half we were in front playing in the opponent’s field, creating chances and looking good. We entered the break quite satisfied. What players do is look at the clock, see 30 minutes, drop a little and try to protect the lead. You could visibly see how far we fell at the end. I’m afraid this has caused us defeat.”

Desperate for something to help in his quest for an elusive victory on Vicarage Road, Watford was aided by an awkward goal. Kiko Femenia’s cross was deflected to Juraj Kucka at the far post, who hit his shot so hard against the Burnley crossbar that it ricocheted at horrible speed straight to Tarkowski and then into the goal. Retreating two yards from his own line, the Burnley captain barely had time to see him before the net swelled.

Burnley was awarded a penalty and then withdrawn when the video assistant referee determined that Moussa Sissoko’s foul on Dwight McNeil came within inches of the 18-yard area, while referee Craig Pawson ignored Watford’s penalty calls after the cross from Femenia reached Tarkowski’s hand.

Watford looked increasingly susceptible in the second half. Ben Foster made two brilliant saves to keep Aaron Lennon and Ashley Barnes at bay, but failed to score both goals.

An excellent deep cross from Charlie Taylor found Cork entering the penalty area in pace to fit home, before Watford failed to clear his lines and Brownhill placed his shot in the lower corner of the edge of the area.

“Let’s stay awake,” screamed Burnley fans at the final whistle. What was left of the Watford fans fell into grim silence.

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