Sheffield United left frustrated by Watford at Bramall Lane
Ben Foster’s wonderful saves help Watford move off the bottom of the Premier League
Ollie Norwood of Sheffield United celebrates with Irish international David McGoldrick after scoring against Watford at Bramall Lane. Photograph: Getty Images
Sheffield United 1 Watford 1
Watford moved off the bottom of the Premier League after a Gerard Deulofeu strike that earned them a point at Sheffield United – but how the visitors were grateful for a string of wonderful saves from Ben Foster, which denied Chris Wilder’s side the chance to leapfrog fifth-placed Spurs.
Having beaten Manchester United on Sunday, this hard-working, spirited performance was further evidence of the Nigel Pearson effect at Watford, but the heroics of Foster were the major reason they left with the point.
Foster produced two incredible saves over the course of a stop-start St Stephen’s Day affair, denying Oli McBurnie from point-blank range in the first half before doing the same again in the second as John Fleck looked certain to score. Those efforts, combined with Deulofeu’s impressive first-half finish, ensured consecutive unbeaten games at the start of Pearson’s tenure.
This was ultimately a frustrating match for Sheffield United. Having levelled close to half-time with Ollie Norwood’s first Premier League goal, the hosts dominated large periods of the second half without finding a goal. Chelsea’s surprise defeat to Southampton means the gap to the Champions League places is down to three points.
For all Foster’s heroics in preventing goals, it was his long pass that led to the visitors’ opener, too. His clearance was glanced on by Nathaniel Chalobah, and while Dean Henderson stalled in the Sheffield United goal Deulofeu was decisive, firing past the keeper at the near post. A needless challenge from Will Hughes on George Baldock seven minutes later afforded the hosts the chance to level, and Norwood made no mistake from the spot.
But that was the only time Foster would be beaten all day, the 36-year-old denying all-commers on numerous occasions thereafter to ensure Pearson’s encouraging start to life in the Watford dugout continues.