Watford 1-1 Newcastle: VAR denies last minute Hornets win at Vicarage Road

Logic dictates that Newcastle will eventually win a game of football this season. The law of averages and basic probability suggests that this bare-bones run can only last so long.

However, you start to wonder: where exactly do those three points come from? How many better odds can they really expect?

Steve Bruce certainly looked bereft – of answers, of hope, almost – after Joshua King pushed into Danny Rose’s corner and Ismaila Sarr headed in Watford’s equalizing goal with 18 minutes to go. Penny for Bruce’s thoughts in stoppage time as substitute Jacob Murphy ran on target, only to cancel a disastrous effort saved by Ben Foster.

Newcastle await their first league win of the season after a draw at Watford

Sean Longstaff gave the visitors the lead before half-time with a long-distance effort

Sean Longstaff gave the visitors the lead before half-time with a long-distance effort

The English midfielder drives away celebrating after giving the Magpies the lead

The English midfielder drives away celebrating after giving the Magpies the lead

MATCHING FACTS

WATFORD (4-2-3-1): Foster 6; Femenia 6.5 (Ngakia 67, 6), Troost-Ekong 6, Cathcart 5, Rose 6.5; Sissoko 6.5, Kucka 6 (Pedro 64, 6); Sarr 7, Cleverley 6 (Tufan 45, 6), Dennis 7 (Etebo 75, 6); King 8

Subs not used: Elliot, Masina, Sema, Kabasele, Hernandez Goals: Sarr 72

Yellow: Dennis, Rose, Cathcart, Troost-Ekong

Red: None

Administrator: Xisco Munoz 6.5

NEWCASTLE (4-5-1): Darlow 7; Manquillo 6.5, Fernandez 6, Clark 6.5, Ritchie 7; Almiron 6.5 (Murphy 79.5), Longstaff 7, Hayden 6.5, Willock 7 (Gayle 83 6), Joelinton 6; Saint Maximin 7.5

Subs not used: Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Fraser, Anderson Goals: Longstaff 23

Yellow: Darlow, Manquillo, Ritchie

Red: None

Manager: Steve Bruce

Presence: 20,650

Referee: Jarred Gillett 6

All the Newcastle boss could do was stand, arms folded, all the good work from his side gone up in smoke, steam coming out of his ears. Ears that had to listen to protest songs all day long.

Pockets of Newcastle supporters cried for Bruce’s head before handing in the win. Even when they created chance after chance. Even after Sean Longstaff curled a first-half shot into the top corner.

It’s not likely that they’ll move on after this. The only crumb of comfort? It could be worse. King caused a pandemonium a few minutes before time, only for VAR to confirm he had wandered offside before Moussa Sissoko’s shot was tipped in his path.

That turned out to be just one of many late opportunities; this ended up with all the structure and feel of a basketball game.

Unbelievable really, when you consider how well Newcastle had this match in their grip. Watford was booed at halftime, their fans furious with Jarred Gillett – the first foreigner to be in charge of a Premier League game – who was subject to cries of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’. Critics of Bruce will express similar sentiments.

This point takes them out of the drop zone, but in reality a first win of the season should have been sealed by the break.

Until Longstaff’s opener, the little black-and-white nook in Vicarage Road had been a hive of discord and discontent. After all, the day ends in Y.

Halfway through, however, there were cheers from the other three corners of this site.

Some Watford fears were centered on Gillett, but there was no small frustration at how their side had wilted in the first half.

Newcastle leading by just one owed much to the visitors’ wastefulness in front of goal.

The fact that they had created so many opportunities was – not least – thanks to a generous charitable giving from their hosts.

Newcastle should have been further up front with players like Joelinton wasting

Newcastle should have been further up front with players like Joelinton wasting

And the Magpies were punished with Ismaila Sarr finding the net with 20 minutes to go

And the Magpies were punished with Ismaila Sarr finding the net with 20 minutes to go

In the last five minutes of the half alone, Newcastle missed many opportunities to extend their lead. Ciaran Clark headed over a free kick from Matt Ritchie, Joe Willock hit the side net and Allan Saint-Maximin had some brilliant chances. At first Craig Cathcart’s backpass was too soft, allowing the Frenchman to go on target. He passed Foster, whose touch could not prevent Saint-Maximin from feeding the onrushing Longstaff. With the goal gaping, however, the midfielder lifted the ball over. In stoppage time, Saint-Maximin – unsurprisingly at the heart of the Newcastle threat – drove across the penalty area before his shot was blocked.

Maybe Newcastle always needed a helping hand. Step forward Foster, who only managed to push Longstaff’s curling attempt into the top corner midway through the half. The breakthrough prompted Newcastle to carry on with a bold authority that their supporters have rarely seen this season.

Which, of course, explains why they’ve been so hurt so far. Watford almost took the lead through Emmanuel Dennis after seventy seconds – not that Newcastle supporters needed an invitation to resume their protest songs. Both Bruce and owner Mike Ashley were the target of their bad feelings.

Even as Watford improved after the break, Newcastle continued to create chances to kill the game. Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Willock forced Foster to make clever saves before Clark missed a glorious header opportunity.

They had to pay. Once, and almost twice. Chaos ensued in the end, not least after King’s failed winner.

Watford thought they had won it at the end due to striker Joshua King's strike

Watford thought they had won it at the end due to striker Joshua King’s strike

However, VAR intervened to deny the Norwegian his first top goal in 27 matches

However, VAR intervened to deny the Norwegian his first top goal in 27 matches

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