Watford’s Holebas strikes late to deny Saints victory

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Nov 10: A late strike from Jose Holebas earned Watford a 1-1 draw at a rain-soaked Southampton on Saturday and extended the home side’s winless run to eight Premier games, increasing the pressure on manager Mark Hughes.

However, Saints striker Charlie Austin was left fuming after his effort with the score at 1-0 in the second half was disallowed when the officials incorrectly ruled that the ball went in off Maya Yoshida, who was in an offside position.

Manolo Gabbiadini had given Saints the lead with a smart turn and finish in the 20th minute, profiting from good work by Danny Ings, who picked Roberto Pereyra’s pocket inside the area and played in his fellow striker following a corner.

The goal was the Italian’s first of the season but Holebas equalised in the 82nd to deny the Saints a much-needed victory and leave them one place above the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference ahead of the international break.

The ball broke to Watford’s Greek defender just outside the Southampton area after bouncing off Gerard Deulofeu and he advanced into the box before unleashing a left-foot strike that flew past keeper Alex McCarthy after taking a deflection.

Watford had started stronger, and McCarthy was forced into a sharp save in the fourth minute by the lively Deulofeu, who also shot high and wide four minutes later after Kiko Femenia pounced on a loose ball and played in the former Barcelona man.

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Watford soon paid the price for their wastefulness after Hoedt headed straight at Ben Foster in the Watford goal from six yards before Holebas scrambled the ball to safety.

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Gabbiadini scored from the resulting corner and the hosts almost grabbed a second through Japanese defender Yoshida, who looped a header wide in the 34th minute.

His confidence boosted by the goal, Gabbiadini nearly extended the home side’s lead with their first attack after the restart but his stunning strike from distance fizzed over.

Watford appealed for a penalty just before the hour when Nathaniel Chalobah went down under a Ryan Bertrand challenge, but referee Simon Hooper waved away the claims before Saints were denied by a controversial decision in the 68th minute.

Nathan Redmond skipped between two defenders and played in substitute Austin, who put the ball in the net. However the striker’s celebrations were cut short by the linesman, who ruled that the offside Yoshida had diverted the ball into the net.

It looked like the Saints would cling on until Holebas pounced in the closing stages to earn a hard-won point.

“It’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t be in the game,” Austin said of the referee’s decision to disallow his goal.

"We scored a perfectly good goal that was ruled out for offside. The officials cost us two points. They said it was offside, that is a joke," he told Sky Sports.

The draw lifted Watford into provisional seventh place with 20 points from 12 games above Manchester United, who face Manchester City in Sunday’s derby clash, on goal difference while Southampton have eight points.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings; editing by Ken Ferris)