Watford 3-3 Leicester
19/09/2009 - 3 p.m.
Dany N'Guessan's dramatic injury time equaliser salvaged a well-earned point for Leicester after a crushing second half capitulation at the hands of Watford.
The Foxes had found themselves two goals to the good at the break thanks to a Matty Fryatt brace, but the home side fought back in the second period with three goals which looked to have handed the Hornets all three points. However, substitute N'Guessan's header helped City to a share of the spoils on the day.
Manager Nigel Pearson made one change from the draw with Peterborough midweek, drafting in Andy King for his first league start of the campaign, with N'Guessan making way. Captain Matt Oakley began the game on the right side of midfield.
Neither side managed to take a hold of the game in the early stages, with very few attempts on goal exchanged. With neither goalkeeper tested, efforts were reduced to speculative attempts as the game took a lazy early route.
However, in the 20th minute an innocuous Leicester cross was criminally handled in the area under relatively little pressure by Watford's John Eustace to hand the visitors an early penalty. Matty Fryatt dispatched the spot-kick to send City into the lead under the watchful gaze of the 2,000 strong City support.
It proved to be the catalyst for a superbly assured Leicester first half in which they comfortably dominated proceedings. Fryatt followed up with two more half chances which failed to hit the target, but rewards were reaped again in the 40th minute after a brilliant Leicester move.
Steve Howard's knock-down allowed Paul Gallagher to slip the ball expertly through to Fryatt, who burst into the penalty area before cutting back inside to apply the finish past Scott Loach. It was a moment of real quality from City, who were looking good for their lead.
The half-time break appeared to be the worst possible outcome for City, as Watford emerged a different team in the second half. The introduction of QPR loanee Heidar Helguson proved to be almost fatal for the Foxes, as they failed to deal with the Icelander's prowess in front of goal.
In the 54th minute, disaster struck the Foxes as midfielder Richie Wellens limped off with injury. It was a huge blow to City, who soon began to witness total Watford domination in the centre of the field.
With Malky Mackay's words still ringing in their ears, Watford took the game to Leicester early on and grabbed their first goal on 58 minutes. A cross from the right was not dealt with by the City back-line, as Danny Graham turned in the ball from close range.
Two minutes later they were level through Helguson. In similar circumstances, another dangerous ball into the Leicester penalty was not cleared, as Helguson stooped to slot home the equaliser.
It was a huge shock to the Leicester system, as they found themselves now chasing a game they had been in total control of in the first half. Despite Steve Howard having a header tipped over the bar, a Watford third was soon becoming ominous.
In the 73rd minute Pearson introduced Martyn Waghorn and Dany N'Guessan in place of Matty Fryatt and Paul Gallagher respectively. Despite the switch, Watford found a third goal sure enough in the 77th minute.
Shamefully, another cross from the right hand side in an almost identical position to the previous two goals was again defended woefully by City, as Helguson glanced the ball past Chris Weale for his second of the afternoon to leave Leicester fans devastated.
It was frustrating to witness a Leicester defence normally so impressive, leaking goals in similar situations in one match. After looking so strong in the first period it was now City who were searching for an equaliser, a goal which seemed to be never arriving.
The introduction of the two substitutes appeared to be having some form of impact for Leicester, but an equaliser was always looking some distance away. Nicky Adams came closest for the Foxes, but his hooked effort dropped safely over the crossbar.
Just as you thought the match couldn't take any further twist, Leicester had their equaliser. As the fourth official's board was held up for five minutes of added time, substitutes Waghorn and N'Guessan combined in style to provide Leicester's fans with a huge sigh of relief.
Waghorn burst down the left hand side to deliver a speculative ball into the penalty area, with N'Guessan gleefully nodding the ball home for his second of the season.
It was the goal Leicester craved so badly after a disastrous second period in which they so nearly handed all three points to their hapless first half opponents. Full credit must go to Watford, whose determination and grit allowed them to claim their share of the spoils in a thrilling encounter at Vicarage Road.
Leicester: Weale; Neilson, Hobbs, Brown, Berner, Oakley, A King, Wellens, Gallagher, Fryatt, Howard. Subs: Logan, McGivern, Tunchev, Adams (64 for Wellens), N'Guessan (73 for Gallagher), Waghorn (73 for Fryatt), Kermorgant.
Watford: Loach; Mariappa, Lansbury, Cowie, Graham, Doyley, Jenkins, Cleverley, Cathcart, Eustace, Hodson. Subs: Helguson (46 for Lansbury), Harley (86 for Cleverley), Lee, Bennett, Hoskins, Ellington (82 for Helguson), Bryan.