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HOT SCOTT; Arfield strikes late to keep Clarets on Prem trail.

Byline: Tony Rushmer

Watford 1

Burnley 1

SCOTT ARFIELD fired a late leveller to edge battling Burnley closer to fulfilling their promotion dream.

The Clarets appeared to be heading for a confidence-damaging second straight defeat as they trailed to a firsthalf Troy Deeney goal.

But Sean Dyche's side showed a never-say-die attitude with Arfield's 86th-minute drive securing them a precious point.

The importance of the goal became clear at the final whistle, with rivals QPR and Derby both beaten.

Arfield's strike, his eighth of the season, stretched Burnley's lead over third-placed QPR to 10 points with only six games remaining.

Clarets boss Dyche said: "Scotty is relentless and he has got some quality that, at times, can be underestimated. It was a great finish.

"Actually, I didn't think it was one of his better performances but I know that he has that mentality to continue playing for the team. He never shirks anything and never hides."

Sizzler

Arfield's sizzler ensured that Burnley stretched their unbeaten away record to nine league games - and that ex-Hornets er ensured ched ay e d s boss Dyche enjoyed his latest return to the club.

He added: "Overall, I thought the minimum we deserved was a point. We stuck with our game-plan really well.

"We didn't get disappointed by their goal and I always feel this group has a chance to get something and we've done it again. We've nicked another valuable point."

In-form Deeney made it seven goals in seven games when he smashed Watford's ninthminute opener. There looked to be little danger as Deeney chested down Gabriele Angella's long ball.

But the Hornets frontman arced away to his left before fizzing an unstoppable right-foot shot into the top corner from 30 yards.

Burnley thought they had levelled four minutes later when Ashley Barnes bundled the ball in from close range. But his celebrations in front of the visiting fans were halted by an offside flag.

The game was held up for six minutes when Cristian Battocchio suffered a knee injury in a challenge with Arfield. The midfielder was assessed on the pitch before being taken to hospital.

The second half was a slow-burner and it wasn't until the 78th minute that Watford's Manuel Almunia was seriously tested.

That was when the former Arsenal keeper showed his best, diving to brilliantly beat away a Ben Mee header from Michael Kightly's corner.

Watford's second-half chance came with 10 minutes remaining when Ikechi Anya looked sure to score after rounding keeper Tom Heaton. But his final shot lacked power and right-back Chris Baird raced in to pull off a vital goal-line clearance.

That proved to be a very costly miss as Arfield's 20-yarder rescued a share of the spoils for Burnley with four minutes remaining. Baird teed up the Scot, who unleashed a low right-foot shot that flew beyond the diving Almunia and sparked joyous scenes among the travelling fans.

The goal effectively snuffed out any hopes that Watford had of stealing into a play-off spot.

Head coach Beppe Sannino said: "The game perfectly reflected Watford's season. In the last 10 minutes, we always throw away everything that we've done during the game."

WATFORD: Almunia 6 - Angella 7, Cassetti 6, Ekstrand 6 - Anya 7, Tozser 6, McGugan 6 (Riera, 87mins), Battocchio 6 (Abdi, 43mins, 5), Pudil 6 *DEENEY 8, Ranegie 6 (Faraoni, 75mins). BURNLEY: Heaton 6 - *BAIRD 8, Duff 5, Shackell 6, Mee 6 - Kightly 7, Edgar 6, Arfield7, Jones 6 (Stock, 76mins), Treacy 6 (Wallace, 63mins, 5) - Barnes 5.

REFEREE: S Atwell 5.

CAPTION(S):

CLARET AND PHEW: Scott Arfield rescues a late point for Burnley while boss Sean Dyche (left) looks on CLARET PH
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 6, 2014
Words:610
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