Watford 2 Sunderland 2 Report: Black Cats make point in final day party

Jeremain Lens
Jeremain Lens
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Backed by an away end in full-on party mode, Sunderland brought the curtain down on their season with an entertaining 2-2 draw at Watford.

Four days after Sunderland secured their Premier League survival, more than 2,000 travelling fans at Vicarage Road delighted in the Black Cats remaining in the top flight and the relegation of arch-rivals Newcastle.

But while the game may have been a dead-rubber, there was plenty of intrigue for Sam Allardyce after the Sunderland boss handed Premier League debuts to homegrown trio Rees Greenwood, Tommy Robson and George Honeyman.

Robson was arguably the best of the trio, yet Greenwood had a hand in Jack Rodwell's opening goal - cancelled out just after the break from a Sebastian Prodl header.

Jeremain Lens - in perhaps his last Sunderland appearance - regained the advantage, before Troy Deeney levelled from the spot after a debatably awarded penalty from referee Kevin Friend.

Watford went close to a sixth minute opener when Almen Abdi was able to spin on the edge of the box and hit a low right-foot shot which drifted just wide of Jordan Pickford's near post.

But with nothing riding on the game for either side, there was a pre-season friendly feel to the encounter - Odion Ighalo seeing a shot deflect just wide off DeAndre Yedlin midway through the first half after the striker made a half-a-yard on John O'Shea.

Sunderland were a whisker away from going ahead on the half-hour when Jeremain Lens picked out Duncan Watmore with a ball over the top.

Watmore volleyed the ball into the goalmouth, where defender Miguel Britos threatened to turn it into his own net, before just managing to deflect it over the top.

Jordan Pickford was then called into action to block Nathan Ake's angled drive after Sunderland had blocked shots from Troy Deeney and then Abdi.

Moments later, Greenwood skipped past a couple of challenges before squaring it to Rodwell 20 yards out, whose right-foot shot swerved just wide of the far post.

But six minutes before the interval, Rodwell did find the net after Watford were unable to clear their lines following Jeremain Lens' shot from the edge of the area.

The ball came out to Greenwood, 25 yards out, and he played a lovely first-time pass to Lens down the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Lens squared it across the face where the onrushing Rodwell tapped it home at the far post.

Sunderland should have been 2-0 up moments later, but the linesman wrongly flagged Watmore offside after he had tucked home Dame N'Doye's through-ball. Replays showed the England Under-21 international was level with the last defender.

But three minutes after the restart, Watford pulled level from a corner when Prodl beat O'Shea in the air and headed past Pickford from six yards out.

O'Shea protested in vain to referee Kevin Friend about a foul and replays showed that the Sunderland skipper did receive a slight nudge as he went to head it.

But Watford were level for just three minutes before Sunderland regained the advantage after hitting the hosts on the counter-attack from another corner.

Watmore carried the ball deep into Sunderland territory before feeding Lens down the right-hand side of the area.

Lens' clever first touch fooled the back-tracking Watford defence and he tucked the ball under the dive of Heurelho Gomes.

Moments later, Pickford produced an excellent tip over the bar to keep out Ake's shot from the edge of the box.

N'Doye had a header then ruled out for offside when he met Larsson's free-kick with a diving header. Replays again showed that it was a desperately close call.

But on the hour mark, Watford were handed a spot-kick by referee Kevin Friend for a high foot from John O'Shea as he robbed Jose Manuel Jurado of possession.

Sunderland protested, but Troy Deeney sent Pickford the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

The Black Cats almost regained the advantage with three minutes to go, but Watmore's shot from a tight angle after a charging run into the box, was blocked by Gomes.

Watford: Gomes, Cathcart (Paredes 46), Britos, Prodl, Ake, Abdi (Suarez 66), Guedioura, Watson, Jurado (Amrabat 80), Deeney, Ighalo. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Nyom, Anya, Berghuis. Booked: Guiedioura (80)

Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin (Jones 76), O'Shea, Kone, T Robson, Larsson (M'Vila 62), Rodwell, Lens, Watmore, Greenwood (Honeyman 52), N'Doye. Subs not used: Mannone, Brown, Defoe, Khazri.