Watford 1 Burnley 1
A late quality finish by Scott Arfield gave Burnley a potentially precious point at Vicarage Road.
The Scot equalised with just four minutes to go cancelling out Troy Deeney’s stunner that sent Watford in front early on in the game.
Despite missing several players, Sean Dyche’s team never stopped going and were eventually paid off for their ‘never-say-die’ attitude.
The draw makes it 80 points from 40 league games for the Clarets and gives them a ten-point lead over third-placed Queens Park Rangers in the Championship table.
David Edgar was given his first start since November as he replaced the injured Sam Vokes in the Burnley line-up. Meanwhile, Keith Treacy came in for Junior Stanislas who was missing with a tight hamstring.
The Clarets began the game in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Arfield playing just behind Ashley Barnes up front.
Meanwhile, Watford lined up in their familiar 3-5-2 system.
Treacy had the match’s first shot when his free-kick was comfortably held by Manuel Almunia in the Hornets goal after 7 minutes.
The hosts responded just a minute later and immediately took the lead in stunning fashion.
Deeney chested down a long ball from the back before firing an unstoppable strike from 25 yards out for his 20th league goal of the season.
Burnley thought they had equalised on 13 minutes when Treacy’s out-swinging delivery from the left was turned home at the near post by Barnes.
However, the linesman ruled the goal out for offside.
Shortly afterwards, Lewis McGugan tried his luck from the corner of the penalty box, but his effort went wide of the post.
And Deeney threatened again after a flick from strike partner Mathias Ranégie. His shot missed the target, too, though.
The Clarets started to dominate possession more and more as the game went on with Watford content to defend deep in a back five and looking to attack on the break.
In the meantime, Treacy and Arfield exchanged their positions on the field with the Irishman now positioned centrally and the Scot out wide.
On 34 minutes, Ikechi Anya’s cross from the right flank reached fellow wing-back Daniel Pudil at the far post, but the Czech failed to make a good connection with the ball and turn it goalwards.
The first half saw a six minute-long stoppage time after Cristian Battocchio was given treatment on a serious-looking injury before being stretchered off the pitch.
And in the first minute of the added time, Arfield hit the ball off target on a half-volley following a good headed flick-on by Barnes.
At the other end, McGugan struck the ball over the crossbar as the Hornets came off the pitch at half-time in front.
Shortly after the restart, Michael Kightly set up Arfield on the counter-attack, but the Scot missed the target with an effort from just outside the box.
In response, Deeney went through on goal on the right side of the penalty area, but opted to pass instead of shoot and the Clarets managed to clear the ball behind.
On 56 minutes, the ball broke to Kightly inside the box. The wide man could only hit the side-netting, however, as Burnley increasingly looked for an equaliser.
Meanwhile, Watford were searching for a second as McGugan hit the ball over the crossbar from range on the hour mark.
Ross Wallace was introduced in place of Treacy on 63 minutes to play off Barnes.
The Clarets struggled to break in behind the Hornets, though as the hosts kept forcing Burnley to attack down the wings and were strong in dealing with crosses to their penalty area.
Watford still threatened on the break, too. A series of great blocks from the Burnley defence denied them another goal with the game approaching the last quarter of an hour.
On 79 minutes, after Kightly’s corner, a towering header by Ben Mee forced Almunia into a flying save as the Clarets did not give up on looking for a leveller.
It was an end-to-end finish to the match, however, with Anya going through on goal just moments later. The Scottish international rounded Tom Heaton, but was not able to provide the final touch and send the game beyond Burnley’s reach.
At the other end, Chris Baird’s ball into the box was headed wide with the Clarets attacking in more and more numbers.
The persistence paid off on 86 minutes when Arfield found space between the lines, controlled the ball on the edge of the box and placed it in the low bottom corner of the goal to send the travelling Burnley supporters into ecstasy.
And despite Deeney’s dangerous effort in stoppage time, Dyche’s side were full value for a vital point.
Burnley: Heaton – Baird, Duff, Shackell, Mee – Kightly, Edgar, Jones (Stock 76), Treacy (Wallace 63) – Arfield – Barnes.
Subs: Cisak, Long, Lafferty, Hewitt, Gilchrist.
Watford: Almunia - Angella, Cassetti, Ekstrand – Anya, Battocchio (Abdi 43), Tözsér, McGugan (Riera 87), Pudil – Deeney, Ranégie (Faraoni 76).
Subs: Bond, Hoban, Diakité, Murray.
Goals: Deeney 9 – Arfield 86
Bookings: Faraoni – Edgar
Referee: Mr Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 16,182 (1,732)