A superb Andrew Crofts strike saved Brighton a point after Watford were controversially denied a goal.

Watford were ahead after four minutes as Sean Murray's 20-yard shot deflected into the bottom corner off the head of Brighton defender Stephen Ward.

Shortly after the interval, Fernando Forestieri's shot looked to have crossed the line but was not given.

Brighton capitalised as Crofts hooked a loose ball into the top corner, while a Forestieri header hit a post late on.

Kick-off was delayed because of traffic problems but Watford wasted little time in the pursuit of a victory that would have taken them into the play-off places.

Championship stats

Watford had won all five of the previous league matches in which they had taken the lead

They hustled their hosts from the outset and, after Murray's effort squirmed in, might have extended their lead when Brighton were caught in possession, but Lewis McGugan curled narrowly wide of the post.

However Brighton, who had scored only twice in a run of four games without a win, generally looked the more dangerous, with winger Will Buckley influential on the right flank against his former club.

His cut-back was met powerfully by the head of Ashley Barnes but Hornets goalkeeper Manuel Almunia clawed the ball out acrobatically.

Another teasing Buckley cross found Craig Conway but he could not direct his header on target.

The early stages of the second period proved crucial, with Watford convinced they had secured a two-goal cushion when diminutive striker Forestieri ghosted through.

Brighton keeper Tomasz Kuszczak could not keep out his shot and it appeared to trickle over the line before defender Gordon Greer could scramble the ball away. But with no goalline technology in the Championship, the goal was not awarded.

To compound Watford's frustration, Crofts equalised when a corner was not properly cleared, thundering the ball into the net from 12 yards.

Both sides introduced attacking options in the closing stages, which produced an exciting finale.

Forestieri rose above the defenders to head back across goal but the ball drifted against the upright and was cleared.

At the other end, a sweetly-struck Crofts effort from just inside the area was smartly turned around the post by a diving Almunia as honours deservedly finished even on the south coast.

Watford boss Gianfranco Zola on the Forestieri 'no goal':

"There's no doubt about it, it was definitely a goal.

"Everyone has seen it apart from the referee and the officials. That is the disappointing part, the goal did not happen in a crowded area, there was only the player, the ball and the line and it has not been seen.

"I am disappointed because it would have given us three points. In a league in which so much money is involved - they say it's £120m for the teams that go up - it (technology) would help the officials keep everything under control.

"If it is something we can use to make the game better why not? After today I would like it to be at least considered."

Brighton manager Oscar Garcia:

"We played well in the first half and deserved more than to go in 1-0 down.

"In the second half, they had chances and so did we.

"It's not the first time the opposition has scored with a deflection against us this season, but I'm happy with the reaction of my players and how they played against one of the best teams in the Championship."

On the Forestieri incident: "From my position it was impossible to see. I didn't ask Gordon [Greer] about it."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (3)

Brighton & Hove Albion

  • 29 Kuszczak
  • 02 Bruno Booked
  • 17 Ward (Calderón - 89' )
  • 18 F-Caskey
  • 03 Greer
  • 20 Upson
  • 08 Crofts
  • 04 Andrews
  • 09 Barnes
  • 30 Buckley
  • 23 Conway (Lita - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 06 El-Abd
  • 14 Calderón
  • 16 Ankergren
  • 21 D. López
  • 27 March
  • 38 Ince
  • 44 Lita

Watford

  • 01 Almunia
  • 19 Faraoni
  • 18 Pudil
  • 06 Ekstrand Booked (Fabbrini - 79' )
  • 04 Angella
  • 12 Doyley
  • 16 Murray
  • 08 McEachran
  • 09 Deeney
  • 11 Forestieri Booked
  • 10 McGugan Booked

Substitutes

  • 07 Battocchio
  • 15 Acuña
  • 20 Fabbrini
  • 21 Anya
  • 23 Iriney
  • 27 Cassetti
  • 30 Bond
Ref: Keith Hill
Att: 27,657

Match Stats

Shots

11 13

On target

4 6

Corners

7 7

Fouls

10 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Watford 1.

90:00 +4:24 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Watford 1.

90:00 +3:49

Attempt missed. Gabriele Angella (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Fernando Forestieri with a cross.

90:00 +2:44

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Bruno.

90:00 +2:03

Gabriele Angella (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +2:03

Foul by William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion).

90:00 +0:35

Marco Davide Faraoni (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:35

Foul by Íñigo Calderón (Brighton and Hove Albion).

88:41 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Íñigo Calderón replaces Stephen Ward because of an injury.

88:40

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

86:57

Delay in match Stephen Ward (Brighton and Hove Albion) because of an injury.

85:20

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Manuel Almunia.

85:17

Attempt saved. Andrew Crofts (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by William Buckley.

84:06

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) hits the right post with a header from the left side of the six yard box. Assisted by Marco Davide Faraoni with a cross.

82:46

Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Ashley Barnes tries a through ball, but Leroy Lita is caught offside.

81:42

Attempt missed. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Marco Davide Faraoni with a cross.

81:12

Attempt saved. William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Stephen Ward.

79:50

Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Andrew Crofts tries a through ball, but Stephen Ward is caught offside.

78:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Watford. Diego Fabbrini replaces Joel Ekstrand.

76:29

Attempt missed. William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ashley Barnes.

75:10

Joel Ekstrand (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

75:10

Foul by Leroy Lita (Brighton and Hove Albion).

73:40

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Bruno.

73:12

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Keith Andrews.

73:10

Attempt blocked. Daniel Pudil (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Forestieri.

71:08 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Leroy Lita replaces Craig Conway.

67:59

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

67:59

Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

67:40

Offside, Watford. Sean Murray tries a through ball, but Marco Davide Faraoni is caught offside.

66:22

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

66:22

Matthew Upson (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:56

Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

65:56

Foul by Matthew Upson (Brighton and Hove Albion).

62:40

Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Andrew Crofts tries a through ball, but Craig Conway is caught offside.

61:29

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Bruno.

61:04

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Stephen Ward.

60:32

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Tomasz Kuszczak.

60:28

Attempt saved. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top left corner.

59:31

Foul by Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion).

59:31

Daniel Pudil (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

59:07

Matthew Upson (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

59:07

Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

58:34

Foul by Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion).

58:34

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

57:44

Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

57:44

Foul by Gabriele Angella (Watford).

56:01

Attempt missed. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick.

55:10

Foul by Matthew Upson (Brighton and Hove Albion).

55:10

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Watford 1. Andrew Crofts (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Gordon Greer following a corner.

53:19

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Joel Ekstrand.

50:41

Foul by Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion).

50:41

Lloyd Doyley (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

50:09

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Joel Ekstrand.

49:14

Attempt blocked. William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ashley Barnes.

48:43

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

47:19

Delay in match Marco Davide Faraoni (Watford) because of an injury.

46:54

Attempt blocked. Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Stephen Ward.

45:32

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Tomasz Kuszczak.

45:31

Attempt saved. Marco Davide Faraoni (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

45:24

Attempt blocked. Fernando Forestieri (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sean Murray.

45:00

Second Half begins Brighton and Hove Albion 0, Watford 1.

45:00 +3:58 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 0, Watford 1.

45:00 +2:12 Booking

Booking Joel Ekstrand (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

45:00 +1:27

Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:00 +1:27

Foul by Joel Ekstrand (Watford).

45:00 +0:20

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

45:00 +0:03

Delay in match Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) because of an injury.

44:02

Attempt blocked. Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by William Buckley with a cross.

39:02

Attempt saved. Sean Murray (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

37:25

Craig Conway (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:25

Foul by Lloyd Doyley (Watford).

36:51

Hand ball by Craig Conway (Brighton and Hove Albion).

35:57

Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Keith Andrews tries a through ball, but Ashley Barnes is caught offside.

34:19

Attempt blocked. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Forestieri.

33:15

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Joel Ekstrand.

32:53

Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

32:53

Foul by Lewis McGugan (Watford).

31:59 Booking

Booking Lewis McGugan (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

31:33

Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:33

Foul by Lewis McGugan (Watford).

27:21

Foul by Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion).

27:21

Fernando Forestieri (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

25:27

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

24:42

Delay in match Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton and Hove Albion) because of an injury.

24:11 Booking

Booking Fernando Forestieri (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

24:05

Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

24:05

Foul by Fernando Forestieri (Watford).

23:17

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

22:16

Delay in match Lewis McGugan (Watford) because of an injury.

21:50 Booking

Booking Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

20:51

Attempt missed. Craig Conway (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by William Buckley with a cross.

18:30

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Daniel Pudil.

16:39

Attempt saved. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fernando Forestieri.

15:32

Attempt missed. Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Craig Conway.

15:00

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Sean Murray.

14:03

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Manuel Almunia.

13:58

Attempt saved. Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by William Buckley with a cross.

12:41

Keith Andrews (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:41

Foul by Marco Davide Faraoni (Watford).

9:57

Craig Conway (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.

9:57

Foul by Lloyd Doyley (Watford).

8:15

Attempt missed. Lewis McGugan (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Troy Deeney.

5:56

William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

5:56

Foul by Lewis McGugan (Watford).

3:39 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 0, Watford 1. Sean Murray (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fernando Forestieri.

2:36

Attempt blocked. Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jake Forster-Caskey.

1:52

William Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

1:52

Foul by Daniel Pudil (Watford).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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