A late volley from Ashley Young rescued a point for Watford after Fulham staged an extraordinary comeback from 2-0 down at Vicarage Road and threatened to leave with all three.
The Hornets looked as though they were cruising to their first league win of the season when Young added to Marlon King’s opener just fifteen seconds into the second half. But Chris Coleman’s men mustered three goals in a mad ten minutes – culminating in a crazy own goal from Damien Francis – before winger young crashed home a brilliant volley to ensure the home side snared a share of the spoils.
There was little hint of the drama to follow during a sedate and scrappy first half. Hameur Bouazza saw an early effort pushed away from Antti Niemi before Moritz Volz wasted a great chance to give Fulham the lead when he fired wide having surged away from the home defence to be one-on-one with Ben Foster.
King netted his hundredth career goal midway through the first period when he breached Fulham’s offside trap to reach a lovely Young through ball and keep his feet to fire past Niemi. Michael Brown’s deflected drive almost brought the away side level before Bouazza threatened to double Watford’s lead but his shot rolled fractionally wide.
Coleman sent Fulham out early for the second half but he was soon tearing his hair out on the touchline after they conceded within fifteen seconds of the restart. Boauzza breezed down the left and his devilish low cross was gleefully tucked away by Young at the back post. Fulham tried to launch a comeback but Foster blocked well from former Vicarage Road favourite Helguson and Papa Bouba Diop headed wide from a corner.
Fulham did get a goal back when substitute Brian McBride punished Malky Mackay’s failure to clear Wayne Routledge’s cross with a brilliant volley from ten yards out. Helguson then came back to haunt the home fans, heading home the equaliser from Tomasz Radzinski’s cross after Diop had helped on a long clearance from Niemi. Worse was to follow for Watford as Francis thumped a panicked clearance into his own net after Mackay and Matthew Spring couldn’t clear a high ball.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side at least avoided defeat in the very last minute when Young capitalised on some nervy Fulham defending to majestically volley home his second of an incredible evening from fifteen yards out.
WATFORD (4-4-2): Foster; DeMerit, Shittu, Mackay, Stewart; Young, Mahon, Francis (Henderson 89), Bouazza; King, Smith (Spring 76). Subs (not used): Lee, Doyley, Jarrett.
GOALS: King (23), Young (46, 89).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Quedrue, Knight, Pearce; Diop, Brown, Volz (Radzinski 62), Bocanegra (Routledge 53); Helguson, John (McBride 59). Subs (not used): Lastuvka, C. Jensen.
BOOKED: Helguson, Pearce, Radzinski.
GOALS: McBride (71), Helguson (83), Francis (o.g. 87).
REFEREE: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire).