Watford were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal as they drew 1-1 against Birmingham at St Andrew’s.
The Hornets, who were missing the injured Ismaila Sarr, failed to make the most of their chances and fell behind to George Hall’s first senior goal.
Ken Sema finally found a way through with a second-half equaliser but the visitors missed the chance to go top of the Championship table.
Yaser Asprilla and Christian Kabasele fired off target from long range as Watford created early chances.
Vakoun Bayo was the next to go close, sending a free header wide from Joao Pedro’s cross then nodding against a post after Craig Cathcart headed Sema’s corner back into the danger area.
And the missed opportunities were punished when Birmingham took a 19th-minute lead against the run of play.
A quickly-taken throw-in from Josh Williams on the right saw Scott Hogan get the wrong side of Francisco Sierralta to cut the ball back for Hall, who swept home with a first-time effort from 15 yards.
It was the 18-year-old England Under-18 international’s first goal in only his second career start.
Watford returned to the attack and it took a superb, last-ditch goalline clearance from on-loan Wolves defender Dion Sanderson to prevent an equaliser from Mario Gaspar’s shot after Pedro put him through.
Birmingham left wing-back Przemyslaw Placheta provided some respite when he cut inside only to send a low shot wide.
Then former Watford forward and now Blues captain Troy Deeney floated a shot straight at goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann as a breathless first half drew to a close.
Watford equalised in the 63rd minute. Gaspar galloped forward down the right and his cross was palmed out by goalkeeper John Ruddy only as far as Sema, who thundered a left-footed shot into the bottom corner, as Auston Trusty merely helped the ball into the net.
Deeney was denied a fairytale equaliser against his old club in the 73rd minute. The 34-year-old striker hammered a falling volley into the ground and it needed a two-handed tip over the bar from Bachmann.
Watford had another chance to grab the winner but after Sanderson’s slip, Pedro could only blaze well off target with only Ruddy to beat.
What the managers said…
Birmingham’s John Eustace: “George has been exceptional since I’ve been here. He’s a top young player and he’s going to have a massive future. He took his goal really well. He was up against fantastic players but he stood up to the plate and I was very pleased for him.
“He’s been brilliant since we came in during pre-season. We’ve given him the confidence that these young players are going to play.”
Watford’s Rob Edwards: “After the performance and the chances we created, I’m a little bit frustrated as well because I felt we could have won. Bayo had a couple of good chances and on another day he might have taken them.
“We had more chances. They were certainly a counter threat and we had to control that – even the throw-in they scored from was the quick, transitional counter-attacking moment.”
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