DESPERATE Watford were finally put out of their misery as two late goals condemned them to an immediate return to the Championship.
A Premier League record 11th straight home defeat confirmed that Roy Hodgson’s managerial career is going to end in relegation.
And of all 16 teams the former England boss has taken charge of, this lot have surely got to be the most shambolic.
Whatever the opposite of a fortress is, that’s Vicarage Road.
In fact they should name the place the Garden of Eden because it’s been a paradise for visitors all season.
No wonder the travelling Burnley fans were celebrating like mad things at the final whistle as their team took another huge step towards salvation.
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For the Clarets have now taken ten points from four games under interim boss Mike Jackson, which is more in two weeks than any of Watford’s three bosses have managed this season.
It means Watford are now 12 points adrift of safety with just four games remaining and an infinitely worse goal difference than Burnley.
More than that, bottom of the table Norwich while 18th placed Everton are now a massive five points adrift of Burnley despite having two games in hand.
Poor old Hodgson was already feeling green about the gills after being taken ill on the eve of this win-or-bust match.
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And watching this lot on a regular basis is enough to make anyone feel sick.
But few people will shed a tear for a club who have got through 15 different managers since owner Gino Pozzo took charge ten years ago and immediately sacked Sean Dyche.
And that’s just about all they have in common with a Burnley team who have worked their socks off to beat the drop year after year and are now eyeing yet another great escape.
There is still plenty of work ahead for Jackson, but these two goals in the space of four minutes from Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill have put them within touching distance of salvation.
For much of this game it looked as though desperate Watford were going to cling on for their first home points since they beat Manchester United 4-1 back on November 20.
But that stay of execution was snatched from their grasp right at the death and now they are heading back to the Championship where they belong.
The opening exchanges were every bit as frantic as you would have expected of a match with so much riding on it.
But few would have anticipated Watford taking the lead for the first time this year at Vicarage Road with just eight minutes gone.
Hodgson’s team have needed all the help they can get in front of goal in recent weeks.
And they got it in spadefuls when Juraj Kucka’s powerful shot flew back off the bar and ricocheted into his own net off James Tarkowski.
You could almost hear the cheers all the way from Goodison as the unfortunate Burnley skipper screamed his frustration.
And he was fortunate that his block on another Kucka close range effort was deflected just over his own bar five minutes later.
The visitors had not been helped when striker Jay Rodriguez suffered an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by former Watford favourite Matej Vydra.
And they must have known that it wasn’t going to be their day when a 27th minute penalty in their favour was overturned by VAR Stuart Attwell.
Referee Craig Pawson had no doubts that Dwight McNeil had been fouled by Moussa Sissoko and Hassane Kamara as he surged into the area and pointed straight to the spot.
But TV replays showed that the initial contact was made millimetres outside the box and McNeil’s free-kick was scuffed straight into the wall.
It was a huge let-off for Watford, who looked like an accident waiting to happen every time the ball came near to their goal.
And poor old old Hodgson could only suffer in silence as he watched his team doing their level best to implode again.
Nothing summed up their indiscipline more than a 34th minute free-kick in a really promising position with six men in the area waiting for a cross from Emmanuel Dennis, only to see the selfish Nigerian shooting from an impossible angle and booting the ball straight into touch.
Aaron Lennon should have levelled for the visitors straight after half-time when Ismaila Sarr was caught dawdling on the ball but his low shot was tipped away at full stretch by Ben Foster.
But Burnley were simply not to be denied and when Charlie Taylor was allowed to send in a 83rd minute cross, former Watford loanee Cork arrived like an express train to bullet in a back post header.
Four minutes later Watford tried and failed three times to clear a free-kick before Brownhill stepped up to sidefoot home from just inside the area.
Cue mayhem in the away end and a mass exodus of Watford fans who have seen more than enough of this shower to last them a lifetime.
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