NEWCASTLE, England (Reuters) -Newcastle United had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Watford after Joao Pedro struck a late equaliser for the visitors in their Premier League clash at St James' Park on Saturday, ensuring the home side remain in the relegation zone.
It was another dismal result for Eddie Howe's side, who have one victory after 20 games. They went in front through Allan Saint-Maximin, but have taken the lead 10 times in the league so far this season only to be pegged back each time.
With new striker Chris Wood making his debut, Newcastle started positively as midfielder Joelinton fired a volley off the bar and sent another just wide in the opening 20 minutes.
They looked en route to a much-needed win as Saint-Maximin put them ahead four minutes after the break with a brilliant solo effort, snapping up the ball from an error by Jeremy Ngakia and cutting inside before rifling home at the near post.
Watford turned up the pressure after the goal and Joshua King and Moussa Sissoko missed excellent chances as Newcastle appeared to be trying to protect their lead rather than making the most of their dominance in possession.
Jonjo Shelvey fired a speculative effort from distance high and wide in one of their few forays late in the game but their lack of attacking intent was to prove costly.
Joao Pedro outmuscled the Newcastle defence to brilliantly head home Kiko's cross in the 88th minute and snatch a share of the spoils as the Newcastle players looked on in despair.
The result leaves Newcastle second-bottom on 12 points, one point ahead of Burnley, who have three games in hand, and two behind Watford, who are 17th with an extra match to play.
Howe could not hide his dismay after the final whistle.
"Hugely disappointing, we were so close to the win we needed. In the first half we were on the front foot, created chances, scored the goal and went into protection mode too early," he told the BBC.
Watford manager Claudio Ranieri was pleased with a point despite his side still hovering above the relegation zone.
"I am happy we never give up, but I ask more from them because I believe in them and know what they can do. When they want to do something, they can," said the Italian.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)