Watford nicked a late point away from Newcastle United at St James' Park, as they drew 1-1 with the Magpies for the second time this season.

Allan Saint-Maximin punished yet another defensive mistake from the Hornets to open the scoring in the second half, after an opening 45 minutes lacking in quality.

However, Joao Pedro salvaged something from the match with only three minutes of normal time remaining, with a headed finish.

Claudio Ranieri made six changes to the team that lost in the FA Cup at Leicester City.

Ben Foster was brought back in after recovering from a groin injury, while new signings Samir, Hassane Kamara and Edo Kayembe were all handed their debuts.

Top scorer Emmanuel Dennis was included in the starting XI after shaking off a knock, while Joshua King was also brought back in up front. Pedro kept his place in the team after impressing in recent matches.

Meanwhile, the hosts gave Kieran Trippier a first league start, while Chris Wood made his debut after completing a move to Tyneside from Burnley during the week.

The home side started with a sense of purpose, but Jonjo Shelvey’s effort over the bar in the opening two minutes showed signs of a side lacking in confidence in front of goal, while Saint-Maximin’s deflected delivery into the box might have caused more problems with Joelinton waiting, had Foster not been there to gather.

Watford were gifted a decent chance to test Martin Dubravka soon after from a mindless Shelvey foul on Juraj Kucka on the edge of the box but Dennis hit the wall with his effort before firing wildly over on the rebound.

The Hornets were lucky not to be behind on 11 minutes when Ryan Fraser’s cross from the right was deflected off Kucka’s head into the path of Joelinton in the box, but the midfielder could only find the upright with his effort.

There was a chance for the visitors to make the hosts pay for their wasted opportunity soon after when Saint-Maximin lost the ball in midfield. Pedro slipped the ball out to King on the left, but the striker punted his effort wide of the near post.

The game had begun to flow from end-to-end with both midfields struggling to gain any real control and it was the hosts’ turn to next miss a great opportunity.

Trippier's delivery from a short corner on the left found Joelinton at the back post, but the Brazilian couldn’t put his effort on target.

Neither could new signing Wood, who leapt to meet a Fraser delivery moments later, but steered over the top of Foster’s goal.

The former Burnley man repeated the trick soon after from another corner, this time he was unmarked after Jamal Lascelles headed back into the box on the end another Fraser delivery.

A third opportunity to score with a header arrived for Newcastle from a free kick on the right hand corner of the box, with Trippier this time finding Fabian Schar in the middle, but the defender glanced wide of the far post, with Foster not required to do a great deal of work.

Nevertheless, Watford were still camping deep and struggling to create, allowing the home side to dominate. They worked another sight of goal through Saint-Maximin on the left, with his mazy run taking him into the penalty area, only for Sean Longstaff to curl over with his instep on the cut back.

The first half ended without fanfare or quality, leaving only the second 45 to find the all important breakthrough.

That came for the home side just five minutes after the restart, with Saint-Maximin making the most of a Jeremy Ngakia mistake to score.

The Frenchman had run beyond the full back, who just needed to clear, but allowed the ball to slip through his legs.

The loose ball was gathered by Saint-Maximin before cutting away from Craig Cathcart into the area and firing in at the near post.

It was a goal that had clearly shocked the Hornets and it took them a while to get back into the rhythm of the game.

In fact, it wasn’t until after the hour mark that Pedro barely troubled Dubravka with a weak shot from inside the box, however the keeper had to be brave to keep out King with a sliding stop at the near post a minute after, as he latched onto Kayembe’s through ball.

The two half chances restored some of the visitors’ confidence and they worked another opening down the left, with King’s cross from deep glanced towards goal by Pedro, into the grateful gloves of the keeper.

Next to pass up an opportunity was Sissoko, who really ought to have done better on the end of Dennis’ pass, as the Hornets quickly broke downfield after regaining possession in the centre. However, he was unable to punish his former club and skewed wide of the far post.

With 20 minutes still remaining, Newcastle were camping deeper inside their own half and inviting more pressure from their visitors, but Watford were still struggling to open them up, with corners and set pieces barely causing any panic among the home side's defenders.

Likewise, the Hornets were similarly untroubled at the back, as Shelvey took aim but fired over from range with ten minutes of normal time remaining, with what was the Magpies' last real opportunity. 

The clock was winding down and, with chances at a premium, it seemed like all three points would be staying at St James' Park, however Pedro had other ideas. 

The Brazilian leapt to meet a cross from the right from substitute Kiko Femenia with only three minutes of the match left on the clock and found the corner of the net to earn a scarcely-deserved, but hugely important point that keeps Watford out of the relegation zone ahead of an important trip to Burnley on Tuesday.