PHOTOS: Watford 3, Burnley FC 2

STRIKER Jay Rodriguez joined an elite group of Clarets marksmen after hitting the 20-goal mark against Watford.

The 22-year-old profitted from Adrian Mariappa's defensive blunder to become the first player to reach that target since Robbie Blake during the 2003/04 campaign.

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Football - npower Football League Championship - Watford v Burnley - Saturday 03 March 2012 - Vicerage Road - Watford''? CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

And the feat became more historic in the knowledge that he became only the second Claret to hit 20 in the top two divisions since Frank Casper's prolific spell in 1968/69.

But aside from that it was an afternoon to forget at Vicarage Road for Eddie Howe's men following a second half capitulation.

Nyron Nosworthy's bullet header past Manchester United loan keeper Tomasz Kuszczak five minutes after the interval looked to have settled the encounter but somehow the away side managed to throw away that two-goal cushion.

The Clarets began the fixture well, exploiting the flanks to work the openings. David Edgar almost benefitted from that penetration in the early stages, getting on the end of Kieran Trippier's cross, only to see his weak effort gathered by Kuszczak.

On a difficult, cut-up surface, the Clarets continued to dictate the play with short, crisp passes but Lee Grant had to be alert when Troy Deeney latched on to Ben Mee's error to run clear. However, Grant stood his ground well, forcing the ball to safety.

The game ebbed and flowed, though it was the Clarets who remained the most likely to break the deadlock. Ross Wallace saw his rasping effort dip too late from the angle of the box before the winger cut past Mariappa from the opposite flank and cleared the upright.

As the half-hour struck Sean Dyche's men enjoyed their best spell. Mee cleared under pressure at the back post from Jonathan Hogg and Prince Buaben who had stormed in to meet Sean Murray's tantalising cross before Joe Garner dragged wide of the target.

As Watford pressed full-back Lee Hodson squeezed between Mee and Dean Marney and squared the ball to Buaben who forced Grant in to a spectacular reflex save from his dipping shot.

But eventually the goal came, and it was a gift. Mariappa was under little pressure in attempting to find Kuszczak with a header but Rodriguez stormer clear, took a touch and rifled low with confidence and composure.

After the interval the Clarets pegged their opponents back, closing the ball down and forcing mistakes. Kuszczak and Nosworthy had commanded the backline well but after Charlie Austin had been bundled over in front of the travelling faithful, the imposing centre-half powered in to his own net from Wallace's whipped free-kick to make it 2-0.

At that point the visitors should have settled, but they looked unsettled at the back following the half-time departure of Michael Duff. And in the first test of the second half the Clarets were broken; their lead lasting just four minutes. Murray's corner was swung in to the six-yard box and Nosworthy made amends by sending a bullet header beyond Grant to halve the deficit.

And what followed was a spirited fightback from the Hornets who stung the Clarets on the break. Mee denied Nosworthy's ferocious half-volley on the line whi;le at the other end Wallace's bending set-piece had Kuszczak beaten but the ball whistled past the upright.

A lack of concentration then cost the Clarets when a quick throw-in found substitute Alex Kacaniklic who fired low beyond Grant and in to the far corner to level proceedings, send the home fans in to raptures.

Both Danny Ings and Martin Paterson were introduced in hope of swinging the momentum but within minutes Watford had the lead. Murray's corner once again caused confusion in the box and the ball fell to Deeney who rifled home from close range.

Rodriguez went close, forcing Kuszczak to palm wide in the closing stages but as far as the season goes, any play-off ambitions have been disappointingly expelled.