Middlesbrough vs Watford match report: Hornets indebted to Troy Deeney

Middlesbrough 1 Watford 1

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The Independent Football

Watford turned to their usual source of goals when they were heading towards defeat against one of their promotion rivals in the Championship.

Middlesbrough were ahead through a goal from Garcia Martinez, known as Kike,  when Watford sent on Troy Deeney for his third appearance as a substitute after returning from a hamstring injury.

Deeney, who scored 25 times last season, required only nine minutes to steer in the equaliser, which keeps Watford in second place.

Watford, who were second-best for long periods here, had suffered a setback even before the start. The influential Heurelho Gomes, their goalkeeper and captain, was injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Jonathan Bond.

While showing the wisdom of having three goalkeepers travelling in the squad, Gomes’s absence was a concern for their fourth manager of the season, Slavisa Jokanovic, who saw Bond fumble a straightforward cross early on.

Even more worrying for Jokanovic was the way his side started as Middlesbrough had two goal-bound shots blocked, and twice spurned promising moves with misplaced final passes.

The only major interruption to Middlesbrough’s early dominance came just after the half-hour mark when Matej Vydras’s low shot from outside the area was turned away by Dimi Konstantopoulos.

Konstantopoulos also had to fend off a fierce cross from the Scotland international Ikechi Anya to at least give Watford some hope of improving the balance of power after the break.

That optimism was swept aside within four minutes. Ryan Fredericks had already gone close when Kike drove in his sixth goal of the season from eight yards  after Patrick Bamford cleverly pulled the ball back from the byline.

Bamford almost stretched their lead before Watford levelled in a rare attack after 61 minutes. Anya created it with a cross steered in by Deeney, sparking an improved performance by Watford, who  almost secured all three points when Joel Ekstrand headed against the post.