Substitute Jay DeMerit, a centre-back from
As for the resurgent
Either way, this imperilled team demonstrated an admirable sense of purpose.
DeMerit's intervention, certainly, was well merited. It came after Benni McCarthy had levelled for
As well as commitment, DeMerit showed great presence of mind deep into the second half to offset the anxiety among
DeMerit strike a boost on rocky road to survival
On the day when they became £9.65m better off through the transfer of the midfielder Ashley Young to Aston Villa, Watford also finished up three points better off as they secured their first League victory since 4 November and only their second of the season.
Rare riches indeed for the side holding up the rest of the Premiership - and the result left their indefatigable optimist of a manager, Aidy Boothroyd, maintaining that his team might yet remain in the top flight.
Boothroyd, characteristically, had cancelled pre-match training and sent his players to the cinema to watch Rocky Balboa, the story of an Everton fan's struggle to renew his boxing career against the odds.
The ploy appeared to have the desired effect as the men who have been sparring partners for the main part of the season transformed themselves into contenders through a concentrated effort of will. Their opening goal, in the 13th minute, was gifted to them as Brett Emerton, replacing the recently departed Lucas Neill at right-back, headed into his own net after a Tommy Smith cross from the right. Given it was only
The lead was eradicated in the final seconds of the half when Benni McCarthy headed home David Bentley's right-wing cross, but the home players earned a merited victory through a Jay DeMerit header 20 minutes from time.
Boothroyd, who also saw his £1.2m signing from
"I would rather we had kept Ashley, but now it's up to me to use that big chunk of money wisely. We need more players in." The Independent
The odds are that, in the greater scheme of things, this will make no difference, but you could hardly blame the supporters of Watford FC for living for the moment. Long and loud were the celebrations after their second league win of the season, and the most satisfying thing must have been how thoroughly deserved it was.
As Aidy Boothroyd acknowledged afterwards, his team outplayed and out-fought opponents who, unlikely as it may sound for a team managed by Mark Hughes, looked as though they lacked the stomach for this particular battle.
Watford's tackling was often robust, and the cries of outrage would have been heard at the FA had Robbie Savage been the perpetrator rather than the victim of the tackle with which Al Bangura broke the
Watford thus received a part payment of £8 million and three points in the space of a few hours, Ashley Young's transfer to Aston Villa having been completed earlier, and Boothroyd emphasised that the forward's departure was not a sign that they had thrown in the towel. “We're not a one-man team,” he said. “We have got to have 11 players playing at 110 per cent. We'd lost our way in recent weeks, but tonight we were back at it.”
“I'm absolutely thrilled to get three points because I'd forgotten what it was like,” he said. The Times