Pearson says "players can take real credit" following draw with Tottenham
Photo by Getty Images/Richard Heathcote

As it turns out, early Saturday afternoon's alright for fighting, too. And fight Watford certainly did when Tottenham Hotspur travelled to a sun-kissed yet deceptively cold Vicarage Road.

The Hornets would not be deceived by the poor form of their visitors; Spurs are a team of immense technical ability, and the tone was set early on as their most menacing forward, Son Heung-min, continued to torment makeshift full-back Adrian Mariappa, but the latter held his own well.

Chances were few and far between in the first half, with a cross-cum-shot from Nathaniel Chalobah the best opportunity for the hosts while Lucas Moura drew a fine save from Ben Foster.

But the encounter opened up somewhat after the break, with Watford in the ascendency. Abdoulaye Doucouré scuffed his effort from little more than six yards out and skipper Troy Deeney also missed a penalty which was awarded following a hand-ball by Jan Vertonghen. It was his third failed spot-kick in six attempts.

Said penalty miss threatened to swing momentum into Tottenham's favour, but the Hornets navigated a late spell of pressure to hold on for a respectable and well-earned draw.

A point was the very least Watford deserved, arguably edging what was an even and finely balanced affair, and head coach Nigel Pearson had plenty of reason for encouragement as he addressed he press after the game.

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Devoted to the cause

The abundance of blood, sweat and tears on display from the hosts would have made defeat a real disappointment, even an injustice, but Spurs did come mightily close to snatching victory at the death in stoppage time when Erik Lamela poked towards goal amid a penalty box scramble. However, debutant Ignacio Pussetto lunged to produce a timely intervention, clearing off the line to keep his side level by the finest of margins.

For Pearson, it was an example of exactly the traits Watford will need to show in the coming fixtures, and indeed their bid to evade relegation once more.

“Welcome to England; we’ve got one of our attacking players clearing one off the line!" Pearson said. "It shows his understanding of what’s required in this situation. That showed a real commitment which typified the performance of the team.”

The legendary figure of Graham Taylor was honoured pre-match, just over three years since his passing, as a sea of scarves emerged from the stands whilst the players embarked out onto the turf. The grit and determination shown by Watford both here and in recent weeks ring with the values which Taylor espoused during his time at the club.

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What's more, Pearson, for his part in the remarkable turnaround in fortunes and for his impressive conduct away from the pitch and in the public eye, has already merited comparisons to the club's greatest ever manager.

“I think the players can take real credit from the way they’ve gone about trying to win the game. On another day I’d be talking about three points, but it’s another hard-fought point, a clean sheet and a game we can look back on and say we’ve created some great chances.

“It’s also a game in which I know we’ve had one of our attacking players clear one off the line. All of those things suggest to me we’ve got a group of players who get the situation we’re in and are doing everything they can to find the right results for us.”

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Hard work comes first

Pearson has been lauded by players and fans alike for bringing the basics back to Vicarage Road after the perplexing downfalls of his predecessors Javi Gracia and Quique Sánchez Flores — for him, there is one fundamental and uncompromisable law that all must follow for maximal progress to be achieved, and current evidence suggests the squad have it in abundance.

“People want to talk about technical ability loads of other different things, but on a daily basis you need the work ethic and the professionalism to be a key component — that goes for all of us, not just the players, that’s the staff as well.”

His current contract only runs initially until the end of the season but, if results stay in their positive trend and Pearson continues to win over hearts in Hertfordshire, there will be no reason for the club to part ways with their current head coach.

For the 56-year old, though, the long-term is not presently a concern; the objective of securing Premier League status for another season must take precedent at this moment in time, good form notwithstanding.

“I think our club has an incredible amount of potential, but what we have to do is protect our immediate future and that is by doing what we can do to get out of the situation we’re in, which we’re still in," he said. "We’ve given ourselves a better chance, but what we haven’t done yet is eradicated the threat of relegation.”

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