There have been occasions at Vicarage Street on Wednesday night time while you needed to remind your self that this match between Watford and Everton meant one thing. Everton nonetheless had work to do to protect their top-flight standing, and Watford, relegation confirmed final weekend, had satisfaction to play for.
And but, on 75 minutes, as Everton tried to go for the win, however not an excessive amount of, Watford followers started a rendition of “we’ve misplaced the ball” – sometimes ramping up the amount for “we’ve obtained the ball” – that solely got here to an finish when applause crammed the air for Craig Cathcart’s substitution. After which they began up once more.
It was maddening, humorous, and completely instructive of a 0-0 solely Everton followers will bear in mind, and just for the subsequent couple of weeks. The purpose places them two above the relegation zone in sixteenth, with Burnley and Leeds United beneath them. The Everton followers, raucous all through, had been fearing the worst when Watford received a free-kick deep of their half in damage time. Then they had been left pissed off when two corners up the opposite finish got here and went earlier than referee Mike Dean did the humane factor and blew the ultimate whistle.
There are not any things like walkovers while you’re a degree above the relegation zone within the second week of Might, as Everton had been after they arrived earlier within the night. However this was as shut as you will get to such a luxurious they usually refused to take it.
For Watford had been already down after defeat to Crystal Palace on the weekend, their sixth loss in a row, and lots of of their gamers already out. Ismailia Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis, Tom Cleverley, Imran Louza, Juraj Kucka, Kiko Femenia, Josh King, and Nicolas N’Koulou had been all declared unavailable the day earlier than this fixture, therefore the seven adjustments. All with a mixture of damage and sickness, little doubt exacerbated by the untimely finish to their season and thus their enthusiasm.
Many followers adopted swimsuit, as per the numerous empty seats at Vicarage Street. And honest sufficient. They’d already seen the demise of one other Premier League marketing campaign together with two managers. There was no want to look at the tip of a 3rd. A few hours earlier than kick-off, Roy Hodgson’s alternative was introduced as Rob Edwards, following an orchestrated exit from Forest Inexperienced Rovers. Even the one coming in is underneath a cloud.
However the turnaround of 10 factors of their final 5 video games, armed with one in hand over eighteenth place Leeds United – didn’t change Frank Lampard’s tact. Their climb from the depths has come about by way of treating every match as a must-win and now was not the time to veer from that focus. Particularly with only one change to the line-up – Michael Keane in for Mina – after victory over Leicester Metropolis simply three days in the past.
And so the primary half performed out tediously, ring rusty hosts – Dan Gosling, anybody? – and overtly cautious guests shifting across the ring, floating just a few jabs however principally simply observing each other, ready for the opposite to visibly tire. Watford really had the higher begin, shifting the ball backwards and forwards sufficient to seek out the odd entry into the field from large positions. Everton slowly stepped up and imposed themselves, like predators approaching its gammy prey, albeit cautious of doing itself hurt within the course of like dropping a filling.
Anthony Gordon and Richarlison, previously of yellow and black, had been probably the most direct, as ever, and Gordon’s breaks down the appropriate ought to have amounted to extra, notably the one by which he beautifully dummied Ken Sema to dash free. Help, nonetheless, was missing, which was a well-known theme all through the primary half and absolutely one to be rectified within the second. The urge for food to try this from either side, who hadn’t registered a shot on the right track between them within the opening 45, all of the extra evident as they emerged after the break a couple of minutes earlier than the referees.
That ought to have come on 51 minutes, and to Watford. A free-kick from a crossing place on the left was whipped in and located Moussa Sissoko rising highest in entrance of the penalty spot. The contact was so poor it nearly went out for a throw in. Everton then returned serve straight away, Richarlison rolling a physique into the field and poking an effort at aim that Ben Foster did properly to claw away following a deflection off Christian Kabasele.
One of the best probability fell on the hour, a neat one-two between Demarai Grey and Alex Iwobi gave the latter a snapshot to tackle the sting of the right-hand level of the six-yard field which he dragged large of the left put up. Then Keane headed comfortably into the fingers of Ben Foster from a nook.
Then got here the quarter-of-an-hour of tedium, which really introduced loads of openings for Everton, even photographs on aim that had been by no means not straight at Foster at a snug tempo.
Even within the remaining throes of Watford’s free kick and Everton’s nook, nobody actually believed these two can be cut up on the night time. And as Gordon’s second nook sailed lengthy, deep and out of play and Dean blew up, Watford followers roared with approval, leaping round in ironic glee at not dropping a seventh in a row. They are going to most likely be in an analogous (albeit honest) this time subsequent yr if promotion from the Championship performs to sort. Everton followers recommended their aspect for one more small step in the direction of survival, one they may really feel is that rather more attainable after Leeds’ freefall continued with a pasting by the hands of Chelsea.
One factor was for positive – there have been no winners right here.