MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray felt his side’s hard work was rewarded on Saturday – even if they were helped along by a refereeing decision.
The hosts had striker Matej Vydra sent off two minutes before half-time when referee Steve Rushton adjudged the striker had stamped on Nicky Bailey.
It was a decision which angered Watford boss Gianfranco Zola, who will contest the decision.
Mowbray was in agreement with his opposite number over the sending off and said: “I didn’t even see a tackle, let alone a sending off, and I think everyone in the stadium is flabbergasted.
“I was asking the fourth official and he said the referee said there was intent with six studs showing. It was obviously harsh for them.”
Mowbray felt the win was deserved though. “Sometimes you don’t have to work as hard as that but I feel as if today we’ve earned our corn.
“The difficulty we had this week is we’ve played on Wednesday and we’ve had three or four of the players unavailable to train, so I couldn’t do any shape or any organisational stuff I normally do the day before a game with the team against a second team or the players on the fringes.
“So we’ve done no work on the training ground about how to play against 3-5-2. I tried to do it with a tactics board this morning, and obviously the first 20 minutes it hadn’t sunk in. It was hard work but we got there in the end.”
The Hornets made a fantastic start as Troy Deeney notched his second goal in three matches in the first minute after a horrendous defensive error from Andre Bikey.
Watford then failed to make their dominance count as fit-again Marvin Emnes levelled after 30 minutes.
The sending off proved pivotal, with Boro making their advantage count deep into the second half when Scott McDonald converted from 12 yards to end Watford’s two-match winning streak.
Watford: Almunia, Pudil, Neuton (Murray 81), Hall, Cassetti, Hogg, Abdi (Yeates 68), Hoban, Chalobah, Deeney (Geijo 57), Vydra. Subs Not Used: Bond, Doyley, Smith, Ekstrand. Sent Off: Vydra (43). Goals: Deeney 1.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte (McDonald 39), Bikey, McManus, Friend, Leadbitter, Bailey, McEachran, Haroun (Ledesma 65), Emnes, Jutkiewicz (Luke Williams 76). Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Hines, Halliday, Smallwood. Booked: McEachran, Ledesma. Goals: Emnes 30, McDonald 77.
Att: 12, 006 Ref: Steven Rushton.