Ayala leveller’s a relief for Middlesbrough’s Venus

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MIDDLESBROUGH caretaker-boss Mark Venus was relieved after his players salvaged a draw against Watford at the Riverside thanks to a last-gasp equaliser on Saturday.

However, Venus was disappointed at gifting Watford a second-half goal with a defensive blunder that forced Boro into a furious scrap to retrieve a point.

Boro led through a well-worked first-half Albert Adomah opener but Watford punished sluggish defending as Troy Deeney levelled before the break.

Fernando Forestieri then took advantage to score Watford’s second when Daniel Ayala failed to clear, but Boro’s on-loan Spanish defender made amends with a headed equaliser three minutes into stoppage time.

“The lads showed real character and spirit to keep going and get that equalising goal right at the end,” said Venus.

“We started off well and went a goal up and we deserved that, it was a great goal. But the second half was a bit scrappy and it was going nowhere, then there was a costly defensive mistake that let them back into it.

“We’ve talked about making mistakes before because whatever league you play in, whatever team you play for, if you make mistakes you get punished.

“But I was delighted for Daniel. He made the mistake but he made up for it when he got that goal. That shows strength of character and determination.”

Quizzed about the vacant Boro hot-seat, Venus insisted he did not know when owner Steve Gibson was likely to make a decision

“Listen, I don’t know anything about the state of play with that,” he said. “Really, I don’t know.

“There is a two-week break coming up and that may well be a time for the club to make their decision. As far as I’m concerned I’m in the job until someone tells me otherwise and I’ll keep doing it to the best of my ability.”

Middlesbrough: Steele, R Williams, Hines (Friend 88), Ayala, Gibson, Adomah, Leadbitter, Smallwood, Carayol (Bradley Halliday 78), Emnes (Butterfield 78), Kamara. Subs not used: Richardson, Jutkiewicz, Whitehead, Leutwiler. Booked: Gibson, Leadbitter. Goals: Adomah 23, Ayala 90.

Watford: Almunia, Doyley (Belkalem 46), Angella, Cassetti, Faraoni, Murray, McGugan (Battocchio 77), Iriney (McEachran 68), Pudil, Forestieri, Deeney. Subs not used: Acuna, Fabbrini, Anya, Bond. Booked: Murray, Faraoni, McGugan, Deeney. Goals: Deeney 32, Forestieri 73.

Att: 14,344 Ref: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).