You wait more than six months for a Troy Deeney goal at Vicarage Road and then, like Harry Potter buses at Watford Junction, two come along in the space of three minutes, one at either end.
Goals for his younger brother Ellis are, by the sounds of it, much, much rarer and he was on target later on Saturday afternoon. Like his big brother, it was also from a deadball.
With Worcester winning 3-0 and Ellis named man-of-the-match, it would have been quite a day for the Deeney family had Troy, in front of some special guests, secured Watford a point against Manchester United. The headlines were already being written.
That effort, from a reporter at news agency, ended up on the cutting room floor when Deeney, of all people, inadvertently turned in a hopeful centre from Bastian Schweinsteiger in his desperation to hold onto the point his nerveless thumping penalty looked like earning them.
It would be glib and probably inappropriate to say he went from hero to villain in the space of three minutes as there was no-one inside Vicarage Road blaming the captain. He loves getting his hands dirty in his own penalty box, as his spectacular acrobatic clearance in the first half showed, but it may have been a case of too many chefs. The cut back from the former German and Bayern Munich captain, whose last goal was against Watford’s twin town Mainz, was heading harmlessly into the arms of Heurelho Gomes, but Deeney wasn’t to know that. He acted on instinct.
“He’s defending with his soul,” said Quique Sanchez Flores. “He is always defending the second ball, when the second ball comes in he moves well because he is always keeping with the line.”
Gomes cost Watford, twice, in the last game so Deeney had a comforting, sympathetic arm, if he needed one afterwards.
“He was disappointed with the goal but he’s a great player for us,” said Gomes. “I told him it’s not his fault. He couldn’t do much in that situation.”
Could the team have done better, as a unit, to prevent an already cleared corner on the opposite side ending up at the far post?
“I analysed perfectly the last two corner kicks and I see nothing wrong,” Sanchez Flores said. “The team was concentrating and focused on the situation but it was unlucky.”
Indeed it was but observers of the club’s previous Premier League season, in 2006/7, do not need reminding of the cost of late goals. That team conceded 16 in the last nine minutes of games. The one at Goodison Park on the opening day and now this one have already cost the class of 14/15 three points.
“We need to get points from big games like this,” said Gomes. “We were so close today.”
Gomes felt Watford were guilty of “showing them too much respect” in the first 45 minutes. Sanchez Flores did not need to see a rerun of the game to concur.
“Normally [Sunday] is the day [I watch the game] because I need to keep… a clear head,” he said. “Sometimes when you finish the match your brain is not clear on what has happened. But this match was clear to me in the first half everything was bad but the second half it was better. We needed to remove the first half and play the second half as a different 45 minutes.”
Watched by Graham Taylor in the directors’ box, Watford went longer, much longer in the second half.
“It was very difficult to play short because they were making good pressure, so I said to Watson and Capoue don’t come to receive the ball as we wanted to play the long ball but we had to play it behind Smalling and Jones,” the head coach said. “That’s the space we needed to achieve and that was very evident in the first half.”
It needed three saves from Gomes to keep Watford in it.
“I was so disappointed with my last game, I let the boys down, let the fans down,” he said. “That’s my level [today] and I was happy to help. I was able to keep us in the game but unfortunately they scored the winner.”
To split hairs, ‘they’ didn’t actually score the winner: Deeney did.
“For us he [Deeney] is like the soul of the team, he represents all of the values of Watford,” said Sanchez Flores. “Every time he is helping his teammates, every time he is everywhere on the pitch so he is very important for us.”
None more so than on Saturday when, being a die-hard blue nose, Deeney will run the gauntlet of the Holte End at Villa Park.
- Additional reporting by Charlie Doris