Hughes lauds Deeney’s ‘bot­tle’ as penalty brace seals come­back

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By John Ai­zle­wood

at Vicarage Road

Deeney 52 pen, 82 pen

Gayle 23

He placed his hands on his hips. He looked at the ground. He glow­ered at Martin Dubravka. Then, Troy Deeney charged at the ball like a Pam­plona bull and whacked the penalty where the div­ing Dubravka had been stand­ing. Fifty-two min­utes had passed and Wat­ford were level in a game they looked des­tined to lose, even be­fore Dwight Gayle tapped in af­ter 23 min­utes.

Eight min­utes from time, Wat­ford had an­other penalty and Deeney had to do it all over again. Scor­ing would prob­a­bly en­sure Wat­ford’s safety. Miss and they were back in the rel­e­ga­tion scrap.

This time around, Deeney wiped his nose with his shirt. Then the look at the ground. Then the glower at Dubravka. And then, Deeney re­peated him­self. Dubravka was a lit­tle closer, but the se­quel had the same end­ing as its pre­de­ces­sor.

“To have the bot­tle to take and score two penal­ties on big oc­ca­sions says a lot about him,” said Wat­ford mid­fielder Will Hughes.

“You need play­ers like that if you’re go­ing to avoid rel­e­ga­tion.”

Record sign­ing Is­maila Sarr of­fered the X fac­tor. Clearly fa­tigued, in the first half he was pe­riph­eral. Wat­ford were trans­formed in the sec­ond and none more than Sarr. Nei­ther penalty would have hap­pened but for him.

“He’s been bril­liant in the past few weeks,” Hughes said. “He’s a vi­tal cog in our ma­chine.”

For all that, this has been a sea­son of three man­agers and tur­moil. Nigel Pear­son is the key to next term but, while he will pick up a sub­stan­tial bonus for a great es­cape that ranks with his Le­ices­ter hero­ics of 2014-15, his deal ex­pires at the end of the sea­son.

“Un­til we’re math­e­mat­i­cally safe, we’re not go­ing to speak about next sea­son,” said Hughes.

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