The Scottish Mail on Sunday


- By Adrian Kajumba

BRIGHTON’S equaliser had been coming for a long time but that did not make it any easier for Nigel Pearson to take.

Watford’s manager threw his water bottle to the ground and let rip in an expletive-filled rage in response to Adrian Mariappa turning the ball into his own net.

This is six-pointer territory and Watford were just 12 minutes away from victory and they would have climbed out of the bottom three and level on 26 points with Brighton.

‘It’s probably a missed opportunit­y but it’s also a hardearned point,’ said Pearson. ‘If you thought it was easy to negotiate a relegation battle, it’s not.

‘We’ve got players who have played quite a bit of football and perhaps didn’t reach the levels we’ve done recently.’

They were unable to hold on to the lead given to them in the first half by Abdoulaye Doucoure though, Brighton’s persistenc­e and pressure in the second half eventually telling.

Nineteen minutes in, Aaron Mooy delayed a split second too long on the ball and was pressured into poking the ball straight at Etienne Capoue before it rolled perfectly into Doucoure’s path.

The rest of the work for the goal was all the Frenchman’s.

Gathering the ball just inside Brighton’s half, he drove straight at the home defence, sending Shane Duffy backtracki­ng towards his own goal and from the edge of the box unleashed a rocket of a shot that flew past Mat Ryan, denying him a clean sheet on his 100th Brighton appearance.

The hosts found the equaliser on 78 minutes, when substitute Alireza Jahanbakhs­h’s cross was tapped past Ryan and into his own net by Mariappa, who was under no pressure at the far post.

Brighton boss Graham Potter said: ‘I’m proud of the players and the character they showed after going behind.’

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