Boro recover to sting Hornets
Sat 6th Oct 3pm
Substitute Scott McDonald was the unlikely match-winner as Middlesbrough recovered from a dreadful start to take maximum points against ten-man Watford at Vicarage Road.
The 29-year-old Australian international was on the mark to convert at the second attempt with thirteen minutes remaining in his first appearance for the club since April.
Fellow returning striker Marvin Emnes had earlier cancelled out Troy Deeney's first-minute opener before the hosts saw their Czech-born on loan Udinese striker Matej Vydra sent-off late in the first-half.
Watford capitalised on a mistake from Boro defender Andre Bikey to take the lead straight from the kick-off with Deeney drilling home inside the opening thirty seconds.
Meanwhile, Vydra was soon denied a second by England Under-21 international Jason Steele and Daniel Pudil then struck across goal before Vydra fired against the crossbar.
It had certainly been a torrid opening for the visitors whose Josh McEachran next headed wide from a deep cross by George Friend.
But it was after Friend saw an effort deflected behind that Boro equalised on the half-hour, with Bikey heading back Grant Leadbitter's corner and Emnes expertly netting on the turn from around six-yards.
Boosted by their success, McEachran's low drive soon forced keeper Manuel Almunia to finger away on the stretch before Justin Hoyte limped off for the visitors and was replaced by McDonald - with Nicky Bailey slotting in at right-back.
Watford were then reduced to ten-men as Vydra was dismissed for a challenge on Bailey, and there was still enough time remaining in the first-half for McDonald to head wide from a corner.
However, Boro keeper Steele was required to save well from Almen Abdi's free-kick upon the restart. Faris Haroun then blazed well over in reply and Almunia later denied both McDonald and Leadbitter.
But the former Arsenal keeper was beaten again when McDonald followed up his own shot to convert with thirteen minutes remaining.
Boro keeper Steele later made another great stop when Tommie Hoban appeared a certain scorer after ex-Boro winger Mark Yeates' free-kick had initially been spilled, while Emnes then called Almunia back into action after breaking well at the other end.
Watford: Almunia, Neuton (Murray 81), Hall, Pudil, Cassetti, Hoban, Chalobah, Hogg, Abdi (Yeates 68), Deeney (Alexandre Geijo 57), Vydra
subs (unuseed): Bond, Doyley, Ekstrand, Smith
Goals: Deeney (1)
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte (McDonald 39), McManus, Amougou, Friend, Leadbitter, Bailey, McEachran, Haroun (Ledesma 65), Emnes,
Jutkiewicz (L. Williams 76)
subs (unused): Leutwiler, Hines, Halliday, Smallwood
Goals: Emnes (30), McDonald (77)