Soccer

Valerein Ismael salutes substitutes after Watford earn late draw against Southampton

Valerien Ismael hailed Watford’s substitutes after the 1-1 draw with Southampton (Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images)
Valerien Ismael hailed Watford’s substitutes after the 1-1 draw with Southampton (Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images) Valerien Ismael hailed Watford’s substitutes after the 1-1 draw with Southampton (Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images)

Watford manager Valerien Ismael praised the impact of his substitutes after two of them combined to earn his side a 1-1 injury-time draw against Southampton at Vicarage Road.

With his side trailing to a Che Adams goal, Ismael sent on Vakoun Bayo and Rhys Healey and the pair combined to maintain Watford’s recent improved form.

Ismael said: “The bench had a massive impact today. I’m pleased that the players came on the pitch to make a difference.

“Everyone is a part of the process. We are working with all the players. I tell them: ‘Your minute will come. You will get your chance’.

“Rhys surprised the keeper with the position he shot from. It’s important for him as a striker to score goals.

“It’s great for him to get that reward. It has been a difficult period when he wants to play more. But he contributed to get us a point. This will give him a great feeling and give him the confidence to know that he can do it.”

Ismael also believes that Watford are beginning to assume the mentality of a side that can push for promotion from their current mid-table position. Their next challenge will come against second-placed Ipswich at Vicarage Road on Tuesday evening.

Ismael added: “There is no doubt that we deserved a point. I am incredibly proud of the players and the evolution of the team against a team that was relegated from the Premier League. There was a big desire and the way that we reacted to conceding the goal.

“You can see how the team is evolving. To attack the top of the table we have to become more ruthless. That is the last step in our evolution. Then we will be ready to get more rewards in these games.”

“So we will take this as a learning step because our opponents today were very strong in possession but we had our moments in transition.”

Southampton manager Russell Martin couldn’t disguise his feeling that his promotion-chasing side had let two points slip away.

With Leicester, Ipswich and Leeds all picking up victories, Southampton now sit 10 points off the automatic promotion places.

Martin said: “I didn’t speak very long with the lads afterwards because I felt so disappointed when we came off the pitch.

“Ultimately it is a point against a team that is in really good form themselves and I really liked the second-half performance. The energy was much better. We had a lot of control still and limited them to one really good moment.

“The first half was OK. We had a lot of control but made too many mistakes in the final third, so we changed the shape a bit at half-time to try to help us.

“But with the amount of moments we had of four v three or three v two in the second half, they needed to come to more. We needed to get the second goal and then it’s game over.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re hanging on in games, but I felt that we were going to get the second goal today. We didn’t and then we conceded a rubbish goal, a really bad goal.

“They smash it forward. We should head it. Instead, we try and get under it and Bayo was athletic and heads it and then Rhys hits one of the worst volleys I’ve seen him hit having worked with him.

“I wanted nine points from the three games this week, especially when the teams above us keep winning.

“I also watched stuff that I’m proud of and that I have enjoyed, but we just can’t have too many slip-ups.

“If we win the next two games, of course I’ll be happy. A point here is a positive one but because of the way it happens, it’s a real disappointment.”