Watford manager Sean Dyche described today’s victory over Middlesbrough as a game which summed up their season and was delighted to send the supporters into the summer break with a “smile on their faces”.
The Hornets started the contest slowly and had Scott Loach to thank for ensuring they were still level at the break after a string of impressive saves.
Middlesbrough had a positive spell after the restart but Watford improved as the match went on and took the lead through a neat flick by Chris Iwelumo.
Marvin Emnes pulled one back five minutes from time but the home side responded well and Troy Deeney scored the winner late on.
The Hornets had a few nervy moments in injury time but managed to hang on for a victory which sees them finish the season in 11th.
“That game was similar to our whole season,” Dyche said. “We didn’t start well today, we looked a bit on the back foot, but like we have done all season, we stuck at it, played better in the second half, built and were strong.
“There is a real team out there every week for the fans to see. We can’t guarantee every result but we go to win and yet again today, we wanted to win and finally got three points because I really felt this was an important game.”
He continued: “I made it clear that we play to win every week and we have shown that in the last run of results. We have gone hard in every game.
“We had to ride our luck in the first half because they came down with something to play for, we knew they would come at us and they certainly did. Scott Loach pulled off two or three really good saves and in the second half we calmed down and played better.
“The thing I am really proud about is the will, the demand and the resolve of these players. The respect they have for each other and the honesty is what we what spoke about at the beginning of the season and in games like that, it stands you in good stead.
“I thought in the end, we came away with a lovely victory, it finishes the season fantastically for us and it gives our fans, who have stayed by us in the most part all season, something to cheer about and sends them home with a smile on their face ahead of next season.”
Loach only found out he was starting the game a couple of hours before kick-off, after Tomasz Kuszczak’s wife gave birth.
It was Loach’s first start since February 18 and the former England Under-21 keeper barely put a foot wrong.
Dyche said: “We knew Tomasz’s wife was heavily pregnant so that is fantastic and congratulations to him and his family.
“We didn’t tell Scott, left it alone, waiting until the team came in to name the side and he got on with it.
“Scott is a very solid character, he has been through a lot and has learned a lot and his performance was excellent today.”
One sour note this afternoon was the injury sustained by midfielder Jonathan Hogg after a late challenge by Stephen McManus.
Dyche said: “We are hoping it is something out of nothing. He has gone for an x-ray and obviously I didn’t enjoy that tackle but that is the way it goes. We are hopeful he will be ok but we just want to make sure.”