Watford are up and running in the Premier League after a high-intensity display of commitment and organisation saw them twice lead at Everton only to be pegged back on both occasions in a stirring 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

The visitors had the upper hand for more than an hour after Miguel Layun had fired them into a 14th-minute lead before Ross Barkley equalised with 14 minutes remaining with an arrow-like finish from outside the penalty area.

Any thoughts the visitors would try and hold on for a point were banished in some style with six minutes of normal time remaining when substitute Odion Ighalo scored a superb goal that he’d largely created himself.

But the Golden Boys’ hopes of gaining a first-ever victory at the Toffees were to last just two minutes as another replacement, Arouna Kone, snatched the equaliser for Roberto Martinez’s men.

It is harsh to call it a disappointment that Watford didn’t hold out for the three points – most of the travelling faithful would surely have settled for what was the final outcome beforehand – but it was the manner they went behind the task in hand that bodes well for the next 37 games.

Quique Sanchez Flores’ men worked incredibly hard throughout, harrying and harassing the opposition when they were without the ball, and offered grounds for encouragement going forward that when all facets were combined meant they looked the better side for significant parts of the contest.

Flores handed six players their Watford debuts and made a couple of selections that may have raised eyebrows in some quarters in naming his first Premier League team.

Summer signings Allan Nyom, Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue, Valron Behrami and Jose Manuel Jurado all made their first competitive outings for the Hornets, as Flores also opted to field Ikechi Anya and Layun in the wide attacking midfield roles behind lone striker and skipper Troy Deeney.

Everton boss Roberto Matinez had some injury concerns coming into the game but aside from the longer-term absentees, all bar Gerard Deulofeu were fit to start. That meant John Stones partnered Phil Jagielka in central defence, Kevin Mirallas – fresh from signing a new deal – was in a midfield that also featured former Hornets loanee Tom Cleverley and Romelu Lukaku led the line.

However, the Toffees did suffer a late injury blow as Leighton Baines was ruled out with an ankle problem, which meant young full-back Brendan Galloway was included in the starting XI.

Many Watford fans were delayed getting to the game due to problems on the M6 but the majority who did arrive in time for kick off soon saw one of the reasons why Layun had been selected. Seamus Coleman enjoys rampaging forward from right-back and the Mexican was soon being pressed into action to help counter his threat.

As would be expected though, Everton had the bulk of the early territory and possession but their opponents started solidly enough on their return to the big time.

The first promising moment for the visitors came in the eighth minute when the home side were forced to concede a corner after Jurado had tried to put Anya through on goal with a neat pass.

That corner came to nothing but Flores’ men began to grow as an attacking presence. Deeney had an attempted overhead kick blocked after Layun had headed back a Jurado cross from the left and then the Hornets skipper had another effort intercepted following more promising build-up play.

The travelling fans had been in party mood since before kick off but in the 14th minute came the moment they were able to celebrate the first Premier League goal scored by their team since Marlon King netted a penalty against Newcastle United on May 13, 2007.

Jurado was the creator with a teasing cross from the left which Jagielka made a hash of dealing with and the ball broke nicely for Layun to lash home his first goal for the club with his right foot from around 12 yards to put the visitors a goal to the good.

Everton’s first real threat on the Hornets’ goal came four minutes later when, following a Mirallas corner from the right, Gareth Barry rose well but his header towards the top corner was superbly flicked over by Gomes.

In general though, the Hornets were continuing to look the better side. They had good shape and discipline, were pressing well with Valon Behrami snapping away in midfield and winning a number of crucial interceptions and they continued to ask questions when they had the chance to attack.

While not getting visibly frustrated, Everton’s only two attempts since Barry’s header were a couple of wayward efforts from outside the area from Barkley. However, the England international did extend Gomes just after the half-hour with a rasping drive from the left side of the 18-yard box which the Brazilian had to tip over.

The next ten minutes was very much a case of Everton patiently trying to find a way through but being constantly thwarted by the organisation and effectiveness of their opponents’ play. And every so often the Golden Boys broke down the other end, such as the 40th minute when one moment led to Capoue hitting a low shot which Tim Howard saved comfortably.

Deeney received Watford’s first booking of the season two minutes later for a late challenge on Galloway in the area after a promising situation had all but broken down, before Lukaku was left appealing in vain for handball outside the area against Gomes after the keeper had been forced to race to the edge of his 18-yard box to cut out a through ball.

The last meaningful action of the opening half saw the visitors – and Layun – not far away from netting a second. Holebas dug out a cross from near the by-line, Deeney tried to get his head to it but the ball was only cleared as far as the edge of the area where the Mexican took one touch before striking across the ball and sending it not too far wide of the far post.

It was no surprise that the hosts started the second period positively as they sought to try and get back on terms as early as possible and Gomes was called into action for the first time in the 50th minute when Mirallas tried to catch him out with a cross-cum-shot from the right side of the penalty soon.

Within a minute, the Toffees had seen a great chance go begging when, with Gomes stranded, Lukaku headed wide at the far post following a fine in-swinging Barkley delivery from the right.

Coleman received the home side’s first yellow card in the 54th minute for a challenge from behind on Capoue as the Frenchman broke out and tried to set up a counter-attack. But the pressure was continuing to come from the men in blue, with Mirallas the next to try his luck with a shot from outside the area which was deflected behind.

Layun’s memorable afternoon came to an end in the 59th minute when he was replaced by Juan Carlos Paredes. The substitute went to the right of the attacking midfield trio with Anya switching to the opposite side.

Martinez quickly followed suit by replacing Galloway with striker Arouna Kone, meaning Barry went to left back.

Holebas saw yellow for taking too long to take a throw in the 66th minute but before that the Hornets had threatened on the counter through Anya but Stones stayed with him and was able to get in the block when the Scottish international did attempt a strike at goal.

Howard wasn’t troubled by that effort but he appeared to be caught semi off-guard soon after when Holebas let fly powerfully from at least 30 yards, the American keeper could only push the ball back out of the area but Jurado was unable to keep his follow-up down.

Kone had Everton’s next decent opportunity when he headed wide of the near post following a good delivery from Cleverley but as the halfway point of the second period came and went the visitors were still in the ascendency.

Jurado’s promising bow was ended in the 74th minute when he made way for Ighalo but two minutes later the Hornets’ battling resistance was finally broken.

In many respects the Hornets contributed to their own downfall because Behrami, with two teammates in close proximity and with time on the edge of his own area, allowed himself to be caught in possession. The ball was then worked backed to Coleman, whose delivery towards the area was held up by Kone before he laid it back to Barkley and he rifled a right-footed shot past Gomes from 20 yards to make it 1-1.

Bryan Oviedo replaced Mirallas before play restarted and Flores was soon making his final change as Ben Watson came on for Behrami.

At that stage most observers would have backed the home side to go on and secure the win but in the 84th minute a Nigerian striker sent one corner of Goodison Park into collective delirium.

It all started from a long throw out from Gomes which cleared halfway and was helped around the corner by Deeney to Ighalo, who then proceeded to run at the Everton defence, turning Stones inside and out twice before striking a sumptuous low right-footed curling strike into the bottom right-hand corner to put the Hornets 2-1 to the good.

Sadly for the visitors though, their joy was to be short-lived as within two minutes the Toffees were back on terms. Lukaku held play up on the right side of the penalty area before releasing Kone and the substitute finished with a smart finish across and beyond Gomes.

After Anya had fired wide, Martinez made his final change as the clock clicked past 90 minutes as Steven Naismith came on for Lukaku.

Five minutes of stoppage time afforded the opportunity for both sides to try and snatch the win but in the end an enthralling afternoon ended with the Hornets reflecting on their first Premier League point, which was not too far away from being all three.

Everton: Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway (Kone 62); Barry, McCarthy; Cleverley, Barkley, Mirallas (Ovideo 76); Lukaku (Naismith). Not used: Robles, Osman, Browning, McAleny.

Watford: Gomes; Nyom, Prodl, Cathcart, Holebas; Capoue, Behrami (Watson 79); Anya, Jurado (Ighalo 74), Layun (Paredes 59); Deeney. Not used: Gilmartin, Angella, Vydra, Pudil.

Bookings: Deeney for a foul on Galloway (42); Coleman for a foul on Capoue (54); Holebas for time wasting (66).

Referee: Mike Jones.