Watford were unable to make the most of having a man advantage for more than half-an-hour but they did take a point off one of the Premier League 'big guns' with a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road.

An intriguing first half had seen Watford strike first when Christian Kabasele headed in a Tom Cleverley corner. But the Hornets always looked vulnerable down their left and Spurs were to exploit the open spaces when Christian Eriksen set up Son Heung-min for the equaliser.

However, the hosts were to find themselves a man to the good for the majority of the second half when Davinson Sanchez took out Richarlison with a raised armed and was sent off.

Watford went very close to making the extra count when Abdoulaye Doucuore saw a right-footed curler rebound out off the inside of the post, but try as they might the home side were unable to conjure up a winner, although they had what looked a strong injury-time appeal for a penalty turned down when Eric Dier looked to have handled.

Marco Silva was always going to have to make one change to the team that lost 4-2 against Manchester United in midweek following Will Hughes’ hamstring injury, but he ultimately decided on a second as Andre Gray dropped to the bench. Their places were taken by Roberto Pereyra and Troy Deeeny.

With only one win in the last four games in all competitions and following three successive away defeats, Mauricio Pochettino made three changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Leicester City on Tuesday night.

The Spurs boss did his usual trick of rotating his full-backs, so Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies came in for Serge Aurier and Danny Rose, while Son was preferred to Moussa Sissoko.

As suspected from when the teams were named, Pochettino had ditched three at the back in favour of a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dele Alli operating centrally behind Harry Kane.

After a relatively low-key opening, the visitors had the first chance in the sixth minute when a wonderful long pass from left to right from Davies found Tripper running in behind the Hornets defence and the right-back didn’t need to break stride as he half-volleyed the ball into the danger zone where Kane was just squeezed out of it by two opponents as he sought to apply the decisive touch.

In attempting to reach the ball, the England striker’s momentum painfully made him collide with the foot of the post, but he was fine to continue after taking a minute or two to recover.

While there was no immediate cause for concern, Watford did not look particularly settled in the opening 10 minutes. But that was to change in some fashion in the 13th minute.

The Hornets got themselves into a position to ask questions of the visiting defence when Cleverley’s superb ball down the left released Richarlison, who did well to keep the ball in play before advancing and forcing the corner.

Cleverley took the set-piece from the left and Kabasele got across the front of Kane to nod down and inside the far post, with Hugo Lloris not able to react until it was too late, as the hosts made the breakthrough.

Silva’s men continued to play with confidence and in the 20th minute Richarlison saw an overhead effort blocked after Deeney had flicked on a throw-in from the left.

The Brazilian was then asking for a penalty when he went down the six-yard box as he tried to hook the ball on goal after the visitors had very inadvisably let it bounce in the penalty area.

But within a minute the visitors were to be level, exploiting the spaces down the left side of the Hornets defence which had been in evidence beforehand.

Trippier set the business end of the move going, finding Eriksen and the Danish international exploited the gap in front of him to send in a low cross and Son really couldn’t miss from inside the six-yard box.

Unsurprisingly, Tottenham looked better after pulling level, but they had to wait until the 37th minute for their next attempt; Heurelho Gomes making a watchful save from a long-range Eriksen free-kick after Cleverley had become the first player to see yellow for a foul on Alli.

The hosts responded positively to that, with Doucuore driving forward and firing a well-struck right-footed shot across goal and wide after Kiko Femenia had laid the ball inside.

The opportunities continued to switch from end-to-end, with Davies hitting a left-foot volley on the turn wide from the edge of the 18-yard box after Marvin Zeegelaar’s foul on Alli had given Tottenham the chance to put the pressure on again from a free-kick.

The last chance of the half fell to the visitors from another set piece, which Kane took from 25 yards without unduly troubling Gomes as his effort cleared the bar as the opening period ended all-square.

Tottenham started the second half in the ascendency, but the open spaces on the Hornets’ left didn’t look quite as wide. However, Eriksen would have raced away into that area had he not been bought down by Kabasele in the 51st minute for which the Hornets defender was rightly booked.

But the complexion of the game was to change considerably two minutes later when Richarlison tried to beat Sanchez in a foot race by the dug-outs, only for his way to blocked by an outstretched arm across his face.

Whether it was an elbow was open to debate, but after consulting with his colleagues Martin Atkinson had no doubt and reached for his red card.

Sensing their chance, the Hornets began to up the ante and they were to come within inches of taking the lead in the 64th minute.

A Cleverley corner from the right was poor, not clearing the first man at the near post, but the Spurs player could only get the ball as far as the edge of the area where Doucuore had time to watch it onto his right foot, hitting a curling effort which cannoned off the inside of Lloris near post, only to rebound across the face of goal instead of into the net.

Both managers opted to make a change before play restarted, with Etienne Capoue coming on for Kabasele, while Eriksen made way for Sissoko. Soon after Andre Carrillo came on for Pereyra.

There were worrying scenes when Gomes needed treatment after being inadvertently caught on the head by Adrian Mariappa when dealing with a low Trippier cross, but the keeper was soon able to continue.

Jan Vertonghen was then booked for hauling down Capoue and he was soon joined by Zeegelaar, who took out Alli off the ball.

Erik Lamela came on for Son in the 73rd minute but it was the hosts who were continuing to host their share of the attacking questions; their next effort coming when Lloris got behind a Capoue strike from 20 yards.

Both sides made a final change in the closing stages, as Harry Winks came on for Alli, while Gray replaced Cleverley, but Watford’s search for a winner was to prove in vain, although they were left asking voiciferous questions of Atkinson deep into injury time when Dier handled in his own area as the referee finished the game having succeeded in upsetting both sets of fans.

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Prodl, Kabasele (Capoue 64); Femenia, Cleverley (Gray 88), Doucuore, Zeegelaar; Pereyra (Carrillo 67), Richarlison; Deeney. Subs not used: Karnezis, Janmaat, Wague, Watson.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vetonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen (Sissoko 64), Alli (Winks 86), Son (Lamela 77); Kane. Subs not used: Vorm, Rose, Llorente, Aurier.

Bookings: Cleverley for a foul on Alli (36); Kabasele for a foul on Eriksen (51); Sanchez sent off for an elbow on Richarlison (53); Vertonghen for a foul on Capoue (70); Zeegelaar for a foul on Alli (73); Richarlison for dissent (89).

Referee: Martin Atkinson.