Nigel Pearson hailed Watford’s “incredible unity” in dealing with the dismissal of Adrian Mariappa and going on to beat Aston Villa 3-0 in their vital Premier League clash at Vicarage Road

The Hornets were leading through Troy Deeney's goal shortly before the interval, but the defender’s sending off for two bookable offences could have proved a big turning point in the contest.

Pearson’s side though, impressed with the manner in which they dealt with the setback as they went on to run out convincing winners through a Deeney penalty and a third goal from Ismaila Sarr.

The Hornets boss said: “Today’s result was going to be always more important than how we played, but right from the start I think we showed a lot of commitment to try and play at a good tempo which is not easy when you’ve played a tough game at Sheffield United a couple of days prior to that.

“That makes the point on Boxing Day even more valuable, the fact we’ve been able to back it up with a home win and it was certainly a game we needed to do everything we could to try and win it.

“I’m really pleased with the concentration levels, the quality that we played with at times, the commitment of the players and I think they showed an incredible unity on the pitch to find a way of winning the game when we had to deal with a bit of adversity in the second half.”

Asked what his message had been after going down to 10 men, Pearson explained: “We went to 4-4-1 and it took us a few minutes for the players to get it right.

“When you’ve got players like Sarr and {Gerard] Deulofeu who are still going to give you the attacking intent what you don’t want in that situation is both of them high up the pitch and be countered because it leaves you a bit open. On top of that Craig Cathcart had a bit of a problem that eventually we had to take him off with.

“I didn’t want us to defend so deep that we invited lots and lots of pressure, so it’s always trying to get that balance between having a structure to what you look like but also still have enough threat on the field to go and make things happen.”

Pearson continued: “The second goal there are a couple of talking points about that, but I think we showed enough endeavour and enough quality to cause them problems after going down to 10 men.

“To come away with a clean sheet and win 3-0 is an incredibly satisfying result, but that’s all it is. It is a good result and for me now I’m already thinking ahead. There’s a lots of good things about today but we’re going to have to recover pretty quickly.”

Another change that Pearson made following the red card was taking off substitute Nathaniel Chalobah less than 15 minutes after he had been introduced as a half-time replacement for the injured Will Hughes.

The head coach said: “I apologised to Chalobah at the time and have done in front of the players now, but to be fair to the lad he’s got a real emotional attachment to this football club and he understands that I would never do that to a player as a statement.

“It’s a tactical change and it’s a difficult one to do, just based on the fact that he’s a really good lad as well.

“To have to do that so early in the second half, it’s not an easy thing to do but my job is to try and find solutions and I thought that was the best one at that point.”